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Why do individual productivity plans fail?(And how to build a successful one)

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Why Do Individual Productivity Plans Fail? (And How to Build a Successful One)

We all want to grow beyond our limitations and comfort zones and become powerhouses of productivity, knowledge and limitless wisdom. The good thing is that we also make plans every month, week, and at times every day to discover the new individual in us. But the irony is that there is something that keeps us from fulfilling our plans. Either we fail to make a beginning or we end up being inconsistent and finally give up. The result is a pinch of guilt that keeps on troubling us every day and night till we get back to our plans. And then the same story goes on for a couple of days till another breakdown.

Do you realize there is a fixed pattern of our habits and living styles in which we are stuck in more or less? The fight for our personal growth is not with something or somebody outside but with ourselves only. Before I share some tips to build another exciting individual development plan, let’s be realistic. Let’s find out the reasons behind the failure of our perfectly baked self-development plans.  

Why Do Individual Productivity Plans Fail? (And How to Build a Successful One)

You Give up on a Plan Quickly

Now most of you may feel that I am being brutally frank but this is true indeed. Many of us struggle to stick to a pre-laid plan and tend to quickly give up on it. The strange part is that everyone of us has unique reasons for the same. Some of us simply lose the motivation to carry out the self-laid plan while others feel the plan is too unrealistic to be followed. In other cases, people find a better alternative which seems more exciting and luring than the existing plan. It is true that sticking to plans demands a lot of constant reminders and efforts but sticking to them is the only way to get through.

If you still feel you aren’t this category of people then just recall your New Year Resolutions.

You Build Unrealistic Plans

Highly idealistic goals and expectations from oneself makes us set unrealistic plans which ultimately become too hard to follow. Our so called ‘most amazing plans’ are often far off from reality that we tend to lose the enthusiasm to follow them. This is another big reason why after repeated planning for self-development fails to benefit us. For instance, most people vow for an unachievable weight loss regime and finally end up breaking it.

Being Too Analytical

Analysis is important when it comes to tracking your progress and keeping a note of your accomplishments. In fact, it keeps you motivated towards your goal. But at times, analysis can prove to be devastating as well. It is not always possible that your plan will yield you expected results. If you are the one who has that canny eye and looks for reason behind everything then a poor outcome can definitely demoralize you. Even if your results don’t reflect underperformance but your expectations and over analytical nature can discourage you easily.  

You Lack Honesty and Sincerity

There are many among us who say, ‘I am honest and speak only what I believe’. But such people are more vulnerable to face facts about themselves. When we aren’t honest with others then we often end up being dishonest with ourselves as well. Self-development happens when you are ready to face the reality no matter how ugly it is. For instance If you have the habit of reaching late at office even by 5 minutes, you will first have to accept it fully. Satisfying yourself with lame excuses or sympathizing yourself can never bring out a change.

But most people lack here. They overshadow their shortcomings by being dishonest towards them.

You Keep No Space for Unforeseen Situations

We all know that uncertainty is the only thing that is certain in this world. Sounds too vague? But is true. Most people fail to carry on their personal development plans because they keep no room for unforeseen situations in their plans. In order to achieve perfection, they become too hard on themselves and can’t tolerate even a bit of change. The result is unaccomplished individual development plans.

For instance, you would have to give up your diet plan due to a random team lunch.

You don’t know how to listen

One of the most important personality traits of people who want to achieve high personal and professional goals is being a sincere listener. A good listener is always open to new ideas from others and ready to accept any kind of change. Lack of this attribute doesn’t allow a person to grow beyond his limitations. Such a person is able to focus on things which he finds important and puts a blind eye to other things. Also, they are negative towards ideas given by others. Being too rigid to listen to new ideas hinders your personal growth and curtails off the self-development plan.  

You are too Lazy to take initiative

Whether it is learning a new skill or acquiring, you are the one who will have to initiate it. As the saying goes, take few little steps and the big things will fall into place. Taking initiative is about extending yourself beyond expectations or comfort zones. Initiative help you to fill those cracks and resolve things falling apart. But lack of this personality trait is the biggest obstacle in the path of self-growth. For instance If you lack a good communication bond with your team then you will have to take initiative to improve it. If you don’t then you cannot grow beyond this weakness.

Although most of the common reasons behind failure of personal development plans have been covered above but there can definitely more to it. Once you are aware of the reasons that inhibit our personal growth and development, you have the power and freedom to change things accordingly.

So, now let’s come to the most exciting and much awaited part- tips for creating a flawless and successful growth plan.

Building a Successful Personal Growth Plan

Defining Goals: What do you intend to achieve?

The first and the most important part of planning is to clearly define your goals. Having a clear idea about your goals helps you to do planning in an effective way. Write down all that you want to achieve on a piece of paper whether on professional front or personal level. Also, make sure that you write those goals which you really want to achieve and not what others want you to. So, what are you waiting for? Pen down those goals quickly before you move onto the next point.

Prioritising Goals: Which is the most important one?

I’m sure you must have made a long list of goals by now. And that’s good too. We all have big goals for our personality, health, career, relationship etc. But it is not possible to achieve them all in one go. If we start making plans for all those goals in one go then we would end up doing nothing in a few days from now. To avoid this, it is good to set your priorities and then begin the planning process.

Now, the next thing you can do is to mark those goals which you think deserve highest priority at this point of time and for another few months. With this step, you get a little more closer to accomplishing your goal.

Set Deadlines: How soon you want to achieve them?

Here is the priority goal list in front of you. Since you have categorized it as your priority which means it is both urgent and important to achieve therefore you will have to define a time-bound target for it. Setting deadlines for your goals is the next big step in the planning process. But the most important part is defining a realistic deadline to keep up the momentum. For instance if you ought to get admission in a top B-school then you will have to give yourself a realistic time and plan to prepare for the same.

Find a Inspiration: Who will guide you throughout?

You have a great goal and a realistic deadline with you now. But often we tend to lose enthusiasm and charm towards our goal. Having a mentor, advisor, influencer or guide is the best way to keep yourself inspired throughout your journey. Also, this helps you to share your shortcomings and find quick solutions without letting you give up. But make sure you find someone with relevant experience and expertise in a particular field so that we can provide you a genuine feedback and open new doors for you. If you are not able to find a in-the-flesh guru then you can take help from books, blogs, TED talks, forum chats etc. At times, your colleague or your friends can even contribute towards your personal growth.

Plan your strategy: What pathway would you follow?

Having a solid list of goals, deadlines and trusted feedback from mentors, now you are all set to lay out strategies for individual development plan. A good personal strategic plan should be able to provide a clear pathway covering all opportunities you shall need to capitalize on, resources you would need and relationships you will have to leverage along with a timeline to complete each step.

But the most important part of the planning isn’t simply confined to devising strategies and creating a roadmap. It is also about taking into account your current habit patterns, strengths, and weaknesses. Your strengths are your biggest asset and knowing them will help you get through every obstacle. On the other hand, recognizing your poor habit patterns and weaknesses will make you aware of what can be threat to your goals. For instance If you want to keep a check on your expenses then the best way is to pen down every little expenditure you make.

To make things more clear, you can also make a list of things you should do and shouldn’t do to achieve your goal.

Develop New Skills: What skill you need for next step?

So, now you have a good plan with you, a reachable timeline, awareness about your strengths and weaknesses, and everything else you need for making a good plan. But the tale doesn’t end here. Till here, it was all about planning, writing, searching for a mentor but from here the journey of implementation would begin. Your personal development plan is your journey from your current place to the place you want to be.

Sadly, there are no free lunches in life. If you want something, you will have to give something. For instance: starting a new business isn’t about sitting and dreaming about in your current job. You will have to take risks, learn about marketing, sales etc, invest in a lot more than money and then you have the possibility of being a successful entrepreneur.  

A quote by Paul Samuelson goes as ‘There are no easy pickings.’ That would be a more accurate, less dramatic statement than ‘There’s no such thing as a free lunch.’

If you are determined to achieve something then you will have to risk doing something you have never done before. You may even have to learn a altogether new skill, become someone you seem impossible and do all that you have never done before. And not just this. You will have to pay a bigger price in the form of sacrifice, discipline, time, and efforts. Just find out whatever is needed to be done and start doing it. Can you feel that adrenaline rush after reading this? If yes, then you are certainly on the right path.

The next big step is to make a list of all the skills, knowledge, resources etc you would require to achieve a particular goal and just get going. Once you are done this, list out important actions in a limited timeframe that you need to do to grab those skills.  

Although there’s no such thing as a perfect individual growth plan but one can always fill out the gaps with a little efforts. Now, you might be thinking that I haven’t written about the ways to measure progress on the path. Well, I will not disappoint you here as well. But I have a different way to track one’s progress especially when it comes to individual growth and development. Read the next point.

Measure Progress: How Close are you to the Goal?

Okay, it is true that you should track your progress at every single step to ensure your heading in the right direction. But we cannot deny the fact that being too analytical can also invite troubles for you. So, what’s the way out?

A good idea is to find out what difference a particular routine, strategy, skill made to your life. For instance your goal is to wake up early in the morning and exercise. Now you are able to follow a early morning regime for the first three days of the week and eventually breakdown on the fourth day. If you follow a traditional way of measuring your progress then you would get demotivated and feel guilty for the fourth day. On the other hand, noting down your experience every day when you are able to wake up early and looking at things you are able to do during the day can keep your morale high. So, even if you fail for a day or two then you would be able to quickly bounce back on the 5th day. This is a healthy way to build a progress chart in which you can realize how much you have actually grown and learned. Don’t run after figures for they will only demotivate you.

Embrace Weaknesses, Challenges, and Unforeseen Situations

Last but not the least, you will have endless challenges and unforeseen circumstances on your way towards your goal. Also, your weaknesses aren’t going to spare you anyway. Don’t forget about your mind which will always be giving you good excuses to postpone your efforts to cut them to short. There will be a number of things that will take your eyes off your path. You may have to face a lot of criticism and negativity in your way. There will be people who will support you and there will be ones who will simply make fun of you. At times, you will be bogged down by your own lame excuses and at other times, your own mind will deceive you.

But remember one thing-your willingness to change or grow can make you win over every small battle including your own mind. Don’t resist anything at the level of your mind or any external changes. Be open to an unforeseen situation and always be ready to fight it out. Nothing in the world is stronger than you and you have the full strength to change the things 180 degrees around. So, keep making new plans and setting new goals but don’t let anything ruin your smile.

Keep Going..!!


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Vartika Kashyap runs the marketing team at ProofHub — a project management software for teams of all sizes. She is a seasoned marketing professional who is an expert in digital marketing and entrepreneurship. She’s been featured among LinkedIn’s Top Voices for the year 2016. Connect with Vartika on LinkedIn, Medium and Twitter. https://www.proofhub.com/

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