“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other” – John F. Kennedy
Personal Development Planning has changed. Thanks to the work of Seligman(2003) and others. Who say that to help you plan what to do with your life. The first thing you need to do is to find out what your strengths are. And then you build on them.
Strengths are the key to success. Using them makes you happy. And you achieve more.
So I have prepared this checklist to help you plan what to do about your development. It will show you how to identify your strengths. And how to build on them to achieve your goals (Seligman,2003).
Planning to develop your personal strengths
☐ To find your strengths log on to www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edy/questionnaires.aspx. Click on the authentic Happiness Inventory Questionnaire. Click on register. Complete the questionnaire. It takes about twenty-five minutes.
☐ Or buy Martin Seligman’s book “Authentic Happiness” and complete the questionnaire on page 114. You can get this book at http://www.amazon.com/Authentic-Happiness-Pstchology-Potential-Fulfillment/dp/0743222989.
☐ Identify your five highest scoring strengths from your answers to this questionnaire. Which compares your answers to those of the thousands of other people who have taken the test. And ranks them from one to twenty-four. Your highest scoring strengths are your greatest strengths.
Planning your personal development goals
☐ Set personal development goals. Each goal should focus on building and using one of your key strengths. It should be a S.M.A.R.T. goal. That is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and has a time limit. For example: 1. “To build my writing skills to a level where I consistently achieve 70+ on the Flesch Reading Ease Test. I plan to achieve this goal by the end of the year.” 2. “To write for two hours each day for six out of every seven days.” 3.”To spend twenty hours each week on researching and learning about topics to write on.”
Planning a personal development timetable
☐ Allow sufficient time to achieve your goal. Don’t be over ambitious. Allow for the fact that you live a full life as it is. And finding the time to work on your personal development isn’t going to be easy. It will take you at least a month to achieve a goal like the one described above. So the first task is to set a finish date for achieving your goal.
☐ When you have set your completion date identify regular review dates. Like once a week. These are your benchmarks.
Planning your personal development benchmarks
☐ Schedule your benchmarks. Then decide what you expect to achieve at each benchmark. And how you are going to evaluate them.
☐ Use a simple evaluating system : 1. Undershot my goal. ☐ 2. Achieved my goal. ☐ 3. Surpassed my goal. ☐
☐ Use the answers to set your goal for the next benchmark.
Planning your personal development support system
☐ Identify learning material on your strength. This will include books and articles and internet sites and blogs. Strengths are like muscles they grow from usage. But like any keep-fit programme your use of the strength needs to be based on an informed understanding of it.
Planning to use the personal development strength you’ve chosen
☐ Use the strength every day that you can. Use it at work. Use it in your pastimes. And in your personal life.
☐ Keep a record of how often and for how long you use it. And the progress you make with it.
☐ If you haven’t achieved your goal by the end of the month you should plan to work on it for another month.
☐ When you have achieved your goal then you should work on dealing with weaknesses stop you from using it to the full.
Planning to identify weaknesses that stop you using your strength to the full
☐ Make a list of the shortfalls in skill, knowledge and talent that hold you back from using the strength successfully.
☐ Pick one of these weaknesses to work on.
Planning how to manage your weakness
☐ Work at getting a little better at it.
☐ Find a support system to serve as a crutch for your weakness. Like using spell check to deal with a spelling weakness.
☐ Use one of your strengths to overcome your weakness. Like using verbal communication to get your message across instead of writing.
☐ Find someone to do it for you. Like getting a colleague to proof read your document.
☐ Just stop doing it. And dictate your work rather than type it up yourself.
Continuous personal development planning
☐ When your plan to identify, use and build one of your strengths is completed. And you have managed to overcome one of your weaknesses that take away from your use of this strength. You should identify another strength and weakness to work on.
☐ Develop a new plan to work on this new strength and its related weakness.