When I was managing a large team during my days in the corporate world, I always had my employees end the year on a two-part project. We’d start with the professional development track, of course, but afterwards, we’d move on to a personal growth plan. Because the two go hand-in-hand. You can’t have professional development without personal growth. Before the year ends, I encourage you to put pen to paper to start your own personal growth plan, because goodness knows we all need something to look forward to in 2021!
What is a personal growth plan?
To use a standard definition, a personal growth plan 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.”
So, personal growth is an overarching journey related to several dimensions of our life and can be helpful in our private as well as professional matters. According to Maslow’s hierarchy of needs, self-actualization constructs the highest form of personal fulfillment, the last step of reaching your full potential. So needless to say, a personal growth plan is incredibly important to your overall mental and emotional wellbeing.
How do I write one?
If you truly want to grow and make a change, you have to take action. Making a personal growth plan won’t change your life overnight, but it will certainly give you a road map. It’s up to you to be disciplined and implement the steps.
Step 1: Assessment
To know where you’re going, you have to know where you’ve been. I suggest doing a self-evaluation where you can break it down into different areas of your life: physical health, mental health, relationships, career, financial. Ask yourself these questions and then rate it on a scale of 1-10:
- Did I make responsible choices in this area this year?
- Was I happy with how I felt in this area all year?
- Am I feeling like anything is lacking in this area this year?
- Do I feel a sense of purpose in this area?
- How proud of myself am I for how much effort I put into this area this year?
Once you have a bird’s eye view of where you landed this year, it will be easier to direct your path moving forward.
Step 2: Set goals
Looking at all of these areas in your life, as yourself – what is important to ME? Which new skills do I want to gain? Which achievements would make me happier? Do I have any unfulfilled dreams that I am now ready to accomplish? Do I want to move ahead to the next stage in my career? Do I want to get a better job?
Start with the end in mind. The vision for your personal growth plan starts at the finish. Asking yourself what goals you wish to achieve and why will help you know where you need to start. In setting your personal growth goals, without knowing why you want to improve yourself, your motivation can waiver and have a negative impact on your success. Take some time to think about what you want to achieve, and you’ll truly set yourself up for success. After you’ve done this, write down 5-10 important goals that you want to accomplish by the end of 2021.
Step 3: Prioritize
Goals come in all shapes and sizes, as well as in all different levels of priority. Out of all goals you wrote down, which one is the most important? The purpose of a personal growth plan is to help you expand your knowledge, develop new skills or improve important areas of life, over the course of a dedicated period of time. After you’ve outlined all your goals, prioritize them in order of importance and timeliness. Some of them will have a domino effect, so make sure to take that into consideration. For example, if you want to quit your job by the end of 2021 and become a freelance photographer, your first step would be to start building up your portfolio and brand visibility.
You might have several skills that are needed to achieve the goals you listed out. Don’t become overwhelmed. List them all so you can explore all possible avenues for development. If you can, ask supervisors, peers or your mentor for help identifying the skills you’ll need to work on or add to your toolbox.
Step 4: Develop your plan
This is where deadlines come in. Once you have a realistic timeframe for your goal, it’s important to commit to it and assign deliverables. For a goal to come to fruition, you have to know how and when your goal will be achieved. What does checking off the box next to that goal look like?
Realism factors are vital because they prevent you from becoming discouraged when you do hit pitfalls, they also help you learn more about the things you want to achieve, and can help you predict future problems and plan how to avoid them! Life happens, so make sure you add in some buffer time for your goals.
Step 5: Utilize your support network
Goals don’t need to be a solo effort. We all need cheerleaders in our corner, not only for motivation, but for accountability. If you set a goal such as, “I want to run five times a week by June,” but you don’t tell anyone about it, it’s really easy to drop the goal like nothing ever happened. When you vocalize a goal, you’re not only putting it out there into the universe, but you’re creating accountability. Your friends and family only want to see you grow, so lean on them!
Step 6: Track your progress
The best way to stay motivated is to see progress. Even little bits of progress add up over time. It’s crucial for personal growth to recognize when you’re making strides toward your goals. Momentum is a beautiful thing. And on the flipside, if something isn’t working, wouldn’t you rather see that ahead of time than get to the end of the year without accomplishing your goal? Tracking your progress allows you to evaluate how things are working and make a change if needed.
No one is going to tackle your personal growth but you. I hope this helps you get off and running on making 2021 the best year yet!