If you’re anything like the rest of us, you know that there’s always room for improvement, whether it’s in yourself, your job performance or your academic work. Recognizing the need to grow and learn is the easy part; identifying the appropriate steps to achieve this is considerably more challenging. Use these ideas to implement your own personal development plan.
Begin by taking a page from business books and completing a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis of yourself and your environment. Do others compliment you frequently on some golden trait? Or is it the opposite: What seems to rub people the wrong way, and are they justified in their reactions?
You can also pinpoint areas for possible future development. This could be anything from an upcoming self-help seminar to a Sunday sermon at your community church. Threats are anything that stand in the way of your goals and deter you from doing the right thing. This could be overly pessimistic acquaintances, drugs or alcohol. How can you avoid them in favor of more positive surroundings?
If you have not yet established short- and long-term goals for yourself, now is the time to do so. Set SMART goals — Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic and Timely. A specific goal is one that includes considerations for the 6 “W”s: Who, what, why, where, when and which?
Measurable goals are easily quantified. When a goal is attainable, it is something toward which you can continue working by making reasonable progress. The goal must also be realistic. Setting your sights on an unrealistic goal sets you up for failure, defeating the purpose. Finally, the goals should be timely. Do you have a clear plan of action that includes expected milestones and end dates? Once you have set these requirements, you can begin to work with a clearer idea of what it takes to achieve your goals.
Don’t withhold praise from yourself. Even if you are not progressing as quickly as you would like, don’t tear yourself down. Acknowledge that you still have a ways to go, but don’t forget how far you’ve already come. Even if you encounter obstacles along the way, there is no reason why you cannot learn from the experience and keep moving forward.
All it takes to renew your commitment is a glimpse of what life will be like once you succeed. When you find something that works well, no matter how nominal the results, take advantage of it! Consider your specific thoughts and behaviors that contributed to your success: What did you do or say? Were you more compassionate? Did you listen instead of speak? The answers will serve you well along your journey.
It’s hard to lead an inspired life if you don’t know where to begin. Instead of allowing that to discourage you from making the necessary changes, focus your mind and energy on doing whatever it takes to make it happen. Set SMART goals for yourself and recognize opportunities as they come up. Remember these guidelines and you can begin to forge a path to a newer, more remarkable You.