Do you have a self-development plan and personal goals? Which areas of your life are covered when you consider personal growth through a self-development plan for the first time?

As human beings we have a broad range of areas that make us who we are. We have to look after our own mental, physical and spiritual health as we try and live balanced and whole. But we also try and stay ahead of the pack when we consider our jobs.

This article will discuss how you can work on skills to make you more employable, how your work around self-help can create well-being and happiness, why wellness programmes are gaining popularity in the workplace and what you can do to get going as you work towards the best version of yourself.

First let’s understand what personal and professional development is and why people would invest time and energy in self improvement strategies.

Personal and Professional Development

Most of our days are spent at our jobs. We invest our energy daily in becoming more and more successful at work. But what does improvement entail and how do we approach it in such a way that we take personal responsibility for our lives?

The definition for self-development, personal development and self-help is as simple as the name itself.

 Self development includes all activities, skills and efforts you put in to develop yourself further. 

What motivates you to go to work every day? Motivation is only one of the aspects a good development plan will cover. A personal development plan will ask those difficult questions around your life purpose and why you actually think the work you do is fulfilling.

These programmes make use of self-help tools and techniques to help us understand and evaluate ourselves on a deeper level.  This becomes self-empowering as our understanding makes it possible to identify gaps between where we are currently in our lives, and we would like to be in life.

Even if you are one of the lucky ones who already has their life goals and purpose set-out, you will still need a plan on how to get there. Your career roadmap will include a new course and skills.  You’ll have to consider what softer skills you require plus how you fit everything into your busy life.

Whether it’s in your personal  or professional life, every person wants to advance and create a more meaningful, happy life. Your self-discovery process will unearth exactly what that means and your development plan will get you there.

Roadmap to dreams
We all need a roadmap to our dreams - Photo by Kira auf der Heide on Unsplash

Historical Psychology vs Modern Coaching

The first classical psychology theorists like Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung and Erikson tried to explain human behaviour through their studies and life work. Their work however, focused a lot on explaining some clinical deficiencies in human behaviour. Some could argue that their theories were weird, but it’s important to note that they laid the foundations for us to understand human behaviour.

Abraham Maslow was another key psychologist that created a hierarchy of needs, a way to explain how we as humans find motivation. Starting with the foundational survival and basic needs, he said we all climb up a pyramid as we develop and work our way to achieve security, love, self-esteem and finally self-actualisation.

Thousands of psychologists, industrial psychologists (psychologists in companies), and people who study human behaviour contributed to make the personal development what it is today. Today we have access to life coaches online, seminars with motivational speakers, better informed teachers and a greater focus globally on work-life balance.

Life Coach and psychology
Historical psychology tried to understand behaviour through their studies of development and disorders. Today self-help tools and assistance is a lot more friendly and inclusive - Photo by Ehimetalor Unuabona on Unsplash

Areas of Development

So where is a good place to start when you evaluate your life? Maybe you want to look at how you reduce stress, or work on your emotional intelligence? Or will you look at how you can increase your income by getting a promotion?  All these are very valid and necessary, but we need a way to simplify this and make it easier to analyse.

Industrial Psychologists, psychiatrists and life coaches all use slightly different lenses and methodologies when they evaluate their clients and patients. The various areas of development are basically all the areas that will contribute to making you happy and more whole.

Start by developing self awareness as part of your own development plan. The ideal is to find happiness and balance in all areas of your life:

Financial & Career

Do you stress about money? Financial goals are usually tied to our occupations and the work we do. Make sure that you first isolate your current financial state, then look at whether your work can answer to the demands of your future happy place.


Important questions that steer our life purpose and decisions usually come from spiritual belief systems like why are we here and how we form part of the bigger consciousness

Familial or Intimate Relationships

Usually associated with more intimate relationships, this will include your personal relationship with a spouse, partner or your children. This will help you to focus on what is important when considering your loved ones and what you do for them

Social Life and Friendships

Human beings are social beings, and even if you are introverted you will need a social support structure. Maybe you have a desire to make new friends and find that your current friends just don’t cut it anymore.

Physical Development and Health

Whether you want a six pack, to eat healthier or work on cardiovascular health.  We all have needs when we consider our health and physical appearance. Don’t you think it is time to fix your diet by eating a more balanced meal?

Mental Development and Knowledge

Mentally growing and learning while we ensure we look after our own mental health are important aspects around crafting a happy life. Luckily, there is a greater awareness around mental health issues like depression, and it is important to reach out for help if your goal is to develop a happier mindset and you are not certain how to do this.

Family and balance
We need to balance all aspects of our lives - Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash

Ensure you consider how your goals and needs in one area might be opposing or conflicting to a different goal in another area. Let’s say you want to spend more time with your family, but you also want to earn more money, which means you need to work longer hours. The practicality around realising both those become a challenge with your already limited time and you might have to prioritise or review your goals and ensure that they’re not in direct competition with each other.

Skills of Different Types

When looking at your personal development plan you might already wonder what type of skills you require? Your professional or career goals will help you put a list of skills together to make you better at your job.  These will normally be directly related to your day to day work, specific to a job and can include things like:

  • Reading and writing skills
  • Computer skills.
Transferrable skills
Computer skills is transferable, you'll use it everywhere you go - Photo by Simon Abrams on Unsplash

Operating in the business environment means we work in teams and with people daily . The soft skills and are usually related to our social skills and require a lot of self discipline. We can use and improve on them in a personal environment which means they are transferable skills:

  • Communication skills
  • Listening skills
  • Negotiation skills
  • Interpersonal skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Leadership skills
  • Time management skills
  • Negotiation skills.

Starting Your Journey: A Development Plan

Getting an expert life coach or psychologist to assist in developing your plan would be ideal, but not always possible. If you’ve already evaluated the key areas in your life and want to move forward you can follow these steps to achieve your goals:

Step One – Set Goals That Are SMART

Most people fail because they don’t set proper and achievable goals.  Locke & Latham conducted several studies around goal-setting and found that there are key principles required for effective goal-setting: clarity, challenge, commitment, feedback and task complexity.

Their studies concluded that people who set hard (or challenging), clear goals usually worked harder and are more engaged in the activity.

It’s important to have a mixture between possible, reachable goals and challenging goals to ensure people remain motivated as they move toward bigger aspirations. You can improve setting goals by using the SMART model where you set and achieve specific goals that are measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound.

If you aim at nothing, you’ll hit it all the time.

smart goals
Set yourself up for success with SMART goals - Photo by Ricardo Arce on Unsplash

Step Two – Practise time management

How will it all come together?  Most of the goals seem achievable, but we don’t necessarily have the time to work on them and they might even be unrealistic. Achieving your goals is only possible if you stop procrastinating.

To break a big goal into smaller tasks will also help you achieve the goal, as each step becomes more attainable and your self-confidence grows. Being able to prioritise and plot out how time investment forms part of your plan will be imperative to making goal achievement realistic.

"If you want to become morbe productive, you need to become the master of your minutes." – Crystal Paine

Step Three – Assess You Resource Requirements

Above and beyond time, you might require some money or other resources to achieve some of your goals.  Make sure you assess what these are, draw up a list and then include that as part of your development roadmap.

"By failing to prepare, you prepare to fail." – Benjamin Franklin

Goal setting
What do you need to achieve your goals - Photo by David Travis on Unsplash

Partners in Passion

Living in our own heads can sometimes become challenging as we don’t always see the big picture. A professional life coach or mentor can help us by providing a different perspective and might catapult us into new areas of development.

We would recommend getting a personal development coach if you want to take your personal development seriously.  Nowadays companies allocate a mentor and use mentorship programmes to help their staff develop into leaders themselves; something that is useful especially in countries where affirmative action created the need for leaders to develop quickly.

Here are a couple of other benefits of getting your own professional development coach to assist:

  • They help you to stay focused and stay motivated
  • They know the steps, tools and techniques to use to develop your plan and to continue your growth
  • They help you identify bad habits that might be holding you back (so ingrained in our existence we don’t see them ourselves)
  • They will boost your confidence and challenge low self-esteem and self doubt

"When you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change." – Wayne Deyer

You can easily find a life coach or professional development expert on Superprof and most of them offer their first consultation for free.

Help with development
There's always someone to help - Photo by Perry Grone on Unsplash

Books, Tools and Exercises

There are thousands of books and literature to assist you in achieving your goals and creating success in life. Today you can access personality tests, such as the Enneagram test, goal setting techniques and millions of other tools to help your development process. Have you considered these:

  • Books and novels
  • Podcasts
  • Youtube or online videos
  • Online courses and coaches
  • Webinars and online summits.

Motivated to Take on Life?

Your life is your own responsibility and if you want to reach new heights you’ll have to climb new mountains. Create good habits around your personal development plans.

Working on yourself will not only move you forward in your career and family life, but it will build your confidence, self-esteem and spark a fire in your belly to live life with more passion.

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