If you get tired, learn to rest, not to quit. - Anonymous.

Learning about and managing personal development is challenging, to say the least. The process can seem daunting at first. And there will be many obstacles to tell you that you can't do it. Working on important life skills of emotional intelligence, effective communication, empathy, time management, interpersonal relations, etc. needs to be supplemented by a robust development plan. And there has to be an efficient way to manage the whole process without making you feel like you are investing in personal development management as a separate task altogether. It should be as easy as 1,2,3!

Not having a plan in place may cause unnecessary delays, procrastination, and more often than not, failure to achieve goals and realize aspirations in life. And the process is not something you learn in a university course. It can begin with the simple step of getting to know yourself better and identifying your needs. Your needs will influence the kind of personal development plan you create and the related resources, materials, and skills that you need to go with it.

Note that a personal development plan is applicable both in your professional and personal life, whether you are a performance manager in an organization or a yoga practitioner. In fact, the role of a performance manager is very critical in helping other managers and employees create individual development plans and lay down clear objectives for change management.

Personal Development Management through Skill Enhancement

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Identify skills you want to enhance and those you want to build from scratch | Source: Freepik

The first step towards self-improvement and creating a personal development management plan is to lay down what skills you want to work on. Slowly translate them into development goals and then break them down into measurable milestones. Whether it is improving your non-verbal communication skills or overcoming your drawbacks, you can always use the method of categorization to classify skills and goals in your plan.

How to Identify Needs for Self-Development Goals?

Traditional definitions of personal development can help you unpack the idea of need assessment for the self. This can help you to manage new skills that you wish to learn and keep track of the goals you want to achieve. Psychologist Abraham Maslow put forward his theory on the hierarchy of needs to distinguish between five different categories of needs encountered by any human being. These needs are represented in the form of a pyramid, with each level signifying one need category and representing a hierarchy from the bottom to the top:

  1. The bottom of the pyramid constitutes your basic needs like food and shelter. In your quest for self-improvement, it is important that these needs are met first before you can move on to the higher-order needs.
  2. The next step represents the safety needs that include financial security, shelter, etc.
  3. Once you have your basic needs in place, you need to feel a sense of love and belongingness to a group like your family or a social group.
  4. The penultimate category constitutes esteem needs that signify your need for respect and self-esteem.
  5. The final set of needs are the self-actualization needs, the highest order needs that include self-awareness, personal growth, and self-development.

This pyramid visualizes self-improvement as a series of needs that must be fulfilled in order for you to move ahead in your personal development plan.  Using this, your personal development plan could also be represented in the form of a hierarchy:

  • Ensure access to clean food and water for the family.
  • Earn well to provide for the family.
  • Work on interpersonal skills to improve family relations.
  • Improve domain skills for career enhancement.
  • Practice yoga and mindfulness to achieve a peaceful mind.

Remember to set clear development goals, find your person to help you through the journey, and have markers in your plan to keep track of progress.

Managing Personal Development- A 5-Step Process

Good planning can lead to excellent results | Source: Pexels Credits: Stock Photos

Before getting overwhelmed by concepts like career exploration and human potential, take a look at this 5-step process on how you can develop a robust personal development management plan.

5 Steps of Personal Development Plan

Step 1: Goal Setting

Inspiration is great to get things started, but unfortunately, it is not a tangible outcome. And in the context of a personal development plan. it may often lead to procrastination.

In their study, Locke and Latham discovered that not only is setting goals effective, but people work harder and longer when those goals are difficult to attain. This might sound counterintuitive at first, but goal-setting is actually a proven method of achieving goals. Here are some examples of life goals:

  • Increase persuasion and assertiveness skills to advance in career.
  • Practice meditation to achieve a stress-free life.
  • Adopt a positive outlook by joining support groups.
  • Start a business and become my own boss.

Step 2: Plan and Prioritize

While it is important to have multiple life goals, realistically you won't be able to achieve them all at once. So it is important to prioritize your needs and set goals accordingly. Whether you’re simply looking to increase your employability, want to work on your interpersonal skills, or just want to progress in your career development, you can't achieve all of them simultaneously. You can, however, plan for them at the same time but with different and realistic timelines.

Step 3: Develop the Plan

This step involves investing in things like knowledge building, finding the right resources, enrolling in training courses, identifying a support group, finding guidance and mentors, etc. A big picture plan is important to start the whole process but until and unless you detail out the steps, the plan remains incomplete.

Step 4: Implement the Plan

Try to stick to timelines while executing the plan of action. Don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Keep going back to and revising your plan from time to time to make necessary course corrections.

Step 5: Evaluate

Many times, a good personal development plan may be stuffed with activities that are theoretically very productive and helpful. But the real usefulness of such activities can only be understood once implemented. The final step of evaluating your plan is thus very important. It helps you in learning about the mistakes you made during the process and correcting them for the next course.

Resources for Self-Development

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Find online resources on self-help and self-development courses and methods.

Personal growth is intricately linked to improving your communication and problem-solving skills. While these two do not make up the entire list, they are definitely the guiding forces that provide some direction in finding the right resources. There are three broad categories of skills where you will find the most resources on self-development:

Personal Development Skills

Any development at the individual level can be considered personal development. But this set of skills specifically focuses on enhancing your skillset that deals with mental and physical health. Here are some examples of setting development goals in this aspect:

  • Improve people management skills.
  • Enhance verbal and non-verbal communication skills.
  • Exercise regularly and follow a standard diet pattern.
  • Join community programs to develop your social circle.

The internet is a great source for development courses on mental and physical well-being. Other sources include community programs like a cycling club or yoga group. They are conducive to building a network of like-minded people who support you along the way.

Technical Skills

These skills relate to your domain knowledge and hard skills required to excel at your work. The best way to find resources on enhancing technical skills materials is by listening to podcasts or taking part in courses. Here are some ways to improve your technical skills:

  • Enhance your employability by taking personality enhancement courses. 
  • Regularly seek advice from experts and mentors on career planning and career exploration.
  • Learn a new language to expand your knowledge base.

Leadership Skills

These primarily include your management and organization skills. You can check online resources like TED Talks, podcasts, and e-books to learn about leadership concepts and how to implement them in real life. There are many bestselling books that you can keep handy and learn from the wisdom of the authors who are experts in their jobs and industry leaders. Here are some of the top leadership aspects that might interest you:

  • A positive work culture.
  • An efficient and effective work ethic.
  • Effective conflict management skills.
  • Adapting to dynamic work culture.

Personal Development Exercises to Help You Daily

Working the shoulders is great.
Exercising is a great way to stay mentally and physically fit.

Your job doesn't end at just creating a plan for managing personal development. The real deal is to be able to practice it daily so it becomes part of your being. A simple way to achieve this is to set yourself small and achievable, yet challenging targets every day. Try it, you have nothing to lose.

Here are some ways you can incorporate a little growth into your daily routine.

  • Maintain a daily journal.
  • Follow a regular fitness regime.
  • Practice mindfulness.
  • Be punctual.
  • Establish good working relations with your colleagues.
  • Invest time in your passion and hobbies.
  • Spend time away from your computer and phone, and with yourself.

Managing personal development is difficult, but not impossible. And if done well and done right, can lead to the extraordinary life that you dream of. Not in terms of money or big cars, but definitely in terms of mental peace, love, and self-satisfaction.

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