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Creating your own individual personal growth plan March 28, 2014

Posted by Dennis Mellersh in Planning.
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Most people interested in maximizing their personal development potential usually look for a ready-made plan, hopefully drawn-up by an expert.

The Internet is full of suggested blueprints for personal growth, a result of the fact that people interested in improving themselves use the words “personal development plan” in thousands upon thousands of Internet searches every month.

However, someone else’s plan, even one from a well-known expert, might not be the best approach for you.

Why not consider developing your own plan to achieve your aims in self-improvement?

Why your own plan?

Although it is important to get specific ideas on growth components from as many professional sources as possible, the actual basic plan for your program should reflect your particular personality. It should be “individualized”.

Why “individualized”? Numerous well-known experts writing on the topic of how to improve our lives find that they cannot always get their ideas across if they talk only in general, non-specific terms.

So they give examples, they tell stories – stories about how different individuals, faced with difficulties, made progress and improved various aspects of their lives.

These expert writers on self-improvement recognize that their ideas and suggestions will be easier for people to understand and to implement if they are personalized, if they are concrete examples of real life experiences of people.

Every individual is different

A good example of this is Dale Carnegie, who wrote the book, How to Stop Worrying and Start Living: Time-tested methods for conquering worry. One of the key ways he communicates his ideas is by giving dozens and dozens of examples of real people and how they overcame difficulties in their lives.

Similarly, it will be easier for you to implement ideas and suggestions for improvement from the experts if you personalize your plan to your individual needs by making your program a reflection of the personal areas in your life in which you feel the need to make positive change.

Two main elements in growth plans

A personalized plan for guiding and building the progress you want to make and the successes you want to achieve needs to recognize that there are two basic components in personal growth, and if we study the nature of these two elements, we will recognize why a self-improvement program must be individually driven. The two elements are:

(1) The Concrete

(2) The Abstract

The concrete includes such elements as:

Knowledge acquisition
Specific intellectual skills
Practical skills
Core capabilities

The abstract might include:

Attitudes
Emotions
Spiritual
Wisdom

Of the two components, the concrete aspects are somewhat easier to manage because they can generally be achieved in bite-size and identifiable specific portions with more or less time-driven segments. Learning to play the piano, for example, can be broken down into lessons, practice, and grades. There will always be more to learn, but we will know when we have acquired some degree of mastery in this skill.

The abstract elements by contrast are more difficult to pin down and may in fact be life-time achievement goals for which we have no measure of determining with exactitude when they have been achieved. Acquiring wisdom is something we can study and practice, but it is doubtful that the personal characteristic of always “acting wisely” in our lives  can ever be mastered to the same degree as playing a musical instrument.

Only you can decide

It is not possible for someone else, except in the broadest ideal terms, to tell you what you in which areas of the concrete or abstract should focus, or realistically tell you how much time and effort you need to put into improving these areas. Only you can do that.

You are the only one who can determine which specific practical skills you want to develop or improve; what areas of your knowledge you want to increase; and which areas of your core capabilities for dealing with life you want to augment.

Similarly, no-one but you can decide what abstract areas of your personality’s make-up need reinforcement; whether it is, for example, dealing with some aspect of your emotions or takings steps to become more spiritual in your approach to ,life.

We can benefit from the experts in personal growth in terms of gaining ideas on how to achieve specific objectives in both the concrete areas and the abstract areas of our lives.

However, the basic blueprint or plan for the areas we want to tackle in personal growth program must be an individual decision; a decision reflecting our specific individual requirements and desires.

Other examples of the need for personalization

There are other factors involved in a personal growth plan which also depend on individual preference, such as the speed or pace at which you will implement the components of your program, and the priority or emphasis you will put on the execution of its different aspects.

Do you want massive change for example, or will you be satisfied by concentrating on a few key components which you believe are critical to change in your overall approach to life and its challenges?

Similarly, do you want to achieve your changes, such as the abstract components virtually all at once by committing to them and then using sheer force of will to carry out those changes? Or, do you believe it would be better to make adjustments with a gradual one-step-at-a-time approach?

What “study” versus “action” or implementation ratio do you want for your personal development goals? Some people would rather spend more time doing deeds of compassion, for example, than reading about the quality of, and examples of, compassion.

The examples outlined above involve personal preferences, which again points to the need for a program driven by an individualized approach to your program’s content and components.

Some people may believe that there are formulas, templates or plans for self-improvement that will fit all personalities and situations, and so they continue to search for these solutions.

Unfortunately, such solutions do not exist, so we will need to devote a lot of individual work in developing a plan that will fit us, and only us.

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