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AdvisorNet

Creating Your Personal Development Plan

General

Are you fully in control of your career? Do you have a clear and inspiring idea of what you want to achieve in the future? Are you actively taking steps to pursue the career of your dreams? What is your life purpose? What is the legacy you want to leave? What do you want to be remembered for? What is your greatest fear? As Jay Townsend, Professional Speaker and Political Consultant, asked me: “If someone cut you a check for $5 million and you never had to work again, what would you do with your time?” An article entitled "Personal SWOT Analysis" by Mind Tools-Essential Skills for an Excellent Career gives us a step-by-step process to develop the skills we need for a satisfying and successful career. The acronym SWOT stands for Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats.

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses (underdeveloped skills) would help you become more successful in your career and life. When you identify your strengths, you feel confident and cheerful. When you identify your weaknesses, according to MindTools, you can manage and eliminate threats that might otherwise hurt your ability to move forward. Your weaknesses need to be managed and strengthened. Furthermore, they should not stop you from achieving your goals. By creating your personal development plan, you are taking control of your career and life.

Do not let life just happen to you. Decide today that you will identify what you don’t like doing, and you will stop doing it. Doing the things that you don’t like doing takes the good energy out of you, because they usually involves boring and unfulfilling activities. Every minute you spend doing what you don’t like, you are decreasing your chances of happiness and success. Think about where you want to be professionally, and ask yourself if the things you are doing now bring you closer to your dreams and goals. If your answer is no, identify your career goals, develop a plan to get there, and start moving in that direction. If you keep doing the same things you have been doing, you will simply get the same results you are now getting. Therefore, if you want different results, start doing something different.

To start creating your personal development plan, you need to find who you are and what you want, but first you must identify your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and potential threats. Ask yourself the following questions:

Strengths
• What can you do really well?
• What skills do other people recognize in you?
• What do you do better than most people with whom you work?
• What things do you get recognized or rewarded for?
• What, about yourself, are you most proud of or satisfied with?

Weaknesses
• What things do you try to do that you are unable to master?
• Are there one or two aspects of your personality that hold you back, and what are they?
• What do other people most often identify as a weakness in you?
• In what specific areas are you most vulnerable?
• Where do you lack experience, resources, or networking connections, where others have them?

Opportunities
• In what ways can you maximize your strengths?
• What would you love doing, especially since you are good at it?
• How can you minimize your weaknesses? If you eliminated these weaknesses, what would you be able to do?
• Where do you see the most potential growth for yourself - within your current company, in a different company, a different industry, or a different career all together?
• What trends are having an impact on your current career or one you are thinking about pursuing?

Threats
• Do you have weaknesses that need to be addressed before you can move forward?
• What problems could your weaknesses cause if left unchecked?
• What setbacks might you face when addressing those weaknesses?
• What obstacles have you seen other people overcome when trying to get to where they want to go?

The SWOT analysis helps you get to know yourself better (understand yourself). It will help you identify those things that you can accomplish and the ones that need work. Define your career objectives and be clear about your wants, needs, and desires. Once you have a clear understanding of where you want to be professionally, create an action plan.

The action plan will include:
• Goals
• Actions steps
• Due dates
• Obstacles/Solutions
• Evaluation
• Commitment to review your plan regularly
• Changes as needed

Commit to your success today, take charge of your career, and create your personal development plan. A wise person once said: “If we take every opportunity to learn and develop ourselves, we improve not just our own performance, but that of our team and our organization as a whole”.

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