Why is it Important to Have a Personal Development Plan?

I know, it’s a pain in the neck sitting down and creating a plan for your personal development (or near enough anything else for that matter). It’s much easier to just “wing it” and hope everything will fall nicely into place.

But, deep down, you know that’s highly unlikely to happen.

Things get in the way and the excitement of the plan can disappear as well.

Your personal development plan doesn’t have to be massive

So often, we procrastinate on things. And they end up never happening.

With a personal development plan, things will change over time (you probably haven’t got the same goals as you had when you were maybe 10 years old) and priorities within the plan will change.

One of the easiest ways to get over the procrastination is just do it.

Spend a few minutes tapping away at some bullet points that cover the main things you want to work on in the coming days and weeks.

The only person who will see this list is you, so you can get as personal as you like and as cryptic as you like. So long as you understand what you mean, that’s fine.

Having a plan – even if you don’t totally stick to it – is better than not having one

Without a plan, you don’t know where you’re headed and you won’t know when you’ve got there.

Chances are – unless you’re reading this at the very start of the year – you don’t remember what your resolutions were in January or – if you do – they’ve probably slipped.

So a plan is only part of the solution, albeit an excellent start.

Next, you have to check your plan regularly and – even more important – do something towards it.

That’s really the secret. The elephant in the room.

We can all have plans – one of mine is to get into space and low earth orbit – but unless we do something towards them (anyone got a spare quarter of a million dollars for that plan?) then they’re actually more of a dream.

Start your plan small

Our minds are well tuned to us throwing out ideas like they’re going out of fashion.

They know that we’ll be distracted and that we don’t really care whether or not whatever it is happens.

Starting small helps accustom your mind to the idea that you’re serious about it this time.

A small component in your overall plan can be completed fast. Ideally, choose something that you can have done by later today or – at worst – this time tomorrow.

Yes, really that small. Almost insignificant.

Then actually complete it – because there’s no point in this part of the exercise otherwise.

Once that’s done – and maybe it was the only thing on your plan at the time, that’s OK – move on to the next thing.

Set another goal.

Maybe a slightly longer term one but still in the very near future, so within a couple of days at the outside.

Then complete that task.

Do this several more times. Preferably for quite a few weeks.

You’ll be amazed how many things you can get done and completed.

And your mind will start to figure out that you’re serious about the personal development stuff this time. So it will start to help you complete the things on your plan rather than help you work out ways to avoid doing them.

What to include in your personal development plan

There are two main elements you need to include:

  • A goal or goals
  • A timescale

That’s all.

It got us to the moon and back in the 1960’s (always assuming you’re not a conspiracy theorist of course).

It’s got a lot of things done in this world and it can work for you.

The goal is important – that way you’ll know when you’ve reached it.

The timescale is important because that gives you a deadline to work towards.

If the goal is big and the timescale is long, split it up. You’re a lot more likely to work towards something that’s in the relatively near future than something that’s months or years or decades away.

The really important thing is to start taking action towards reaching whatever it is on your plan.

Go public!

This one’s scary and something I don’t always do.

But if you can go public with your goal, there’s a much higher chance you’ll hit it.

Not because anyone else is particularly paying attention to what you’ve said – they’re far too busy with their own lives – but because it signals to your mind that you’re serious and it will run a stack of “what if’s” for the scenario where you haven’t kept to your goal. Which will help you achieve it.

If you’d like more help with your personal development, join my Facebook group (and feel free to go public with your goals there).