Why Do I Need A Personal Development Plan?

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You might be asking yourself; ‘Why do I need a personal development plan?’. Have you ever wonder what it’d be like to learn a new language? Or to travel the world?

If a goal is important to you, there are ways to make sure you put your efforts towards reaching that goal. The best way to start is with a plan.

If you don’t know how to start your personal development plan, then don’t worry, we’re here to help.

In this post, we’ll answer the question ‘why do I need a personal development plan’ in detail. We’ll also go through what should be part of your personal development plan, how to prioritise it and, above all else, how to take action toward your goals in your personal life.

Doing so will help you feel empowered, accomplish more and stay on top of your self-improvement.

What is a personal development plan?

The simplest way to describe a personal development plan is to think about the workplace. At your job, you probably have a professional growth plan. It often includes things like upgrading your abilities or meeting specific business-related targets.

For example, if you’re a salesperson, your professional plan might include a sales target that you hope to meet that year while it might also suggest that you attend a networking seminar to learn some new skills.

That same aspiration-based concept can be applied to personal and professional development.

So, ‘Why do I need a personal development plan?’. A personal plan acts the same way as it does in the workplace. You set targets and goals and then measure your progress toward them. The big difference is that the goals are your personal hopes and dreams rather than those of your career.

You can read more about why personal development is important here.

Your plan can include anything of importance in your life at home – whether it’s learning a new language, searching for a romantic partner or saving up some money to travel the world. You might already know what your goal is? If not we’ll help you set your goals.

Why do I need a personal development plan?

If you struggle to get on board with making a tedious-sounding plan for your personal life, then consider the following.

A plan doesn’t have to be boring. For starters, a plan is all about you. It’s an excellent opportunity to take a moment to spend some time on yourself and give yourself the TLC that you need but don’t often get.

Secondly, nothing is boring about your personal dreams! Your aspirations should get you excited. The American novelist Norman Mailer famously said “Every moment of one’s existence one is growing into more or retreating into less. One is always living a little more or dying a little bit”. So sneak some time in your day to make a list of the things you want to do.

Remember that list is for you, you don’t have to share it with anyone unless you want to. It will consist of some big goals, and mini-goals to help you get there.

For instance, if you are going to learn to ride a motorcycle, think of the mini-goals that can help you get there. You’ll have to shop for and purchase a motorcycle. You’ll have to watch an instructional video series and maybe do a test?

It’s also a good idea to work with a riding instructor and spend a few hours per week to practice. Eventually, by itemising your goals, you’ll be well on your way to hitting the open road. Your goal might not be to learn to ride a motorcycle, but the same applies to all goals.

Here are some of the benefits of making a plan in your personal life:

  • Identify your goals;
  • Understand your strengths and weaknesses;
  • Divide your goals into manageable chunks; 
  • Avoid becoming inactive or complacent; and,
  • Prioritise your time so you can stick to your plan.

In case that doesn’t answer the question ‘why do I need a personal development plan’ Next, we’ll look at an example of two ladies with very different levels of organisation in their plan-setting. As you’ll see, the results of their goals differ significantly.

A tale of two language learners

Julia and Florence want to learn a new language. They’ve always thought that the French language is beautiful. By learning it, they hope to impress their loved ones, expand their knowledge and hopefully travel the world to practice their new abilities.

However, they have different levels of success for accomplishing their dream because they have very different planning abilities. Julia is a planner, but unfortunately, Florence is not.

Before beginning her training, Julia takes a moment to assess her strengths and weaknesses. In particular, she knows that she gets frustrated quickly and struggles to stay motivated when doing new things alone. She comes up with a great idea – to enlist the help of her old friend, Marc, who can speak French and give her guidance along the way.

Knowing that she’ll struggle to stay focused, Julia also makes an action plan. She focuses on a few important milestones. She needs to practice for two hours per week, take an online class, work with Marc and to book a holiday in a year’s time to Paris. The list helps her itemise her tasks and stay focused. Booking the big, aspirational vacation for the end of her learning gives her something to look forward to and keeps her motivated.

Florence, on the other hand, is stuck in a rut after a few months. To help her learn, she decided to download a language-learning app but is having a hard time understanding the grammar and pronunciation. She starts to get lazy, and for weeks at a time, she doesn’t even open her app!

Without knowing it, she has become complacent about her dream, and it quickly moves down on her priority list until she nearly forgets about it other than the occasional feeling of guilt that comes from not working towards a goal you’ve set.

Florence struggles to find the time in her busy schedule to practice the new language. Since she hasn’t made it a priority in her life and set up bite-sized action items, she is overwhelmed with the task and finds it all too easy to set her homework aside to watch TV or go for coffee with a friend.

Julia, on the other hand, is making diligent progress toward her language learning plan because she is can prioritise her time and stick to it. She finds that giving herself a checkmark after each new step is a powerful motivator. She finds the time to get out of the house by going for coffee with her friend Marc who can evaluate her progress and give her advice.

Are you starting to see the picture? Hopefully, the tale of two language-learners helps you answer the question ‘why do I need a personal development plan?’. Even for a personal goal, can drastically help improve results, stay motivated and accomplish your dreams.

The interesting thing about this is that sometimes we’re Julia and sometimes we’re Florence. There’s nothing fundamentally in your personality that stops you from reaching your goals. We all reach some of our goals, and others we don’t reach.

In the end, this comes down to the priority we give them. The purpose of a personal development plan is to be organised about this prioritisation so that you’re prioritising the right goals, the ones that make you happy.

It’ll come as no surprise that, after eight months of goal-setting, Julia has her plane ticket booked to Paris while Florence hasn’t quite figured out how to ask for directions to the bus station.

How can you make a personal development plan?

By now, we hope we’ve answered the question ‘why do I need a personal development plan?’. And you’re convinced that making a personal development plan is the most important step to accomplishing any goal in your personal life.

Not sure where to begin? Here’s our favorite advice on how to set up your plan. All you need is a pen, paper and some alone time to think.

  • Discover your “why”:  it’s your main driver for wanting to accomplish a new task. If you have a goal to strive for, then ask yourself a series of ‘why’ questions to help understand your deepest desire for wanting to take action in the first place. You can start with the question ‘Why do I need a personal development plan?’, the answer to that might be for example ‘to learn French’ or ‘to learn to manage stress better’. Why do you want to learn French or manage stress better? Keep asking ‘why’ until you feel you have what drives you towards this goal. In general, you will need to ask yourself ‘why’ at least 5 times.
  • Do a SWOT analysis: it’s an acronym meaning to make a list of your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats. MindTools have a great article on how to do this here. When you have completed your SWOT analysis you will have a full overview of what will help you reach your goal, and what will make it harder.
  • Develop SMART goals: a SMART goal is another acronym, simply meaning that your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Sometimes it’s hard to get really specific when you’re creating personal goals, but it’s worth spending a bit of time on this. A good question to ask yourself is ‘can I be certain that I’ve reached this goal?’. If the goal is ‘become fluent in French’ then the answer is probably no. What is fluent? By when? If your goal is ‘Learn French well enough that I can watch a French movie without subtitles, and understand it, by December 2022’ you will be able to say for certain if you reached your goal or not.
  • Update your plan: as your life progresses, be sure to review and update your plan periodically . The best way to do this is to build a pre-set review schedule into your planning right now (try every fourth to six months, for starters).

That’s a lot to take in. I hope we’ve answered the question ‘why do I need a personal development plan?’ for you. It requires investing time in yourself, but it’s definitely worth it! And remember, creating the first one is always the hardest. As you get familiar with them it will be quicker.

Motivational speaker Denis Waitley put it really well when he said: “Personal development is the belief that you are worth the effort, time and energy needed to develop yourself”.

With some diligence and some hard work, you can make your own plan that will set you on the right track for accomplishing your dreams. If you want to learn more you can read about how to write a personal development plan in more detail.

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Justine Katherine Askew Personal Development Coach

Justine Katherine Askew, Personal Development Coach

International Coaching Federation Accredited Coach and Mentor; I have always had a deep interest in human emotion, behaviour and potential, often coaching people within the teams that I previously man...

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