Have you recognised an area in your life that needs a bit of a boost? Maybe you feel you need to improve your negotiation skills or self-esteem to be better at your job?

A lot of people grow and learn as life unfolds, but having a more conscious approach to your personal growth will bring you closer to success in life.

Adding a new skill to your personal toolbox will help you to become better at everyday life. But did you know that developing a personal-development plan will increase your chances of achieving your personal goals?

Creating a personal development plan is easier than you think. The toughest part is figuring out where you want to start. Here are 10 practical steps to help you develop a roadmap towards your human potential.

1. Getting Personal With Your Development

What does personal development mean to you?

Maybe you feel that your emotional intelligence is something that’s important or that you actually need to focus more on your career development?

Having a basic understanding of what personal growth and development programmes are will help you with your development plans.

Some classic development theories laid the foundations for the self-help industry and can help you understand what it's all about. Maslow published a paper in 1943 called ‘A theory on human motivation’ in which he explained the forces that drive human development. His theory suggests that we all seek the fulfilment of a hierarchy of needs.

Balance your development
Creating balance in your development is an art - Photo by Dušan Smetana on Unsplash

He created a popular pyramid as part of this theory, illustrating how our basic needs for food, water and shelter precede the psychological needs for security, love and community.  Once those are fulfilled we move towards the top of the pyramid where we ask the deeper questions about our self-actualisation and purpose in life.

The truth is that personal development is any and everything that will help you become better at life.

Once you start to peel off the various layers of yourself, you’ll realise just how integrated and complex you are. Moulding this process into a development plan is taking a step towards giving yourself a gift no one else can, the gift of a better you and a more rewarding life.

The exciting part is that you will always learn and discover more about yourself once you start your self-improvement journey.

To kick of your plan, ask yourself what self-development means to you?

2. Core Areas of Development

As human beings we have a lot of different areas in our life we have to balance and pay attention to. When you look at improving your life, you’ll have to consider how you develop, set personal goals and achieve them in each of these areas.

Psychologists, behaviourists and life coaches alike live to guide people in their processes of self-discovery.  It’s a complex process, but you can kick it off by assessing and evaluating various parts that make up who you are.

Whether you’re working on a professional development plan or personal development plan, these areas are generally covered in personal development coaching:

  • Financial (usually career orientated)
  • Familial
  • Spiritual
  • Physical (fitness)
  • Mental
  • Social ties (friends)

Start your development plan now by writing these general areas of your life as headings on different sheets of paper. Are there any skills that pop up in one or a couple of them? Maybe when you look at fitness your idea to get into shape springs to mind, or getting a new job is something under financial goals, whatever you think will make your life better. Hold onto those pages, we’ll use them as we go through the rest of this article.

3. Current State and Future Goals

Using the basic development areas listed above, you can now evaluate how you feel, in the present moment, about the various aspects of your life.

Once you’ve established where you are, try and determine where you want to go.

Using the ‘Mental’ aspect of your life as an example; maybe you feel that you are stressed, need to be happier or that your mind is too busy, and you struggle to focus. This means you need some stress management, to create focus or quieten the mind. You’ve heard that things like yoga or meditation help with that and establish that’s where you want to go. The next step would be to set goals that take you towards your future outcomes.

Development plan steps
What do you want in your future and do you have the required skills and capabilities - Photo by Ante Hamersmit on Unsplash

4. Are You 100% Certain

You will only achieve your goals if your mindset is right and you remain motivated by understanding your beliefs and how they drive you. This is something Anthony Robbins unearth in his international bestseller Awaken the Giant Within. Reading his self-help book will help you understand how your belief system forms the willpower and motivational drive in achieving your goals.

It’s also important to realise that sometimes there might be two goals that are in conflict with each other. Your desire to spend more time with your family might directly clash with your desire to study a new degree or to lose weight as you spend more time going to the gym. Identify these realities and how some goals could be a blind spot for others.

Development priorities
Every decision you make will influence other parts of your life - Photo by zhang kaiyv on Unsplash

5. Setting SMART Goals

One of the core reasons people fail is that they’re not setting their goals in ways that are actually practical and achievable.

Setting SMART goals will ensure you are one step closer to achieving your dreams.

But what are smart goals you might ask?  Reach your goals by setting them the SMART way:

  • Specific – be as specific as possible about what you want to achieve.  It’s important to consider who is involved, what is required, why you want this and by when?
  • Measurable – Can you measure it or create an indicator for your progress?
  • Achievable/Attainable – Are you realistic and can you achieve the goals with the time and resources you have?
  • Realistic – Are you able to commit to this goal and are you realistic about reaching it with what you have available?
  • Timely – Set a deadline and ensure you want to be at a specific place by a specific date.

Now, let’s look at the goals you have for each area of your life. Can you set goals that are smart? If goals relate to intangibles like emotional intelligence or spirituality, you can try and set their measurement against the intended results.  As an example, you can measure better negotiation skills against the amount of deals you close.

6. Create a Project Plan

Now that you have all your goals set-out you can try and plot them out on a timeline. Your personal development project timeline needs to break down the long term goals into short-term goals over a period of time.

This is a further test in the process to identify whether your goals are SMART and whether you have a good chance to achieve them.

Let’s say your goal is to lose weight; 10 kilograms in 10 months means you would have to lose a kilo a month. You decide to do this by going to gym three times a week and slot it into your project plan. You also add better meal prepping and monthly weigh-ins and this gives you a complete picture of how this will roll out in reality.

Having all your goals mapped out and seeing them in front of you, makes it easier to see clashes and pressures around resources. 

Self development map
Create a map for for your life and how you need to develop to get there - Photo by N. on Unsplash

7. Assess Your Resource Requirements

Knowing what you need to make your goal a reality is something you've probably already considered.

Setting appropriate goals using the SMART process above will certainly help, but spending time specifically around resource requirement would ensure you set yourself up for success.

Resources refer to any element or ‘ingredient’ you might need to make your goals achievable.

That might be time, money or even the help of people. Don’t be discouraged if you do not have enough of a specific resource, this only means you’ll need more time to achieve your goal and you can then consider how the acquisition of these resources forms part of the beginning of your project timeline and plan.

8. Get Rid of  The Bad

Sometimes we are so focused on creating a new habit or skill, we forget about the bad habits holding us back. Getting out of our comfort zone means we might have to overcome bad habits like procrastination, negative thoughts and limiting beliefs.

Make an assessment of the things that sabotage your progress and actively eradicate them.

Having a solid motivation and being committed to your goals is fundamental for this.  You cannot create this massive plan to lose weight, while continuing to eat more chocolates than vegetables, ultimately counteracting all your good work.  Get rid of those bad habits and make it part of your development plan.

bad habits holding you back
Are you getting rid of bad habits that hold you back - Photo by Henley Design Studio on Unsplash

9. A Daily Commitment

When you read books like Getting Things Done (David Allen) or The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (Stephen R. Convey), you will learn that doing something daily to advance your dream is what keeps the momentum going.  Making it part of your daily life keeps it on the radius and gives your dreams constant presence in your life.

Can your morning routine include small steps that will help you realise your goals?

10. Have Self-Compassion

It’s important to realise that self-development is a continuous process.

Once you tackle and address one aspect of yourself, it uncovers another area that needs improvement.

Be grateful and ensure you practise self-love during the process. 

Practise self-care during your process of self-discovery. Celebrate your wins, regardless of how small they are and be patient with yourself, your development and progress.  You can only create your best life if you are 100% in your own court - believe in yourself and be your own biggest fan.

What's holding you back
What is holding you back from achieving your dreams - Photo by Judeus Samson on Unsplash

Remember that improving yourself is personal and should be all you want it to be.  Make it your own, read self-help books and use the various online resources available or contact a personal development coach to help with the process.

Your best life awaits and it starts with a plan.

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Writer and qualified yoga instructor, who is passionate about health and well-being.