A popular joke goes something like this:
What’s a New Years’ resolution?
A to-do list for the first two weeks of the Year.
While there are many reasons why New Year’s resolutions fail, the simple truth is they are not written in a way to help you succeed. It’s easy to come up with a list promising yourself to eat healthier so you can have the body you want, spend less so you can save more, attend more classes so you can learn more skills and exercise more in the New Year. You feel good about yourself and may even do it for a few days before slowly slipping back into your old habits. You stop working out, you no longer look up those free online classes and you no longer keep track of your expenses.
This blog was set up to help you become a better person at the end of this year than when you began it. If you really want to be more effective at what you do and achieve more throughout the year, you need to take a more systematic approach. One that goes beyond just having a To-do list for the first two weeks of the year. What you need to make is a personal development plan.
Your Personal Development Plan should be a well-structured plan that clearly states the things you want to achieve in the upcoming year. It has to be written in such a way as to demand your commitment and loyalty. More importantly, it should be a plan that is in line with your life goals.
Five years from now, you will be the product of the decisions you take today so if you have an image in your head of the kind of person you would like to be, now is the time to start working towards that goal.
There is no hard rule about what a personal development plan should look like. The most important thing is for your plan to have subplans that clearly state what you need to do in areas you have identified in your life that need improvement. You could consider some of the following:
- Career Plan – Are you gearing towards a promotion at work or a career change? What are some of the skills you need to acquire so you can be better at your job? Is there a subordinate you intend to mentor at your workplace? Do you have a workplace mentor you plan to interact with some more?
- Learning Plan – Are there any courses you intend to take? Do you wish to continue your formal education? Are there any trainings you would like to attend? Or professional institutes you would like to join?
- Business Plan – Are you planning to start a business this year? Do you have plans to expand your home-based business into something larger? Is there a product or service you wish to create to boost your income?
- Relationship Plan – How do you plan to make sure your relationship with a loved one continues to grow and blossom? Are there negative people you need to cut out of your life? An abusive relationship you need to get out of?
- Financial Plan – What is your monthly savings target? Are there any investments you intend to make this year?
Be sure to supplement this with other plans in line with what you intend to achieve. You could also have an exercise plan, a dieting plan, a writing plan, even a plan to quit smoking. Once you have written your subplans, you now have an overview of what you plan to achieve by the end of the year.
At this point, it probably all looks overwhelming but don’t despair. A year has 12 months. That’s plenty of time if you plan for it. Make a checklist of what you would like to achieve in the first quarter. Break this checklist into Months. Do the same for the second, third and fourth quarters. Make sure you allow yourself a reasonable time to finish tasks. Some tasks will probably start in one quarter and finish in another. Remember, the aim is not to rush through your plan. Your goal is to be a more effective person at the end of the year. To be able to look back at your plan when you carry out an end of year review and see how far you have come.
A personal development plan is a living document so don’t just write one and leave it to gather dust in a drawer or a folder on your tablet. Be sure to schedule regular reviews at the end of every month and Quarter. Identify your successes so you can celebrate them. Analyse failures so you can learn from them. Update your plan throughout the year as well. New developments will mean parts of your plan might need to change before the year runs out. You might also achieve a goal earlier than you had planned. In which case, it might be time to try for a bigger, more daring goal.
Spend a few hours today to come up with a personal development plan. 2019 is just beginning so it’s a good time to start. If you have any suggestions on how to improve a personal development plan, you can share them in the comments below. If you need help with your personal development plan, send a message and I will help you review yours in full confidentiality. Be sure to sign up and follow this blog so you don’t miss next week’s article. I will be talking about one of my favourite productivity tools, the to-do list.