You’ve probably heard the saying before, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.” However, even understanding that comment, we often forget about it in our personal lives. Most of the time, we apply that type of rational thought to our work life while sadly forgetting that planning our personal development is also an essential part of achieving everything out of life that we desire. In addition, personal development does include career development as we can only achieve professionally what our capabilities allow for personally, but there is also much more to life than just our vocation.

By creating a personal development plan, you devise a plan that enables you to avoid distractions and instead act on each day with intent, knowing it’s going to lead you to the future you want. When you create a personal development plan, you’re primarily asking yourself to identify where and how you are going to focus your efforts toward reaching your goals and living a life with purpose as you personally define it.

Benefits of Creating & Implementing a Personal Development Plan

There are numerous benefits to creating and implementing a personal development plan. It doesn’t matter who you are, you can get a lot out of a personal development plan. Let’s look at some of these benefits. Keep in mind that you may experience even more positivity due to implementing this in your life.

  • Discover Your Purpose – If you’re not sure exactly what you are supposed to be doing with your life, seeking help by working on your personal development is a sure-fire way to find your purpose. You cannot find it by doing the same old thing every day. You may not have even yet tried the thing you’re meant to do in life.
  • More Self-Awareness – When you have more self-awareness, it merely means that you are super honest with yourself about who you are. You know your strengths and weaknesses, and you’re sure of your ideas, beliefs, emotions, and you know what motivates you and why.
  • Better Sense of Direction – Nothing ensures you get where you want to go than knowing the path it takes to get there. This is the main reason for having a plan. You cannot reach goals intentionally without a plan.
  • Improved Effectiveness – When you do things that are planned out so that you’ve thought of potential roadblocks, problems, and risks before you set off on the journey, you are more likely to be successful in your endeavors. 
  • Better Focus – It’s easier to stay focused when you have experienced some success. When you realize that following a plan and implementing the plan truly ensures you experience more success, it’s easier to keep focus because you know it works.
  • More Motivation – Obviously, you’re going to be more motivated to succeed when you have those successful experiences. When you set a plan in motion and start experiencing success, you’ll be even more motivated to act than if you did not have a plan.
  • Greater Resilience – When you are sure of yourself, setbacks don’t set you back as far as they would if you did not have a plan. You can look to your plan and adjust in a way that doesn’t cause you to stop moving forward.
  • Stronger Relationships – When you understand yourself, it’s a lot easier to understand and relate to others. It’s easier for you to put yourself in their shoes, to explain how you feel about things, and to be more proactive in keeping relationships healthy.
  • Greater Success – The fact of the matter is simple, when you create a plan and follow it, you’re going to be more successful. It’s just true. Take one small thing, such as learning a new language. If you learn one new word each day by the end of a year, you’ll have at least 365 new words.
  • Higher Sense of Confidence – Success breeds confidence. Because you are doing your plan, you are experiencing more success. When you have more success, you become much more confident in your decision-making abilities.
  • Enhanced Goal Setting – Just the act of creating a personal development plan means that you need to understand how to set the right goals. Usually, the right intentions are SMART goals, meaning that they need to be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.
  • Overall Happier Life – When you plan for happiness, you will achieve it. You really cannot help it because living a life of purpose and direction is a lot more satisfying than leading a volatile life where you just hang on for the ride and have no idea what you’ll do next.

For every person who creates a personal development plan, it will be different. The benefits you experience are going to be personalized to you. For example, if during the development of this plan, you determine you really want to live a completely different life than you thought you did, you can now do that.

You don’t have to accept life as it is. You have the power to change yourself, your actions, and your feelings. Having the power to take control is exciting, but it also can be a little scary until you get accustomed to being in charge. Once you realize you have it, nothing is impossible.

Why Do Many Personal Development Plans Fail?

Before you embark on creating your personal development plan, it’s crucial for you to understand that most people fail at personal development. They fail for a variety of entirely preventable reasons. For that reason, you need to know these roadblocks, but only so that you can put something in place to ensure that you don’t make these mistakes.

  • Limiting Beliefs – If you have ideas and beliefs that are incompatible with success, it’s important to rid yourself of them. If you don’t believe you can lose weight, become a bodybuilder, write the next great American novel, or whatever it is that is your goal – you can’t. Limiting beliefs become a self-fulfilling prophecy.
  • The Illusion of Action – Sometimes it happens. Something goes wrong and you want to fix it. So, you try to do something, anything! You do all the things you know to do in order to try to stop it. However, you are doing it without a plan in mind and it’s not working. If you feel like you are busy a lot but you don’t see many results from all your work, it’s likely due to the illusion of action. One more swipe with the brush on your hair, one more font change on that page, or one more pass through Copyscape all seem like a good idea at first. However if your “one more try ” doesn’t produce the results you want, you need to do something differently. In short, you need the right move and not the illusion of action.
  • Negative Mindset – If you have the mindset where no matter what good is happening around you, you can still always find the negative, then you have a negative mindset. This can kill the hopes of improving your situation. However, it’s not hopeless. You can change it. To let go of negative thoughts, try to find positive replacements like meditation, affirmations, or keeping a gratitude journal.
  • Unrealistic Expectations – This is where goal setting comes in again. If you have unrealistic expectations, they may lead you to set unattainable goals. There is no point in setting goals out of your reach, so don’t set yourself up for failure.
  • Not Developing Habits – Just as you can develop a bad habit in your life, you can cultivate good habits that pay off. For example, drinking a glass of lemon-water each morning will help you stay hydrated and make your skin look fabulous. To stick to your newly forming habit, you need to turn it into a ritual until it becomes second nature.
  • Forgetting Systems & Routines – One way to develop habits is to create systems and routines. For example, if you want to train yourself to toss the unneeded clutter, you’ll need to place trashcans in places where you usually leave items laying around. If you want to start getting up early, set your alarm and put it on the other side of the room or far enough away that you can’t hit snooze. These little changes in a system or routine help a lot.
  • Lack of Self-Discipline – No plan will succeed if you don’t implement the plan. If you are lacking in discipline, this is one of the first things you need to work on. If you cannot stick to something for the duration of the time it takes to experience success, you will not succeed.
  • Not Focusing Enough – One of the signs of adulthood is the ability to wait for gratification. It’s imperative that you can laser focus on a task or a plan for the time required to experience success. If you notice super successful people, they develop tunnel vision for what they want.
  • Not Setting Goals Correctly – This can range from not bothering to set goals at all to being unproductively vague about your goals. Goals must be very specific to be useful. For example, instead of saying, “I want to learn a new language,” you should state your goals this way: “I want to learn Spanish. To accomplish this, I will learn one new Spanish word each day using the language app for the next year.” Writing down goals correctly will help you develop more clarity in your direction.
  • Forgetting the Backup Plan – When you are creating your personal development plan, one of the processes is to figure out your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats (SWOT) for any area that you want to improve upon. When you accomplish this, you can create “what if” scenarios so that you’re ready for the backup if you need it.
  • Poor Time Management Skills – The great equalizer in life is time. Everyone on earth gets the same number of hours in their day and year. What you do with it is what matters. You cannot change time, but you can try to organize and manage it better. Be realistic about how much time you spend on any task so that you plan your days better.

Keep these roadblocks in mind as you craft your personal development plan. You can avoid these by knowing they exist and developing a plan to prevent them while developing the best plan for your life.

Areas of Life That You Can Improve with A Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan can enhance your life in every single way. It doesn’t matter if it’s your love life or your professional life you want to improve. Crafting a plan will help with all aspects of your life. Let’s explore the different ways in which you can improve your life with a personal development plan.

  • Career – When you construct a plan for your working life, it’ll help you become more aware of your skills, including identifying skill gaps. You can then focus on areas to study as well as help you locate resources that you can use to move forward in your career.
  • Love/Marital – One of the most important aspects of any human being’s life is their relationships with their spouse or life partner. Embarking on personal development can help you improve your experiences in many ways by focusing on you and how you can change in your capabilities and interactions others.
  • Intellectual – Most people who pursue any type of personal development have a love for lifelong learning. Even if you don’t right now, as you work on yourself, you’ll be able to identify ways you can boost your intellectual abilities by going back to school, reading more books, listening to podcasts, and so forth, but with a plan so that you strategically learn the things that will help you the most.
  • Emotional – As emotional creatures, our feelings play a big part in our lives. Learning how they play out for you can help you become more thoughtful about your actions. You’ll learn how to take time to consider your actions before acting emotionally. Even if you have severe issues like high anxiety, professional development plans can help you deal with it if you are honest from the start.
  • Physical – If you want to improve almost anything about your physical appearance such as by losing weight, or gaining muscle, or taking steps to look and feel younger, a personal development plan can identify to you want is possible.
  • Family – If you want to experience a more satisfying family life, there are ways to ensure that you do. You just need to know what you want and how to ensure you have it by modifying your behavior when you need to.
  • Social – If you want to learn how to become better at networking, making friends, and being there for your friends in social settings, personal development can do that for you, too. Again, it’s all about knowing what you want, figuring out the steps needed to achieve it, and then implementing the plan.
  • Financial – Your financial life is a big deal and one that a lot of people aren’t managing very well. Stagnant wages, the high cost of necessities, and a poor understanding of money and credit can damage anyone. However, if you make it a priority to learn what you can and then develop and implement a plan for yourself, you will experience a lot more success.

Anything you want to improve about your life in any category can be improved with a well-thought-out personal development plan. But it’s a good practice to tackle one thing at a time so that you can perfect your implementation chops before you move on to the next item on the list. Let’s look at this process so that you can get started crafting your personal development plan.

Conducting a SWOT Analysis of Each Area

One of the very first things you need to do when you want to craft a well thought out personal development plan is to choose from the areas above to study more in-depth. You can do all of them at once, or you can do one at a time.

Regardless, you’ll want to make a list for each of the SWOT analysis areas.

First, for each of the life areas, you may want to work on your goals for that area. You can have more than one goal for any area. When you are setting the goal, look at your life in two years, or five to ten years to see right where you really want to be at that time.

Once you have written out the goals individually, then, you can conduct the SWOT analysis.

Goal Example

  • Career: Within the next two years, I want to earn $100,000 a month in revenues by selling at least 36 units of our youth skin lotion per day through our retail website by boosting the targeted traffic using social media ads. (Note: Assuming a 2 percent response rate, that means you need to send at least 1800 people to the landing page per day.)

Notice that the goal is a SMART goal. It’s specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely. You’ll need to work on writing down your goal for each area of your life that you want to work on improving with a personal development plan. You can have multiple goals for each area of life.

SWOT Analysis

  • Strengths – This will include what you’re good at, what helps you move forward, and all your qualifications, resources, and positives you have going into this category for the area of life you’re working on.

Fantastic product, cosmetology expert, large personal Instagram following, personal YouTube channel is growing, and $2500 to devote to ads.

  • Weaknesses – This part is critical; you will build on your strengths, but you want to identify the gap so you can improve. You can improve it by learning about it, or you can outsource (or delegate) that to someone else. What do you still need to learn, what do you want to be better at, and don’t forget to identify anything you really dislike doing in that category?

Need more content, no brand name recognition, competition is fierce on Amazon FBA, don’t know how to run ads yet.

  • Opportunities – Depending on the area of life you’re working through right now, you may want to note anything you see as a future opportunity. For example, if you are working on career development and you have identified the potential for internships or certifications that will help note them.

FBA, influencers, social media advertising expert, SEO, PLR, content marketing.

  • Threats – Anything you have identified that is a stopper or roadblock to you archiving the goal that you have identified in that area of your life should be listed here. Whether it’s a killer app changing everything or a person you have no control over, or something else, it’s important to note them.

Tariffs, quality control, credit cards, Amazon, not focused, not in belief.

The point of this exercise is to get to the root of any roadblocks and deal with them while also propelling yourself forward by taking advantage of opportunities and maximizing areas where you excel.

5 Steps to Creating Your Personal Development Plan

When you decide to create a personal development plan, you can follow this guide to help you get it right so you end up with actionable steps when you’re finished crafting the plan. Ultimately, these steps and details are most important because you cannot succeed at anything without implementation.

  1. Chose Your Focus Area
  2. Start at The End
  3. Opportunities Resulting from Reaching This Goal
  4. Threats Standing in Your Way
  5. Knock Out the Details

It’s just like math. When you get the order of operations right, you usually won’t fail. Let’s get into depth about what to do in each step of creating your personal development plan.

Step #1 – Choose Your Focus Area

Go through each area of your life to figure out which change is going to make the most impact. For example, if lack of income is affecting your life more than your lack of a diet and exercise plan, focus there first. The main goal here is to begin with the thing that most affects multiple areas of your life and aligns with your vision and values.

Step #2 – Start at The End

Start with the end in mind. The end is the result or goal of whatever it is that you’re doing. When you start with the end as if it’s just how you imagine it and then work your way back to today, it’s going to be much easier to schedule the proper tasks in your calendar that you need to do to reach this goal. Try this: Close your eyes and focus on the result you want from any goal. Be very specific when you think about it. Then open your eyes and write down what the goal is the SMART way. Remember that means the goal must be specific, measurable, attainable, realistic, and timely.

Step #3 – Opportunities Resulting from Achieving this Goal

One thing you want to do when you write down your goals is to think beyond reaching the goal itself. What is life going to look like when you achieve this goal? If you lose that 100 pounds like you want, what changes will result? If you get a certificate in SEO, what happens now? If you make a choice based on the steps required for reaching that goal, what new opportunities may come your way? Opportunity recognition is one of the enormous benefits of personal development.

Step #4 – Threats Standing in Your Way

Whatever goal you’re working on will require addressing the steps and tasks you need to do to meet your goal and what threats or roadblocks might get in your way. It may be something about you, your resources, your knowledge, etc. It might be competition or even bad weather. It might be the fact you have no money but you need to create a great, effective landing page. Whatever it is, make a note of it and plan for it.

Step #5 – Knock Out the Details

This is where you need to put it all in writing. Schedule it into your task calendar with all the details for each thing you need to do. Break down the big goal into smaller goal milestones so you can achieve a reinforcing sense of success all along the way to the big goal. This also makes the process easier when you create your step-by-step task list that will then be put into your calendar. Include the resources, support, and steps you will do to reach your goal.

Once you have this plan in motion, remember that it is ever-changing. It depends on what you are working on for yourself, but most of the time, you’ll want to periodically measure your progress and adjust and adapt as needed to ensure your success.

Tools & Strategies to Maximize Your Potential

Now that you have the idea of why and how to create your personal development plan, let’s talk about some tools and strategies that you can use to maximize your potential, save time, and reach your goals.

  • Save Time – If you want to save time and reach your goals faster, you may need to address ways this can happen. You may want to hire help, recruit friends, or get your kids to volunteer. It really depends on what the goal is. However, there are always ways to do things faster and easier if you explore options. For your own sake, be realistic about your time. If you need more time, consider hiring someone to do something like clean, cook, or something for your business.
  • Make Change Stick – One thing that happens with some people is that they use personal development to make a considerable change, and then they eventually fall off the wagon. All you must do to reset is go back to your calendar or planner. Ensure you’re inputting everything you need to do, and then ensure you are doing the things as scheduled. Once a habit is created, the change will stick.
  • Helpful Tools – The type of tools you use to help you craft and implement your personal development plan will vary, depending on your personality and your learning style. However, tools like personal development books, helpful TED talk videos, and courses online about personal development or that tackle any aspect of your development can go far in helping you get it done.

One thing that you can count on for sure is that creating and implementing a personal development plan will change your life. You’ll learn more about yourself. You’ll become more aware of your actions, as well as how your action choices affect your success. These will give you a new appreciation for where you are now at this point in time, and how far you can go in the future. Implementing your plan will change things even more. What are you waiting for?