posted on April 20, 2020
Is it valuable, What is it, how to develop one, etc.
Around 15 years ago, I was out of college nearly 5 years and married for a few. My wife had finished some post college schooling to become a registered dietitian and I decided I wanted to pursue an MBA, while working on my career. I loved the MBA classes because my mindset was different. I was truly enjoying what I was learning, and it didn’t hurt that I was paying for all of it in lieu of just a portion. Regardless, besides the business things I learned, the most valuable personal item I had to develop as an assignment during this time was a Self Development Action Plan (SDAP).
This assignment was one of the hardest I have ever done, but probably one of the most rewarding and it has helped provide direction for my life over the past 15 years and will continue to help well into the future. It required me to picture myself through the rest of my life and figure out where I want to be in every phase and then write it down. Next the important part was to develop goals and actions that would allow me to achieve my future self. This is very similar to a fitness plan, but it involves every part of your life.
So what makes up a SDAP? It starts with a chart that includes columns with the following headings: Goals, Strengths, Weaknesses, Strategy, and Evidence of Accomplishment. Here is a simple silly example that is on my SDAP:
Goal: have my own teeth when I die,
Strength: I have them now;
Weakness: I don’t go to the dentist as much as I should and I love sugar,
Strategy: stop eating so much sugar, floss and brush at least twice a day, and visit the dentist at least twice a year,
Evidence of Accomplishment: I still have my teeth when I die.
I decided to break down my SDAP into categories. My major categories include personal and professional. Under Personal I include subcategories: Physical health, Mental health, Family, Social, Home, Travel, Financial well being, and recreation. Under Professional I included subcategories: career and training. Within each subcategory I have a number of goals, which I think I ended up with over 100 goals, by the time my instructor stopped asking for more. The goals should be both near term and long term goals. A short term example that I had at the time:
Goal: pay off student loans in the next two years,
Strength: I hate carrying debt,
Weakness: other financial demands, Strategy: utilize all “extra” money to pay off loans (tax returns, expense checks, bonuses, etc.),
Evidence of accomplishment: loans paid off by 2006.
The last step, which I believe is the most important. Review, update, and add to your SDAP on a quarterly basis. You will find, as I do every year, that you accomplish some goals or are utilizing the strategies to accomplish them, you develop new goals, and some of the goals you set before aren’t really important any more. Also if you want real accountability, share your SDAP with your partner. It is a great way to share and discuss your life with someone you trust.