Personal Development Goals

What are your personal development goals?

In my last post, titled "What Is A Personal Development Plan?", I discussed the importance of goal setting as part of the personal development planning process. These goals form the foundation or nucleus of such a plan and as such are worth exploring in more detail. So today I'd like to discuss setting self improvement goals in more depth.

Setting goals for yourself can a more difficult task than you might initially expect. Sit down with a blank piece of paper and try to distill all of your life's dreams and ambitions into a handful of written statements. Where do you start? Where do you stop? How much detail should you go into? What follows is a series of tips to help you set personal development or self improvement goals for yourself.

Setting Specific Goals:

In order to succeed, you will need to make sure you have specific goals. Having vague or abstract goals makes achieving them that much more difficult. How will you know when you've met your target?

Numbers can be a great way of expressing goals. A number has a certain quality about it which gives you a fixed point of reference. As everything in life ebbs and flows, a goal expressed as a number stands out like a beacon, guiding you towards your destination. Instead of saying "I want to lose weight", you could re-state your goal as "I want to lose 7 pounds" or maybe "I want to reach my ideal weight of 160 pounds". Now as the days and weeks go by, each time you jump on the scales you'll watch yourself closing in on your target weight.

What Is Your Expected Date Of Achievement?

Deadline can be an ugly word. It has connotations of externally imposed time lines. So instead of deadline, let's use the phrase - "expected date of achievement". This gives a much more positive interpretation of the time by which you'd like to attain your goal.

But regardless of when we call it, it's important for us to consider not only the what but the when. Without a concrete time line in place it's easy to slip back into what used to be one of my favorite activities - procrastination. It's easy to find something else to fill your time. Then days slip into weeks and even months with no progress. The next thing you know, another year has passed and you still haven't done anything about starting that further education you'd been promising yourself.

Break Down Your Goals:

Make sure your goals are realistic. Rather than having one enormous goal, try breaking it down into two or more smaller ones. For example, if you wanted to run 8 miles in under 1 hour by the end of the year, you might set an intermediate goal of 4 miles in under 30 minutes by the end of September.

Setting these mini-goals can work wonders for your motivation. If you can tick off each of these smaller achievements on the way to your major milestone you'll feel like you're making more progress faster.

But What Are Your Goals?

How do you work out what your personal development or self improvement goals are? While some people have no trouble in clearly articulating what they want out of life, others may be less sure of themselves. If you fall into the latter category, how can you determine what you really want?

A technique I've found useful is to remove any constraints, obstacles or roadblocks, both perceived and real. What if money was no object? What if you had unlimited time? What would you do? Imagine you are independently wealthy - you have no need to work and have time on your hands. What would you do with yourself? What do you feel passionate about?

Or what if the opposite were true? You had limited time left (a comet is on a collision course with our planet - okay, maybe a little melodramatic, but you get the idea). What would you do with the time you had left?

Sometimes doing these mental exercises can be a good way to gain some perspective on things. Your mind has incredible power within it. Sometimes you just need some help to unleash that power. But that is a topic for another day...

There's no time like the present. Take some time out of your day and consider the question at hand. What are your personal development goals?

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