In this article we’ll discuss 15 tips for creating a personal development plan that works for you.

Tips for Creating a Personal Development Plan

Tip #1: Set smaller goals and work on large projects a little at a time.

meg-nielson-114453It is easy to get overwhelmed by the task and give up. Research from the field of change human psychology suggests that preparing for a change stage leads to the creating of reciprocal actions that facilitate change. Realize that actions do not have to be large accomplishments. Learn to celebrate small wins. Setting smaller goals and working on large projects a little at a time will help you accomplish tasks with less anxiety and in a timely manner.

Small steps lead to big change. Overcoming the little things in our everyday battles leads to achieving our big hairy audacious goals that Christ compels us to set. “Whoever can be trusted with very little can also be trusted with much, and whoever is dishonest with very little will also be dishonest with much” (Luke 16:10).

Tip #2: Increase learning orientation.

Are you motivated by performance goals? Do you have lower self-efficacy when you have hit your expected targets? Is there something missing even when you are doing your job? Develop a learning orientation that rewards efforts rather than measures with performance standards and milestones.

Be motivated to do well in your projects not by how well your perform, but by the intrinsic love of learning and by the love of how that knowledge can be applied to help people. Be encouraged because you know that God wants you to grow and learn. Research on goal-setting contends that having a learning orientation leads to better goal accomplishment when compared to having a performance orientation.

Tip #3: Network.

Networking is a skill that can continue to develop throughout a lifetime. One strategy is to use informal networks to gain access to growth opportunities. Battilana and Casciaro suggest that change agents in companies are often the ones that have great informal networks. Learn from what others are doing well to incorporate into your own personal development plan.

What shortcuts do you think will work for you in streamlining your life and achieving great things for the Lord? Reach out to others to brainstorm and give you ideas on what you can try and ask for feedback as you take actions based on your personal development plan.

Tip #4: Accept change and overcome resistance to change.

It is hard to accept change. The hardest part is knowing that things need to change, but finding it difficult to act on the change because it may create a confrontation with yourself and/or others. It is easier to stay at a place that is familiar and comfortable.

If you want to accomplish your goals, you need to be willing to change. Tell yourself that change is fun. Use the following strategies: Have empathy/support for yourself, communicate to others to get a clearer picture of the needed change, and participate in change endeavors. “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it” (John 1:5).

Tip #5: Have fun by experimenting with integrating different goals and roles in life.

Combining work and play often creates a virtuous cycle. For example, enjoy a hike with family and/or friends, which combines personal exercise and bonding time. Invite a friend or family member to more work functions so you can gain new perspectives on your work and can enjoy several roles at the same time.

Research suggests that personal development is enhanced when we see different perspectives and act in several different roles. Design experiments with your goals and roles that ask those affected by your experiments to let you know if things have improved, and if not, assure them that you will go back to the old way or you will commit to trying a different approach.

Tip #6: Get feedback on the developmental goal of seeking enjoyment through discovery.

Enjoy learning by the sheer adventure of the discovery of new ideas. Share those ideas with others effectively. Do not fear being judged, as debate and argument can make discovery of learning stronger. Obtaining feedback regarding developmental goals will focus attention on it. Beck, Gregory, and Carr suggest that feedback on developmental goals needs to be prioritized. Create informal and formal processes for obtaining feedback. It can be as simple as asking, “What did you enjoy most about our work together today?”

Tip #7: Leverage effort.

Remind yourself that efforts do pay off in the end. Sometimes, lack of rewards and failure may make you feel like giving up, but know that making effort increases the probability of success. Think about Thomas Edison, who experimented with hundreds of chemicals before coming up with right chemical to having sustaining light that did not need oil or wax.

According to the Bible, God used people that failed many times. Failure is nothing but a stepping stone to success. You could have failed 100 times, yet, you only have to get it right once to make a significant change that will propel you into the wild blue yonder.

Tip #8: Recording and reflecting.

Take up journaling to record your feelings, thoughts, goals, plans, and actions. In the beginning, it might be difficult to get words on paper. Set a goal to write these things at least once per week in your journal. There are many online and mobile applications at hand to help you with journaling. If you are not a good writer, do not give up. Create an audio file or a video file if you are better at talking than writing. Be creative, as journaling does not necessarily have to be writing.

Reflection is the process of increasing awareness and establishing priorities. “Each one should test their own actions. Then they can take pride in themselves alone, without comparing themselves to someone else” (Galatians 6:4). Reflection on our actions is what Scripture calls us towards. Reflection, often, is enhanced with the help of a Christian counselor or coach. Allow yourself to encounter deep contemplation before, during, and after an action or series of actions. Sometimes, keeping your body moving and acting on mundane tasks allows focused concentration on spiritual development.

Tip #9: Create a roadmap for tasks.

william-iven-19843Do you spend more time planning your summer vacation than you do planning your life? Creating a roadmap for everything in your life helps you tap into strategic thinking. Strategic thinking is nothing but organizing and planning at jet speeds. Set aside a half-day of time to make plans for the week, or one up that and make plans for a whole month. Then put your plans into action starting with your most important and urgent tasks that lead to goal attainment.

Research suggests that time to achieve large goals is not as important as taking the small actionable steps to get to those goals. Practically, your roadmap should include personal and professional goals all in one place.

Tip #10: Refresh through Christ.

Tap into the spiritual energy of the Almighty Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. This means taking the time invite the presence of the Holy Spirit into your life wherever life takes you, be it in the car, at home, or at work. Many people find it is helpful to connect with the Lord during a dedicated prayer and biblical meditation time. This will make you feel refreshed and re-energized to take on the most difficult things life throws at you, because you have the power of the Holy Spirit behind you.

Make time to read good books from Christian authors and think about the Lord during physical activity. Refill the personal fuel tank by remembering God’s promises in Scripture and how He is faithful in the everyday of life.

Tip #11: Show care and be thankful for friends and the world.
brendan-church-190436Enjoy people. Be around people who lift you up and guide you in constructive ways. Respect the Lord, others, and the world. Have an attitude of thankfulness for people even in the midst of pain, even when people often cause suffering. Make it a daily habit to mentally note and/or list God’s provisions and care in your life. Take part in a community club, or volunteer at your favorite non-profit. Showing others God’s love help us feel God’s love ourselves.

Tip #12: Actively engage and be present with the Lord and others.

Talk about your hopes and dreams with the Lord and with others. God will show you the way and the steps as you engage. That is the beauty of engagement with the Lord, in that there are no pitfalls or drawbacks. Your presence is more healing for a loved one than you can ever imagine.

Presence is a love language of its own. Schedule time in your personal development for engagement and presence with the Lord and others. “Family of Israel, you know that I can do the same thing with you. You are like the clay in the potter’s hands, and I am the potter. This message is from the Lord” (Jeremiah 18:6).

Tip #13: Make time for things that matter.

ahmed-saffu-214198Flexibility is key. If something is not working in your schedule, move it around. If you have too much work on one day, spread it out. Identify what matters most to you. What do want to do most during your day that will have an impact for the Lord and make a difference in someone’s life? Can you create a situation where you can work from home? Can you spend some time during the workday getting some exercise? Can you take a 2-hour lunch break once in a while to enjoy lunch with co-workers, friends, and family?

Longitudinal research suggests that individuals who frequently engage in physical activity, maintain a healthy diet, and avoid the abuse of harmful substances like tobacco and alcohol tend to live longer than those who do not.

Tip #14: Learn the art of delegation.

Many hands make the workload a whole lot lighter. Make personal development a team sport. A personal assistant can facilitate organization and free you up to think of ways to work smarter. You will be surprised to learn that you have more time to reflect and grow in your calling. Have an employee of yours take on some of your duties so they will grow, too. This will free up time to attend Christian seminars, workshops, and be more involved in your local church, and community. It is harder to give back if we are at the mercy of the clock.

Tip #15: Go, when the Lord takes you beyond your usual routine.

And I will lead the blind in a way that they do not know, in paths that they have not known I will guide them. I will turn the darkness before them into light, the rough places into level ground. These are the things I do, and I do not forsake them.”Isaiah 42:16

Be open to the Spirit’s leading. Take the steps towards an activity that aligns work, home, and community with your vision and mission in Christ. Examples include: Try a new parenting style. Join the board of a company that excites you. Plan to go on a mission trip to a country you have never set foot in. Seek the joy of the Lord in your new adventure. Note how you are becoming more compassionate and Christlike as you step outside your comfort zone.

Christian Counseling for Personal Development

I hope these tips have been helpful to you. If you could use a coach as you set and seek to achieve your personal development goals, I would love to meet with you. Call today for your risk-free initial appointment.

ReferencesBattilana, J., & Casciaro, T. (2013). The network secrets of great change agents. Harvard Business Review, 91(7/8), 62-68.Beck, J. W., Gregory, J. B., & Carr, A. E. (2009). Balancing development with day-to-day task demands: A multiple-goal approach to executive coaching. Industrial and Organizational Psychology: Perspectives on Science and Practice, 2, 293-296. doi:10.1111/j.1754-9434.2009.01152.x

Cummings, T. G., & Worley, C. G. (2014). Organization development & change. Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

Friedman, S. D. (2008, April). Be a better leader, have a richer life. Harvard Business Review, 86 (4), 112-118.

Locke, E. A., & Latham, G. P. (2002). Building a practically useful theory of goal setting and task motivation. American Psychologist, 57, 705-715.

Maxwell, J. C. (2009). How successful people think: Change your thinking, change your life. New York, NY: Center Street.

Prochaska, J. O., DiClemente, C. C., & Norcross, J. C. (1992). In search of how people change: Applications to addictive behaviors. American Psychologist, 47, 1102-1114.

Vaillant, G. (2002). Aging well: Surprising guideposts to a happier life from the landmark Harvard study of adult development. Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co.

“Growth,” courtesy of Meg Neilson,, Public Domain License; “Strategize,” courtesy of William Iven,, Public Domain License; “Skating,” courtesy of Brendan Church,, Public Domain License; “Sandbank,” courtesy of Ahmed Saffu,, Public Domain License


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