10 Steps to Success in 2017
(Create A Personal Development Action Plan)

Now that you understand the impact of hidden ways you could be getting in your own way, let’s look at the practical and specific steps to prevent and/or overcome these for great success this year.

Now this is not the kind of plan that is “read these 10 books” and hope that you learn by osmosis! This is a…

Personal Development Action Plan!

Write it Down imageSo get yourself a notebook, big whiteboard or blank document open on your computer and follow these steps.

Before you start please understand the vital importance of writing things down in each step because this helps you to:

  • Get more clarity. It’s easy to be vague when you’re visualising something in your mind. Writing things down forces you to be more specific and that’s a good thing.
  • Be more honest. While we may delude ourselves in our minds, it’s a lot harder to do in writing!
  • Keep track of where you’re up to. You might not be able to do this all in one go. Depending on your personality perhaps you might like to reflect on some steps, go do some research, etc. So do what you can now and if you need a break schedule a time to pick it up.

Step One

Get specific about your biggest priority longer term (possibly vague) dream and turn that into a specific ambition that you could achieve in 1-2 years.

Write this down.

Step Two

What is the first project that you need to complete to get closer to turning that ambition into a reality?

How long will this take to complete? If it is longer than 90 days then break that project down into smaller components until you can definitely do it in 90 days or less.

“It is a mistake to look too far ahead.
Only one link in the chain of destiny can be handled at a time.”
Winston Churchill

You can make a note of other projects that come to mind but put them somewhere you can come back to later for now. (Trello is brilliant for this by the way.)

Step Three

Now turn that project into a project plan by writing down the project purpose, objectives, people involved, milestones and timescales and measures of success.

Get detailed here – I know it’s not a love of most creatives. This was always a weak point of mine in the past, I’d get excited and get going on something before I’d even thought it through thoroughly.

That meant that I didn’t always take advantage of great ideas and resources because it was too late. Or maybe I didn’t anticipate a potential issue and deal with it before it came up.

Sometimes you might do this project planning and realise that you’re attempting to do too much. Or maybe there’s a different project you need to do first!

Or that you need a certain kind of help so can get somebody else on board in enough time to make a difference.

Step Four

Think about a person that you know who gets the results you want. This could be somebody who you’ve read about or seen on TV/video if you don’t have this kind of person in your circle.

If nobody comes to mind, create a character that has achieved your ambition and write down the characteristics and behaviours that helped them do so.

Step Five

"To think is easy. To act is difficult. To act as one thinks is the most difficult." Von GoetheYour identity is your view of yourself and it is probably the most powerful driver of your behaviour. Quite often we think we have made a decision to do something but if it’s not in line with our identity the chances are that it won’t happen or that it won’t last…

“To think is easy. To act is difficult.
To act as one thinks is the most difficult.”
Johann Wolfgang Von Goethe

So these next few steps are designed to help you to change your identity in ways that will support you getting the results you want.

First of all, looking at the list of characteristics and behaviours you made in the last step, congratulate yourself on any that you already embody. (It’s very easy for us future-focused creatives to miss out this step!)

Then, pinpoint what specifically you need to change in your identity to become the person you described in the last step.

Of course, I’m not talking about you becoming ruthless or anything like that – work within your core values. However perhaps you might want to improve your boundaries, or be a bit more structured so that you get more done.

Maybe you want to be clear on the opportunity you’re offering people so that you are no longer apologetic… 😉

Write these characteristics and behaviours down and be as specific as you like.

Step Six

Taking the list you’ve created of behaviours that you want to adopt, highlight the ones that will help you to start and complete the project you outlined above.

Then number them in order of importance. Lasting change doesn’t always happen overnight so don’t try to do them all at once! 😉

OK, we’ll come back to these shortly.

Step Seven

One of the best ways to change your identity is to give yourself proof of having changed. This is way more powerful than doing affirmations because frankly, your subconscious will just fall around laughing and not believe what you’re saying if there’s no evidence.

So instead create a habit of winning because even if you don’t have a fear of failure, you may not have a track record of success. (Or at least not enough to convince yourself. 😉 )

“Only one thing makes a dream impossible:
the fear of failure.”
The Alchemist

Here’s the first of 3 things to help you do that.

Start a morning ritual so you have several achievements under your belt before you even start work. Even if you’re not a morning person, you can do this in as little as 10 minutes to start and you can always chose to expand on that as you feel the benefits.

Thanks to Hal Elrod and his Miracle Morning book I’ve been doing this pretty consistently now and really love the difference it’s made for me. Based on that, here’s what I suggest you do:

  • Exercise – a workout, a walk or simply a minute of jumping jacks to get your blood going and wake up your brain
  • Read – or some kind of learning such as watching YouTube university. Even if you only read for a few minutes a day you’ll be amazed at how it’ll expand your mind with personal development, biographies and/or learning from the leaders in your field
  • Journal – this might be pages of streams of consciousness or simply 3 things that you’re grateful for.
  • Meditate – you can use free apps or audios to get you started if you don’t know how. Even a minute a day can make a difference.
  • Visualise – either run through the day ahead going amazingly, a particular part of the day and/or you achieving your ambition. Bring all your senses into your visualisation.

If you only spent 1 minute on each of the above then that’s only 5 minutes so there’s really no excuse around time… However if it’s too much to do all at once, start with one and introduce one more each week or so, as you’re ready.

Imagine the feeling of beginning work having already achieved 5 or more things – what a feeling of accomplishment! It really does get you feeling successful and productive.

Step Eight

This step gives you the second thing to create a track record of success.

Revisit your list of identity behaviours and look to embody the first 1-3 of them. Naturally you want to pick the ones that will have the most impact on completing your project plan.

Now as creatives it’s really easy to dream big and feel like small actions don’t have much impact but that simply isn’t true. In fact, it’s often the small actions repeated consistently that have the most impact because these are the ones that become habits.

I used to run a mile when I heard ‘habit’ or ‘consistency’ because I believed that these words were going to constrain my creative freedom. Interestingly enough though, some structure, the right kind of structure can really free you up to be more creative.

So look at what behaviours you can make a habit to get you better results.

“Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.”
George Bernard Shaw

And if you feel resistance to these new behaviours then adopt the approach of Stephen Guise and turn them into mini-habits.

This is where you commit to doing a tiny part of that behaviour, just to get you started. And whether you carry on is entirely your choice.

Like the morning ritual it creates habits of success and when you do carry on then great! And if you don’t, you still hit your target so that’s great too!

Over time our brains (which are more malleable than previously thought) will adjust to this new behaviour and whether it takes 3 weeks or over a year you’ll have created a lifetime habit.

Step Nine

The third thing that really helps in creating that track record of success is to get some accountability in place.

"Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result." Bob Proctor“Accountability is the glue that ties commitment to the result.”
Bob Proctor

Many creative business owners are naturally better at starting things than finishing them. Deadlines and accountability are two things that have really made a difference for me and can for you too.

Yet especially if you work for yourself, even if you have a team(s), who is setting the deadlines? Who are you committing to, to achieve XYZ?

While of course if you have direct clients, some work will have deadlines, the work of running and growing your business won’t unless you set them.

So… You could set up an accountability relationship with a friend, colleague or peer. Or you could choose to work with a coach or mentor where accountability is part of the deal.

Here’s some thoughts on each of these options:

Peer Accountability
In the same situation as you
Can develop into long chats that end up a distraction
Guidance may or may not be right for you
Might not be able to help if you’re stuck
Might be flaky, not turn up, etc

Coach or Mentor
Pay to play
Might have been where you are and got to the other side
Will know strategies & principles to help
Focused use of time
Structured approach
Will help you to get unstuck
Is there 100% to support you in your success

I have done both and really the key to each is to ensure that there’s a good fit before you start, that if it isn’t working you don’t let things drift and you work within your available resources.

Now you can work through and implement your project plan, with support and accountability until it is complete.

Step Ten

Once you’ve completed your project ‘rinse and repeat’ Steps Two to Eight (reviewing Step Nine to ensure your accountability is still working) until you have achieved your ambition. Then start again at Step One with your next ambition.

This is probably the step that is most underutilised by creative souls because we just love to reinvent the wheel. Don’t miss out because you think this approach isn’t novel anymore and you’ve already done it.

The fact that you’ve done it once means that by repeating it you’ll achieve mastery and get to do this faster and better each time, learning from your mistakes.

Save your creativity for where it matters.

Why Might This Personal Development Plan Not Work?

If you’re looking at this list knowing it would be of real benefit, yet your heart is sinking then maybe you would prefer a different approach.

You might wish to go a bit deeper and address the underlying cause(s) of your lack of belief first.

Don’t be embarrassed or ashamed if you feel this might be the case with you! I invested many years (and a lot of money) getting to the heart of my issues and releasing emotional baggage.

And boy what a difference it made to my quality of life and my results… Talk about return on investment!

“What we actually learn, from any given set of circumstances, determines whether we become increasingly powerless or more powerful.”
Blaine Lee

In fact, after a long break I’ve resumed having coaching again because getting engaged brought up some stuff and it was only when we weren’t making progress on planning the wedding that we realised this! LOL

You see even if you’re not consciously aware of blocks, your results will always point the way.

If you feel like you’d benefit from this, drop me a line and I’d be happy to have a chat and refer you to a type of life coaching that gets amazing results.


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Una Doyle

About the Author

Una Doyle

Una is a Business Coach & Strategist for Creative Services Providers (Design, Animation, Marketing/Digital Agencies, etc.). She helps them to stand out from the crowd confidently & profitably so they can attract high-level, 'Ready to Invest' clients, doing creative work that fills their hearts with pride - WITHOUT selling their soul or adding extra workload.

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  • Ellen says:

    Great article Una! Lots of actionable information. I signed up for your newsletter.

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