One of the most important aspects of achieving the success you want is to invest in yourself. The most successful entrepreneurs this and are constantly seeking ways to self develop. But how can you do this effectively and make sure you’re not upskilling in the wrong areas? The key to that is developing a personal development plan.
By having a structured plan in place, you can identify what you want and how you’re going to achieve it. Quite often people do invest in themselves, but for the wrong reasons or on a whim. It’s essential that you know what you want to achieve and how you’re going to get there. The best investments take careful analysis, knowing all of the facts, and being able to see what the investment will lead to in the future.
Investing in yourself is no different.
In this guide, we’re going to look at how you can write your own personal development plan, what’s included, and provide you with a personal development plan template that you can use to create and track your goals.
Why Do You Need a Personal Development Plan?
There are many reasons to develop your own personal development plan. Firstly, it helps you to find structure. When we try to do anything important then it’s essential we approach it from an organized standpoint. If not, we’re just going to waste time and get frustrated at ourselves and lack of progress.
Secondly, many people know that they want to do something but haven’t the foggiest where to get started. By using a personal development plan, you are identifying your end goals and breaking them down into actionable steps to achieve them. Smaller goals seem much more achievable and boost our confidence every time we reach each one. Without having this documented, all you will see is the end goal that seems a million miles away and that steals your confidence and self-belief.
Thirdly, a personal development plan can provide real structure to people who aren’t quite sure what they want to be doing. By coming up with a few scenarios, they can see the steps it will take to achieve each outcome and make a decision based on what path seems best for them to pursue.
There are many reasons that a personal development plan will benefit you. Constantly learning and working on ourselves allows us to reach higher goals. Make sure you’re doing this in the right way by documenting a strategy you can review to measure your progress.
How Do You Write a Personal Development Plan?
There are many elements of a personal development plan but before you go about writing it, it’s important to think about WHY you’re doing it. This WHY will keep you going when times are tough and allow you to better shape the steps you’re going to take to achieve your success.
The following are all the elements that will comprise your personal development plan.
1) Create Your Mission Statement
The first thing you need to do in your personal development plan is to craft your mission statement. This is a short paragraph or summary detailing what you want to achieve and why you’re doing it. It’s very important to identify your why, as this will be your motivation to keep going.
Put this at the top of your plan and keep it in mind when you’re trying to define your goals in more detail. Your mission statement will allow you to focus on your overall goal and to start identifying the smaller goals or steps you need to create to get there.
Your mission statement might be along the lines of:
“I am going to achieve my goal of becoming a professional public speaker on the topic of marketing within two years. I will do this so I can blend my love of marketing with my love of teaching people and helping them to grow their businesses. I will develop the skills I need to perfect the art of public speaking and start with small speaking engagements for free, so I can build my confidence and reputation. In two years time I will be successful enough that this will be my full time occupation.”
2) Define Your Goals & Objectives
Now you’ve used your mission statement to identify your overall goal, you need to create actionable smaller goals that will help you to get there. These smaller goals are different activities you need to do to position yourself in the best way to achieve your main goal. They might include reading certain books, taking courses or gaining qualifications, building your network and making connections, or any other activities that get you closer to your end goal.
The most effective ways to create these goals is to use the SMART method.
Your goals should be specific, not vague. You need to identify exactly what you’re going to do and not just jot down a general idea. For example, don’t put down that you’re going to read five books, name the exact titles that you’re going to read and what you’ll achieve from reading them.
Your goals need to be measurable. This means you need to be able to see where you’re making progress and when your goal has been completed. You need to know that the goal is obtainable and how you’re going to achieve it.
There is no point in creating a goal if it’s unattainable. Not only does it not further your progress, but it will seriously de-motivate you on your personal development journey. Instead of creating a goal that states you’ll be the biggest professional speaker in your field within two years, instead have a steady climb monitoring your invitation to speaking engagements. In this way, you can monitor your progress and if the frequency of your invitations grow, your value as a speaker is too.
Goals should be made with the end results in mind. In fact, knowing what you want to achieve allows you to find the best course of action to achieve it. Say, for example, one of your goals was to enunciate properly in order to improve your speaking process. What would be the best way to achieve this? Reading a book? Taking a course? More than likely, it would be to seek out elocution lessons which would be carried out on a face-to-face basis. Knowing the result you want to achieve allows you to find the best method to do it.
A lot of time when people make goals they don’t put a timeframe on when they want to complete them. This can make you lazy and take away the helpful pressure that will allow you to complete them. Make sure you set a timeframe to complete your goal but also make sure it’s attainable – you don’t want to put yourself under too much pressure. Have a good idea of your schedule and how much time you can devote to each task and break down how long it will take you to finish.
3) Short, Medium, and Long Term
Goals will take different lengths of time to complete and you’re going to have several on the go at once, so it’s important to divide your goals into short term, medium-term, and long term. By doing this from the start you can have your long term goals running throughout the entire timeframe you’ve given yourself, and then allocate time for your short term and medium-term goals to happen alongside them.
For example, you might have a long term goal of achieving your masters in two years. You’re not only going to focus on that goal, you’re going to run other goals alongside it. So you might take a short term goal of reading a certain book and allocate time at the start of the timeframe to complete it. After that, you might move on to another book and so on.
It really comes to time-management and being able to identify how much time you have and how much time a goal needs to be completed. Laying this out visually will make it much easier to see what you’ve got going on in a certain period of time and to make sure you’re spending your time wisely.
4) Track, Assess & Adjust
One of the biggest reasons for keeping a personal development plan is that you’ve always got somewhere to go back to and track your progress. If you finish a goal faster than you thought, then you can go and change your schedule. Similarly, if a goal is taking longer than you expected you can go to your plan and move some things around in order to get it completed.
If a goal isn’t working out and needs to be adjusted, you can go to your plan and look at your desired outcome and change the goal to an action that will better achieve it. It’s very hard to do this without a documented plan so you need to make sure once you’ve created one, you’re constantly going back to it.
It’s also a huge confidence booster when you can go to your plan and tick off an accomplishment. The more you do this, the closer your end goal will appear. Soon, you’ll look forward to completing your tasks so you can go back to your plan and mark them as completed.
Always remember, if something isn’t working then don’t stick with it for the sake of it. Assess what you’re trying to do and adjust your goal so it’s working for your overall benefit.
Personal Development Plan Template
To help save you some time, we’ve created a personal development plan template you can download completely for free. Everything we’ve mentioned above is included, all that’s left for you to do is to fill everything in and make sure you’re using it to achieve your success.
Click the link below to get your free personal development plan template.
Personal Development Plan Example
Finally, to help you fill out your own personal development plan, here’s an example of the types of goals you would create using our example of becoming a full-time personal speaker. Notice the mission statement and use of SMART goals. Make sure you’re filling your plan out with as much detail and you’ll find your goals are much easier to achieve.