Building the personal development plan 2

The personal development plan

When we last wrote about building the personal development plan, we ended with building out the four skills and passions that we wanted to focus on over the next three months.  These skills recognized the character strengths necessary to improve or create these skillsets.

The finale of that step looked something like this:


When building these skills out with some of the groups we’ve worked with, the number one piece of feedback we received was that it is difficult to come up with skills and passions that you want to improve when they are not related to problems being faced in the day to day.  Utilizing that feedback, our next sessions will prime the pump before we start deciding on skills.  We will do this by asking our users to first think of those things in the last couple of months where they fell short on something, they felt scared, or they were disappointed in their own performance.  We will be asking them to do this in all four life categories of Work, Health, Play and Love.  Once these issues have been identified we will then ask our users to build out the skills and passions that would have changed these outcomes for the better.


Once the skills and passions have been identified, we then move on to how we are going to act on them.  In a previous post we discussed the benefits of WOOP.  This is a great tool for crystallizing goals.  Once we have identified the problem space and the skills and strengths necessary to overcome those problems, we focus on specifics.  This is where WOOP becomes the go to tool.

The first step of WOOP is the Wish element.  We spend a couple minutes thinking about the most important goal we wish to accomplish in the next three months related to the particular skill or problem set.  Once we have this written down, we focus on outcome.  Outcome forces us to ask: if your wish were fulfilled, what would be the best possible outcome?  How would that outcome make you feel?

Some of ours users struggled with understanding the difference between wish and outcome.  Most of our test group seemed to think it was the same thing.  The difference between the two steps is that the wish is defining what you want to accomplish and the outcome is taking the step of visualizing the positive outcome.  Most of our users believed that they were doing that anyway in the wish step so felt the outcome step was redundant.  To each their own.  We are going to keep both steps because we believe that reinforcing the visualization of success is really powerful.  Not all users will do that in the wish step and we want to make sure that we explicitly call this out.

Once the Wish and the outcome steps have taken place, we end up with something like this:


In the next step we explore our obstacles.  This is where we spend some time trying to understand what is going to prevent us from hitting our goal.  The trick is to be specific.  There are a lot of obstacles that we don’t have any control over.  So we need to hone our focus by asking: what is your main inner obstacle?  What within you is holding you back from accomplishing this wish?  This is a critical step in pulling ourselves out of the victim mindset.  In this step, we are acknowledging that our biggest challenges come from within.

Once we identify the obstacle, we work on the plan.  This is a traditional If..then statement.  If we hit this obstacle then we take this action.  The question we ask: what can you do to overcome this obstacle?  What action can you take when it arises?  This plan gives us the power to do something about the obstacles we know we will run into.

Here’s an example of this phase:


This was just the first of four WOOPs.  Once all four WOOPs are completed, we then move on to building our vision.

Critical Few Objectives (CFOs)

The critical few objectives concept comes from the balanced scorecard discipline.  These objectives are critical because they are our top priorities for the three month period.  If we complete them, they will have a changing impact on our lives.  They are few because our only chance at success is if we keep focus.  The whole thing only works if we pick a small number of achievable goals.  We set the max here at four.  Finally the objective is the SMART goal that comes out of the WOOP Process.

As an aside, we did receive some feedback that we are using way too many acronyms.  Guilty as charged.  This all comes from a biz background where the landscape is littered with these capitalized eyesores.  We will be working to personalize our terms as we build the software.

To build each of our CFOs, we ask our participants to come up with some combination of wish and outcome to create the CFO.  This is primarily a wordsmithing task at this stage.  Here’s an example of two CFOs:


The three month vision

Once all the CFOs are created, they fit nicely into a vision statement.  The vision statement becomes the north star for the next three months.  The beginning and end of the vision statement are boilerplate for the first plan.  Moving forward these become custom tailored as our users get closer to defining their own purpose.  Here is an example of a vision statement.


The vision becomes the keystone for building out the rest of the scorecard.  Stay tuned as we’ll cover that in our next process blog!

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