If you’ve been around this space for a while, you know how passionate I am about personal development. It’s one of my favorite topics to write about, and something I make a lot of time for in my own life.
This wasn’t always the case, though. Years ago I was feeling stuck. I was in a marriage that felt stuck and a job that felt stuck, and I wasn’t really sure what I wanted out of life.
And so I turned to personal development.
I read personal development books and blogs but found myself feeling so overwhelmed with everything there was to learn and everything I wanted to accomplish.
The one thing that made it was less overwhelming: creating a personal development plan.
Creating a personal development plan helped me to figure out where to focus my attention and awareness. And by doing this, I was able to start reaching my goals.
In this post, I’m sharing how you can create a personal development plan to finally start reaching your goals!
How to Create a Personal Development Plan
What is Personal Development?
If you’re a regular reader of my blog, you’re probably familiar with the concept of personal development and have seen me talk about it again and again.
Personal development is the process of improving yourself through positive habits and activities.
Personal development includes improving internal attributes such as self-awareness and happiness, as well as external attributes such as professional growth and wealth.
Personal development takes place over the course of our entire lives and is what allows us to achieve our goals and aspirations and increase our quality of life.
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What is a Personal Development Plan?
Now that we’ve nailed down what personal development is, you can probably figure out what a personal development plan is!
It’s essentially a road map of the goals and successes you plan to achieve and the skills and habits you’ll need to achieve them.
A personal development plan covers every area of your life: education, career, relationships, self-improvement, and more.
It’s important to note that personal development is not the same as self-improvement or “self-help”, but that those will be just one element of your personal development plan.
Why Do You Need a Personal Development Plan?
I’ve learned the hard way why it’s important to have a personal development plan! So many times I found myself thinking about something I hoped would someday happen, only to have it never come to fruition.
Why didn’t those dreams work out?
Creating your dream life doesn’t happen by accident. It takes a lot of goal setting, planning, and hard work along the way!
Creating your dream life requires you to live super intentionally. We live in a world full of distractions, and if you aren’t intentionally directing your focus toward personal development, it’s easy for your attention to be pulled toward those distractions.
A personal development plan creates clarity.
Once you’ve put all of your goals and aspirations into a personal development plan, it’s so much easier to narrow your focus prioritize your future achievements.
Key Areas of Personal Development
In order to create a personal development plan, I find it most helpful to break it down into categories for the key areas of personal growth.
I’ve put together a list of 7 key categories to include in your personal development plan:
- Physical Health
- Mental & Emotional Health
- Career & Contribution
- Financial Health
- Fun & Recreation
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How to Create Your Personal Development Plan
Step 1: Dreams and Visions
The first step to create your personal growth plan is the most fun – it’s the dreaming step!
For this step, you’re essentially making a bucket list. You’ll go through each of the life categories we just discussed and write down every single thing you want to accomplish. I’m serious when I say everything!
Don’t just think about what you want to do in the next year, like paying off your credit card or taking a vacation.
Think about what you want to do years down the road like buying a house, starting a family, starting a business, retiring early to travel, etc.
You can have as many dreams per category as you want!
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Step 2: Prioritize Your Goals
Once you’ve written down all of your dreams and visions for all of the categories, it’s time to prioritize them.
When you prioritize them, think about what is most important to you right NOW.
If you’re working on your health and your absolute biggest priority for the next six months is to get healthy, that goes to the top of the list.
If you want to buy a house next year and saving for a house is most important to you this year, that goes to the top of the list.
The goal in prioritizing your goals is to determine what it is you’re going to be working on first. Ideally, there would be just one goal that would stand out as the most important, but you can choose 2-3 if they don’t conflict and none of them will take up an extraordinary amount of your time.
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Step 3: Determine Your Why
When you’re narrowing down your goals, I think it’s so important to figure out why you want to reach that goal.
For example, let’s say you want to earn a full-time income as a freelancer. You might think that the motive is starting your own business, working from home, or just that you don’t like your current boss.
But when you dig really deep and really analyze why you want that, you realize that you want the location independence to live and work wherever.
That’s a very different motive from what you initially thought! Know your real motivation for your goal will help you to set intentions for the rest of your life as well.
Knowing your why also helps you to stay determined and focused on your goal. Eventually, your motivation will start to wane. And when it does, being focused on your why will keep you going.
Step 4: Determine Your How
You’ve figured out what and you’ve figured out why – not it’s time to figure out how.
I’m sure we can all relate to the experience of setting a large goal, a new years resolution perhaps, only to never make any real progress on it.
That’s because just know what you want to accomplish is not enough – you need to figure out how you’re going to accomplish it.
This means that your personal development plan needs action steps. And those action steps need to be scheduled out on your calendar to ensure you actually do them.
In order to tackle this step, write down every single task you can think of that you’ll need to accomplish in order to reach your goal. If it helps, start at the goal and work backward with the last step you’ll do.
Once you have all of the tasks written down, actually decide when you’ll do them. Put every single one on the calendar.
If you aren’t able to determine when you plan to accomplish every task to reach your goal, it’s going to be a lot less likely that you’ll reach it!
Step 5: Create Supportive Habits
Habits make up a huge portion of our day. Your current habits are partly responsible for the results you have in your life right now.
That means if you want to change your life, you need to change your habits.
I want you to write down a list of every habit you think might be useful in order to reach your goals.
For example, if your current goal is to start an online business while working a full-time job, it would probably be useful to get into the habit of waking up a few hours earlier so you can work on your business before going to your full-time job.
And if you’re working on saving for a big financial goal, try getting into the habit of making coffee at home in the morning instead of stopping for a latte on your way to work.
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Step 6: Track Your Progress
It’s super important to track your progress along the way to make sure you’re always on the right course. That way, if you ever start to get off-track with your goal, you have a chance to fix it!
Tracking your progress will look different for every goal you set, so it’s important that you identify the key metrics you want to track.
For example, if you’re starting a business, key metrics might include, email subscribers, conversion rate, and revenue.
If you’re working on improving your health, key metrics might improve the number of ounces of water you drink, the number of minutes you exercise, or your weight.
Finally, and most importantly – if what you’re doing isn’t getting you the results you want, you need to change your strategy.
If that happens, it’s time to head back to Step 4 and create a new action plan!
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Step 7: Repeat. Forever.
Please do not reach one goal and then call it a day. The entire point of personal development is that you are constantly developing as a person!
Remember that huge list of goals and visions we wrote down in step one?
Well once you’ve achieved one goal, it’s time to refer back to that master list, prioritize them again, and decide what goal you’re planning to work on next.
It’s important to remember that you’ll never be finished.
Personal Development Plan Summary
Now that we’ve covered all of that, let me quickly summarize what exactly goes into your personal development plan:
- What you want to accomplish
- Why you want to accomplish it
- What steps you will take to accomplish it
- What supportive habits you will adopt in order to accomplish it
- When you will accomplish it
As far as what tool to use to create your personal development plan – you can use anything! You can use a journal, a spreadsheet, a word document, a task management tool like Asana, a planner, etc. It’s really up to you!
I do my big-picture planning in a word document, where I set my big goals and write the action steps.
Then I outline every task in Asana and assign due dates.
Finally, I write each daily task in my daily planner.
Whatever tool (or combination of tools) works best for you is the one you should be using.
If you’re interested in or passionate about personal development, creating a personal development plan is a great way to achieve your goals without getting overwhelmed!
A personal development plan is an amazing road map that you can update and refer back to for literally your entire life.
This plan gives your life purpose and focus and can help you to live a happier life that you always dreamed of.
I hope you’ll give it a shot, and come back and let me know how your personal development plan is working for you!
Hi, I’m Erin! I’m an online educator and content creator who helps women reach their goals by teaching them to manage their time and their money. I want to help you design a life you love, so I’m sharing everything I know about goal setting, productivity, planning, and personal finance. You can read my full story here!