What Is Personal Development?
“Personal development covers activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realization of dreams and aspirations. Personal development takes place over the course of a person’s entire life.” Indeed, that’s a great meaning of personal development from Wikipedia but I believe it’s a lot more than that.
“What lies behind us and what lies before us are we tiny matters compared to what lies within us.” — Ralph Waldo Emerson
Personal development is about discovering you, nurturing yourself and transforming yourself into the person you are meant to be. Ordinarily humans are meant to stand upright and walk. A baby starts by crawling, and then will move to a standing position by herself/himself before staggering to walk. That’s exactly what personal development is, a gradual process of becoming the best version of you. In this constantly evolving world, to become successful, live your dream, and achieve bigger things can be quite the challenge. But did you know that it actually is very possible and everything you need to achieve your dreams is already in you!
You see personal development is a tool, which uncovers, nurtures and develops those essential things you need to achieve your goals. The levels of personal development you exercise determine how far you will go towards those goals. Every successful person started off as a diamond in the rough. After lots of hard work and personal development they uncovered their true potential and became the person they were meant to be.
Now that we know what personal development is lets see how to get there. Just like any other big decisions in your life (i.e. buying a home, a car, your education) personal development takes planning. Below I have created a simple 9-Step Plan to help you structure your thoughts and achieve your personal development goals. Now I must tell you becoming the best version of you does not happen over night. It will take time and not every day will go as planned. It’s ok. Take your time. One step at a time and you’ll get there.
Let’s dive in! Here are the 9 steps that can help you create a great personal development plan:
- Define your goal
- Set a deadline
- Understand your strengths
- Distinguish between opportunities and threats
- Develop new skills
- Take action
- Get support
- Measure progress
Define Your Goal
This is the first and most important step on the road to personal development. Figuring out what is most important to you will start you on your way. So, the first thing I’d like you to do is write down 5 to 10 things on a piece of paper that are really important to you. They can be something related to your career, your health, a new skill or hobby you would like to pursue. It can be anything but it must be something truly important to you.
Look through all the goals that you have written down. Which one means the most to you? Which one is the most important? Now they may all feel important to you. The way I have figured out which one I should work on right away is by thinking back to the times when my mind would wander. When you have that small window of quiet time what do you think about? When your not actively thinking your mind will to gravitate to the things that are most important to you. For example I found myself always thinking about expanding the blog to provide more content on personal growth. Researching other blogs and self help topics became my favorite thing to do. I thought about different ideas all the time. This is how I knew my next growth path to work on. So take some time and look through your list. Don’t rush this step and be honest with yourself. Which one of your goals give you a feeling inside when you see it? This is the one we’ll work on first.
Set a Deadline
Have you picked your goal? Great! Now you’re ready for the next step, which is setting a deadline. Now this step is one where I’ll need you to be honest and realistic with yourself. If the goal you have chosen is to get in shape and lose 50 pounds you must be realistic with the deadline. Although yes you can lose the 50 pounds in 2 months should you? No. It’s not healthy and your setting yourself up for disappointment and failure. Give yourself a solid year. If you do it in less than that’s great but at least you gave yourself time to do it right and stick with it. Another thing is you will need to be specific. Sure you can say, “I want to be a millionaire someday,” but when is someday? Is it a week from now, a year, 20 years? Your deadline needs to be specific so you have an exact time frame to work towards. A better deadline is to say something like; “I will double my income by the end of this year.” Now you have it set in your mind that you must reach your goal by December. So think about your goal and set a realistic deadline for it.
Understand Your Strengths
Everyone in the world has strengths and weaknesses. Think about the things you are good at. What are your strengths? Are you a talented singer, artist, excellent listener, or maybe you are a very skilled writer? Write down all your strengths. Take your time. If it’s really tough for you to come up with some strengths then ask some of your family and friends. Sometimes it’s easier to say something good about others than it is for yourself. It’s ok. You may even be surprised by what they say. So for this step write down all the strengths you and others can come up with. I’m sure you will have a bunch! These strengths will be the key things that will help you achieve your goal.
Recognize Opportunities and Threats
Now in this section we will be focusing on your habits. We all have good and bad habits. Some will support you in achieving your goal while others will only prolong the process. For example although I am good at writing and photography I also have a terrible habit of procrastination. “Oh I’m so tired after this long day. I’ll do it tomorrow for sure.” Sound familiar? It’s ok we all do it at some point. In this step I will need you to look at your goal. Which of your habits support this goal? Which habits are ones you will have to stop? Going back to the goal used before of losing 50 pounds. If you wake up daily and work out for a half hour that’s great! This is a habit that will help you achieve your goal. On the other hand, if you also eat junk food for lunch each day and smoke then these are habits you will have to commit to stop doing. For this step I would like you to make two columns on a piece of paper. On one side write down “Start Doing” on the other side write, “Stop Doing”. Make a list of 5 habits that will help you achieve your goal and 5 habits that you will need to work on stopping.
Develop New Skills
Just like with any goal in life if you want to grow and move ahead to the next stage you will have to learn and develop new skills. If you would like to get in shape and lose weight you will have to learn the proper way to eat, learn different exercise routines, maybe even look into essential supplements your body might need. It takes a bit of work and time but in the end it will all be worth it. Developing new skills takes time, effort, and personal discipline but if it’s truly that important to you then this part should be fun. Look back at your goal and think about which skills or knowledge you will need to achieve this goal. Write down a list of skills you will need to develop. If you’re not sure it’s ok. Use the Internet to research your goal and look into what it entails. Once you have an idea then make your list of skills.
Now that you have defined your goal, set your deadline, written down your strengths, understand your good and bad habits, and have developed the new skills needed for your goal its time to finally take action! You have done so much work towards your goal already this is really exciting. For this step I will need you to write down 3 – 5 most important actions that you will need to take within your defined time frame. So if we want to get in shape we have learned how to eat, what workouts to do and which supplements to take now its time to actually work out! Maybe your actions will be to work on cardio 3 times a week or eat a low carb diet Monday through Friday allowing for a weekend cheat meal. Take your time and make a solid list of actions and follow up on these actions. You have come all this way and have already grown so much don’t give up now. Take action!
One of the best things you can do to achieve a goal is find a mentor. If you want to lose weight then maybe look into talking to a fitness coach; if you want to improve your finances then maybe look into speaking with a financial advisor; and if your looking to change or advance your career then you can speak to a career counselor. Before I decided to launch My Corner Bistro I went through these exact 9 steps. It took me a good year of research and learning before I made the jump. I even reached out to several very successful bloggers and business leaders and simply asked their advice. I followed their blogs and watched how they evolved. In this process I also learned what works and what doesn’t. Don’t be afraid to reach out to those at the top of the goal you want to achieve. Everything and anything you do is a step closer to your dreams.
After taking action take a moment to look back and evaluate how it’s going. Are you moving forward? Are you sticking to your action plan? If things are not going well then what can we do differently. Remember personal development and achieving one’s goal does not happen over night. It will take time but every day you should be doing at least one thing that will bring you closer to your goal. In this step I would like you to make two columns on a piece of paper. On one side write, “what’s working well (accomplishments)” and on the other side write “What do I need to change (improve)”.
You have come so far and I am incredibly proud of all the hard work you have put into achieving your goal. It’s not an easy task but your doing it! Look how far you have come already. Remember every successful person on this earth started out exactly where you are. They had to grow, learn new skills, and put those skills into action to get where they are today. Creating a personal development plan is very powerful method to organize and plan out the steps needed to advance in life. It can be used for any goal no matter how big or small. I suggest that you create a new personal development plan each year. Your goals will change and maybe you will even hit new milestones in your life. Using a personal development plan is best way to start!