How to create a personal development plan
Personal development can be a fairly broad subject to discuss because the areas where you want to develop personal growth will likely be different for each individual person. You may want to reach new career based goals, build self-confidence, stop procrastinating or even start making better decisions. It doesn’t matter what your goal is as long as you know what it is and how you will get there.
We are so encouraging and supportive to others, yet many of us don’t give ourselves that same time and attention. Giving yourself the opportunity to experience personal growth is not only beneficial to you, but others will also gain from your self-improvement and change in mindset too!
A personal development plan is the blueprint of your journey to personal success and fulfilment. It helps to keep you on track to reaching your goals. It acts as a guide that not only reminds you of where it is you want to go, but also shows you potential stumbling blocks and ways to overcome them as and when they show up.
The five areas of personal development
When it comes to creating your plan, it is sometimes easier for you to break the different areas of your life into these five categories, mental, social, spiritual, emotional, and physical. Looking at each one individually will help you to discover which aspects are more pressing and which ones can be worked towards at a later date.
Your mental development focuses on your mind. It will cover good thinking habits, which is especially important for anyone who is currently stuck in negative thought patterns. It practices good study and skills, like learning a new language or reading a book! This area also looks at ways to improve your creativity and pursue ideas.
In a recent survey I conducted, 56% of the people who responded stated that they were keen to improve their state of happiness around their physical health, which of course, is unsurprising considering our body is the only house we have to live in and so we need it to be healthy and happy for us to continue to experience life. It is also the part of us that we show to the world on a daily basis. Physical development covers eating better and exercising to improve health, incorporating a good skincare routine or changing your personal appearance, if that is something you have always wanted to do.
Your social development includes your sense of community, your relationship with friends, family and lovers. It also covers your communication skills, how you effectively communicate with others, both in your personal and professional lives. You may find that you want to meet new people, or strengthen the bonds that you already have.
The word ‘spiritual’ can turn some people off, perhaps mistaking it for religion or the unknown? Spiritual development is actually more about learning about yourself and what you truly want in life. It helps you to develop a deeper connection with the world around you, leading you to understand your role within that world.
Improving your emotional intelligence can help you to become more self-aware, handle stress more efficiently and develop empathy skills. Some things to consider in this area of development could be to observe how you react to people and situations, take responsibility for your actions and how you treat others and begin to ask yourself why you feel the way you do and what you would like to feel instead.
Identifying your strengths and weaknesses
Another important stage of developing your plan is to understand where your strengths and weaknesses lie. Start asking yourself these questions and writing down your answers:
- What do you love?
- What are you good at?
- What do others say you are good at?
- What makes you feel strong?
- What three positive words would you use to describe yourself?
- When was the last time you were in a state of flow and what were you doing?
Within these answers lies not only your strengths but also some clues as to what your life purpose and life mission is!
In order to understand potential threats and ways to overcome them as and when they arise, you need to identify your Achilles heel. Try asking yourself these questions and again, write down your answers.
- Which projects and tasks seem to drain you of your energy?
- Are there any people in your life that leave you feeling drained and exhausted?
- What activities do you find difficult?
- What could you use more experience in?
- What areas could you learn more about?
- When you struggle the most, what is happening around you?
From this, you should have some insight into potential stumbling blocks and challenges that could come your way. Now, it is up to you to find ways to pre-empt these struggles. For example, is there any aspect you need to study more? Do you need to practise saying no, or find ways to manage stress more effectively? Your plan should not just include your destination, it should also include the condition of the roads, where to stop and rest and how to change your tyre if you get a flat!
Steps to take to create a personal development plan
- identify your goals
- list them in order of priority
- set yourself a deadline
- understand your strengths
- become aware of opportunities and road blocks
- develop new skills
- take action
- get support
- measure and evaluate your progress
Keeping focused and motivated can be a struggle, especially when you have so much going on around you. Some days, life can come at you with a whole bunch of stuff that you are not prepared for and on a not-so-good day, it can sweep your feet out from underneath you. Try to remember that a challenge is not a burden, nor a punishment. It’s an opportunity to learn and grow. When you veer off in a different direction, just embrace the journey for the adventure it is and refer back to your plan for motivation and guidance.
Finally, be sure to get some support. Whether that be a friend, a relative or a professional, just be sure to utilise the community around you. Many people choose to work with a life coach because they find the professional support and accountability, both inspiring and motivating, but whatever you decide to do is right for you. Best of luck!