Learn a little more about yourself this holiday season – Part 2

Use holiday downtime to create a personal action plan for 2016.

Now that you have taken time to think back on 2015, you are hopeful for what opportunities lie ahead. What are the next steps? How do you take observations from your past and make changes for the future? Organizations ask similar questions. Yearly growth, whether that is sustained profits, greater impacts or new ideas is important and valuable to the health of the organization. With this in mind, companies engage in strategic planning. This allows organizations to highlight key growth areas, which result in reallocating resources to support future goals or minimizing the impact of underperforming or detrimental activities. All of the efforts are expended with a simple purpose in mind: To take action to increase the effectiveness of the organization.

The same is true for personal growth and development. Many lessons can be taken from organizational development. After all, an organization is simply a collection of people with a shared purpose. Just like a business writes a strategic plan, consider making a personal action plan for 2016. This can be in relation to your career goals, personal goals or both. This four-step process can simplify the activity and get you thinking:

  1. Reflect on your past year. A house cannot be built from the top down just like a personal action plan should not be created without reflection. It’s a foundational step. Refer to Part 1 of this series for more on reflection.
  2. Understand your values. What is it that I want as part of my experience for next year? What can I do without? Values are as individual as your food preferences. They may also change with time and should be evaluated on a daily basis. You can even refer to “Define Your Personal Core Values: 5 Steps,” a helpful article by INC Magazine, to better understand your personal values.
  3. Set goals for the year. Equipped with a better understanding of yourself, take out your journal and write down three to five specific goals for the year. It’s important for your goals to be S.M.A.R.T. in order to be successful in 2016. For more information on S.M.A.R.T. goals, visit this University of Virginia publication “Writing S.M.A.R.T. Goals.”
  4. Evaluate the goals for simplicity. It’s easy to write goals that are big picture. “Get a new job” or “lose weight” are easier said than done. Set yourself up for success and celebrate accomplishments. We hear so often that New Year’s resolutions are broken after a few months for this exact reason. Keeping your skills and talents in mind will help. Consider this example: “Lose 15 pounds this year” would be an ineffective goal. If you want to lose weight in 2016, consider options that rely on your strengths and interests and work them into your goal. Thinking about a weight loss goal, try structuring it like this: “Attend two series of Zumba classes by March 1, resulting in a weight loss of 15 pounds.” The focus shifts from the unsurmountable weight loss goal to a more enjoyable personal fitness activity like Zumba.

Creating a personal action plan can be fun and rewarding if you are serious about making changes. Just like you do at your daily job, goal setting is an important step to growing as an individual. Michigan State University Extension offers a wealth of resources on leadership and personal development at their website. For more information about this article, contact me, education director, MSUE Tollgate Education Center, 28115 Meadowbrook Road, Novi, MI 48377, at 248-347-0269 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).

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