“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the things that you did do.” When I first heard this Mark Twain quote it became a motivating force for me because I do not want it to become true. I became motivated to be proactive in my approach to life so I can minimize any regrets when I do eventually look back.
When you look back, what thoughts run through your head? Are you disappointed in what you didn’t do? Today, I want to encourage you to stop looking back and look forward. What steps can you take in 2014 to get things done to advance you personally and professionally?
This is the time of year to first reflect and then plan for 2014. Over the next month I want to challenge you to create an individual development plan for your life to get the right things done. Don’t be disappointed, be ecstatic about what is going on in your life. Remember, in today’s world, if you are not moving forward, you are falling behind.
The most important recommendation I can make for your 2014 development plan is to keep it simple. Simple gets done. Keeping it simple means focusing on the two or three things you can work on in 2014 to become better in your professional and/or personal life.
So how do you get started? The first step is to obtain the individual development plan template of your choice. The template SM Advisors uses (available complementary at www.stopsellingvanillaicecream.com), makes it easier by breaking down your development into hard skills and soft skills. Hard skills include technical knowledge and degrees, or all the things you learn from school or curriculum. For example, you learn the hard skills to become an accountant or a graphic designer. Soft skills are the things you learn from experience and include traits like self-management, personal accountability, goal achievement and interpersonal skills.
The second step is defining the two to three areas you want to develop in 2014. From my experience most individuals can come up with their development areas pretty quickly by considering a few simple questions. What is holding you back from living a more fulfilling life? What are your greatest areas of frustration in your personal or professional life? What are the strengths can you leverage, or the weaknesses you want to minimize to increase your performance? Contemplating these questions will lead to a development plan that will have the greatest impact on your life.
Another approach to creating your development plan is to first create your personal vision or life map. By defining where you want to be in 3 years, or 10 years or what you want to your legacy to be, you create a target to aim your 2014 development plan at. The more clarity you have in your future, the easier it is to create your annual development plan.
Seven years ago I created my life map which defines my legacy and how I want to be remembered personally and professionally. Each year my annual development plan is another step in making my legacy a reality. For example, my individual development plan for 2013 included improving my speaking style and skills to support my book. My action plans to help me improve my speaking skills included hiring a speaking coach, joining the National Speakers Association, attending their national convention and 20+ speaking engagements in 2013. Accomplishing these action plans has helped me create a very comfortable and engaging speaking style that I will use for years to come. Over the next month I will be revisiting my life map and taking another step towards it by creating my 2014 development plan.
When you do look back don’t be disappointed by what you didn’t do. Take control of your future by creating and executing a development plan in 2014. Remember, “Those Who Plan, PROFIT!”
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