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What Is a Personal Development Plan?

What Is a Personal Development Plan?

If you’re like most people, you've never woken up and said to yourself, "I'll just do the bare minimum today. No need to excel at life, mediocrity is just fine."

While you've never actually said that, if you aren't consciously striving to be a better version of yourself, that's exactly what you're doing. If you don't focus on improvement, you're settling for the way it's always been. The worst part is that, while you're just going through the motions, your self-esteem is suffering.

Imagine how amazing you will feel about yourself once you step out of your comfort zone, reach for a goal, and see what you can accomplish when you put your mind to something. Your self esteem will soar.

So how do you go about becoming a better version of yourself? The key is to create a purposeful, actionable personal development plan, and you're about to learn how.

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What is a Personal Development Plan?

A personal development plan is very similar to a professional development plan. The difference is that, instead of being focused on improving your job performance, you're looking to improve yourself as a person. Creating this plan requires a great deal of honest self reflection and incorporates a skills inventory, goals, and a strategic plan to achieve those goals.

Related: 14 Personal Development Tips to Help You Find Your Best Self

What is the Purpose of a Personal Development Plan?

A personal development plan can be used at any time or stage in life. If you are committed to living your best life, you'll create new plans on a regular basis, reaching one set of goals and then setting the next.

This plan will also allow you to evaluate where you are and where you'd like to go, and then create a road map of how to get there.

The benefits of a personal development plan are threefold: you'll improve your self esteem as you uncover your current skills, identify your weaknesses and create a plan to overcome them, and reach new goals in your life and your career.

Related: What Does It Mean to Be the Best You Can Be?

How Do You Write a Personal Development Plan?

There are many different templates or structures you can use to write your personal development plan. Whatever works for you is the best tool. However, here are some items to take into consideration as you create your plan.

1. Your Values

Before brainstorming goals for your plan, it's important to understand what really matters to you. While one person's goal may be to make a million dollars, another person may be more concerned with the amount of time spent with family, or the freedom to pick up and travel at any time. By uncovering your values first, you'll ensure that your goals are in alignment with what makes you tick.

2. Your Goals

Now that you've identified the important aspects of life, it's time to create goals based off of them. What area(s) in your life needs improvement and what do you want to achieve in that area? These goals may be financial, career, interpersonal, physical/health, spiritual, etc.

3. Your Priorities

Your goal list may be a mile long. You don't have to tackle everything at once (and you shouldn't!). You've got a lifetime to achieve what you want to achieve, and if you do too much too quickly, your efforts will fall flat. Pick one or two goals that you'd like to work on first, and then organize your other goals into 6 month, 1 year, 3 year, etc. Now, put them aside for the next personal development plan.

4. Inventory your Strengths and Weaknesses

This is part of the process of self reflection. While it may be difficult, especially if you're battling low self-esteem, identifying what you're good at, and what you want to be better at, is the best way to improve yourself. Make two lists and realize that no skill is too small or too silly to mention.

5. Seek out Education or Help

While you can't be good at everything, there will be certain tasks that you'd like to be better at. Thankfully, there are many ways to learn. You can read a book on the subject, take a class, find an online course, work with a coach, or go to a workshop or retreat. 

6. Identify Potential Challenges

You want to execute every task in your life perfectly, but that's not realistic. If life gets in the way or challenges arise and you want to avoid being derailed, it's best to keep an eye out for potential roadblocks before they become major problems. Brainstorm what may go wrong and create a plan to overcome it.

7. Just Focus and Do It

Once you've created your plan, it's time to work it. Don't let fear, insecurity, or a lack of self-esteem stop you from going after what you want.

8. Surround yourself with Support

As you work your personal development plan, you'll want family, friends, and colleagues cheering you on. Share what you're doing with the positive people close to you and allow them to support you during your growth.

You'll also undoubtedly encounter people who don't want to see you change. When you meet resistance from people close to you, realize that their reactions have more to do with who they are and what they're afraid of... and little if anything to do with you.

9. Check your Progress and Adjust

Throughout your plan, you'll need to evaluate how you're doing and, if necessary, adjust your plan. Things may not work out exactly as you expected, and you may have to switch up your plan of attack. This is to be expected.

How to Implement a Personal Development Plan

Now that you understand what goes into a personal development plan, there are certain best practices that you can follow to make the most out of your experience.

1. Have fun with it

Creating this plan isn't an opportunity to beat yourself up for not being where you want to be. Rather than coming from a place of lack, consider that you're already a wonderful person doing great things... this is going to help you be even better. Have fun, and you'll be in a better mindset to achieve success.

2. Realize that there will be setbacks

You will face challenges, self-doubt, haters, and many other setbacks. Keep your eye on your goals, and take a step towards them each day.

3. Be honest with yourself

As you create your plan, you'll have to look inside yourself for answers. Be honest even when it hurts. It doesn't matter where you start; it matters where you're going.

Creating and working a personal development plan is a great way to improve your self-esteem and step into the life you're meant to be living. By following the strategies presented above, you'll be on the right path towards being your best self.

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