Setting out on a journey of personal growth and development can seem somewhat overwhelming. And, if you’re like most other people, your New Year’s resolutions will probably be history by the end of January.

Personal growth or development is difficult to define, in part because it’s, well, personal.

Personal growth is the process of growing stronger, more confident, more effective as a person, and of being an agent of change in your own life. More specifically, it relates to how you see and perceive yourself, interact with others, engage with the world, and envision your future and possibilities.

Personal growth will also lead to professional gains. There’s an undeniable overlap between the two; after all, our personal strengths and weaknesses affect us in whatever we do. And there are many ways where growing personally – and working on ourselves – can make us more efficient and happier in the workplace.

If you’re setting out on a journey of personal growth, where should you start?

True personal growth and development starts with making a decision. As individuals, we all harbour aspirations and dreams, yet we rarely stop and think about our future in detail. Think about this: would you let a contractor build your house without a plan? No! Then why do you allow yourself to go through life that way?

Setting out a personal growth plan helps you know where you’re headed and how to get there. It will bring clarity to your thinking, and you’ll know exactly where you want to be and how you want to get there. Furthermore, it will give you peace of mind that you’re headed in the right direction; your efforts will feel more deliberate, and your decisions will be easier to make.

Five steps to help you build your personal growth plan

Know yourself

This is probably the most important and most difficult step. Personal development is closely linked to self-awareness. It gives you the opportunity to take an honest look at the areas of your life that need improvement. Through this process, you’ll get to know who you are, what your values are, and where you would like you go in life.

Understanding yourself and what you want is vital. It’s about asking yourself the hard questions, and being truthful so that you can focus on the areas that you’ve outlined for improvement. For example, what are your weaknesses, your dreams, your professional goals, your personal needs, and what’s holding you back? Do you want to be more successful in your career? Do you want to have better personal relationships? What do you really want from life?

Set your goals

Having clearly-defined personal development goals can improve your performance in any area of your life, yet the benefit depends on the effort you put in to achieve those goals. You need to stop making vague intentions to lose weight, save money, or aim for a promotion, and start making specific and actionable goals. By doing this, you’ll start to achieve your personal and professional development goals, and will be able to track your progress and measure your success.

Setting goals and working towards them every day can give you renewed confidence, happiness, and passion for life and in the workplace. Your mindset is everything, so whatever your goals are, set them out, use timeframes, and make an effort every day to work towards them!

Create a plan

The key here is to write down specific actions for the future based on the goals you’ve set for yourself. Personal growth and development is a lifelong journey, and like any journey you’ll want to create a plan to help you reach your destination. Start by setting specific projects or tasks, and then note the actions needed to carry them out. What do you need to get them done? How are you going to do them? What skills do you need to help you get further? Remember that life changes rapidly and that we need to change with it, so it is wise to constantly review your plan and adapt it if necessary.

Get better each day

It’s really about creating new healthy habits in your life in order to reach your goals through the plan you’ve set for yourself. Self-growth is an ongoing process of constant learning and adapting, and gives you the opportunity to evaluate your strengths and weaknesses, and to work on them. The benefits are that you’ll grow as a person while growing your skills; you’ll improve your self-awareness, and you’ll boost your confidence. Once you start to achieve your goals, you’ll naturally begin to feel good about yourself and will want to get better and better each day.

Get out of your comfort zone

The common focus on personal growth comes from people’s desire to be successful in life. And while it’s true that continuous personal development will earn you success in your personal and professional life, your personal development goals will not do you any favours unless you follow through by acting on them. So, in short, in order to grow and achieve growth, you have to step out, sometimes into the unknown, in order to progress and achieve all that you’ve set out to achieve.

When you look at successful people, you’ll almost always discover a plan – it’s the foundation for success!

Setting out on a journey of personal growth and development can be one of the most important things you’ll ever do. Making that decision is usually the easy part; it’s the commitment to a daily habit of improvement that can be difficult. But if you know yourself, set your goals, create a plan, get better each day, and get out of your comfort zone, you’ll make huge progress in the areas of your life that are most important to you. Don’t just make it a January thing, make it an everyday thing, a plan to change your year, your future, and your life.