For each of the last three years, I’ve asked you to describe your year in one word. While you can’t encompass an entire year’s worth of activities, feelings and experiences into one word, it can help you simplify your daily routine and allow you to focus on what’s most important to you.
The individual words I’ve used to describe those respective years have been:
2013 – Intentional
What have your words been?
When I look back at those years, I believe I’ve been able to live that year with a focus on that one word. In no way am I saying those years were perfect. They were far from it. But, I made strides in all aspects of my life because of the focus on that word for the year.
We can’t live by our past accomplishments. We should always be improving our lives, one day at a time.
We should, however, relish our past experiences, learn from them and make changes going forward to hopefully not make the same mistakes but to improve on our successes.
Describe the past year in one word
When you look back at 2015, did it live up to your expectations? Did you accomplish what you had hoped?
If not, why didn’t you? Was it because of things out of your control or was it because you didn’t have a consistent focus each day of the year? Maybe it was both.
Did you set a word at the beginning of 2015 to guide you through the year? If not, that’s okay. Don’t dwell on it. Learn from it.
Describe your year in one word
For 2016, what word will you use to focus each day? You can describe your year in one word. What will it be?
Maybe it’s something related to work, personal relationships or spirituality. If you can find one word to describe every aspect of your life in 2016, use that. If not, you could pick separate words to describe each aspect of your life.
After you choose your word, take a piece of paper and write it at the top. Then, write ways your can apply that to every aspect of your life. Keep that paper with you at all times. Maybe keep it in your wallet or your purse.
Look at it often to remind yourself of your goals for the year.
My word to describe all aspects of 2016 is going to be “consistent.”
I believe by being consistent at work, with my family and friends, with God and with myself, that I will achieve great things in 2016.
If you catch me not being consistent during the year, please call me out on it. I know I won’t be perfect but that doesn’t mean I won’t strive for perfection.
Question for you: How will you describe your year in one word?
Do you think of yourself as a professional? More importantly, does your boss? How about your clients or prospective employers? If you want to know how to brand yourself as a professional, read on.
Hopefully you, your boss, clients and future employers all think of you as a professional but if you answered “No” to either of those questions, it’s not too late.
Answer the following questions to determine if your professional brand needs some work:
- Am I being promoted with or ahead of my peers?
- Am I at asked to help on special projects?
- Am I viewed as an expert in at least one niche related to my field?
- Do my clients call me or someone else for help?
Answering negatively to any of these three questions will guide you into how to go about branding yourself.
All you need to know is how to brand yourself as a professional. It’s a simple process but that doesn’t mean it’s easy.
Before you do anything else, read the following resources regarding personal branding. These go through much of the general process:
Now that you understand what personal branding is and how to change your personal brand, let’s look at some specific areas of focus for you as a professional.
How to Brand Yourself as a Professional
When you think of branding yourself as a professional, what do you envision?
I think of looking good in a suit and tie, being a leader and being thought of as an expert. There are other areas for sure but those are what I think of.
Dress the Part
Do all professionals have to wear a suit and tie every day? Of course not!
Branding myself as a professional, I believe I should simply because of the business I’m in. That could be different for you though depending on where you live, what your profession is and what your clients expect.
Regardless, you need to dress the part. If you want others to view you as a professional, you need to look like a professional.
Look at the high performers in your field to see how they look. What do they wear on a daily basis? Don’t recreate the wheel; mimic success.
It’s definitely okay to put your own spin on things. You want to stand out and have your own identity.
Being a Leader
Nothing will help your case of being professional more than being viewed as a leader. By definition, leaders must have followers. Leadership doesn’t depend on age, race, gender, seniority or even title.
Instead, leadership is the ability to influence others.
There are, of course, good leaders and bad leaders.
Good leaders influence others by putting others first. They empower their followers and value their strengths. Bad leaders influence through fear.
Which are you?
Being the Trusted Advisor
You’ll really know when you’ve branded yourself as a professional in the best way. Once your brand reaches that state, your clients, co-workers and boss will rely on you for advice.
You don’t even need to be in an advisory role to be a trusted advisor. You can help anyone regardless of your position.
Why would someone ask you for advice if that’s not your job? They will ask you if you brand yourself to always be willing to help. There is a big difference between someone who says he will help and someone who actually does.
Are You a Professional?
What do you think about these three traits of professionalism? Do others think of you as a leader and a trusted advisor? Do they believe you dress according to the brand you’re trying to present to the world?
Remember, each person who gets paid to do a job is a professional at that job. That doesn’t mean others will think of you as a professional. It takes a lot of effort and consistency to create a brand of professionalism.
Question for you: What is the biggest area of your brand you need help with?
Have you achieved everything in life that you envisioned when you were younger?
Do you dream about traveling the world or having certain life experiences but don’t know how or if they will ever happen?
We all have goals, aspirations and dreams. Reaching those goals or achieving those dreams is where we get stuck. Isn’t wishing for something enough?
Nope, it’s not enough.
You can believe in it. You can pray for it. You can talk about it.
Positive thinking is great. Regardless of what some say, no one achieved anything by just positive thinking.
Achievement requires action
A business takes intentional action to accomplish its corporate goals each year; you need to take intentional action too.
Notice that the actions you take must be intentional. Random actions will rarely get you where you want to go.
Action is extremely important and so is intentionality.
The intention of your actions comes from having a plan. In this article, I’m going to show you how to create a personal development plan so you can experience the growth you desire.
First Step to Create a Personal Development Plan: Brainstorm
Before you can create a personal development plan, you need to figure out your goals, aspirations and dreams. To figure them out, you need to have a serious brainstorming session.
If you are married, you might want to have this brainstorming session with your spouse. Here is an article that will help you have a productive brainstorming session:
The purpose of this exercise to identify all your potential dreams for your life. These should include all five areas of your life discussed in that article.
Write down as many potential dreams and goals as you can. For this exercise, there are no bad ideas. Come up with as many as possible.
Do you want to travel to certain countries? Maybe you want to travel to all the countries of the world. Write it down.
Do you want to watch your favorite sports team in every professional stadium in the country? Write it down.
Again, there are no bad ideas.
Step Two to Create a Personal Development Plan: List 100
From your brainstorming list, identify 100 items to put on your “bucket list” for your life. These are the dreams and goals you will work toward and review regularly.
Some of the items on your List 100 need to be crazy and almost unreachable. You want some items on your bucket list to take creativity, hard work and maybe even some luck to achieve.
Besides the “almost unreachable” items, you want other items on your list that you REALLY want to achieve. Maybe they have been life-long goals. Whatever, you need to be personally vested in reaching these goals.
You will likely discover that your initial list from Step 1 was too short. That’s okay. Creating this List 100 is a big process. It’s simple but not necessarily easy.
If you can’t get 100 items on your bucket list, take time to come up with more. Do not move on to Step 3 until you come up with 100 good items.
Step Three to Create a Personal Development Plan: 5 Areas of Life
The third step in creating your personal development plan is where intention and strategy come into play. Until now, you’ve been dreaming.
Now we will put feet to your faith.
If it’s been awhile since you’ve read Why You Need a Personal Development Plan, go back and read it and get familiar with the five areas of life a personal development plan should include.
You want to identify two items from the List 100 for each of the five areas of life. If you can’t find at least two items for each of the five areas, go back and revise your List 100.
For example, for the area of Health, maybe you have items on your List 100 of 1) Running a marathon and 2) Getting back to your pre-marriage weight.
These are two great bucket list items related to Health. If we left it at such a high level, though, it is unlikely you will ever reach these goals. That’s where Step 4 comes in.
Step Four to Create a Personal Development Plan: Smaller Goals
High-level, hard-to-reach goals will not be realized just by writing them down. Instead, you need to determine your plan for reaching those goals.
Your plan needs to be comprised of small steps so you can experience the joy of small wins upon your journey. Therefore, you’re going to turn each of these 10 items into more specific goals on which you will focus your intention and action.
One of the big struggles people have with goal-setting is getting overwhelmed with the process or not setting enough short-term goals to recognize success. Without small wins, you will likely not continue with your plan.
Make these step-by-step plans for each of the 10 items. If 10 seems too overwhelming, just do one for each of the five areas of life. At least you will be growing and improving.
Let’s break down the goal of getting back to your pre-marriage weight so you can see how to perform this step.
Most people know what to do to lose weight and regain their health. Eat better and exercise more right? Basically that is all it takes. But those two things are not easy.
Let’s look at just losing weight and then you can apply these processes to exercising more.
The most important thing to realize is that losing all that weight is no longer the goal you want to focus on every day. Maybe you’ve put on 50 pounds since you go married. If you just think every day about losing 50 pounds, you are going to get discouraged.
Break that down into smaller goals. First, set a goal of losing one pound per week. If you do everything else addressed below, you’ll likely lose more than that. Once you experience wins in losing one pound a week, increase that goal.
Losing weight is the goal, not the plan. What is your plan? There are several things you can do to help you succeed.
An often overlooked step in losing weight is having an accountability partner. Maybe you and your spouse or your best friend take this challenge on together. You report successes and failures to each other. You ask each other how everything is going. You’re accountable to one another.
My wife and I did this together several years ago. She wanted to lose weight she had gained while pregnant with our last child. I wanted to do that as well, even though I couldn’t use being pregnant as an excuse.
Over a period of six weeks (I think), we prepared our meals together, ate the same food, kept each other accountable. I could not have done it without her.
At the end, I had lost 27 pounds. She had got back to her high school weight. We experienced great success.
The best part is that we have maintained that weight loss. We stay right where we want to be with our weight because we made it a life style. We didn’t go on a diet. We changed how we look at and react to food.
Since that time, my wife has gone to school and become a Certified Health Coach. She now helps other people make these life style changes and serves as their accountability partner.
Hiring a health coach is another great mini goal to losing the unwanted weight. I know the benefits of a health coach because I live with one.
You may question whether you can afford a health coach. If hiring a health coach will increase the quality and length of your life and reduce other health-related costs, can you really afford not to do it?
If you want to reach out and talk with my wife to see if the two of you should work together, contact her at PurdyYourImage.com.
Now that you know my weight loss story, let’s get into setting those smaller goals and creating the plan.
Of course, you will reach your goals faster by going cold turkey on certain things. Stopping bad habits you’ve been doing for years can be difficult. Instead of cold turkey, maybe your goal should be to reduce the consumption of certain foods and then quit altogether down the road.
Here are a sample of items you should have in your plan to lose that weight:
- Stop consuming soft drinks (diet or regular). You’ll see huge gains from this if you just stop this bad habit.
- Drink more water.
- Eat more non-starchy vegetables.
- Eat whole foods instead of processed foods.
- Remove dairy from your diet. Replace milk with a nut milk such as almond or coconut milk.
- Eat less wheat and grains.
- If you need seconds to feel full, only eat vegetables for your second serving.
- Drink a high quality, natural protein shake. It is probably best to stay away from whey protein.
- Eat a meal before you go grocery shopping.
- Throw away all sugary sweets in the house and don’t buy more.
- Don’t eat any food after 8 p.m.
Step Five to Create a Personal Development Plan: Celebrate
Now that you have a plan for each of the 10 goals from your List 100, put them into action. Remember your goals should be small. If you find it difficult to achieve a small goal, maybe you need to make it smaller.
When you accomplish a small goal, such as losing one pound that first week, celebrate it!
Celebrating should be filled with positive self-talk and talking with your accountability partner. A celebration of losing a pound of unwanted weight should definitely not be having a bowl of ice cream before bed that night.
Step Six to Create a Personal Development Plan: Review, Revise and Replace
Review your 10 goals on a daily basis.
It would be great to add that review to your morning routine. That should encourage you at the beginning of each day so you can be strong each day.
Read them in detail each day. You may get to the point that you have them memorized. If you can recite your goals from memory, that’s great! Remember to review not just the primary goal but each step in the plan.
If you discover you haven’t done so well on one of the steps, it’s okay. Refocus and move on. Don’t dwell on it or view it as a failure.
Revise when necessary.
As stated a couple of times above, you may need to revise your goal or the individual steps in the personal development plan. If you need to revise something, go ahead and do it.
The purpose of creating a personal development plan is to help you be better. If you keep working toward a goal that needs to be revised but you don’t revise it, you won’t be the best you.
Now, close your eyes and imagine the day when you accomplish one of your List 100 goals. Won’t that be a great day!
You’ll be able to scratch out or delete the individual steps in the plan and the List 100 item. I wish I could be there to watch you do that!
Replace the goal you reached with another one.
Don’t stop with scratching it off your goals list. Replace it with another one. You always want to be working toward goals. If you achieve one, replace it with another one.
You’ll have to go through the first five steps of how to create a personal development plan when you do that and that’s okay. You’ll be making more progress toward living the life you want to live.
What will you do?
Are you committed to living a life at your full potential or do you want to continue trudging on the course being jealous of the lives of others?
Earlier today, I read a post on Facebook from one of my “friends” in which he was whining that he was tired of seeing all the posts of his friends on their vacations. He said he’s worked hard for many years and has yet to take a vacation.
I wanted to add a comment telling him to stop whining and do something about it. If he wants to take a vacation, he can. He probably just doesn’t believe he can. Of course, I chose not to comment.
You have so much to give to the world. You deserve to live the life of your dreams. It’s up to you as to what you do about it. Will you create a personal development plan and become the best person you can be?
Question for you: Will you take the first step in changing your life by creating a personal development plan? If you need help, reach out to me.
If your house is anything like mine, you have to pick up “stuff” frequently. With five people in the house, including two small children, hectic schedules and not enough space, there is always stuff laying around that is not in its proper place.