What’s Your Plan for Personal Improvement

Today, we are all two weeks into the New Year and our resolutions. You know, those goals we set habitually every year only to see them fade and disapper before the white stuff on the ground. I know, it’s a vicious cycle of failure that we set ourselves up for year after year.

What I have learned is that it isn’t the goals or resolutions that are the problem. It’s not even how measurable or accountable we are in regards to our goals – although it greatly impacts it. It is our plan for personal improvement that needs help.

Let’s take the standard resolution to lose weight. Lets even make it a bit more concrete – “I want to lose fifteen pounds and at least two dress sizes before my sister’s wedding in May.” What’s the next step? Do you sign-up for a gym membership? Join one of the weightloss groups in your community? Do you read a bunch of diet books? Or do you just cut out all the junk food, eat more salads and hope you never grow tired of steamed broccoli and chicken for dinner?

A Personal Development Plan, or PDP, “is the process of creating an action plan based on awareness, values, reflection, goal-setting and planning for personal development within the context of a career, education, relationship or for self-improvement.” (Wikipedia) For instance, the coursework required for a degree from a university is a development plan of knowledge that builds upon what you learn over the course of the four years. A CV is very much like your development plan for a career, where you list your skills but also what it is you would like to do or head with your career.

After college, how do we advance our personal goals? How do we continue our education?

Developing coursework for a degree at “You University” takes a bit of self-reflection. What are my goals? How would I define success in them? In life? What is it I want out of life? This goes beyond “get a better job” resolution to more of a “find a position that challenges me creativity while giving me the time I want to spend with family, friends.”

Remember, while you may have a goal, our lives tend to blend several elements together. Losing a bit of weight, quitting smoking, finding a better job or just making a commitment to do yoga three times a week may touch other areas of our lives. Perhaps we need to find ways to cope with stress a bit better or find alternate ways to spend our evenings rather than viewing primetime.

Ask yourself what habit or activity could I do (or stop doing) that will have the biggest impact upon my life?

The second step to laying out your personal development plan is taking an assessment of what tools you have and what you need to make your goals or wants come true. If you are seeking to shed a few extra pounds, perhaps learning how to make reduced-calorie subsitutions in recipes would help. Take a good look in your tool box and figure out what is missing.

The third step is about acquiring the tools and resources. This could be a book, a video, taking a class, talking to a friend who may have some expertise in this area or teaching yourself. This is the “coursework” towards your goal or “degree” in your personal development.

Don’t be surprised if your goal or direction morphs, expands or takes a side road. You are still heading in the right direction . . . You just found a more scenic route that will help to give you a bigger picture of yourself.

Good luck!

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