by Michael McGrath
Something inside you has stirred your spirit. That inner gnawing to make the changes needed to better your position in life has increased to the point that you have decided to take action! So finally you have made the decision that it is time to change yourself from the inside out and alter your life. You are full of ideas about what needs changed and how you would like to change it! But wait are your thoughts organised? Do you know which small steps will eventually lead you to your desired objective? Do you even know what the desired objective is in its entirety?
Well when you make a Personal Development Plan for yourself, better known in the commercial world as a PDP, then you will have a blueprint that once followed will lead you to the change you desire. Firstly, get a sheet of paper and list all your desires on it. Make a note of all the changes you wish to make. List everything you can think about. Once you have done this get a fresh piece of paper and add the headings:
Personal Development/Personal Growth
Under each heading list five desires from your original list and place them in order of importance. These will be your goals.
An example of a person working in a busy commercial office may be as follows:
Personal Development/Personal Growth
1. Learn to remain calm in stressful situation.
2. Gain additional experience with IT in office.
3. Improve my memory recall ability.
4. Learn to speed/photo read.
5. Increase my self-esteem
Ensure that each goal is realistic but is also challenging. Set a time limit for their acquisition. Now take another piece of paper and brain-storm ways in which you could achieve those goals in the time frame that you have set for yourself. You will be surprised at how much information actually flows from your mind when you put pen to paper.
Once you have finished review your ideas and pick a few of the best ones. Now make yourself a ‘daily to do’ list for each day of the week ahead. This list should involve small steps that are easy to take but once taken should have placed you closer to your goal by the end of the week! If the steps are small you will reduce the likelihood of resistance – which is the number one cause of failure because it makes us give up. By keeping the steps small the entire plan becomes much more manageable. As the Chinese proverb says “The journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step”.
Congratulate yourself for each step taken and reflect on your progress at the end of each day and at the end of each week.
General Patton said “a good plan violently executed now is better than a perfect plan executed tomorrow”. Stay focused on your objectives, work your plan but remain flexible. If circumstances keep telling you that your plan isn’t working then alter it! But remember to only do this if the plan isn’t working. Do not change it because you are bored, frustrated or impatient. If your plan is bringing you closer to your objectives then stick with it.
Know your weaknesses and make a concerted effort to overcome them. Incorporate both your strengths and weakness into your plan of action. Know what you are capable what you are not. It may be necessary to make a goal in one list so that a goal in another can be accomplished. For example if you have a career goal to be a public speaker but lack the confidence then you need to make a personal development goal to gain greater self-confidence.
Reward yourself for your successes and know that each weekly objective met is a success in itself. You have shown persistence. Depending on the obstacles, inner and outer, that will present themselves you will probably encounter that ‘wanting to give up’ feeling. This usually occurs when you are close to making a personal breakthrough! If you have a temporary lapse just acknowledge it and get back to your plan. Just keep taking the next step – one foot in front of the other.
Enjoy the process. Try to formulate your plan in a way that will not only bring you closer to your goals but will also bring excitement, satisfaction and joy when each step is taken. I know it is a worn-out phrase but life really is a journey! Try to enjoy it. If you develop this attitude then you will also ensure that you do not fall victim to that anti-climax feeling that so many ‘successful’ people get when they reach their goals.