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This is a guest post by Lori Wade. Lori is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

It is a well-known fact that “personal development planning 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.”

It sounds fantastic and looks like you can achieve so much if you have a plan. Yet, not too many people create it.

Our guess is that they do not realize what potential such a plan has for them. Or they might look at people who failed to put that plan to action and feel like that is a complete waste of time!

That is why we have decided to show you reasons why you need to create a development plan for your life and career to give you a solid foundation to stand on.

Why even bother? We promise that in just a few minutes you will see why not having a plan is harmful to your life! So, we’ll say no more: just check out the reasons we gathered for you here.

Reasons to create a development plan for life and career


The reasons to create a plan are multifold:

  1. You will set priorities.

Priorities rule! The ensure that you are not wasting your life on something insignificant, but instead invest in things that are meaningful and important. We want you to remember that you only have around 37,8 million minutes (that’s based on the average life expectancy). And by now you might have at least one-third of that behind you. So, waste time no more – set the priorities and start living a meaningful life!

  1. You will sort out insignificant things.

It is not only about you making big and important things happen. It is also about you leaving insignificant stuff out of your life. This saves you a whole lot of time and ensures your overall satisfaction with life!

  1. You will know where to move.

Even on the darkest nights, you will have a clear vision of where you can move. And even when under pressure, you will not get lost: you will have a clear understanding of where you are moving.

  1. You will have a healthy balance in life.

A great virtual mentor known under the name of Michael Hyatt says that thanks to proper planning one can have it all – good health, great marriage, and a successful career without having to sacrifice one thing for another. How is it possible? With good planning! Why don’t people around you have it all? Because they failed to develop a good plan.

  1. You will live a life you love.

The image of people who come to the last lap of their life and cannot but regret that they lived a certain way. No great heights reached, no bold dreams come true, no successful projects accomplished. Who would not regret that? So, if you don’t want to be that person, create your own development planning for life and career.

See? You might be missing out on so many opportunities without it. So, we believe it is time for you to stop wasting your precious time – and start living your life to the fullest! How? That is the main focus of our next chapter!

How to create a personal development plan for career

Looking at creative board

Let’s structure things out for you in several practical steps. Even though the main point of this plan lies in knowing the answers to three basic questions (What you want to achieve? Why it is important to you? How will you achieve that?), there are several steps that as if walk you through.

  1. Define your dreams.

Living to fulfill your dreams  – what can be better? We are sure you’d agree with us that there is no point in creating a development plan that is based on the expectations other people have. You should make sure that you are living your dreams.

According to the Huffington Post, living your dreams starts with honesty: you need to answer what you want from your life. No matter how scary and crazy your desires might sound, be honest and write all of those things down.

Takeaway thought: take a pen and some paper and write down what your biggest dreams are. Do not limit yourself to what you think is real or not. Dream big and do not afraid to be ambitious!

  1. Set goals.

Now as you have an understanding of what your dreams are about, start setting real goals. Make them crystal clear and divide into two categories: short-term and long-term ones.

Short-term goals are goals that define what you want to achieve in the nearest future. The understanding of the word “nearest” here is very personal: you might consider it to be today, tomorrow, this month, or this year. It all depends on the scale of your goal.

No matter whether you want to get married, to get a promotion, to obtain a master’s degree or visit some place, it can be your short-term goal as long as it fits in the timeframe we mentioned above.

Long-term goals, on the contrary, might consist of many different short terms and take years to achieve. Professionals advise to break big goals into smaller pieces to make them better measurable.

While talking about goals, we wanted to remind you about the SMART criteria that are applicable to any goal. SMART is an acronym that can be translated as Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound. These are all the words that describe what each of your goals is supposed to be.

  • Specific – This means that a goal must not be vague. It should be very clear. If your goal is to get a promotion, then mention what position you want to take. No fluff like “I want to be happy” (unless you can specify what exactly will make you feel happy).
  • Measurable – How will you know that achieved that goal? How can you measure it? It’s essential to know the answer to these questions to be able to keep track of progress.
  • Achievable – When we said you should not be afraid to be ambitious, we did not mean that you should be able to reach it. By no means, we are trying to discourage you from aiming for the star! But be realistic when setting goals.
  • Relevant – Why is this important to you Why are you investing so much time and effort into this goal? How will you benefit from this goal in the end? These are the categories in terms of the relativeness of a goal.
  • Time-bound – Set clear deadlines for each goal regardless of its size. We will talk about it later, but for now, keep this acronym in mind.

Takeaway thought: Analyze each of your goals to see whether they are SMART. Use the old school method with real paper and everything: it’s much more fun!

  1. Choose priorities.

Top Priority

In order not to jump from one goal to another, you need to stay focused and prioritize goals. Here is a good way to do it.

According to Warren Buffet, the most effective way to set priorities for each goal consists of 4 steps:

  • Write down all your goals;
  • Choose 5 (or fewer) that are of the biggest importance to you and underline them;
  • Put the rest of the goals into a list called “Avoid at all costs”;
  • Do not work on achieving goals from this list until you complete the first five goals on your list.

It might seem easy (or hard if you are anything like us, having second thoughts about each goal all the time) but when it comes to implementation your biggest struggle will concern staying concentrated on only five goals without occasionally jumping into some other ones.

But you know what – just do it! That’s what Shia LaBeouf would tell you!

Takeaway thought: Use Warren Buffet’s method of prioritizing your goals and stick to the list you made!

  1. Have the result in mind.

You need to remind yourself about the result all the time. It will inspire you and help you keep moving whenever you stumble, get a tire, or decide that it’s not worth it.

That is why we would like to recommend you creating a “mission statement” that will describe your goals and the main focus behind them all.

Thus, whenever you feel like quitting or get frustrated, you can read it out loud and calm down knowing that you are going through all the hardships for a good cause.

Note that some people recommend reading this mission statement before going to bed or the first thing in the morning, but we believe it might be a bit too much.

Takeaway thought: create a mission statement to go over on your darkest days.

  1. Set deadlines.


Your goals need to have clear deadlines. Everyone needs them: they keep us moving. And also we feel responsible and accountable when the clear timeframe is made.

Therefore, in your journal with all the goals, their priorities and “mission statement” have a special column where all the deadlines will be.

You can have them saved on your smartphone in case you need a reminder every now and then, or if just having them written down is enough, then do not bother with all the reminders.

Therefore, no matter whether it is a short-term goal like learning all proofreading marks chart or a long-term one like getting a promotion up to the position of a chief editor, choose specific deadlines for these goals.

Takeaway thought: Remember that you need to be realistic about deadlines: give enough time for every decision to be fulfilled. And also, deadlines are always closer than they appear.

  1. Start acting.

Finally, the time has come for you to start acting. Since all of your goals are achievable and measurable, you must know for sure what steps to take and where to move on this way. Simple as that!

  1. Use help.

Support is essential when you move down this road. It is during this time that you see the real value of teamwork. Do not be afraid to ask for help: you save time and other people gain precious experience.

Takeaway thought: choose specific people you will ask to help you with achieving certain goals. It is better to choose these people based on their strengths and skills (thus, if you know someone good at planning, ask him to organize your schedule around the goal, etc).

  1. Implement your strengths.

See what your strengths are – and start from there. What can you do the best? Do not try to something you are not particularly great at (for that you can seek the assistance of your talented friends). On the contrary, to make the process smoother, start with something you are a pro in.

Making the most out of your strengths should be your main principle as you move toward the goal. Otherwise, you might get overwhelmed in the beginning and drop the whole idea in the end.

Takeaway thought: List your strengths and see how exactly you can apply them in your particular context.

  1. Reassess your goals.

Within the course of time, you will find yourself doubting whether the goals you set are really what you want to achieve in life. As long as you feel this way, not because of the hardships you do not want to overcome, it is absolutely natural that some goals just become irrelevant to us.

So, take all the time you need to reconsider your goals and aspirations, but do not forget that your new goals have to go through the same process we talked about above.

  1. Keep track of the progress.

Progress Report

Finally, the last part on our list: you should keep track of how you succeed on your way to success. You have no idea how powerful this trick is, but it almost keeps you afloat when all the obstacles on your way seem to be unconquerable. You will see that you have gone a long way to be where you are right now that there is no way to stop!

Takeaway thought: In your journal, make sure to track progress in % showing how far you reached. Be honest – do not try to minimize or maximize the reality (no matter how badly you would want that).

Personal and professional development go side by side, and in the article above we implied to both of these types of goals. These principles can be applied easily, so do not hesitate to try our methods out and see how your life will gain all the new colors!

This is a guest post by Lori Wade. Lori is a freelance content writer for Thriving Writer who is interested in a wide range of spheres from education and online marketing to entrepreneurship. She is also an aspiring tutor striving to bring education to another level like we all do. If you are interested in writing, you can find her on Twitter or Google+ or find her on other social media. Read and take over Lori’s useful insights!

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Thanh Pham

Founder of Asian Efficiency where we help people become more productive at work and in life. I've been featured on Forbes, Fast Company, and The Globe & Mail as a productivity thought leader. At AE I'm responsible for leading teams and executing our vision to assist people all over the world live their best life possible.

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