Why invest time and energy into planning your personal development? It’s your life, live it to the fullest by achieving your full potential. Meaning, satisfaction, and fulfillment await.
Why Plan Your Future?
Though you can’t control every aspect of life, experts know that having a vision for the future and a plan to follow improves your odds of being successful. Without a plan, just going with the flow of daily activities can be habit forming, and before you know it years have gone by and you realize the dreams of your youth are still just dreams.
The regrets of an unfulfilled life can be devastating. When Po Bronson, author of What Should I Do With My Life? interviewed successful older adults, he found the regrets they had in life were not for things they had done, but things they had failed to do. Having a plan for your future will help you avoid late-in-life regrets.
Do As I Say, Not As I Do
I offer this advice as one who did more career planning than personal growth planning—well, I actually did no personal growth planning. Now, in my later years I see how so many areas of my life could have been easier, less problematic, more loving to people who care about me. Better late than never, but better yet to not be late.
Taking the time and investing the energy to create your own unique personal development plan can be wonderfully rewarding. Some of the benefits include the following.
A Vision Guides Your Life
Major accomplishments begin with a vision. President Kennedy’s 1961 vision of a man on the moon by the end of the decade provided a challenge that guided NASA’s space exploration efforts, resulting in Neil Armstrong successfully setting foot on the moon on July 20, 1969, and beating the challenge by several months.
Kennedy’s inspiring vision galvanized a nation and provided the energy and commitment to resolve the myriad of problems involved in human space travel.
Your vision for the person you want to be will have similar guiding and energizing benefits. As unexpected life events occur—as they do for all of us—your vision will keep you centered and focused on the long term goals of your life.
A Detailed Personal Growth Plan is Likely to Succeed
Having a detailed plan for your personal growth to achieve your vision provides the structure and direction that more likely assures your success. Experts know that written goals are more likely to be achieved. My own personal experience confirms that, as nearly every life goal I’ve envisioned and written down has been achieved. As I mentioned earlier, unfortunately, my written goals were career/financially oriented.
Self-reflection Brings Clarity and Purpose
The act of intensive self-reflection resulting from creating your vision and intermediate goals brings a high level of clarity to your life. You’ll begin to understand who you are at your core, your beliefs about life, your values, and the things that bring you meaning and purpose.
In his research on “blue zones,” those areas of the world characterized by higher than normal percentage of adults living to age one-hundred, Author Dan Buettner found that centenarians are characterized by having a feeling of purpose and meaning in their lives.
Oh, wouldn’t it be great to have a clear image of self-purpose by the age of twenty? But, then life might not be so adventurous and exciting. Still, one wonders what could have been.
You’ll be Happier
In addition to the benefit of longevity, the purpose and life-meaning resulting from your personal growth planning may make you happier. Experts in the field of positive psychology have confirmed that having a purposeful life is an important component of happiness in life.
Limiting Beliefs are Overcome
As a child, there were many adults influentially guiding your life. During these early years, children form beliefs of who they are, their strengths, and their limitations. Unfortunately, these adults—though well-meaning—may have mistakenly labeled you based on their own incomplete or inaccurate beliefs about life. It’s common to have self-limiting beliefs which are not true, but are powerful deterrents to your growth.
The self-reflection activities of personal growth planning can uncover self-limiting beliefs, allowing you to examine them in the light of your adult knowledge and experience, discarding those no longer appropriate. I recall a woman in one of my workshops describing her experience: she had been told by a third or fourth grade music teacher that she “couldn’t sing,” and instructed to mouth the words while the class sang in a recital.
She had always longed to sing, and finally in her adulthood took the chance and began singing in the presence of others. Their positive feedback encouraged her to take voice lessons, which she was doing and enjoying immensely. She may never sing professionally, but she’s enjoying her new-found skill for the pleasure it gives her.
As described at the beginning of this article, in later life we’re more likely to have regrets about the things we didn’t do in life than the things we did do which turned out badly. Though we may still regret those mistakes we made, most of us learn from them and move on, while we continue to wonder “what if…?” we had the courage to follow our dreams.
Do you have you a life plan?
Does it seem too daunting and overwhelming a task to undertake for your busy life?
Do the dreams of your youth still return at times?
Shameless Plug: My Personal Development Plan Book
My most popular posts are those about specific personal development planning modules. A few years ago I gathered those into an eBook which many have found helpful.
Sample Personal Development Plan and Workbook lays out a plan for personal growth in sixteen areas chosen from positive psychology research studies as validated components of well-being.
Sample Personal Development Plan is available at Amazon and most other online retailers, including Scrbd and Oyster.