The Elements of a Solid Personal Development Plan
Quoting Benjamin Franklin, failing to plan is similar to planning to fail. The most successful business people, politicians and leaders all had a desire for self-improvement and have found ways to develop and leverage their innate potential and ability. They have benefited from the use of a personal development plan to strive towards their goals. As mentioned, the desire to grow is a universal one. The only difference between those who succeed in personal growth and those who don’t is having the motivation and a plan. A personal development plan (PDP) is the main ingredient for self-improvement.
What does this mean? It is essential to have a plan. As a matter of fact, it is impossible to achieve personal growth without a plan. It is important to understand why a personal growth plan a personal growth plan is needed before discussing the elements of the plan. It is important because:
- It provides clarity by eliminating the rough edges and laying out what it is you want to achieve as clearly as possible.
- It provides a road map of how to get to where you want to go. People know where they want to go but don’t know how to go about getting there. The growth plan helps you with your roadmap.
- It highlights the obstacles and challenges since every journey is faced with challenges. The plan helps you to come up with ways to overcome the challenges.
- It can be a great motivator. It can get disheartening when you don’t know how to turn your dreams into reality. A plan gives you the enthusiasm and energy to make real progress.
Clearly, everybody who intends to develop themselves must have a growth plan because it will be of great assistance. Now that you understand the significance of the plan, the question to be answered concerns the important elements of the development plan.
The top five elements of a PDP
Clearly defined goals
The walk of life has many potential paths and if you don’t have a clear idea of your destination, then you will not know which path to take. It is for this reason that the most important aspect of a personal development plan is a clearly defined goal. It is even better to define an objective in measurable and specific terms. Moreover, these defined goals must be written down.
Thinking about what to do to improve is not enough. This imagination must be translated into reality. One big part to this kind of translation is to convert dreams and thoughts into actual words on paper. It has been proven that putting something down in writing has a magical effect. Through writing down, what was abstract becomes concrete. What seemed unattainable becomes so reachable. Indeed, high-level dreams and aspirations can be intimidating. Nevertheless, putting these seemingly unattainable goals on paper transforms them into something more realistic. The dreams don’t change. They are just written down. The action of writing brings life into the dreams. Therefore, the plan must be written down.
Lastly, these goals are both realistic and out of reach. Some goals may really never be attained e.g. absolute perfection but they provide guideposts along the journey towards your goals.
It is one thing to start a goal while it is another entirely different thing to know why it means so much. Why do you want to complete a marathon? Why do you want to start a business? When you attach a ‘why’ to your goals, they become more meaningful. Otherwise, they are lacking and dry. Understanding the why means that you are not aiming for an arbitrary endpoint but you are continuously reminding yourself of the purpose of your endeavors.
Most of the time, the why is based on important values that you hold on to. For a plan to remain relevant and give you purpose, it must be based on the things you consider important in life. The why reason behind everything is not just about money. On the contrary, successful people don’t focus on money. They first focus on their purpose and craft everything around that.
A starting point
After you discover where you are headed and why, then you will need to figure out your current position. This will assist you to realize how far you are required to move from your current position in order to reach your desired outcome.
Short-term, intermediate and long-term goals
The growth plan should involve formulating a rough plan on moving from one point to another. Intermediate and short-term goals break down what may look like a long journey into manageable segments. Some goals like breaking a particular habit can be less specific.
The PDP should not have too big intermediate goals as they become daunting. If they’re too small, then you can easily lose touch with the overall picture.
Your goals should be reflected in habitual practices that lead toward long-term change or goals. It is the small improvements that make all the difference. A personal growth plan should reflect regular practices that you establish every day. Large dividends in the long term arise from small improvements over time.
Once you have clearly defined your primary goals and spelled them out on a list, you must act upon them. It is pointless to only have a piece of paper that you don’t act on. A personal development plan reflects realistic time frames. It includes deadlines for each part of the PDP and what needs to be done now to meet those deadlines. Thinking about when you’d like to achieve certain goals helps in prioritizing tasks that ensure you meet your desired deadlines.
In summary, the five most important elements of a personal growth plan include:
- Clearly defined goals
- A why
- A starting point
- Short-term, intermediate and long-term goals and perspectives
In order for the plan to be effective, it must feature all these elements. Nevertheless, the plan is as useful as you use it.