Congratulations! You’re out of university!
This is a huge milestone in every student’s life, much like a greeting card that says, “Well done for making it out alive.”
Graduation marks the end and beginning of very different, but exciting chapters. On one hand, it means your wild days of university life are over. On the other, you’re taking your first steps into the working world.
In our 2021 self-reflection blog, we asked you to answer 10 personal questions to project a better you in 2022. In the same vein, let’s chat about personal development plans and how you can build one for your self-growth in 4 easy steps!
Let’s first understand, what is a personal development plan?
A personal development plan is a mirror zoomed in to look at yourself beneath the skin and appreciate what’s there. You will see your strengths, values, biases and beliefs. Beyond that, though, personal development planning goes forward to project your vision of your ideal self. And then identifying what changes you have to make in your personal development roadmap.
Why do you need a personal development plan?
When you look in the mirror, what do you see? Do you see your talents and quirks? Of course, personal growth can happen naturally, but conscious effort is needed to push yourself to be the best version of yourself. That means slowing time down, going after what you want, and making decisions that future you will be proud of.
How to build a personal development plan
1. Set your vision
“Where do you see yourself 10 years from now?”
This is a favourite in any interviewer’s question bank, and for good reasons too. Realistically, we won’t know for sure where we will be in a decade, let alone be alive. However, this doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have ideals and goals.
Setting a vision is a bold first step in every personal development plan. Dream about the kind of person you’ll be, where you’ll live, and what you’ll be doing in 10 years. Don’t be discouraged by doubts or what-ifs. After all, Martin Luther King Jr’s legacy started with a dream.
This vision will be the roadmap for the rest of your personal development plan. Once you’ve defined an end goal, you will be able to make decisions that align with your goals and values. This is the surest way of narrowing down good options and discarding useless ones, whether it be your personal life, finances, career choices, or how you spend your time.
Point of action:
Identify some aspects of your life where you would like to see yourself grow. These could be physical health, mental health, social skills, relationships, finances, spirituality, academic and career paths, among some.
Then, create a vision board or a Pinterest board to put your ideas on. You can also write this down or record a vlog. Any medium will work as long as you put down your ideas.
2. Get to know your personality and qualities.
Next, get to know yourself in and out.
There are many ways to do this, like personality tests, but we recommend doing a SWOT analysis.
A SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis is an effective visual organiser and technique that’s often used to assess a situation. When used to analyse an individual, it can chart out someone’s key qualities and ways forward. Don’t skip this step in your personal development planning. It’s a must to evaluate yourself and make room for strategic, personal growth.
So, what should you write in each box?
Strengths (S) – List down all talents, skills, and attributes that you possess and that give you an advantage of reaching your vision.
Weaknesses (W) – List down areas and specific skills which you lack or may get in the way of you achieving your goals.
Opportunities (O) – List down any events, projects, or activities you can engage in to help you reach your goal. Also, list down new skills to learn.
Threats (T) – List down any barriers that you anticipate and are out of your control. Knowing your obstacles helps you prepare to counter them or find a way around them.
Point of action:
Grab a piece of paper and a pencil. Go to your favourite spot, free of distractions. Plot out your SWOT chart and begin your self-evaluation! You can do this over a few days. Of course, input from your closest friends, family, or lecturers are most welcome.
3. Gather resources to start your personal development plan.
Now, you’re ready to begin your journey to self-improvement!
As any traveller on a journey needs their rucksack, so will you need your personal development toolkit.
A personal development plan should be supplemented with resources that will help you follow through. Without them, your plan might just be like clouds floating in the air with no direction. So, it’s important to stay grounded and motivated to keep going.
Based on your SWOT analysis, you would have identified your weaknesses and opportunities. That’s a great start because they will guide how you choose from the abundance of motivational videos, podcasts, courses, events, and workshops out there.
Point of action:
Here’s a checklist of things you should do to fill up your personal development toolkit. This list is not exhaustive but it is a good place to start!
- Display your vision board somewhere, so you can constantly be reminded of your vision.
- Follow a personal development podcast, like Lewis Howes’ The School of Greatness.
- Create a playlist, curating videos teaching you the skills you want to learn but didn’t get to in university.
- Read books or watch documentaries that talk about what you set out in your vision board.
- Sign yourself up for courses and workshops targeting your area of growth.
- Network with people (professors, family members, experts, industry-specific groups) whom you can learn from or be mentored by.
- Create a rough timeline for certain milestones to keep track of.
- Keep a journal of your growth plan and your thoughts on this journey.
4. Revisit your plan and change if you need to
You won’t be the same person forever.
Remember that your personal growth is a continually evolving process. Rather than seeing your plan as a straight road from start to end, look at it as a circular pathway.
If you feel that your priorities change in life, that’s normal. After university, you may start to see many paid internship opportunities coming up. Your personality might change, and so will your SWOT chart.
Your timeline may not work for you, and you may discover that you want to have a completely different goal. That’s completely okay! Everyone develops and changes along the way, but the most important thing is to get moving with a personal growth plan! Then, review the plan as you go along.
Point of action:
Every now and then, review your personal development plan. You can take a look at your goals and SWOT analysis every quarter of the year. This helps you celebrate your progress and keeps you accountable. Have a thorough, critical review of whether you’re keeping to your goals. If you need to make any changes, write it down and review the resources you have, along with your timeline.
Nothing is set in stone, and that is exactly why we have a plan to keep us rooted. If you follow these four steps of personal development planning, you’ll be better equipped to reach your self-growth goals!