If there’s one area that I’m really passionate about, it’s personal development and peak performance. This led me to develop a personal development action plan to help me become the best version of myself.
Here’s what I discovered. A personal development action plan is a plan that will move you from where you currently are in life to the place where you would want to be. It is a step by step blueprint which captures the Why, What and How of your journey towards your ideal life.
Personal Development Benefits – Why You Need to Work on Yourself
Self Development Strategies – The Wheel of Life Explained
How to Get Financial Freedom Fast at Any Salary – 3 Plans to Freedom
Financial Freedom Guide on Low Income – Your Ultimate Guide
A Personal Story
About 2 and a half years ago, I found myself in one of the lowest places in my life. To cut a long story short, I was depressed, defeated and in debt. You could say I was operating in 3D 😊. Ok, bad jokes aside, I was in a bad place and even though I was hopeful, I really didn’t have a clear path out of the situation I found myself in.
I was out of a job and my side hustles were basically dead in the water. I had nowhere to turn to. I was talking to one of my long-time friends about some of the challenges I was facing at that time and he recommended that I speak to someone.
He gave me this person’s number and a few weeks later, this person became my mentor. I remember those days well. Because he was a very busy man, our mentorship sessions would mostly happen in his car as he moved from one engagement to another.
These sessions usually lasted anywhere from 2 to 5 hours at a time but I will forever be in his debt because the lessons he taught me in those times reshaped my life and made me a much better version of myself.
In this article, I am basically going to walk you through the lessons as they were taught to me and hope that they will have the same impact in your life as they had for me.
I remember the very first time we met as if it was yesterday. We had spoken on the phone 2 or 3 times to set up our first meeting but other engagements on his side, we had failed to make it happen. The only solution, it seemed, was to make use of the small pockets of free time he had in his day.
I was doing a small consultation job for my previous employers and had just finished when I called him to confirm if he would be able to meet me as we had tentatively arranged. To my delight, he was free and offered to come to where I was as he wasn’t far.
A few minutes later I was sitting in his car and began to narrate how my life was a complete shamble. He asked me how I wanted him to help me and without skipping a beat, I told him I wanted him to be my mentor.
Though he was a qualified Medical Doctor, he was also an accomplished businessman with a net worth in the millions of dollars. Our first meeting consisted of him asking me some questions to mostly gauge where I was in life and where I saw myself some weeks, months and a year down the line.
He deliberately confined me within the timeframe of a year because I really needed to work at my short-term goals and get some quick wins that brought stability in my life before tackling midterm to long term goals.
As we concluded our meeting for that day, he told, no, commanded me to bring a notebook to our meetings going forward. I went back home with a bit more optimism that the future would be a lot brighter going forward.
The following week we met up again and this time he was in the middle of a busy day and I went with him while he tackled different tasks for the day. Looking back, I realise it was really by design that he did this as some of my greatest lessons came from watching him as did they from his teachings.
As we rounded off that day, he asked me to bring a list of goals to our next meeting. Another 2 weeks passed before we had our next session. I brought my list of “goals” with me. He quickly scanned through them and, in no uncertain terms, told me that these were not really goals but a wish list.
He proceeded to school me on the SMART goal format. I had heard about it before through the books I had read and the many leadership trainings I had been a part of at work and in my church. Something was different though this time around, I had a mentor whom I was accountable to.
I discovered, in that moment, that one of the biggest reasons to have a mentor in your life is accountability. About 70% of the things I learned in the meetings before this and in the meetings that were to follow, were things that I already knew.
The fact that I was accountable, caused me to move at a rapid pace in the weeks and months that were to follow, but I am getting ahead of myself. SMART goals. Let’s just assume that you don’t know what these are and to indulge my vanity, I will explain what they are.
SMART is an acronym for:
Timely or Time-bound
Your goals need to be specific. There should be no grey areas in your goals. Instead of saying “I want to earn more money this year”, a specific goal would be “I want to be earning a consistent income of $2,500 per month by December of 2019”.
The first statement there is a good example of how I had written down my first set of goals. They were, in the words of my mentor “nebulous”. They were neither here no there and did not challenge my brain to look for solutions.
I’ll talk about how clear goals drive your own mind to find answers to your questions a bit later on in this article.
Your goal should have a clear target that you are aiming for. In this case, my target is a consistent income of $2,500 per month. In his book, The New Psycho-Cybernetics, Maxwell Maltz talks about a function of the human brain which he calls the goal-seeking mechanism.
This goal seeking mechanism will guide you towards the achievement of any goal that you set for yourself when you learn how to instruct it the right way. Many successful athletes, business people and others have used the techniques described in this book to achieve success in every area of life. I encourage you to grab a copy of the book at this link:
Let your goals be clear and specific then measurable.
Setting a goal of being the best ice cream business in the world then selling your ice cream in Antarctica is not a very realistic goal. Again, planning to become a Billionaire through a business that serves a small town of 2000 people with an average income of $1,500 per month is also not realistic.
Whatever goal you set, make sure that you seriously consider how realistic that particular goal is.
Your goals should have a specific time frame within which they should be attained.
Read Your Goals Daily
I mentioned that there is a goal-seeking mechanism in our minds which can be instructed to go after the goals we have for ourselves. One of the ways that you can instruct it is to read your goals daily. This is the instruction that my mentor gave me a week later when I had fixed my goals and written them down within the SMART framework.
He said to me “When you read your goals daily, our mind will begin to come up with ways to help you reach them.”
In one of our later meeting, I was reporting back on the progress that I had made towards attaining the short term goals he had helped me to draft. I had made some significant progress. I had hit and surpassed most of my goals.
These had been designed to bring some level of stability in my life. He congratulated me on the progress I had made and highlighted that he was impressed that I had hit my targets in such a short space of time. We were driving down one of the major roads in our city and he pulled over to the side of the road, took my notebook and pen from my hands and proceeded to draw a diagram on a clean page.
I was ready for the next level and he was about to take me there..
The Wheel of Life
This is the diagram that he drew on that page. He called it the wheel of life.
The wheel of life showed the important areas of life. These include:
- Friends and Family
- Significant Other
- Personal Growth
- Fun and Leisure
- Home Environment
Next, he asked me honestly assess each of these areas of my life and assess how was doing on a scale of 1 to 10. I was to mark each category accordingly. My finished diagram looked something like this:
When I was done, he asked me this question. He said, “if this was a wheel on your car, would that car go anywhere?” A bomb went off in my mind as I realised what had just happened. “This is called the self assessment,” he said. “You can use this exercise to gauge where you are in life and what you need to work on”.
I had been given a tool to help me become self-aware and be able to identify the problem areas in my life and fix them. I didn’t need to be a clueless wreck anymore. I could take control of my life and purposefully move in the direction that I wanted my life to go and not be at the mercy of circumstances.
His voice broke into the little bubble I had entered into as my mind began to grasp the possibilities. “Your highest score there is a 9. Now, begin to work on bringing all the other areas in your life to a 9. You need to balance your wheel.”
“Use the goal-setting process that I’ve taught you to set and achieve goals for all of those areas.” That’s exactly what I did and continue to do to this day.
Would love to hear your thoughts on this article. Please comment below.