How to set up a Personal Growth Plan

The best leaders value personal growth. They know growth greatly determines their effectiveness and potential so they develop habits that cause them to always be growing and learning. To develop or maintain the habit of growing yourself requires a plan. Below are four steps to setting up a personal growth plan:

1. Find your why-

When setting up a personal growth plan, it’s imperative to find a strong enough reason to grow yourself. Your why might include: to always be advancing forward in your career, seeing steady growth in profits within your business, or to become a better spouse or parent. Your why needs to be strong enough to motivate you to always be growing.

2. Be Specific-

Once you find your why, begin to be specific about the areas you plan on growing within. Those areas can include: you’re personal strengths zones, skills needed to increase work competence, a specific area that will allow you to advance in your business or the dream you desire to move toward. Being specific allows you to make progress.

3. Write it out-

When you know your specific growth areas, now it’s time to write down what you plan on doing to grow those areas. An example of something you can write out is:

• I plan on reading or listening to X number of books a month.
• I plan on listening to X number of audio podcasts or lessons a week.
• I plan on being coached or mentored X number of times every month.
• I plan on attending X conferences every year.

After writing down the specific growth plan, you need to determine what you need to do on a daily, weekly, and monthly basis to reach your growth goals. For example:

  • If you plan on reading 2 books a month: You will need to set aside daily time or a block of time throughout the week to read or listen to books so you reach your goal of 2 books a month.
  •  If you want to listen to 5 podcasts/audio lessons a week: You can decide before the upcoming week which audio lessons/podcast you will listen to and when you intend to listen to them. It might be listening while driving to or from work or while exercising.
  • If you want to be coached or mentored once a month: The first step would be to find a person who has success and is further along than you in your desired growth areas. When you find someone you can ask that person to mentor you. The other option is to invest money for coaching or mentorship.
  • If you want to attend 1 conference a year: You need to determine which conference would best help you grow in your specific growth areas. When you find a conference, you can begin to plan accordantly (Saving money, requesting time off work, and making travel arrangements).

4. Make your plan a priority-

Placing your personal growth plan as a priority will allow you to follow through with your growth goals. You should have systems is place where you are able to grow during busy seasons or during normally waited times. When you are intentional about growing yourself, you will always be effective and moving toward a better future.

Questions: Have you taken the time to set up a personal growth plan? What other steps should be added?

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • Writing it out makes a big difference for me. However, there have been times when I’ve written my plan out and then promptly forgotten about it. I find that if I write it out then I need to get it in front of myself on a regular basis. I can do that by posting it in several prominent areas, like on the wall that my desk faces or maybe a small note on the inside of my briefcase. Those little reminders help keep me motivated.

    • I totally understand how that goes:) I place my growth plan on my car dashboard (By the odometer). I think once it become a habit we can rely more on our habit rather than a written form. Thank you for reading and sharing.

  • Like Caleb, I have written out plans for many things in life and then forgotten about them. But I heard a quote recently (I believe it was on a recent Life of a Steward Podcast) that changed my thinking about creating plans of any sort. Basically, it said that the plan itself really is nothing but the planning is everything. Rarely do plans go as planned. But, just the act of planning makes a tremendous difference whether it’s for a family vacation or a life plan. This clicked with me, and I think I will try my hand at creating plans again. I had pretty much given up in many areas out of frustration of me not following them. But I think realizing that it’s the planning that does the work in and for us makes a tremendous difference in how to approach making a plan.

    • Great thoughts! I think the act of writing out a plan helps us to implement it into our life. It helps form the habit that we need to form. Good idea about starting to create a plan again. Thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion.

  • I love the idea of personal growth. My plan usually includes more production goals than consumption goals. If I spend too much time consuming others’ books, podcasts, posts, etc., I leave no time to create.

    • Me too:) That’s a key aspect of personal growth, it has to lead to action or producing. I’ve found it’s a whole lot easier to create and produce when I’m growing and learning. Thank you for sharing:)

  • Definitely start with why. That truly is the backbone of any major growth. I like that you got super specific with it and figured out the proper action steps. One thing I would add is to figure out what that growth truly looks like in your life.
    Is it more numbers in your bank account? Is it a better physique? Whatever it might be, having a visual will definitely add fuel to the fire when it comes to personal growth.

    • Hello Kevin,

      That’s a great additional point. Everyone grows and learns differently, so figuring out what works best for us is important. Being able to measure our growth is so important.

      Thank you for pointing that out!

  • For me the first one is to seek and study the word of God. I’ve done all the other things so often in life without seeking the will of my Father first that it has become ingrained in me; Him first and the other things fall into place miraculously with greater wisdom.

    • That’s a great first one (I left my spiritual growth out of this post)! Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • I think that your first point is in the right place and is the foundation for the rest. If we don’t get a grasp on our “why” our goals are going to be scattered and difficult to follow through on.

    • I think it’s one thing people overlook when thinking about or starting to implement personal growth. It’s too important to leave out.

  • Personal growth is a priority for me. This year I’m doing a read-through-the-Bible in a year program for my morning quiet times, plus I always have some sort of a renewing-of-the-mind project going. Currently it’s all the issues that go along with publishing. I also find that God shows me where He wants me to be growing just by making it obvious to me how messed up I am in that area of my life. :)

    Have started reading your book again as well, Dan – more slowly this time. Just did my first personal reflection question (or one of the first) and realized that for one of the first times in my life I have to work on being more balance by working less – usually I don’t work enough. That’s a switch!

    • Same with me:) That’s great! Spiritual growth/ maturity is essential! Allowing God to direct our growth and development is so important, it allows for maximum growth.

      I hope you grow and develop while reading over my book again, more slowly. That’s a great idea, I recommend reading, adapting, and thinking about one element a week, which would be a 2 1/2 month personal growth plan. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • Personal growth is all about moving forwards. As long as I feel that I am doing something, then I can relax because I know I am inching towards my goals one tiny step at a time. I also achieve much more when I plan out my next day. I rarely accomplish much if I try and ‘wing it’.

    Also as well as making your plan a priority, you have to truly want it. It can’t be some half assed idea that just popped into your mind or an attempt to copy something or someone. Success in any area has to come from a strong intrinsic motivation to get to where you want to go – an extension of the ‘why’, if you will.

    • Hello Jamie,

      The key is to always be doing something that allows us to be moving forward. Great point about planning out the next day!

      So true, the growth or achievement is something we must want/desire. Thank you for reading and adding to the discussion.

  • I’ve never wrote out a Personal Growth Plan. But as a kid I was always very career oriented and motivated to achieve excellence academically. I think without realizing it, I had a Personal Growth Plan then…but I don’t anymore.

    Just last week a friend challenged me with the question of why I wrote. I struggled to answer. For me, I simply write because I can’t NOT write. For years I wrote just for myself- it was an outlet that helped me form my thoughts and get my emotions out. But showed me that by keeping it hidden to the world that I was like the man who hide his talents in a hole instead of investing them. God gave me writing to share with the world. I may never have a thousand “followers” or publish a best seller, but that doesn’t mean I’m not to write. It just means I write and let God water.

    But the question of “why” has continued to bother me. I keep wondering if I need something more concrete to keep me going when times get tough.

    Your post is timely for me. Thank you.

    • Great thoughts! I like how you said, “I write and let God water.” That’s so true! God is using our writing to help people, even if it’s a small hand full of people:)

      Having a concrete plan is something to consider. I think your why can be tide into wanting to become a better writer, parent, and spouse. That’s strong enough for you to implement growth in those areas!
      Personally growth in those areas is essential. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

      • Thanks, Dan. You’ve given me alot to chew over.

        • Glad that I caused you to think on a deeper level:)

  • Hi Dan,

    This was an excellent post, my friend. I can appreciate what you wrote about ensuring we are specific about our personal growth plan and writing out what it is we to do. Writing out our plans has a powerful way of making what we want a reality.

    I would like to add one more point about spending regular time visualising vividly what it will be like when we have achieved our personal growth plan. This will help to send the right messages to our body to take action.

    Thank you.

    • Hello Hiten,

      Glad you enjoyed the post. Yes, it’s amazing what gets done when it’s written out. That’s a great additional point. Taking time to visualizing the results or what we would get out of personal growth is essential! Thank you for taking the time to read and share.

  • Dan, this plan requires a great deal of discipline..and much of our society simply doesn’t have this kind of juice. Heck, I dont have what it takes to follow this. But the principle of putting a little concrete in our fluid lives is very important if you want to get somewhere. Others, you just go with the flow and end up in the drain!

    • I hear you, It’s basic/simple enough that anyone would be able to apply it, if they put in just a little effort. The key is to make growth a habit, which can be done easier when following these steps. Thank you for stopping by and sharing.

  • Great post Dan! I love your “voice” when it comes to leadership & personal growth.

    • Thank you, Dave:) Glad you enjoyed it!

  • Mansal

    So ironic, I just wrote down my plan for tomorrow. If you aren’t writing stuff down it can get really difficult to mentally follow. Sometimes lists are just an excuse to do tedious work and avoid real creative work, but either way there is a balance. Writing exercises are great – good post.

    • That’s awesome! Writing it down increases the chance that we will actually do it, it’s amazing how that works:) Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the discussion.

  • identify and conquer :) love the idea of writing it down and making it tangible and personal!

    • Oh, ya! Thank you for reading and sharing:)

  • It’s so important to write it down. It’s a step I think many don’t take. Great post!

    • Yes it is. I think it’s important when forming the habit of growth or when first implementing a growth plan. However, once it’s a regular habit a person does not necessary need to write it down, as long as they continue to grow. Of course that is my personal opinion. What do you think?

  • Dan, like others have said, the why is so important in figuring out a growth plan. Once you know why you’re doing something, everything else will fall into place.

    Well not everything – I think your post is a reminder to me of why we still need to write things down and with specificity. I have things like reading, writing, courses to take etc without getting more specific. The key to self improvement and growth is in the details so appreciate the tips here to help me get more detailed.

    • Yes, the why is essential! A strong why is a great motivator.

      Glad the post caused you to think about what you can do better to grow yourself, it’s all in the details, right?:) Thank you for taking the time to read and add to the topic.

  • You hit most of the main points for sure. I know for me a review on a daily basis in my quiet time is a must to make sure it gets done. Thanks for this great reminder!

    • Hello Adam,

      Daily review is important. Thank you for reading and adding to the conversation.

  • I love how you started with your “Why.” That’s so powerful and it’s something we so often leave until later.

    • Not starting with WHY is why most goals fail!

      • Great point, Tom. I totally agree.

    • Hello Loren,

      Thank you for sharing. Yes, starting with why is essential. It can save a lot of time in the long run.

  • I’m reading (or rather listening to while I am on the treadmill) To Sell Is Human, and the author describes an interesting technique to prompt others to find their why. Ask the other person to rank themselves on a scale of 1 to 10, and then ask why it isn’t lower. In other words – if you are a 5, why are you at a 5 and not letting it slide to a 2 or 3. That clarifies the reasons why the goal is worthwhile. Anyway, I thought it applied nicely to personal growth.

    • That’s great that you read while exercising! It’s a double benefit, staying in shape while developing your self

      That’s a great point about getting to the core of the why. Thank you for sharing it.

  • I’ve found that what doesn’t get written down, simply doesn’t happen…at least for me!

    I think another key is finding an accountability partner. Sometimes I’ll even plan things on paper first, but then don’t have someone to give me a little kick in the pants when I need it.

    Great post Dan! Keep it up!

    • I totally agree with you. Writing it down and having someone hold you accountable is so important when it comes to achieving our goals (Personal growth or any other goal). Thank you for taking the time to add to the discussion.