Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Your Personal Plan - Part 1

Every January 1 there is a rush to make New Year's Resolutions.  I don't know about you, but a list of resolutions never seems to stick for me.  In the training and development area we are constantly talking about Executive and Individual Development Plans.  I will be honest, I can really get into these with a client.  But, I don't have one in the form I recommend.  Is this part of do what I say, not what I do?  Maybe.  Maybe not.

I've been thinking that one plan for what you want to accomplish at work and one for home and one for your volunteer work can be as aggravating (and ultimately useless) as trying to maintain a paper calendar at work, an outlook calendar, a hanging calendar on the fridge at home, and a google calendar for your extracurriculars.

I think what we really need is a one-stop shopping personal plan that merges everything you do now and everything you want to achieve in the next five years (or whatever time period you are using).  Over the next few weeks I will add to this multi-part series on your personal plan.  Today's piece is about starting.

Here's a quick checklist for starting your personal plan.

  • Start with your values - what is most important to you?
  • Consider the approximately 120 non-sleeping hours in a week - how much time do you devote to your current activities?  (Make sure you include Commuting, Facebook, and TV time.  I will tell you the first time I did this I cut out all Facebook games for a year.  Not because they are inherently bad, but because I personally can waste hours on them without noticing.)
  • Note any gaps between your values and your current time usage and any changes you want to make.
  • Consider your job - what do you need to learn to do your current job better?  What do you need to learn to be positioned for the next job? 
  • Consider your family and friends - what do you need to do to spend the quantity and quality of time with them that you desire?
  • Consider your extracurricular/volunteer/exercise/hobby time - do you want to increase this commitment?  Do you want to learn a new skill?  Join a new organization?  What will it give you?  (It is okay to ask this question even in the volunteer arena.  After all, most volunteers do so because it gives them a feeling of personal satisfaction, investment, and or fulfillment.)
  • Consider your finances - if you are going to invest in personal development, travel, or a household move it has to come from somewhere, put it in the plan!
  • Consider time for reflection, plan review, and plan revision - I recommend starting a journal (either electronic or paper).  Put your plan in the beginning and work from there.  Your writing time doesn't need to be everyday as long as it is regular.  Make notations when you accomplish something off your plan!!!!
  • Consider your lofty dreams.  Think big!!!!  What is it that you would like to accomplish and don't even know where to start?  Does it fulfill a value?  Consider making time to start working on it if it does.
At this point, you probably have a list a mile long.  Don't use the New Year's Resolution approach and try to do everything at once.  Remember this is your long-term plan.  Break big goals down and prioritize them.  Break them down again and prioritize them again.

Finally (for this week's work), look at your values and your lofty dreams.  Reflect on what these two things mean to you?  How do they work together?  If they conflict, where is the disconnect?  Write about a paragraph on the two pieces as the first journal entry after your plan.

If you are joining in this process, share something about working through the process in the comments below.  What did you learn?