Mark Zuckerberg sets himself a personal goal every year. He announced earlier this winter that for 2018 he wants to “fix Facebook”.
In previous years, he committed to visit each of the US’ 50 states or run a mile per day. And he made it. But how?
See, when it comes to taking action and being consistent, structure liberates. Having a simple plan to achieve your personal development goals can take you from inefficient and confused to clear, capable and even motivated!
A Personal Development Plan (or PDP) is like a day-to-day companion to help you take your ambitions forward.
Ready to achieve your development goals for good?
1. Find your ‘True North’: where you are now (and where you want to go)
When I started my own first PDP, I felt a little overwhelmed. How can you connect longer-term life aspirations to your present situation? What are the interests and skills you need to achieve your personal development goals?
As you consider starting your PDP, it’s important to know what drives you. Coaches have, for a long time, used anchors, and you can do the same!
Anchors are sources of energy and direction. What do you find the most enjoyable and rewarding? Where do you want to progress? How does it match your future aspirations?
This simple exercise will reveal the direction of travel you’re going to follow. But the big question to achieve your personal development goals remains… to get there, what do you need to develop in the short (6 months), medium (12 months) and long term (18/24 months)?
2. Spot your growth areas: what do you need to do to achieve your personal development goals?
Be true to yourself. Evolution begins with honesty about where you are now.
- What do other people see as your strengths?
- What personal characteristics do you possess (e.g. self-discipline, optimism, creativity etc.)
- Which skills do you lack or are your weakest (e.g. leadership, communication, teamwork etc.)
- What are your negative personal characteristics (e.g. lack of discipline, indecisiveness, self-doubt etc.)
Don’t forget: if you want to achieve your personal development goals, better to be authentic in times of change! Align your strengths and weaknesses to your future aspirations. And then, cross check your assumptions with trusted people.
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Personal Development Plan for strengths
Example: You don’t really struggle to uncover your creative genius. New ideas come easily to you, and people always ask you for an “out of the box” opinion. However, when it comes to convincing others your idea should go forward, self-doubt takes over. Why not work on communication and how you convey the value of your ideas?
Personal Development Plan for weaknesses
Example: Risk-taking is clearly not your thing. When facing a decision, you will procrastinate for hours. If you continue, you might miss out on future opportunities. Why not focus on identifying your early triggers of procrastination, learn to prioritise options and get mentored on “how to get things done”?
A good PDP is concise and focuses on 3 to 4 areas of development at a time. Prioritise your development points if your list grows bigger. Chase too many hares, and you won’t catch any!
3. Craft your learning curve: How will you achieve your personal development goals?
Once you get clear on the behaviours, skills and knowledge you want to improve, time to set SMART goals.
The secret to taking action and achieving your personal development goals is simple: just do it. You don’t need to do all of it in one go. But you can surely take the first step.
What is the first thing you can do? How can you practice that? Who can help you? (on the latter, check out 6 relationships that will make you stand out at work if you need inspiration)
As you reflect on your development and start defining goals, break down your journey into small steps. What is “success”, and how will you measure it? Aside from “doing”, measuring is important to give you some perspective on progress and keep your motivation up.
Struggling a little? You can use this example:
I want to… [describe precisely what you want to improve]
within… [time you give yourself to see results].
I’m good at… [relevant quality]
but find it difficult to… [related area of improvement].
If I could do this better, I would… [exact description of what you intend to achieve].
To get there, I will… [list down learning points]
and success will be… [a precise event, or something you achieve you can quantify].
4. Optimise your learning pattern
The days when we believed “training” had to be delivered as a formal lesson are over. Our personalities largely determine the ways we like to learn, and it’s absolutely fine (if not recommended) to blend various techniques in your plan:
- ‘on the job’ (practice doing what you want to improve)
- ‘experience’ (coaching, mentoring, observing experts)
- ‘training’ (e-learning or formal training)
But a little trick that few know – and is proven to work to achieve your personal development goals – is to maximise your plan by considering your preferred learning style.
- ACTIVIST: concrete experience and challenge (i.e. role playing, games)
- REFLECTOR: observation and reflection (i.e. feedback, coaching)
- THEORIST: abstract concepts (i.e. classroom-based training)
- PRAGMATIST: active experimentation and testing (i.e. practice, observing/ shadowing)
Do your goals and learning points match your learning style? Are they diverse enough? Do you feel that your development plan will educate, entertain and inspire you?
Spending a few hours crafting a personal development plan (as opposed to writing down your goals loosely on a piece of paper) will help you find a structured way to achieve your personal development goals. But not only this!
PDPs establish the principle that development is about doing things differently. You discover new ways of thinking by pushing your limits. PDPs train you to be flexible, and fuel your growth mindset with creativity.
What’s your personal goal you’re working on right now? Share with us in the comments!