• How to write a Personal Development Plan – Part 4: Action Plans

    by  • July 29, 2013 • Personal Development Planning

    Personal development“A goal without an action plan is a daydream” – Nathaniel Branden.

    It helps to have an action plan for each one of your personal development goals. Because it gives you the steps you need to take to reach them. For example, if  your goal is to become physically fit a list of what you need to do to get fit can be a great help. A good action plan will tell you the kind of exercise you are to do. Help you decide when you are to do it. How you are to measure your progress. And how to deal with problems that may arise.

    You can soon run into trouble if you don’t have an action plan to deal with the problems that you will meet along the way. And meet problems you will. They can slow you up or stop your progress. And when you fail to deal with them they will discourage you. So having a plan to deal with them makes a lot of sense.

    It also helps to have an action plan to reward your progress. Think carefully about this and draw up a list of rewards for each step forward that you plan to make. When you do so it will make the finished product a kind of road-map for success with rewards built along the way. This is a recipe for success.

    Analyse your Personal Development Goals

    The first step in creating an action plan is to analyse your Personal Development Goals. To do this you need to break your goals down into their various parts. Take for example my Physical Intelligence goal. It is ” To achieve the targets I have set for my physical fitness, alcohol intake, weight reduction, and restful sleep each week.”

    This personal development goal has four parts to it. 1. Physical fitness. 2. Alcohol intake. 3. Weight reduction. 4. Restful sleep. Each of these parts has its own goal and we need to identify each of these goals. Let us work on the second part of the goal Alcohol intake  to show how to draw up an action plan. My goal for this is “To limit my intake of alcohol for each week to 17 units and to abstain from alcohol for 48 hours or two days each week.”

    Create Measurable Personal Development Milestones.

    Use milestones you can measure to mark out your journey from where your are now to where you want to be. For example, I now drink 21 units of alcohol each week and I have a drink every day. I need to create milestones to measure how I get from here to drinking 17 units of alcohol a week while not drinking for two days each week.

    The first step is to create a set of milestones to enable me to reach this goal. The mistake most of us make is to try to achieve the goal in one step. That is why most of us fail to achieve the change we desire. We depend solely on our will power to get us there. And sadly our will power has its limitations. But when we use it intelligently it can work wonders for us.

    So instead of trying to reduce our drinking from 21 units to 17 units in one go. We are more likely to succeed if we take it one step at a time. First, reducing it from 21 units to 20 a week. And when we have firmly made that our established habit we should move to step two. Which is to move from 20 units to 19. Step three is to move from 19 to 18. And the final step is from 18 units to 17 a week.

    These are our four milestones and now we need to set ourselves a time limit for achieving each of them.  This time needs to be long enough to give me a reasonable chance to achieve each goal. Most of us make the mistake of underestimating the time it takes to embed a new habit. Recent research shows that it takes up to 66 days to do so. So we need to allow just over two months for each milestone.

    On the face of it taking eight to nine months to reduce your drinking intake from 21 units to 17 might seem a little bit long. The truth is that it is realistic. Change of this nature takes more time than most of us realise. In truth if the goal is worthwhile it is well worth investing this much time and effort in it. And doing so will increase your chance of being successful.

    Write out your Personal Development Milestones

    Personal development Milestone 1. Reduce the units of alcohol I drink each week to 20 units and don’t drink alcohol from 9 pm on Sunday to 9 pm on Tuesday. Begin to implement this goal on Monday 29 July and continue to work on it until 22 September.

    Personal development Milestone 2. Reduce the units of alcohol I drink each week to 19 units and don’t drink alcohol from 9 pm on Sunday to 9 pm on Tuesday. Begin to implement this goal on Monday 23 September and continue to work on it until 24 November.

    Personal development Milestone 3. Reduce the units of alcohol I drink each week to 18 units and don’t drink alcohol from Sunday 9 pm to 9 pm on Tuesday. Begin to implement this goal on Monday 25 November and continue to work on it until 2 February.

    Personal development Milestone 4. Reduce the units of alcohol I drink each week to 17 units and don’t drink alcohol from Sunday 9 pm to 9 pm on Tuesday. Begin to implement this goal on Monday 3 February and continue to work on it until 27 March.

    Work on your Personal Development action plan

    Work on this plan and do not stop until you have completed it. If and when you fail to keep to the plan. Make a note of it and be open with yourself about why it happened. Learn from it and get back on track without delay. Do not let yourself be discouraged by any slip-ups. Just pick yourself up dust yourself down and start all over again as the song says. You are on the road to success.

    When you plan rewards for each step it will increase your chance of success. These rewards should be something you value. Something you enjoy doing. And something you know will motivate you to succeed. I will discuss these in greater detail in next weeks post.

    Sources

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2009/oct/10/change-your-life-habit-28-day-rule

    http://ctb.ku.edu/en/tablecontents/sub_section_main_1089.aspx

    http://hr.umich.edu/mhealthy/programs/rewards/pdf/example-action-plans.pdf

    http://www.setting-and-achieving-goals.com/actionplantemplate.html

    About

    We can use positive psychology to improve how we live our lives. So I love to share my understanding of it with others. To help them grow and flourish as I have. The posts on this blog set out to do just that. You need a lot of skill to make a relationship a happy one. So I write about relationship skills. Skills you can learn how to use in your own relationship. To keep it in good shape. To solve problems that may arise in it. And to improve the quality of your relationship. To make both of you happy.