How to build your personal learning plan for 2020

Do you have some new ideas regarding your career orientation? Are you, maybe, at a point at work, where you no longer feel as engaged or motivated as in the beginning? These could be signs that your skills and passion might need a boost. What are you waiting for?

If you think about it, people’s success very often depends mostly on finding the inner strength to strategize their own reskilling and upskilling. Did you know that, before he became a famous author, Stephen King was a caretaker? And before Giorgio Armani attracted worldwide attention with his haute couture creations, he was a doctor?

So, whether you want to prepare for your next promotion, find your new calling, or just live a life of enhanced work satisfaction, first gift yourself a one-hour time-slot devoted entirely to this end. Then follow the steps below to best prepare yourself for creating your personal learning plan. 

1. Envision yourself

Ask yourself “Where do I want to be in the future and what do I want to achieve?” Make a list of everything that excites you in your new vision. Start by writing down your passions. Don’t leave out practical facts you may find self-explanatory, like the needs you’ll satisfy when you achieve your goal, e.g. wage increase, personal satisfaction etc. These will keep you motivated when you lose faith and start to deviate from your plan. Are you ready?

Some tips to help you create your vision:

• Write all your thoughts down. 

• Prepare the best case scenario for yourself. Don’t let self-doubt creep in at this stage and stop you from getting started on your journey. Be realistic, of course, but not self-limiting.

• Make sure that the vision you create for yourself aligns with your life’s vision and mission. Picture your 80th birthday party and think that everybody you’ve influenced in some way is there. As they stand up to toast you, what would you like them to say about you? That’s what you want your life to stand for.

2. Elaborate on your self-awareness

Life is a game of chess and you have to make a move to win. However, before you make any moves, you need to know exactly where you and the other person stand. So in this step, you’ll need to assess your current situation. How can you do that?

• Dig out any tests you’ve taken in the recent past (psychometric, 4LS, 360ο, etc.), check your results again and assess them in view of your goal. Don’t just focus on areas for improvement. Know your strengths and include how you can use them to your advantage in your plan.

• Read your last performance appraisals again and elaborate on both your areas for improvement and your strengths.

• Ask people you trust for feedback, while keeping in mind your desired goal.

• Find one person – or more – who mirrors the kind of person you want to become. Do some research into how they got where they are. If they’re famous, you can probably find information online. Alternatively, you could track and follow several “role models” that fit your criteria on social media. You could even contact them to ask them for their pragmatic insights - they might be interested in mentoring someone that looks up to them.

3. Set concrete learning goals

A goal without a concrete plan is just a wish, so make sure you set smart goals. You can use the classic SMART model or make it even SMARTER.

• So, be Specific with your goals, yet simple enough that a kid could read and understand them. Ensure they’re Measurable, using realistic metrics.

• Make them Achievable, Relevant and Time-specific. Make sure that, at the end of this process, you create an action plan (including concrete actions, deadlines and people involved, e.g. boss, colleagues, mentor, etc.)

• Moreover, keep them handy, somewhere you - and maybe others - can see them. Making your goals known to others will enhance your feeling of commitment. You might also receive a range of responses you can use to motivate your desire to succeed.

• Finally, Evaluate them periodically, e.g. every week – it’s important not to ignore this step, so you might want to add this task to your calendar.

• And Readjust them, if needed. This means trying different approaches until you find yourself getting closer and closer to your goals. That’s why constant evaluation on a periodic basis is so important. If you don’t evaluate your goals, you can’t measure your progress.

4. Find the right resources for you

What style of learning fits you best? Which new practices can you make good use of? I like using my running time in the gym to listen to webinars and podcasts. This boosts my commitment to both activities and gives me the extra knowledge I need. Some resources to consider adding into your learning plan are: books, journals, industry magazines, TEDx talks, webinars, Youtube, mentors, coaches, conferences, training programmes, committees or special work teams.

At this point, you should be ready to create your personal learning plan. Keep in mind that sticking to it is your first challenge and there will likely be many failures on the path to success. See these failures as the opportunity to start again, skip the excuses, and try even smarter. Before Walt Disney was finally established as the man who redefined childhood worldwide, he was fired from the newspaper Kansas City Star, because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas.” But as he said on never giving up: “the only way to get started is quit talking and begin doing!”