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Personal Development Plans – Are they Really Useful?


YES! They are so effective almost every executive carefully constructs ones to ensure absolute success.

A personal development plan is a structured framework created with step by step guidelines that determine how to reach and surpass our personal, educational, or professional goals in life. After a solid reflection of your current skills and performance, a roadmap needs to be created for future success. 

Personal development plans normally focus on 3 areas of growth; self-awareness, building identity, and developing talents.

Self Awareness: This is the understanding of your own likes, dislikes, feelings, motives, and desires. Knowing these things about yourself will result in a more accurate judgment of your performance and behavior and how you will respond in various social situations.

Building Identity: This involves heavy reflection and creating or recreating your life how you see fit. That could be eliminating what doesn’t bring you joy, minimizing procrastination, and/or recognizing your strengths and weaknesses. Don’t be afraid to do everything it takes to build a self-identity that you’re happy with. Even if it means getting out of toxic relationships, ignoring those that do not support you, and searching for people that do. Anything that will bring you a happier, healthier lifestyle.

Develop your talents: Making decisions on what you want to do with your life, and developing your skills and knowledge to achieve it. For example, if your goal is to become a math teacher, you would need to develop the necessary skills to complete university and teachers’ college. You can make a plan to develop talents nonwork-related as well. Social etiquette, communication, and charitable giving.

It is really important that the framework created is positive, clear, concise, and attainable. The steps should be logical and realistic. A personal development plan is exactly that, personal. No one else should dictate your goals or aspirations. This should be something totally dependent on you. 

I highly suggest reading our article on goal setting to get started. If you aren’t sure where to even begin, consider subscribing to Spirited Soul to get our FREE Wellness 101 workbook. It provides step by step guides for a personal plan for success.

Why Create A Plan?

Creating a comprehensive strategy for success will take a really abstract idea or goal and sculpt it into an attainable and measurable plan. You’ll be able to capitalize on your strengths and resources effectively. Once the pathway is created, be prepared to have doors open for you, opportunities appear, and stronger self-confidence in your decisions. 

Personal Development Plans help to: 

  • Establish your purpose or direction
  • Identify your needs
  • Identify learning opportunities
  • Take necessary steps toward specified development
  • Learn from your mistakes
  • Evaluate & review your strengths and weaknesses

Choosing Your Goals

Your goals should touch on all 3 areas of growth; self-awareness, building identity, and developing talents. With a plan to improve upon your personal weaknesses. The plan should benefit you in the most positive and healthy way possible. You may have multiple mini-goals or milestones along the way.

Chose a goal that defines all you want to be. Make sure you establish a goal in each area of growth. Here is a good example

“In 5 years’ time, I want to improve on my confidence, teamwork abilities, and communication in order to complete my Ph.D. in physics and become a successful, confident, and passionate physicist working for a recognized and established company.”

Notice that the goal is specific and has all 3 areas of growth. Self-awareness goal (confidence, teamwork, and communication), an identity goal (to appear successful, passionate, and confident) and a goal that will build talent (Ph.D. in physics).

Once you have established the ultimate goal you’ll need to fill in your steps and milestones to success. Don’t forget to celebrate the milestones you hit!

How To Create One 

  1. Set a goal – make your goal as realistic as possible. Make sure it 100% benefits you in a healthy and positive way. Don’t be afraid of creating large long-term goals! If that is what you truly want, you should go for it. Just know that there are no short cuts in a personal development plan, you just have to do things the long and hard way.
  2. Use logic and research to decide the order of steps to success. Think of your goal like a hiking trail. Some routes are smoother, some are filled with obstacles and blocks. If you can anticipate those obstacles than your pathway becomes a little clearer and easier.
  3. Set deadlines for when you want to achieve each step (be realistic)
  4. Be aware of your threats and opportunities. Foresee your obstacles and write down how you would overcome them. Look for opportunities like upcoming job fairs, or internships.
  5. Work on skills/ increase your knowledge.
  6. Use your support network (friends, family, spouse, teacher, mentor).
  7. Measure your progress. How far have you come? What have you learned?
Tips for personal development plans
  • Keep in mind your strengths and leverage those so that the steps to success become easier. For example, if you are great at networking, and the goal is to move up in your career, utilize your strength to meet new people and potential new career opportunities.
  • Improving your weaknesses should be a priority, especially if it could help you get to your goal quicker. Online courses are available for almost any knowledge or skill. Turn your weaknesses into strengths.
  • Your plan should involve some academics and some real-world experience. Research is only half of the battle. The real learning curve will be when you apply what you have learned to real-world situations.
  • Be very specific. Vague steps are hard to visualize. You need to see yourself doing each and every step to success.  
  • It is important to know your preferred learning style. Then factor that into your development plan. 

I bet you will feel so relieved when you are able to look at a clearly defined roadmap to your success. Stick to it. I know it can be hard when life throws curveballs but if you can adapt and still accomplish your goals then absolutely nothing can stop you! 

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