The last months of the year always get me thinking about my goals. I always set new years resolution in January, like most people do, but new years resolutions usually don’t get people that far. Because let’s be honest, I bet most of us are guilty of writing down some goal in the name of “new years resolutions” with no plan, no real intentions to make it happen, and then the only purpose it serves is to make us feel bad at the end of the year that we didn’t accomplish it. And that’s why instead of New Years Resolutions, what you really need is personal development plan!
To reach our goals, and become the person that we truly want to become, we need to have clear goals with a clear system to get us there. And it takes a LOT more work then just writing down “Get 6-pack abs” during the new year. A personal development plan helps you determine exactly what you want, and includes a clear template to get there, so that you can take the guess work out of reaching your goals!
So if you are serious about getting your DREAM life, and becoming the person that you are meant to be, then make a personal development plan and follow it. I promise, you won’t regret it.
Step 1: Create your vision
Create a vision board, physically or through Pinterest, to get clarity on what you want
As a visual person, I find it very helpful to have physical pictures of what I’m working towards. Vision boards and Pinterest do a great job at this. Take the time to create a board that you really resonate with. Put pictures that represent all areas of your life – your career, health & fitness, family, overall relationships. What kind of person could make that life for themselves? What characteristics do you already have, and what are some that you need to cultivate? Make sure that it is true to what you want, and not what anyone else or society may want for you. If you do this, your vision board should illicit a strong reaction in you – and that’s a good thing!
Use your vision board as your motivation when you lose sight of the big picture.
Having something visual to look at is not only helpful with nailing down what you’re passionate about and what you want most out of life, but it also serves as a great source of motivation when you lose track of the big picture. And when it’s 6 AM, your alarm is going off, and the last thing you want to do is go to the gym – it is very likely that you might lose track of your vision.
Hang your vision board somewhere where you will see it often – and if you choose to do an electronic vision board, make time to look at it daily.
Most importantly, BE the person in your vision board
Of course you’re not going to have the big, beautiful house that you have on your vision board immediately, but you need to be the person that would own that house. For example, somebody who has 6-pack abs most likely has a solid work out regimen and eats healthily. You may not have a 6-pack (yet!) but if that is a goal of yours, then act like you do. Before too long, you will get abs because you acted like you had them – and the same can happen with something like a house, or a goal to become a millionaire.
Step 2: Create a Roadmap
In my favorite self help book of all time, Atomic Habits by James Clear, the author writes about how systems are much more important than goals. He even goes so far as to say that goals don’t really even matter, as long as you have solid systems.
A system is what you’re doing that is working towards your goal. Everybody has goals – because all you need to do is identify something you like, and write it down in a notebook. What is more rare is people who have systems that they follow. From Clear’s website:
If you’re an entrepreneur, your goal might be to build a million-dollar business. Your system is how you test product ideas, hire employees, and run marketing campaigns.James Clear
Your vision board serves as your vision and your motivation, but your system is what will get you to the finish line
Determine what you need to do daily, weekly and monthly in order to reach your goal. Break your huge goal down into smaller pieces. Schedule those small pieces into your calendar, and then stick to your calendar like you’ll be fired if you don’t. The clearer and more detailed your road map is, the better. This is the most important part of your personal development plan, so if you’re going to spend extra time in any area – this should be it!
Step 3: Identify your problem areas
It’s always good to know your strengths and weaknesses so that you can play to them. While it’s important to utilize your strengths, it is equally as important to know the places where you struggle.
For instance, my biggest productivity hindrance is Netflix and social media (or my phone in general… for more ideas on how to become less addicted on your phone, click here!) and my biggest fitness goal hindrance is sugar!
For the most part I wouldn’t recommend completely cutting something out of your life – just be purposeful and mindful about it. To illustrate, I still watch Netflix AND eat sugar – but I make a pact with myself that I will first write one blog post (or whatever is on my itinerary) before watching Netflix, and I will only have dessert AFTER I have had dinner.
If you aren’t sure what your problem areas are, try making a detailed log of your day for a few days. It can be a major pain, but track what you’re doing every 15 or 30 minutes. At the end of your day, read over your log and take note of how you spent your time. Did you spend too much time on things that take away or distract from your main goals? Does your routine lack a certain element? Take notice of all of these things and write them down so that you can incorporate them in your personal development plan.
Step 4: Be diligent in checking in with yourself
One of the hardest parts of achieving your personal goals is that there aren’t many external forces or motivators making you work for them. YOU are the only person that is going to make yourself go to the gym. YOU are the only one who cares whether or not you travel to your bucket list locations. All accountability is on you, so you need to have the necessary systems in place to make sure that you’re on track.
That being said, having an accountability partner can be a great tool. If you have a friend who has a similar goal to yours, then commit to keeping each other accountable.
It’s good practice to have deadlines or an idea of how long something should take you so that you have a deadline to be working towards. And then check in with yourself daily, weekly, and monthly. Always be evaluating how you did, because when there is no one making you work for your goals, then you need to step up and be your own boss.
Evaluate your progress at the beginning of every month, every week, and at the ending of every day.
I personally will evaluate at the end of the day (usually in my journal, but if not I still evaluate mentally) how I felt I did during the day. At the end of the week, I evaluate my week as a whole, and then plan my upcoming week. I do the same at the beginning of the month, so that I am very clear with myself about what outcomes I want to see from myself at the end of the month.
Important reminder to be kind to yourself during these evaluations. It can be hard to be kind to ourselves when we are disappointed with our outcomes and tendencies, but true positive change can only come from a place of understanding and love. Accept and love yourself as you are and where you are, and celebrate the wins as they come.
Step 5: Celebrate your wins
Reaching personal goals can be really hard to do, and you deserve to celebrate your wins. Even the small ones. When you set a goal and you reach it (even if it was just a ‘stepping stone goal’ to your BIG goal) then celebrate accordingly! Congratulate yourself, and really take some time to be proud of yourself. This sense of pride and accomplishment serves as an incredible source of motivation and keeps us going and on track.
It may just seem like an accessory to these other steps, but it is EQUALLY important! Just as life is about the journey, so are goals. Don’t minimize your accomplishments. Let yourself feel them.
A few tips & tricks before you embark on your personal development plan
Now that you have the steps that you need to build your personalized personal development plan, you just need to get started! But first, here are a few tips and tricks to get you started right.
- Be mindful of your physical environment. Your physical environment has the power to make or break you. For instance, sharing a workspace with the kids entertainment room, or a flat screen TV, can easily sabotage all of your productive hopes and dreams. Be mindful of your environment, and make it work for you.
- Find the overlap in your goals. Make a list of all of your goals, and see if there is any overlap between them. The first time I did this, I had one goal to lose weight, and another goal to be more financially responsible. I realized that reducing how often I ate out would work towards both of these goals. That’s pretty much the definition of killing two birds with one stone! And how can you not love that?
- Sorry guys, but it’s about to get a little bit cheesy. Believe in yourself, and know that you are capable of anything. This one is extra important, because who is going to believe in you if you don’t? Believe and know that you are capable of making your dreams happen.
- Focus on one or two important goals at once. Right before New Years last year I was listening to a self improvement podcast and the host suggested that you make only one or two resolutions for your year. I thought that was great advice, so I applied it to my 2021 resolutions. It was so nice to dial in on the two things that are the most important to me, and everything else just seemed to fall into place while I was working towards them. So pick your two biggest goals, and don’t worry too much about the rest.
Final overview, and a final word of advice
In summary, here are the steps to creating your personal development plan:
- Be true and authentic to yourself and identify your vision. Make a board, physical or electronically, that helps you to visualize clearly.
- Create a detailed road map. Write down your big goals, then break them into smaller, easier goals. Include deadlines if they are helpful to you and make sense for your goals.
- Identify your problem areas. Keep a detailed log of how you spend your time so you know what to work on.
- Check in with yourself regularly. Ideally every day, week, and month.
- Celebrate your wins. You deserve it!
And finally, my last word of advice. If you are reading this right now: get after it. Like seriously. Get started on your vision board, or if you already have one, make a detailed roadmap. I can’t tell you how many times I have read an article like this to feel like I’m being productive – but there is a big difference between planning and action. Your dream life is just around the corner waiting for you, so be proactive and get after it.