Building Your Personal Development Plan I

The Personal Development Plan

Up to this point we have just focused on all the steps necessary to Know Thyself.  Here is one of our early mock-ups of a profile page that summarizes all of the self-awareness work done so far:


There is still quite a bit of UX work required before we have something that we would like to get out to the world but this does show all of the critical elements of the personal development plan.  We talked about the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) which is shown in the portrait and under the profile name.  Under that we have our character strengths that comes directly from Seligman’s Character Strengths and Virtues.  Next to that we have our Love languages and our skills and passions.  Finally, we have the scorecard and big rocks which is what makes up the majority of our personal development plan.  How we develop our personal scorecard will be the topic of the next several blogs.

Gamification, Data Gathering & Happiness

As for some of the other elements on the page that don’t look familiar, we’ll dive into those in much greater detail in future posts.  I’ll summarize quickly here.  The happiness hub is a tool that we use that will promote habits that increase overall happiness over time.  We will use a lot of the learnings gathered from Shawn Achor’s research.  You can read more about those here.  One of the central tenants of his research is that contrary to conventional wisdom, happiness is a precursor to success, not the other way around.  We want to use all of the tools at our disposal to give you the best chance at success for your personal development plan and happiness will be a big part of that.

The experience bar is an archetype of gaming.  We plan on utilizing gamification to make the process as fun as possible.  For those of you not interested in gaming the experience we will have the ability to turn this off.  Finally, we have an example poll to the right.  Data gathering will be a big part of the experience.  This is a way for us to test a lot of the paradigms of Know Thyself.  In here we will ask all sorts of questions about life, from the inane: who is your favorite superhero? – to the far more serious: have you ever gone through a divorce?  We will then aggregate and anonymize that data to share it with our users.

Setting goals and finding purpose

One of the problems with setting personal goals is that they often feel arbitrary.  When we are setting goals at work, we can normally tie those goals to corporate strategy or to a specific client or to some other marker that the business is trying to hit.  There are a ton of businesses that do this poorly but the good ones give you a sense of why you are striving to hit certain targets.

This gets a lot harder on the personal level because how do you set these targets for your life?  What is your why?  That’s going to be the ultimate goal of any personal development plan, figuring out your why.  Figuring out your authentic sense of purpose.  Those folks that you run across in life that have that mystical quality of contentment typically have a really good sense of purpose.  They know, on some intrinsic level, what they are striving for and why.

Finding your purpose is not going to happen overnight.  It certainly isn’t going to happen by taking an online quiz or by going to a couple of seminars.  This is going to take some work.  There aren’t going to be any shortcuts to this but there is a process that makes the question of – what is my purpose? – seem a whole lot less overwhelming.

The Intersection of Skills and Character Strengths

We went into great depth on skills and character strengths in previous posts of the know thyself variety.  Skills are one of the primary building blocks of our development plan.  When we build out our goals, we will be trying to hit targets.  To hit those targets will require a blend of skills and character strengths.  Knowing which goals to set is not always easy.  Often we take approaches where we try to boil the ocean and set a ton of unrealistic goals or we just build a laundry list of to dos that is super uninspiring.  These approaches just set us up for disappointment and failure.

We take a different approach.  We don’t start by randomly assigning goals.  We start with skills.  Over time, you will build out your full skill list but the first question we ask is: what are the skills that you want to work on in the next two years?  We then ask you to add your mastery level of these skills then rank how important they are for you to develop over the next two years.  This will be a combination of hard skills and soft skills.  In answering the question, you will end up with a list that looks something like this:


From there, we then ask you to narrow down that list to the eight (8) skills that you want to work on in the next three months.  We again ask you to break down how important these skills are to you but now over the next three months.  We also ask how easy you think it will be to improve those skills.  Next, we ask you to break those skills down by what category they fit in using the four pillars of: health, work, play and love.  Importance and ease are multiplied to give you an index of those skills where you will have the best chance of improving.  Finally, we ask you to add the character strengths you think are required to successfully improve that skill.  This gives you the opportunity to work on certain character strengths where you may have ranked a little lower.

The final step we’ll talk about here is narrowing this down to just four skills that you are going to work on in the next three months.  We recommend that you try to pick one skill from each of the four pillars of : health, work, play and love, but we don’t require it.  I’ve been working with folks that often pick two work skills or two health skills over picking a play or love skill.  This approach is ok but should be taken with caution.  We are trying to develop our whole person, not just certain aspects of our person.

Here’s an example of my three month skill breakout:


Next up, we’ll continue building our plan by utilizing WOOP to build out the critical few objectives of our scorecard.

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