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Your Personal Development Plan

Vladimir C. Murray asked:

To help ensure success in life it is good for every one of us to have a personal Development Plan (PDP) to guide us along life’s road. Your Personal development is not a destination, you’ll never get ‘there’ wherever ‘there’ is. Your personal development is ongoing so as you accomplish or master one area of your life you will move onto the next level or expand that area.

Many people have a ‘mental block’ when it comes to addressing problems about themselves and there are those who are terrified about taking time and thinking about any such problem. These folks find it much, much easier to work on a project or to help someone else solve their own problems but won’t even consider addressing their own. For this reason and others it is important that we all have a PDP.

Based on your current situation and role, a PDP will help to prioritize the most important areas of your life, that you need to concentrate on and will point you in the right direction for further advice and training.

Identifying Areas that need development.

When constructing your PDP I suggest you begin by identifying the areas in your life that need attention. It can be challenging to identify areas of your life that need development, especially if you are not in tune with who you are, what you desire, what you have and don’t have. You have to be aware of where your life is now in terms of what’s working and what’s not, and also what you are ignoring totally. Just because you have tried in the past to develop certain areas of your life and failed, doesn’t mean you cannot be successful in the future, the timing may just be wrong.

For many of us our personal development goals are just not strong enough, they have no ‘humph’ in them, no great desire behind them so we keep changing them from day to day or year to year. I’m sure you know those people who on January 1st every year list out the things they want to achieve for that year, when they have not even tried to accomplish their goals for the previous year.

So to identify the areas in your life you need to develop, the first thing you need to do is to ask yourself “what are the areas in my life that are very important to me and to my well being and my existence.” these areas will be different for each of us, for me they are:

1. Physical health

2. Mental/emotional

3. Spiritual

4. Achievement/recreation

5. Financial

6. Relationships-romantic and family

Be careful not to get too hung up on names and what falls into what category, just write them down. This is really just to make it easier to decide on what you want to improve in your life and is by no means carved in stone.

What are your Personal Development goal for each Area

Once you have identified the important areas of your life, write down everything that you would like to improve for each area as it relates to your personal growth. In most cases your development goal is going to be about either building on your existing strengths or developing new skills and competencies. So under ‘Physical’ you can state how you would like your body to look, do you need to join a gym today, stop eating meat, exercise five times a week and so on. The key here is to write down anything and everything that comes into mind, whatever you can imagine write it down. You can include short-term goals –something you may want to achieve this week and also long-term goals –things you want to achieve in twenty to twenty-five years. Make the goals ones that you can get excited about.

Put a Timeline on each goal

Once you have listed the goals for each area of your personal development, you then have to take the time to put a time line on each goal. It’s not important right now to know how you are going to accomplish your goals. All you do right now is to write down a time frame within which you’ll want to operate. By deciding when you’ll achieve a goal providence comes to your aid in making them a reality. If one year is your time frame and you are committed to this then write down one year. If it’s five years then write down five years.

Begin with your one-year goal

You want to choose the one goal that you consider to be the most important in any of the areas you have identified, make it a goal that would give your great excitement and make you feel that your year was well spent if you were to accomplish it. Next write a paragraph or two stating why you are totally committed to achieving this goal within the year. Include why this is a must for you, what benefits will you gain by achieving it, what will you lose or miss if you didn’t achieve it. Whatever reasons you come up with ensure that they are strong enough to get you to follow through. If they are not, then come up with better and more empowering reasons or better goals.

Where are you now

Once you have determined what your one-year goal will be, begin by analyzing where you are starting from. This will become the “baseline” from where you measure your progress. A clear awareness of where you are now will help greatly in facilitating your development. If you find it hard to focus on this or to be honest with yourself, you can ask for feed back from someone who knows you well and can be objective. You can ask your friends, family, or even your work colleagues as they are all observing you and are affected by the things you do and will therefore have some views about your skills. Ask them questions like:

“What am I good at”,

“What am I great at”,

“What do you think I could be better at”

Make sure they are specific in what they are saying to you. If you do not want a long drawn out epistle from your friends you can limit them to two or three comments.

If you choose to ask someone else, pay careful attention to what they are saying as not everything you hear will be flattering to you and some comments will be useless to you. Note whatever is said keeping in mind that good feedback is always specific, clear and non-critical, so if someone says “you’re always doing crazy things’ this should not be take as feedback but criticism and you should total ignore it, it’s not worth your time.

Once you are done combine your thoughts and the feedback you get and make a list by writing down what you think were your strengths and weaknesses. You need to be honest with yourself here. Check to see if there are any patterns emerging from the comments.

The End Result

At this point what you do is to imagine what it would be like if you got up tomorrow morning and your problem was solved. Write down how you will feel, what you will be thinking and what it will be like. Make sure these statements are made in the affirmative and are positive. So instead of writing “I feel o.k. about the way I’m dressing now” you should write “I fell happy and confident about my clothes and how they look on me”

Action Plan

Next you need to identify what you need to do to take you to where you want to be. This is the time to think creatively about what you need to do. There is a wide range and a large number of resources out there, ready and waiting for you to use to take you in the right direction. There will be a mixture of self-study, formal training, informal training and “on the job” experiences. Only you will know what’s best for you, your budget and your lifestyle. So if your goal is to be physically fit then you will want to find out information on health and fitness. Your fist stop would be your doctor, and then maybe a trainer, then you need information on a gym that fit
s what you need. You get what I mean. After you have written down all the things you need to do, put them in some order so that you know what you will be doing first, and what’s next and so on. Break it down to its simplest task if possible. Take your time when doing your plan,
and one important point is that it doesn’t have to be perfect, so do not try and make it so.

Your Reward

Though not necessary you may want to include a series of rewards as you make progress and achieve the smaller goals. You can make it as simple as a slice of your favourite cheesecake after you have been working out for six weeks. For some people no extra incentives are required, the improvement is reward enough but small rewards are a good idea still.

Review Your Plan

Once you have finished writing out you PDP it is always a good idea to review it. It’s a good idea to take a break away from your initial PDP of about five days to a week, then return to it and review it. When reviewing the plan you may also ask someone else to look it over and give their views. If there are any changes that you think are necessary make them.

Implement the Plan

Now that you have completed your PDP, it’s time to implement it. Start with the first task you must accomplish and keep going until all the tasks are finished. Each time you complete a task or do something you are not used to doing, do a kind of short review. What did you do well and what could you have done better.

Review Your Progress

By checking your progress you will be able to reflect on what is working and what is not, so you can adjust your actions or change course if you are not achieving what you want. You have to decide how often you check on your progress, it could be every week, every month or every six weeks.

When you develop your own personal development plan and follow through with action, it can be one of the most satisfying things you have ever done. It can even build your self-confidence and boost your self-esteem, as you will have a sense of surety about what you are about to do.

The key here is to take the whole process one step at a time. If you ever feel yourself getting overwhelmed, it could be a sign that you are taking on too much. Slow down and concentrate on one thing at a time. Now get going and enjoy the process.

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