How to Create a Personal Development Plan: The Ultimate Guide (+ Bonus Workbook)

 

the ultimate kickass guide to creating a personal development plan

—->Click Here for Your Ultimate Personal Development Workbook!<—-

Flashback to 4 years ago when a personal development plan was the last thing on my mind…

My head feels like a spinning barrel of monkeys and I’m about to have a damn anxiety attack.

After dealing with chronic pain for the last 2 years it’s like life is just passing me by. I can’t plan anything because I never know when a pain flare is going to pop up and my giant bag of meds doesn’t exactly lend itself to spontaneity.  

I feel like having goals is a luxury for healthy people, but I can’t keep feeling like a zombie. I’m alive but I’m not really living and I’ve had enough. My chronic pain isn’t going anywhere anytime soon and it’s time to start working with it instead of against it.

I dry my tears, grab my notebook, and get to work!

Instead of focusing on what I can’t do I focus on what I CAN do.

I can still read, write, meditate, and learn. I come up with a whole bunch of goals that I can easily do and I start to get excited for the first time in a looooong time….and then I start to get overwhelmed.

This is where the whole barrel of monkeys panic attack thing comes in. I’m a Virgo so coming up with goals is like breathing to me, but I had zero idea how to actually start trying to achieve them.

Woof!

I decided to read every personal development book I could get my little greedy paws on from Mindset by Carol Dweck to The Subtle Art of Not Giving a Fuck by Mark Manson.

I did research on how to reach your goals and making habits stick.

I worked with personal development experts to see how they approached their own plans.

Over the years, I took a lil’ bit of this and a lil’ bit of that, and along the way, after multiple iterations,  I created the very process (and bonus workbook) that I’m sharing with you today.

I am so jazzed to share this with you because it has made such a difference in my life. My personal development plan cleared up those overwhelming feelings I had about what goals to choose and how to reach them.

I want you to have confidence that you are doing exactly what you need to be doing too!


Ultimate guide on how to make a personal development plan

Goals I’ve achieved with this process?

  • Switched to a better company with better pay and title
  • Received a 9% raise and 6% raise in the span of 1 year
  • Lost 15 lbs
  • Studied for my project management certification
  • Started my own profitable side business
  • Found the love of my life
  • Bought a new car
  • Developed closer relationships with my family and friends
  • Developed a spiritual connection
  • The list goes on and on

This process has helped me so much in cultivating my dream life and I want to share that with you so you can start making your dreams a reality, pronto.

I can’t do the legwork for you, but I can help provide the guide to get you there.

If you want some one-on-one attention from moi (and who could blame ya!) check out my services to see what I can do for you.

—->Click Here for Your Ultimate Personal Development Workbook!<—-

 

*Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. When you make a purchase through the links, we may receive a small commission, at no extra cost to you. However, all my opinions are my own.Extras_dividerbar

What is a personal development plan and why do you need one?

Well, you wouldn’t try a cross country trip from California to New York without a GPS or map, would you? The same goes for your personal development.

A personal development plan is like your map to life. It tells you where you want to go and how to get there. If you get lost you can bring out your trusty plan to help you figure out your next step.

If I need personal development plan does that mean I’m not good enough or there’s something wrong with me?

Heck to the no! Oprah works her own personal development plan and Oprah is ah-mazing.

Personal development is about gaining clarity on what’s already inside of you. it’s learning more about yourself and who you are deep down inside before the world told you who you had to be.

You are not here to be average and if you’ve stumbled upon my little virtual personal development slice of paradise you’re exactly where you belong. 

What is the first step in creating a personal development plan?

You have all these things you want to achieve but don’t know where to start? Take a deep breath. I got you!

I want you to take a moment to ground yourself. Grounding allows you to mentally and physically shake out whatever you were just doing and focus on the task at hand. 

You can try out this quick 2-minute meditation or set a timer for two minutes and repeat the below affirmation out loud or in your head.

 

Inhale clarity

Exhale self-doubt

Inhale clarity 

Exhale self-doubt

 

We’re going to start off by evaluating where you are now. You can’t figure out if you’re improving if you don’t have a baseline to measure from, right? Right!

I have two methods I want you to use to establish where you’re starting from.  I want you to do both because each one approaches measuring where you’re at a little bit differently and it will give you more to work with when we do the fun part…creating your goals.

For my analytical peeps who love SMART goals, to-do lists, and have way to many apps on their cells to organize their lives you’re going to love the SWOT analysis. 

SWOT is short for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats. This is something I routinely do as a project manager that I realized transferred over really well into my personal development plan.

SWOT Analysis personal development plan

 
 
 
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  1. Strengths

    First, I want you to list out all your strengths. This can be a tricky task because our weaknesses tend to be more evident!

    Crowdsource that shit! Think about what others have told you that you’re good at or even ask your family, friends, or hairstylist for feedback! I don’t know about you, but this girl has some thick hair and spends 3 hours getting her hair colored and cut. My stylist knows my deepest secrets.

    Pay attention to actions that may come so easily to you that you may not even notice you’re doing them or ones that are completely unique to you. These are called signature strengths.

    For example, I’m really good at explaining things in ways that different people can understand by using what I know about them. I would explain brain plasticity to an engineer differently than I would to an artist.

    It’s just something I’ve always done and I never even realized it until I went through this exercise and I received similar responses back from everyone I had asked for feedback.

    If you’re having a hard time here’s a list of basic strengths to use as a launching point! I also love the CliftonStrengths Assessment if you just want to take a quiz.


  2. Weaknesses


    Next, I want you to list out your weaknesses. This is usually easier for most because weaknesses are more evident. As humans, we pay more attention to what causes us issues in life and less on the positive.

    These are things you need to improve on and gaps in certain skills.  If you’re having trouble thinking of something try thinking back to your last employee review or a pain point in your life that comes up continually.

  3. Opportunities


    Time to list out opportunities! I love this one. 

    Will your workplace pay for continuing education classes? Is there a special deal being offered on a language learning course you’ve always wanted to take? 

    Look for people and resources that you might be able to use to improve yourself and get to where you want to go.

  4.  Threats


    Risk analysis is one of the best ways to stay on track with your personal development plan. 

    If you know your family might not be supportive of you eating healthier or that your job is entering busy season and will require extra hours you can account for that in your plan.

    Once you’re aware of certain hurdles you might need to jump you can plan for them.

    Find a supportive friend who can cheer you on with your new eating habits when your family has you down or ask your significant other if he can do a bit more chores around the house during your busy season so you can still get your workout in.

    I want you to list out any potential roadblocks or hurdles you might come across during your personal development journey.


Related:  How to Stop Self-doubt Now!

Now, for you visual and artistic souls I have the Wheel of Life!

You’re going to reflect on each area that’s listed and determine where you rank your satisfaction 1-10. 1 is very dissatisfied and 10 is completely satisfied. 

Then draw a line on the pie chart where that number would be, color the triangle up to that point, and write in the tip of each triangle what your score is.

An important thing to remember here is that the goal isn’t to get all 10s! If you’re low in the Significant Other category because you aren’t with anyone right now and you prefer ridin’ solo then you do you, girl!

Your Wheel of Life is going to look different than anyone else’s because you ARE a unique, special unicorn (and not just to your mom)!

personal development tool wheel of life

 

 
 
 
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Time to Pick Your Goals

It seems that people’s first instincts when creating goals is to focus on their weaknesses, but I want you to slow your roll, do the opposite, and focus on your strengths.

Many studies have shown that focusing on your strengths instead of your weaknesses leads to more confidence, faster growth and personal development, more satisfaction in life, increased fulfillment, and much more.

I highly recommend creating goals around your strengths because, well, just look at all those benefits above! BUT if there’s a goal you want to reach and one of your weaknesses is getting in the way then making an effort to improve that weakness is necessary.

I want you to close your eyes for a minute and just imagine what your dream day would look like. Does it involve leading a meeting of other energetic souls or maybe it’s waking up, grabbing a cup of coffee, and working one-on-one with clients all day?

Where do you live? What kind of exercise and hobbies do you enjoy?

If you want to dive further into this my 7-day Journaling for Clarity Email Series will help you gain some crystal clarity.

Looking for low-ranking areas in your Wheel of Life that are making you feel low vibe is another way to guide you to ideas about goals you might want to make. 

Are you ranking low in your career? Maybe one of your goals might be to switch careers or get a raise!

Examples of Personal Development Goals

 

 

  • Get a promotion
  • Pass a test
  • Gain greater confidence in social situations
  • Increase self-awareness
  • Learn to enjoy being alone with yourself
  • Handle conflict better
  • Read more books
  • Manage anxiety better
  • Drop those self-limiting beliefs
  • Develop a spiritual connection
  • Cultivate a growth mindset
  • Make better decisions
  • Become more efficient 
  • Create more whitespace in your life
  • Your mind is the limit!


    How to make a personal development plan
—->Click Here for Your Ultimate Personal Development Workbook!<—-

Prioritize Your Goals

Now that you have all your goals picked out I want you to go through them and pick your top 5. If you don’t have top 5 then don’t worry about it!

Once you’ve narrowed down your list to 5 or fewer goals I want you to store the rest away somewhere. You can fold the baby up and save it in a keepsake box or document it on Evernote. It’s up to you!

We’re going to follow Warren Buffet’s 5/25 Rule for goals because that man knows how to get. stuff. done.

We’re going to call this list our backlog and I don’t want to catch ya creepin on it until you’re done with at least one of your top 5 goals. This way you don’t have to feel like you’re ditching any goals because they’re still saved for safekeeping, but your full commitment is on your top 5.

Buffet believes 100% of our attention should be focused on our top goals and the rest should be ignored. No sporadic work on your backlog goals because if you’re spending time on those that’s time you could be spending on your big 5!

Starting new goals comes with this exciting push of fresh motivation and it can make you feel like you’re getting things done. In reality, you’re getting addicted to the energy of starting new goals and training yourself to stop working on goals just because you aren’t motivated.

Motivation is fleeting and you won’t always be motivated to keep working on goals, especially if you hit a rough spot!

That’s why you have your personal development plan. So you can reflect back on your WHY and get your head back in the game. 

You can get stuff done without feeling motivated.

SMARTify Those Goals!

I’m pretty sure everyone and their great-grandma knows about SMART goals, but I’ll put a refresher here just in case.

SMART stands for:

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Achievable
  • Relevant
  • Time bound

  1. Specific. You want to make sure you cover what you want to achieve, why this goal is important, who might be able to help you, and which resources you might be able to use to succeed. 
  2. Measurable. How will you know you succeeded? You need to be able to measure your goals so you can track your progress and know when you’ve accomplished your goal. 
  3. Achievable. You want to make sure that your goal is something that is actually in the realm of being logical and achievable. I know I’ll never become a unicorn or make Leonardo from the Titanic era fall madly in love with me.

    This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t dream big though. Just make sure it’s something logical and not dependent on someone else.

    You want to be a rockstar? While that might be your ultimate goal it would be wise to break this down into smaller, snackable bites to prevent you from getting overwhelmed. One of your goals might be to learn how to play guitar or write your own songs.

  4. Relevant. Is this something that is aligned with your values? Does this seem a worthwhile way to spend your time?
  5. Time-bound. When are you going to spend time trying to reach this goal? What are your different milestones to measure your progress? When do you want to complete this goal?
Related:  The Top 85 Best Personal Development Books of All Time


Creating milestones or stakes in the ground is so important. I can’t impress this upon you enough. If you give yourself a month to read a book the likelihood is that you will wait until right before it’s due.

The solution to this is breaking your activities up into smaller, snackable bites. If you have a month to finish a book for book club determine how many pages you need to read each week and check-in with yourself 1x a week to make sure you’re on target.

I would say 2 weeks is the largest you want to spread your milestones out by. Anything more than that and you fall into the same procrastination trap.

Examples of Personal Development SMART Goals

1. I want to pass my project management test by July 15th. I’m going to sign up for the test today. I’m going to get through a chapter a week and take practice exams for two weeks before the test.

2. I am going to evaluate my anxiety levels 1-10 in the morning and evening. I will practice meditation for one month to see if helps decrease my anxiety.

3. I am going to create more whitespace in my life by scheduling chunks of time in my day to do nothing. I will evaluate my happiness levels each day 1-10 and see if I am ranking significantly higher in one month.

Those are just a few examples of how to SMARTify personal development goals. You can get even more specific with them and write down what resources you’re going to use or who you’re going to get onboard to help keep you accountable, but we’ll also be touching on those in the next step!

Create Your Support Network

We all need community to lean on and this isn’t any different!

Share your goals with a few people in your circle of trust, find an accountability group online, or just post about it on insta.

If it’s something that is super private or you feel like leaning on others for accountability is too stressful then make your journal your accountability partner. Just make sure you have a set time each day or week that you’re going to update it!

You can get current fave journal right here.

When I was addressing my bulimia I didn’t tell anyone my goals until I had 30 days of no bulimia actions because I felt so private about it. Once I felt ready, I told my bf and best friend what I was doing so they could check up on me and I felt supported. I’m going over 6 months strong now!

In this section, you also want to list out the tools and resources you’re going to use to help you achieve your goals. 

Some resources might be a journal, a meditation program, a book or maybe you want to use ClickUp to track your progress or another app.

The best tool is the one you’re going to use. If that’s just a notebook to write things down in then go for it!

And of course, the personal development plan your building here totally counts!

Measure and Track Your Progress

If you didn’t pick a time to check-in with your goals during the SMARTifying section go ahead and do that now.

Look at all the different metrics you might be able to use to track your progress. 

If I was working on increasing my subscribers to a certain amount by the end of the month I would track my subscribers obvs, but I would also track how much traffic I’m getting to my website and the conversion rate of visitors who become subscribers.

If you want to gain 5 lbs of muscle in 3 months you could track how much protein you’re eating each day, your body measurements, and your muscle to fat ratio using calipers.

I like to have multiple metrics I’m tracking because if something isn’t working for me or I’m not progressing on schedule I can look for patterns between the metrics to try and figure out what I can tweak to be successful.

So map out how you’re going to track your progress, put in your milestones, and get to work!

Time to Start 

kickass way to write a personal development plan

Once you’re done creating your plan I want you to take a moment and thank yourself for showing up for yourself. You’re already closer to your goals then you were yesterday.

You did the work to get started and now you are embarking on the most amazing journey. It won’t be easy and there will be moments when you want to quit. I can’t promise you’ll achieve your goals because that’s up to you, but if you commit to your plan you will get way closer to them than you would be riding solo.

You got this, girl! You are ah-mazing and you have a special sumpthin’ sumpthin’ you have to share with the world!

Closing Notes

Life happens!

Don’t be afraid to revise your personal development plan if something just isn’t working or you’ve experienced a major life change. Your plan is meant to develop with you.

If you fall off the map, so to speak, and don’t study for a week or 2 or exercise, that’s okay. That’s life.

Just take a Sunday to reset, adjust your plan and jump back in!

If you loved this post and you want to keep UPLEVELING your life check out my services to see what I can do for you.

—->Click Here for Your Ultimate Personal Development Workbook!<—-

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I so hope this post on how to create a personal development plan provided you with the guidance you need to get where you want to go. My greatest wish is for you to be able to spend your time working on your goals instead of figuring out how to start like I did.

We all deserve to live the big, beautiful lives we dream of.

Let me know in the comments all about your experiences with your own personal development plan! If something has been helpful for you in reaching your goals, sound out below so I can add it!

Want more? Check out these relates posts:

 

Shine On,

Leave a Reply

39 Comments

  1. Tarry wrote:

    I loved this post! I love personal development posts.

    Posted 6.26.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Aw, thanks Tarry! I’m glad you enjoyed!

      Posted 6.26.20 Reply
  2. This is very interesting! Very practical tips! Thank you for sharing ❤️

    Posted 6.27.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thanks, Stephanie! I’m so glad you got something out of it!

      Posted 6.29.20 Reply
  3. Nkem wrote:

    You are EVERYTHING, girl!!!!!! I would thrive just by being around you. Your level of intentionality in your life is beautiful and has a ripple effect to others. 🙂

    Posted 6.29.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      You just made my day. Thanks for being amazing!

      Posted 6.29.20 Reply
  4. arrahdima wrote:

    Great post! I totally need this!

    Posted 6.29.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      I’m so happy! Thanks for reading, girl

      Posted 6.30.20 Reply
  5. Paige wrote:

    LOVED this post. saving it, sharing it.. so incredible. thank you for posting 🙂 x

    Posted 6.30.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Aw, you are so sweet! Thanks for sharing. I’ll make sure to keep up the personal development topics!

      Posted 6.30.20 Reply
  6. Joey wrote:

    great post, self improvement is very important to achieve goals in life

    Posted 7.6.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thanks, Joey!

      Posted 7.6.20 Reply
  7. Love it, great content!

    Posted 7.8.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thank you!!! Glad you enjoyed.

      Posted 7.8.20 Reply
  8. Hey! Really love the content. More millenials and zoomers need to see your blogs. Thank you for sharing.
    -The Blogging Zoomer
    https://bmoblogs.com/

    Posted 7.9.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Aw, well thank you!!

      Posted 7.9.20 Reply
  9. heatherwriterslifeforyoucom wrote:

    I’m so happy you wrote this. It’s very motivating because I have chronic illnesses that make a lot of physical activity (and some mental at times) difficult. But I choose to do what I CAN and I’ve started a successful home business and blog so it can be done. Thank you for sharing your story and talking about focusing on what we can do instead of what we can’t.

    Posted 7.16.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      I’m SO happy you found this! Sending light and healing vibes to you!

      Posted 7.16.20 Reply
  10. ravina wrote:

    Personality development is learning more about yourself and who you are.
    Rightly said.

    Posted 7.22.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thanks, Ravina!

      Posted 7.22.20 Reply
  11. Nathalie wrote:

    Wow, that is so impressive! You really crushed those goals, congrats!

    Posted 7.23.20 Reply
  12. Tracy wrote:

    This is amazing! I feel like I always read personal development books but need a way to implement everything that I learn. I will def be referencing back to this post!

    -Tracy
    Find Your Dazzle

    Posted 7.31.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Same! That’s when I decided I HAD to find a way to start implementing the lessons! It’s made a world of difference.

      Posted 7.31.20 Reply
  13. Sankhamala wrote:

    Great tips on personal development ! Liked it..

    Posted 8.1.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thank you!

      Posted 8.1.20 Reply
  14. Love, love, love this post! It has some really important tips. I needed this the most today. Thanks for sharing. Bookmarked the post to read it again.

    Posted 8.3.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      You’re so sweet. Thank you! I’m glad you find it helpful!

      Posted 8.3.20 Reply
  15. Crowdsource! That’s what I always do too. I am rubbish remembering and talking about things I’m good at. Fabulous tips in this article and it made me laugh too. Thank you 💕

    Posted 8.5.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Love it! Thanks so much, Regan!

      Posted 8.5.20 Reply
  16. Elle Muse wrote:

    I love how your broke this blog in such relevant details. Great article.

    Posted 8.26.20 Reply
  17. Jessi wrote:

    I definitely need a personal development plan! I’m sort of just existing at the moment. Great read and so much awesome info. Thanks so much for sharing!

    Posted 9.16.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thanks, babe!

      Posted 9.16.20 Reply
  18. chasinpalmtrees wrote:

    Such a great post! Thanks for making it so informative. I love the idea of thinking of it as a map!

    Posted 9.16.20 Reply
  19. goatdogsimple wrote:

    What an amazing post! So much thoughtful and helpful information for anyone trying to create a plan. Thank you for the inspiration to get on track.

    Posted 9.16.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      You’re so welcome and thank you!

      Posted 9.16.20 Reply
  20. Elissa wrote:

    Wow, I love these! I need to now start with prioritizing and SMARTifying my goals to before anything else.

    Posted 9.16.20 Reply
  21. Kayla wrote:

    So I’ve just really gotten into meditation and journaling and I must say- this post is a super helpful guide. Keep up the good work!

    Posted 10.15.20 Reply
    • awaitressnomore wrote:

      Thank you. I’m so glad you liked it!

      Posted 10.28.20 Reply
  22. Isabel wrote:

    Jen, really complete and spot on! Fab! Doing programme management myself, I love how you brought some of it here!

    Posted 10.16.20 Reply