How to Build Your Personal Development Plan

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Personal development expert Jim Rohn said: “When you look at successful people, you will almost always discover a plan behind their success. It is the foundation for success.” The process of building your plan can take considerable time. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t rush things. However, it’s a good idea to set a deadline in your mind. After all, tasks are a kind of fluid – they take as much space as you give them.

There are four steps (4) one has to take in order to achieve this plans, I call this the “COBA STEP” meaning;

  • Clear out your vision

  • Outline your strengths and areas for improvement

  • Build your personal development plan

  • Review and adapt

Clear out your vision

You have to start with the end in mind. To build your personal development plan, look at what’s on the other side. Think about your future life. Choose a timeframe that makes sense for you – if you are still in your 20’s, a look at 3 or 5 years from now is enough. The older you get, the longer the planning period you can have.

Now, imagine your life in, say, 3 years and go through your imaginary day:

  • What’s the first thought that passes your mind in the morning?
  • What’s the reason you get out of bed?
  • How’s your day structured?
  • What’s your workplace? What do you do there?
  • How much time do you spend with friends and family?
  • What makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day?
  • What gives you energy moving forward and what drains your energy?
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Outline your strengths and areas for improvement

You’ve put down a pin on where you want to go – now let’s see what are the means of going forward.

First, think about what you already have going for you – what are the strengths and the skills that are already relevant to your dream? Maybe you want to move into a new work field – then your natural networking skills will help you get to know the industry quicker.

Then, make a list of skills you need to develop and projects you can start working on to move you closer to your goals. Think about the people you can contact and who can help you along the way. At this point you don’t have to be too specific – think of it as a kind of brainstorming.

After you’ve created a long list, look at the different points and group them together to form clusters. You can use a format that’s well known by most business students – the SWOT chart. Although we’re used to thinking about it as a tool to assess organizations, it’s just as handy for assessing your personality. You just have to draw a four quadrant map and use each part for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Build your personal development plan

After you have a clear direction, let’s go into detail. The key here is to get down to specific actions for the future.

You start by setting up specific projects. What do you need to get them done?

  • What resources will you need? Books to read, courses to take, tools to subscribe to…
  • What people will help you do it? Friends, mentors and so on.
  • What will success look like? Set specific criteria for measuring that.
  • What is the timeframe? Either put in a general deadline or milestones for different parts of the project.
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You’ll end up with a clear idea of what needs to get done and how to do it. Now get doing! You can even tie your personal development plan to your annual goals.

President Eisenhower once said: “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The importance of a personal development plan is in getting the clarity that comes with answering questions about your future. But it is not set in stone. After all, life changes fast and we need to change with it. That’s why it’s important to review and adapt.

Reviews can go on a quarterly basis. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Reread your vision, check out your values mind map. But after that focus just on what needs to be done over the next quarter – otherwise, you might feel overwhelmed by the full picture and never get around to doing anything.

If some project no longer makes sense, don’t hesitate to remove it from your personal development plan. Don’t hesitate to adapt the plan according to new interests or a change in circumstances. A good personal development strategy grows as you do. As Tony Robbins put it, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”

Conclusion

Taking a look around and making sure you know what you’re going after is very important and it can be quite refreshing. When I built my personal development plan, I felt energized and ready to conquer every challenge. I was sure I knew what I was doing and that gave me confidence in pursuing my vision.

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