How to Create a Personal Development Plan: Top 10 Tips

Self-development is probably one of the best gifts you can give yourself. For starters, it not only recognizes that there is always something we can improve upon, but it also creates realistic, targeted goals that can help you improve on anything from health and wellbeing, to organization and time management.

As a personal coach, I encourage all my clients to think very carefully as to what they want. Most people come to coaching knowing that they need to do ‘something’, they fill a void; but they often are unable to come to terms with what that is. Most significantly, when I work with individuals wanting to do more or to feel better or to complete some missing piece of their puzzle, just about every single time I realize that they know the answers. They just need a little bit of clarification, support and accountability.

With that clarity on hand, or at least in progress, we always move into a Personal Development Plan or Professional Growth Plan; depending on what area of life they are working on. There are tons of tools out there that can help you map out exactly what you want, what you need and how to get there. Today I want to talk for a little bit about what elements are important when creating a personal or professional plan for improvement.

“Ongoing personal development is the realization that we are never fully completed. We are all beautiful works in progress. The development piece comes as a tool to shape and to mold any areas that we are not fully satisfied with”

There are a couple of important points to make here. For starters, personal or professional development can occur independently. That is, if you are disciplined enough you have tons of information and materials at your finger tips. The library and the internet, make the research part very simple and user friendly. The other point is that while you are seeking improvement in one area, you will likely see a ripple effect of changes in other areas of life. Conversely, you may decide that you need help in creating a plan. Perhaps, you are not motivated enough at this time, or lack clarity of knowing where to spend your time, energy and money.

If you are ready to create a sustainable, achievable action plan, here are my top 10 Action Tips:

– Take time. The first stage cannot be rushed, take enough time to think about your goals and objectives. If you have a mission or purpose statement for life, it will come handy here, if not no worries just keep a journal of what matters to you the most.

– Prioritize by establishing the areas (typically top 3) that will create the biggest impact, in the least amount of time.

– Identify strengths. Take pride on the things that you do well; they will infuse you with energy to do more of.

– Determine weaknesses. Be realistic. This is not something to be embarrassed about, but in turn you can use your identified strengths to overcome.

– Make commitments. Once you schedule the times to work on your goals, keep with it. If anything gets on the way, write it in your journal. It will be handy later when identifying obstacles.

– Make it your mission. Work on it daily and keep it in your front burner. Make copies, paste them where you can see them. Let it be present in all you do.

– Get feedback and support. Recruit others with good attitude that will support you or that share a common goal. Just be mindful of defeating attitudes, those are contagious.

– Do it anyways. Even if it feels uncomfortable, it is easier to deal with the discomfort than with the feeling of not achieving something you set out to do.

– INNERact: reflect and think about your plan daily. What worked, what didn’t? Journal about it.

– Seek ways to do more of. Once you create a good habit or pattern, or you create an opportunity for new learning or discovery, find ways to transfer that into other experiences. The more you do it, the easier it will become.

In coaching, we use the SMART acronym. SMART goals are Specific, Measurable, Action driven, Realistic and Time-oriented. As you write your goals, make sure they meet the SMART acronym. Anything different becomes too broad, and difficult to measure hence to achieve.

Ultimately, any success of a personal or professional development plan is contingent upon the level of commitment and dedication to the plan. I ask my clients for their ‘integrity scale’ and what I mean by that is how committed are they towards making things happen. How much effort are they placing to achieve the goals they set for themselves. See? What happens often is that we start very gun-ho about plans and goals (I truly believe that we can call plan- the problem comes with the implementation and sustainability of that plan) only to find out that they did not account for barriers that would come their way or they did not consider lack of experience, knowledge, talents necessary to achieve the goals as established.

If you are stuck and do not know how to move forward with your action plan. If you have a void, a blank space and do not know what you need to do to fill it. If there is a gap between your reality and your vision, life coaching might be what you are looking for.

© 2011 Maria Martinez

Source by Maria D. Martinez