Why do you want a personal development plan? Answering this question is the first step in the self awareness that will guide your plan. Something is missing. Or maybe it is there, but you don't see it or you just want more of it.
STEP 1: You are here. This is where we take stock. Where have you been? What have you done? Most importantly, what recurring lessons have you encountered? All of these things contribute to your beliefs--your accepted truths about life.
Do a little performance appraisal. Rate yourself in different areas of life:
Are the areas that are most important to you getting most of your attention? Have you taken enough risks, or are you playing it too safe?
You may accept that you have certain strengths and weaknesses that cannot be changed. You have a story about yourself, and parts of it may be true. However, you must really objectively evaluate what you tell yourself about yourself to ensure you are not limiting your life.
STEP 2: Who are you? It is important to figure this out because you really don't want to be using someone else's personal development plan. What is important to you? Be real about this--it is easy to say "making money", but what is important is really what you want to do with that money (not the money itself).
There is typically so much chatter in your mind, that it is hard to really hear your authentic self. The mind runs like the ticker tape at the bottom of a news show. You do not have to believe every thought that comes. In fact, it is important to quiet the constant self talk in order to really hear your inner wisdom. You can literally feel it when something is true--it resonates with who you are.
STEP 3: What can you do now? Now that you are a bit more clear on what it is you want, start to divide the list into external and internal.
* Get a degree
* Buy a house
* Get a fancy car
* Get married
* Have children
* Make more money
* Win the lottery
* Living fully
* Self worth
Goals like buy a house, make six figures, find a spouse, etc. are external because they are something outside of yourself that you acquire. Goals like happiness, love, and success are all actually internal--external things cannot truly bring these things to you. The trouble is you look to external things to bring you all that you want in life. This is where you see people who have it all and still aren't satisfied.
So if you've lived your life thinking that if you just did XYZ you would be happy, this may sound disappointing. The good news is: since most of what you want is likely internal, you can have it now. You don't have to wait until you achieve some external goal (which I promise will only provide a short term lift in mood). It is perfectly appropriate to have external goals, but remember to live now.
Do not make the mistake of waiting to really live once you have achieved certain goals. Once you get there, you will have a whole new list of goals. You end up repeatedly putting off living in the present. Until one day your life is over. Remember, too, that these goals will not automatically give you what you really want.
STEP 4: The Action Plan. Keeping the concepts from Step 3 in mind, there are still external goals and things you need to do to reach them. The action part of the personal development plan should be divided into: daily, weekly, monthly, yearly. Starting at yearly and working backwards may be the easiest way to tackle the plan.
This takes your big personal development plan and breaks it down into small bites. Be sure to make your daily tasks reasonable. If you plan too much and start to get behind, you may get discouraged and quit. Avoid guilt or shame if you fall behind or take days off (in fact, off days need to be scheduled). If you are your own mean boss, you will suffer burnout.
The thing about your personal development plan is that it is a lifelong project. So sit back and get comfortable. We are not looking for a destination with this. This whole thing is a journey. If you really are developing yourself, what you want in 5 years could be very different from what you want now anyways. Pay attention to today. Think about the turtle--slow and steady towards your goal, all the while living fully right now.
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