Recently, I was scrolling through my IG feed and happened upon a post about yearly planners. The timing was perfect. I’ve been using a planner a friend gifted me and several journal-type notebooks to keep me in line this year but realize this is less than ideal moving into the future. My life has changed. My needs have changed. My growth areas have shifted. However, before I invest in a snazzy personalized planner, I better have a game plan.
Whether you’re an entrepreneur with no one dictating your goals, a mom who’s responsible for umpteen departments without any corporate perks for being spectacular, or an empty-nester who won’t settle for complacency, developing a personal growth plan is a necessity. Every day, you will be met with the challenge to motivate, develop, and reward yourself for being awesome! And what a challenge it is!
I’ve been there, these are not easy waters to navigate, and no planner is going to help you unless you know the answers to some basic questions.
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you want to do?
- When do you want something to happen?
- Where do you want to go?
- Why will you want to follow through?
If you paid any attention to these questions, hopefully, you’re able to see the two key elements you’ll need to accept to design a personal growth track for yourself. They are: your commitment and your basic desire. Remove those elements and you’re probably not going to follow through, and you definitely will not enjoy the process. So how do we proceed?
You must first understand what motivates you.
Perhaps you’ve heard the phrase, “start with your why.” When we know the “why,” we can tap into a personal well that runs deep within us. Our “why” is usually tied to our core convictions, purpose, or gifting. Meaning, our “why” draws from the source that will keep us motivated. If we’re not rewarded in a way that motivates us to move forward, we’re not likely to pursue the development opportunities we’ve laid out for ourselves. That is why we get paid for certain work. It’s the motivation to get something accomplished.
When I left the corporate world, I struggled with this very thing. What will motivate me to fulfill my “non-paying” responsibilities with excellence and in a timely fashion? How will I be rewarded for a job well done? Additionally, how can I keep myself challenged and continue to stretch my capacity when there is no clear-cut way or peer group to help me? Tough questions.
This is why the personal fitness industry is thriving. Homemaking arts are rivaling perfectionism. And, content is absorbed constantly (i.e. books, podcasts, video, social posts, etc.). We’re all obsessed with growing.
The problem is, without a clear focus on our “why” we can find ourselves binging from one thing to the next without ever experiencing any real fulfillment or lasting, personal development.
No focus no fun.
Here are a few tips to creating a reward system that can work for you.
If you’re competitive, develop a growth plan that rewards you with an achievement accolade of some kind. And commit your focus to something you would also enjoy achieving.
If you’re an experience junkie, challenge yourself to do something outside of your comfort zone that requires you to learn something new. Apply this new knowledge and complete a project or event. No medals are required.
If you’re super relational, discover a way to meet new people and invest in fresh relationships. It may open doors you’ve never considered with organizations that may benefit from your gifts and talents.
Find a reward system that works for you and take time to reflect on areas of your life that you’d like to develop. Our hearts, minds, bodies, and souls all need to be developed in every age and stage of our lives.
Next, ask the “who” and “what” questions.
I’ve heard of practices like writing out your own eulogy or creating a mission statement to help hone your “who” answer.
Another approach is to consider people you admire. What is it about that person you appreciate? This is an easy way to unlock your own appraisal of what being an awesome human means to you. When you’re living out the values you appreciate in others you will elevate your self-esteem. Not in a boastful way, but one that reveres purpose and meaning. This is a good thing, friend.
Jot down a few attributes of someone you admire (the “who”), what they accomplished or other forms of success (the “what”), and consider ways you can follow suit. We all need positive role models at every age, and, who knows, maybe there’s someone watching you right now, looking to be inspired by your life.
Now, create your customized development plan.
Now you’re ready to sketch out a development plan for yourself based on a reward system that fills your tank and a value system that fills your soul.
What will you do? When will you do it? These are foundational goal planning questions. There are a zillion resources on goal setting but here’s what this might look like from our approach.
I love to travel and eat. My budget and my belly like to restrict me from traveling the globe and giving way to all forms of endless gluttony. I also want to stay fit and live within a budget. One way I can satisfy all these opposing forces is to learn all about somewhere I’d like to travel. Research the cuisine. I could plan a theme night for dinner or even host a small gathering with friends. You could take this as far as you like; introduce interesting cultural elements, dress in theme for the occasion, etc. The event is what I will do. When I host the event is the deadline.
In doing this, I will:
- Learn something new
- Develop a culinary skill
- Practice hospitality and generosity
- Stretch beyond my comfort zone
- Have fun
Oh, and I didn’t feel guilty for spending too much money or tipping the scale because it was only one meal. Additionally, I’m more motivated than ever to save for that trip knowing that when I get there it will be even more amazing than I ever imagined.
Big goal is the trip. Little goal is the event. I’m building momentum!
Can you see how this works?
Start answering these questions and develop your own personalized plan!
Maybe you want to train for a marathon? Or to climb a mountain? Or you want to go back to college? Or get involved with a charity? The opportunities to grow and develop are endless. The key is to find your “why,” discover your “who,” and set your “what.” Then create a plan for “when,” and “where,” and you’ll be all set.
Here is the secret to meaningful and lasting personal growth. Once you get the hang of developing your method of growing yourself, you’ll discover ways to enjoy your everyday, ordinary life more than ever.
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