Start by Leading Yourself

Leading people is a difficult endeavor. And in many cases, the most difficult person you will ever manage is yourself. 

One of the best ways to manage and improve yourself is by creating a personal development plan. Wikipedia defines a personal development plan as, “The process of creating an action plan based on awareness, values, reflections, goal setting and planning for personal development within the context of a career, education, relationship or for self improvement.”

Here are 12 helpful items to use when creating an effective personal development plan:

1. Set aside a few hours of uninterrupted time to work on yourself each day. 

2. Assess your core values and what you believe in.

3. Perform a SWOT (strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, threats) analysis on yourself. Taking a hard and honest look at your personal strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats will help you determine what you should focus on to meet your full potential.

4. Clearly define your personal, professional and financial goals. What do you really want to accomplish in the next three to five years?  

5. Use your core values, beliefs and SWOT analysis results to narrow down your goals to two or three in each area.

6. Determine what specific actions are needed to accomplish these goals. This is key.

7. Set clear timelines and how you will measure your progress and goal achievements.

8. Evaluate your current habits. Which habits will help you reach your goals, and which ones do you need to work on changing? 

9. Decide if you need assistance from a mentor or coach to help you through this process. If so, make a list of potential candidates and reach out. 

10. Put everything in writing. 

11. Implement and follow your plan.

12. Regularly evaluate your progress and consistently modify the plan as needed. 

Don’t worry about the format or getting everything perfect the first time you create a personal development plan. 

The most important thing is to just get started and find a plan you can adhere to over time. Good luck.

Chez Misko is the COO of Wisconsin Athletic Club.

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