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Some people are great at winging it. I am not. Before I get into a project of any significance, I want to have a plan. Self development is no exception.

When my son was being recruited to play college lacrosse, it was like running another business. In case you didn’t know, gone are the days when coaches roam around schools to see players in games. Now there are big recruiting tournaments you must attend. You’ll see all the coaches along the sidelines with clipboards. If your name is not on the clipboard before they arrive, chances are you won’t get a look.

We had to develop a highlight video, online web profile, and map out of plan for coaches from schools he wanted to attend. He also had to engage in email marketing, direct mail marketing, personal phone calls, etc… It was a lot of work and it began two and half years before he graduated high school. If we (and it was a family enterprise) had just winged it, without any plan, he may not have found himself at the national championship during his freshman year.

The same is true with self development. If you want to improve some area of your life, you need a plan of attack. Having a plan makes things more certain. You give yourself a guide to follow, action steps to take, and you can see progress as you move along.


When you begin a plan of personal improvement you need to accept a reality – it is not going to be easy. A lot of people try and fail. Partly because they don’t have a plan. Some fail because the “pain of change is greater than the pain of gain”. Believe me, there will be some pain of gain when you start working on yourself.

I think that pain comes from our comfort zone. Or rather the discomfort caused moving out of our zones. We get used to the way things are – both externally and within ourselves. Self-development means an intellectual and emotional recognition that we aren’t as good as we could be. It is always easier to point out the development challenges of someone else than it is to recognize them in ourselves. Recovered addicts often say that it was not until they hit rock bottom that they knew they needed to make a change. I’m not suggesting you have to be in that extreme position to achieve any kind of self-improvement. You do however, need to take a look at yourself, determine what you want to change or develop, and make a commitment to do it, no matter how uncomfortable it might become.

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To be successful you need the right mindset to start a plan. Here are a few mental practices to create a self-development mindset.

Like Yourself: Regardless of where you are right now, if you are reading this you are okay. No one is perfect. Maybe you have a destructive personal habit you need to change. Perhaps you just need to learn more about your career to continue to advance. Both are a bit on the opposite ends of the scale, but neither make you unfit for existence. When the thought entered your head that you need to improve yourself it just confirmed you are a winner. So be confident and accept yourself where you are today.

Don’t Be Afraid: Fear is limiting. People who are afraid to risk changing become limited in action, thought, creativity, motivation, and achievement. They become confined in a rut that they will tread for an entire lifetime. That’s not you. What is the worse that could happen if you try to change and it doesn’t work? Just by trying you WILL change.

One Small Step: So many people abandon self development goals when they don’t get immediate results. Weight loss is an example that come s to mind. Get used to that. The bigger the change the longer it’s probably going to take. Begin by just taking the first logical step forward that you can. You will find that by focusing on one small step at a time you will also begin to eliminate any fear.


Follow these steps when you start to write your plan:

Step 1: Determine Where You Are Now:
Before you can make changes with your life, you need to know where to start. Having a good assessment across the 10 domains of your life will show you, objectively, where you are doing well and where you need to improve. You don’t want to write a plan that neglects important opportunities for improvement that are hiding in your blind spot. The LifeScore Assessment is an excellent free tool to help you determine this important starting point.
Step 2: Visualize Your Future:
You need a clear vision of where you want to go. Think about what life would be life if you accomplished your self-development goal. What would it mean for you personally, financially, spiritually, in your relationships, or in your community if you accomplished it? That is your end point, the destination you want to reach.

WARNING: If it is not something you can’t live without getting, don’t start. Keep dreaming until you find a vision that will make a kind of difference you can’t live without.


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Step 3: Get Help Where Needed:
To affect significant change you might need help. Do not be afraid to ask. Asking for help is not a weakness. It demonstrates character, conviction, and intelligence. Help may take different forms. From books and videos to online courses, to engaging another person, friend or professional. Look at the gap between Step 1 and Step 2 and decide what help you might need to bridge that gap.

Step 4: Write Your Plan:
You don’t need a complex process to write a self-development plan. Look at where you are (Step 1) and compare it to where you want the plan to take you (Step 2). Write out the actions you are going to take and, this is very important, the dates by which you will complete those actions. Now you have your plan. If you need something more structured, has several free templates you can download.


Rarely will you see instant results. I’ve read about people who take a course or hear a speaker and they instantly transform their lives. It has never happened to me (and I’ve taken a lot of course and heard a lot of speakers!) nor has it happened to anyone I know. So you need to accept the process. Stay persistent and committed. You need to be committed to see changes in your life, so that you will work hard to bring yourself to a higher place.

Challenges will come and obstacles will try to stop you. There is always a way around, always a solution to every problem. You can’t stop believing you will get there. Patience and persistence will be your best friends in any self-development action. Write your plan today and get started.

What has been your biggest challenge to a self-development plan? Please share it in the comments below…