Do you have a written plan that details how you’re going to love your spouse, daughter, or son?

Anyone you love? No? Why not? There’s always so much talk about hitting our professional, monetary, and material goals but little to no talk about hitting our relationship goals.

The truth is, there’s a gross imbalance in how we live our life and plan for the future. So many of us supposedly value our loved ones, our mental health, and our personal growth and yet never set a single goal related to these things which are most important to us. Personal growth, in particular, is critical because it spills over and affects every aspect of your life.

Not having a specific plan for personal growth that outlines your goals and what your consistent efforts will be to reach those goals can be a critical mistake.

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Success is the progressive realization of worthwhile, predetermined, personal goals.

– Paul J. Meyer

Personal growth is important, that much is obvious. But if it is so important then we need to put the time and effort into it that it deserves.

When it comes to creating a personal growth plan, it comes down to deciding two main things:

  • Why (or What)
  • And How

Quick and simple, right? But its importance can’t be understated (if you don’t yet clearly understand why, you will in a moment).

First, let’s talk about why:

Why are you committing to a personal growth plan? (What are you trying to accomplish?)

First, why is personal growth important? You’re trying to grow, but where do you hope that it takes you? What are you trying to accomplish?

To be productive in your efforts, they need to be placed in the right context. That context is your major goal (or goals). Without this in place, sure, you can develop certain major life skills that are generally useful towards achieving your goals, however, your efforts will be much less focused. Or worse – you don’t put enough time and effort into a valuable skill or asset that you end up having to “catch up” on later.

For example, if you want to build relevant connections in your industry, you’ll want to work on improving your communication skills and get tips on how to build new relationships/connections and contribute value to others over time.

This kind of thing always takes time and can’t be rushed, so if you don’t realize until later that this is a critical set of skills to develop you might end up setting yourself back big time (or worse – miss an opportunity).

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How to create a highly effective personal growth plan

It’s important to know not only what your major life goals are but also the primary skills and assets you need to develop or accumulate to give yourself the highest likelihood of reaching your goal.

I’ll use myself as an example. For some time now, I’ve been working on my first fiction book. My major goal is to become a master storyteller and the main mechanism behind that is to tell my stories through my fiction writing.

With that in mind, these skills and assets are important:

  • Storytelling ability
  • Writing ability and productivity
  • Personal branding (as an author, storyteller)
  • Business savvy (specifically, digital marketing if self-publishing)
  • Connections in publishing and/or online with other authors and fiction/storytelling-centric media platforms
  • Genre understanding through mass reading (as a fiction author, you need to understand clearly what kind of story those readers are used to experiencing)
  • And anything connected to maximizing my creativity and maintaining clarity of mind

Once you’ve done that take a moment to grade (you’re guessing here, keep that in mind) each skill or asset on a scale of importance from one to ten, with ten being the most important and highest priority.

Now that I have my list I know exactly what personal growth is to me as it is relevant to my major goals. With this in mind, I can specifically target certain activities over others to grow in a way that is aligned with my personal goals.

Keep in mind that this can be applied to anything: getting better at relationships, improving your spiritual life, or anything else you want to do in your life. No matter what it is, the process is the same: 1) What are you goals for personal growth in this area of your life?, and 2) What primary skills and assets do you need to accumulate to accomplish that goal or make progress?

Take time to get clear about what you want and what personal growth looks like to you based on those goals. You only have one life to live, so make every moment count and get clear on where you’re going and what you need to do to get there.