If you want to improve any aspect of your life, the best way to go about it is to work on your own personal development. This is a fairly wide field, encompassing a variety of activities and mindsets that are designed to improve and enhance your life. When you work on your personal development you need to evaluate your own skills, abilities and traits. You look for weaknesses that you can work on, and strengths that you can use in better ways. And once you’ve gone through this process, you can set goals and create a personal development plan that suits your life and its needs.
The ultimate goal of your personal development activities will depend on your concerns at the time and on your long term life goals. This means there is no right or wrong way to go about this process. It also means that copying someone else’s plan for your life will only leave you more confused than ever. This doesn’t mean that you can’t learn from other people’s plans or get expert help in development of course, but generally this is something that you need to create for yourself.
Setting up a personal development plan isn’t an easy process. You will encounter things about yourself that you don’t like or are ashamed of and feel like quitting when you encounter obstacles. Not to mention the fact that the work itself will be difficult and ongoing. There is no end when you’re dedicated to personal development and no ultimate goal to reach. This is probably why so many people quit, or don’t start the process in the first place. But dedicating yourself to these types of goals really pays off . It will make you more employable, help you to be a better friend and partner, and make you a happier and more satisfied person all round.
Have you make the choice to dedicate yourself to personal development? What areas of your life could use some work and what is the best way to improve them? Do you have a personal development plan?
The Importance of Ongoing Personal Development
If you want to be successful and happy in a way that’s meaningful for you then you need to do ongoing personal development. The benefits of these types of activities can’t be overstated and they can’t be denied either. The top benefits of dedicating yourself to ongoing personal development are as follows:
Every human on the face of the planet has needs. According to Maslow’s heirarchy of needs, there are base needs, things we need to survive, and higher level needs. Once you’ve satisfied these base needs: food, shelter, water and sleep, you naturally move up to meet other needs. And the top need is self-actualization. When you’re self-actualized, you’ve realized your own talents and potentials, or are working on them at the very least. And if you don’t work towards getting this need met it will cause lifelong dissatisfaction and disappointment.
Everyone has wounds. Whether those wounds were caused by childhood traumas, mistakes, tragedies or burdens, no one gets through life without them. But the steps you take towards healing is almost more important than the wounds themselves. Healing is vitally important. Without this part of the process you will go through life in pain and you will constantly feel angry about the pain. And this often results in people causing more pain to the people around them in response. Personal development gives you a chance to examine these wounds and to find a way to heal them or to live better and stronger because of them. And everyone deserves the chance to do that.
Some people dedicate themselves to learning throughout their lives and others never pick up another book after school. Each of these is a valid choice in specific situations, but there’s one type of learning that almost everyone should do. Everyone should learn about themselves. When you learn about yourself, you come to understand your own skills and abilities and can use them better in your life. You learn about your own weaknesses and issues as well, which means you stand a better chance of not taking them out on the people around you. This is perhaps the most important form of learning there is, and it’s something that’s not covered in school.
Everyone wants good friends, supportive family members, and partners to share the joys and the burdens of life with. But too often these relationships fail or they’re just not as satisfying as you might hope. It can be tempting to blame other people for these failures, but the truth is that you probably had a role in the failures as well. Learning about yourself can help with this. It can help you see the places where you were the problem and help you avoid the same issues in the future. It can help you understand how to attract and keep the kind of people you want in your life. In fact, personal development is probably the most important thing you can do if you want good relationships at home and at work.
If you want to be successful at work you have to know what to do to attain success and what’s holding you back. And you can’t know this for certain without a lot of thought and understanding about your work practices and your own work standards.
Misconceptions about Personal Development
There are several misconceptions about personal development that you need to be aware of because they can negatively influence your drive and your progress. These truth is:
There’s nothing wrong with you
Personal development is incredibly important, but not always for the reasons that people think. There’s an assumption going around that dedicating yourself to personal development means that there’s something wrong with you. The assumption is that you wouldn’t need to change yourself if you were a healthy and happy person. But this assumption isn’t always true.
Some people are unhealthy, and set about on their development journey to overcome that, but you don’t have to be mentally or emotionally sick to want to improve yourself. No matter how happy and healthy you are, no matter how much you have or have achieved, there’s always room to be better and to be more. And that’s what personal development is about. So if you or anyone else you know is using personal development as a reason to criticize yourself, your life, or the people around you, just stop.
Development is for everyone
Tied to this assumption is the idea that personal development is for people who are… bigger. The people who do bigger things and live bigger lives, the people who are massively ambitious and want the near impossible. But the truth is, personal development is for everyone who wants to be happier and healthier. It’s for people who need to heal, and people who want just a little more in their lives. You don’t have to want to be the President of the world to be interested in personal development, you just have to want to be a better version of you.
It’s hard work
And this brings us to the last misconception, and this is one that’s used by every guru and self-help book out there. The assumption is that there’s a magic strategy out there that will make the journey easy. But this is completely untrue and totally unhelpful. There is no one way. There is no one plan that will help everyone, and no secret that everyone knows but you that will make personal development easier. Improving yourself is an individual path and pursuit. And as long as you keep following other people’s plans and ideas, as long as you keep buying into every ‘magic pill’ that comes alone, you won’t do the real work that will benefit your life.
Why You Should Have a Personal Development Plan
Once you’re convinced of the importance of personal development, you need to create a plan for yourself. Creating a personal development plan, preferably one that plans your work and activities over the longer term, can be very beneficial. Some of these advantages include the following:
Not to be too simplistic, but if you get in a car without knowing where you’re going, then you won’t get anywhere you want to go. This applies to your life as well. If you don’t have a personal development plan, you won’t know what to do next or how to tell when you’ve achieved something great. And this will often result in you lurching from one area to another, never achieving anything and feeling that grinding sense that you’re missing out on life.
To achieve your goals you need to focus on them. This means you can turn down options that take you away from your goals and continuing taking steps that take you towards your goals no matter what obstacles life puts in your way. But if you don’t have a self-development plan, then you don’t know what to focus on. And that means that every distraction and obstacle you encounter will pull you away from what you really want out of your life.
Life can be difficult and it can be random. You can’t control all of it, but you can control how you grow and develop by creating a personal development plan and setting out the steps and activities you want to take towards your goal. You will still go off track because of events outside your control, but you’ll have a better chance of controlling how you react to these events and returning to the path you’ve chosen.
Motivation is an important issue in personal development. Too often it vanishes when you need it most and can’t be found when you’re starting a new project. But having a long term vision for your life can help with that. It can give you the intrinsic motivation you need to push you forward on your path and help you overcome obstacles and keep doing the work even when you don’t feel like it.
An essential part of your personal development plan is to plan for the obstacles. No matter how dedicated you are to your goals, there will be things that get in your way. Anticipating and creating a plan to get around these obstacles can be the key to your ultimate success or failure.
The Keys to a Good Personal Development Plan
When you’re creating your personal development plan there are a number of things you can do to make the process easier and more effective. The following ideas will help you create a personal development plan that actually works for you and your life:
Write it down
This seems obvious, but it can’t be overstated. Don’t have your plan in your head or anywhere else it will get lost or forgotten. This is just a waste of time.
Do your research
Just because you can’t copy other people’s plans doesn’t mean you can’t learn from them. Before you decide what you want to do to develop, get advice from the professionals. Try sources on personality theory if that’s what interests you or mindfulness meditation if you want to develop your self-awareness. There are lots of paths to your development, so spend some time exploring them before you make a choice.
Keep it simple
This is key in every type of endeavor. Don’t make your personal development plan so complex that it overwhelms you or makes you want to stop before you get started. Choose one area to focus on and one goal to start with. This will improve your chances of actually achieving the goal andhelp you focus.
This process will not be easy. And telling yourself otherwise just means that you’ll be derailed at the first sign of trouble or stress. Working on your personal development plan will cause upheaval. It will make you feel uncomfortable, stressed and even out of control at times. You just have to trust that things will work out in the end. And if you’re really having trouble, make sure you seek out professional help because it might be a sign of a problem that’s too serious for you to address on your own.
Share your personal development plan with a trusted friend or family member and ask them to check in with you to see how you’re going. Doing this makes you commit to the plan more fully because you know that someone is counting on you. But never think that any of the responsibility for your plan has now shifted to that other person. It’s still your responsibility to carry through on the activities and monitor your own behaviors and actions. This doesn’t mean that you can’t get help in your journey however, sometimes an outside view can be essential in seeing problems or their solutions.
Areas for Development
As previously stated, there is no one way to work on your life or yourself. This means you have the chance to choose the area of your life that’s most important to you, the one that causes the most problems, or just the area you’re most interested in. Again, this is completely up to you, but if you’re just starting out in personal development you might want to consider the following areas:
Your cognitive life
What you think and how you think are vitally important in creating your happiness and helping you achieve your goals. This doesn’t mean that you have to learn to think positively in every situation, but practicing techniques to control racing thoughts or trying Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT) can be extremely helpful in making your cognitive life better.
Do you have control of your emotions? Are you self-aware enough that you know what you’re feeling most of the time and why? Your emotions influence your decisions and your interactions with other people as well as other vital parts of your life. So it’s always a good idea to work on your emotional intelligence.
Do you enjoy your work life? You may think that you’re stuck in your job or career because you have financial demands that prevent you from making changes, but this is still an area you should think about. You spend about a one third of every day at work, so if you’re unhappy there it can have a big impact on your overall happiness as well.
Your friends and family
How many close relationships do you have? Are they healthy? The quality of your social life can determine your emotional, physical and mental health, which makes it vitally important that you consider working on this aspect of your life.
The physical aspects of your life
This part of your plan should include everything to do with your physical health and fitness. This includes your eating regime, your weight, your workouts and your relaxation practices. The importance of your physical health and fitness is fairly obvious. If you’re overweight, if you’re in pain or discomfort, it reduces your happiness and overall contentment. It also makes it more difficult for you to do all those things that you want to do.
Money worries are one of the top causes of stress, which can cause physical, mental and emotional diseases and disorders. So if you’re having worries in this area, consider addressing your finances as part of your personal development plan.
Steps for Building your Self-Development Plan
Now that you understand the importance of your personal development plan, it’s time to start creating it. Try the following steps to create a plan that’s tailored for you, your dreams, and your life:
This is the time when you let your mind wander and decide what you want from life. Don’t censor yourself at this stage, just let your passions and your dreams lead you where you want to go. And make sure you write everything down.
No matter how tempting it is to change everything at once, this will just diminish your chances of succeeding. So work on one dream at a time and keep the others written down somewhere safe so you can move onto them later.
Where are you?
Before you get started making your personal development plan, you need to know where you are in terms of this goal. Why did you choose one goal over another? Why is it important to you? Answering these questions will give you the motivation you need to get started and let you track your progress along the way.
Set a goal
There’s a lot of information out on there on the importance of setting SMART goals and this is one piece of advice you should follow. So make sure your goals are Specific, Measureable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely if you want to succeed.
Planning for failure is almost as important as the rest of the plan. Anticipating problems you might encounter, and setting a plan in place for when you do, creates an automatic response to obstacles that will help you stay motivated so you can resist the more tempting but less helpful options.
It can be hard to motivate yourself to achieve your goals when you’re tired and just want to spend your free afternoon sleeping. This is why it’s important that you review your efforts regularly. This will show you how far you’ve come, how far you still need to go, and let you evaluate your current strategies and activities and choose new ones if they aren’t working.
Choose a new goal when it’s achieved.
Once you’ve achieved your first goal, go back to your list and choose the next one!
Creating a personal development plan can be difficult and it’s ongoing. You will never reach the end of this journey and you will never be able to sit back on your laurels and just enjoy your life with the knowledge that you’re perfect. In fact, if you find yourself tempted to do that, it probably means that you’re not even close to being done.
Personal development is a difficult process and that’s why creating a plan can be so helpful. It makes your direction and the steps you need to take to get there clear and easier to follow. It can guide you when you’re feeling tired and dispirited and just want to give up because it’s all too hard. And having a set plan in place means that you know exactly what you have to do, because it’s all there in black and white. And that’s one less thing to think about in your busy life.
Have you created a personal development plan for yourself? Share it with us for inspiration and support in the comments below.