How To Take Action And Develop A Personal Growth Plan That Works

David Santistevan —  — 12 Comments

1071720_64731155Earlier this year I realized that personal growth doesn’t happen unless I plan for it.

Having good intentions isn’t enough. Even firsthand experience isn’t always the ticket. Those who develop are those who are intentional about learning and applying.

Your Dreams Are Closer Than You Think

We all have dreams. Our problem is that years go by without us doing anything about it. We don’t take the first step.

It’s like we are hoping for God to tell us what to do, show us how to do it, inform us when to start, and then to do the work for us. Sounds ridiculous, right?

Want a better idea? Just step out on the water. Allow Jesus to catch you. I’d rather be caught falling than staying comfortable in my stalling.

When I started writing, I simply made a decision to launch a WordPress blog and start writing. Of course, I didn’t know if anyone would read it, like it, share it, or shower me with compliments. I had a vision and I started. I’ve been surprised by the results.

When I started working on our live worship album it was very similar. I didn’t know how it would turn out, if it would be successful, if any worship leaders would lead these songs. But we started. Again, I’m surprised by how God is using it.

I don’t share these examples in order to brag. I share them to inspire confidence in you to start something. Ignore the voices that tell you your work is meaningless and everyone will hate it. You too can be surprised by the results, but only if you have the bravery to begin.

And that time is now.

Today, I have a simple process that will help you develop new skills in rapid time and actually produce results in your life you can see.

The One-A-Month Personal Growth Project

I want you to focus on one new skill per month. That will be 12 new skills you’ll get started on throughout the year. You see, most of us bounce around on the internet multiple times a day hoping to learn something. We fill our minds with endless noise, hoping something will stick. This will enable you to learn more…faster.

How does it work?

1. Create a Spreadsheet – You can do this in Excel or Evernote (my personal favorite) with 5 columns and 13 rows. The top row will include all your headings: month, skill, book, action, and results. Eachs subsequent row will be each month. You can access my Evernote template here, if you’d like.

Screen Shot 2013-02-28 at 7.18.01 AM

An example of my Personal Growth plan for this year

2. Brainstorm New Skills – Make a large list of new skills you would like to learn. It could be anything: public speaking, worship leading, singing, preaching, cooking, knitting, scuba diving, or underwater basket weaving. Just unload all of your ideas on the page.

3. Decide – Start adding your top 12 skills into each subsequent month on your chart. Be strategic and take your time with this. For example, I’m speaking at two conference in the month of June, so my focus that month is on public speaking. I’ve also scheduled months to improve my presentation skills well in advance so I’m prepared for those events.

4. Select Books – For each skill, read one book related to that subject and prepare a written net-out of its contents (you can use this great chart from Michael Hyatt). This will take some research as to the specific books you want to read, but do your best and fill in the chart. You can tweak as the year goes along as well. Make sure you only focus on one book a month. If you finish it early, you can start another. We are just too used to overloading our brains with information that it actually stalls us from applying anything.

5. Take Action – This is where the magic happens: fill in the chart the specific action steps you are going to take as well as the results you’ve noticed from taking that action. This will move you beyond good intentions to getting results.

6. Review it Daily – Every morning (or evening) review your personal growth plan for that month. Schedule time in your day to read. Get it on your calendar. Make it the focus of your month.

Since I’ve implemented this process it has helped me immensely. If anything, it keeps me from being overwhelmed by all the new skills I need to learn. I’ve scheduled them strategically so I can relax and focus on one thing today.

You can do the same.

Would You Like To Join A Coaching Group With Me?

Matter of fact, I will be launching a monthly coaching group related to this personal growth plan. I would personally help you develop your plan and a small group of us would gather online once a month (for three months) to discuss what we’re learning and what progress we’re making.

We’ll also discuss tools, books, resources, and stir one another up to become better. The cost to join would be $50 for three months of coaching. If you’re interested, please sign up to be notified of the launch here:

Yes, I would like more information.

No need to pay yet. This is just if you’d like more information. I’ll let you know more about it very soon.

In order for this to be effective, I can only take a limited number of people (10-15). So sign up quick and I’ll let you know more about it!

Question: What are some new skills you would like to develop this year? Share yours in the comments!

12 responses to How To Take Action And Develop A Personal Growth Plan That Works

  1. Yep. Very important to have a sense of where God is leading you and to work towards that vision.
    I know for myself I never make goals more than 3 months or so out…a lot changes and I don’t want to feel locked in to who I was and where I thought I was being led months ago when God could be leading me somewhere else.
    For me personally, it has been healthy to set goals that weren’t all career focused too. Sometimes it’s just spending time for a month being intentional about being in relationship with my wife, or about writing poetry, or spending quiet time with God.
    Thanks for sharing your method though, it’ll be great for me to incorporate some of your ideas into my own process on growth and formation.

    • Travis, I’m glad you brought that up. Goals can’t just be work/career related. You need to be intentional about becoming a better husband, dad, and follower of Jesus. Thanks for sharing that.

      • Thanks David.
        Just wondering – do you always break them up by months, or are there times when a month is not enough time to accomplish something you’re working on? OR – have you found it helpful to break up larger projects into things that can be done each month to keep you on track?

        • Travis, I try and break down a topic into something actionable for that month. Obviously, I won’t be able to master the art of podcasting in one month. But…I can research how to get it started. Does that make sense? If something is big, just break it down into a couple different months. I have a lot of interests and things I want to learn but maybe you only have one or two things you’d like to master this year. So your chart might look a lot different. Does that make sense?

  2. Awesome idea. I have so many thinks in my head I want to dive into. Breaking them up by month makes sense and manages your focus. Love the idea. Thanks.

  3. David you’re right on with this…again. I had to step away from music, blogs, studying and more while in a recent transition. Our family relocated 2hrs because of an awesome job opportunity. This is definitely God’s will for our family. I ready to jump back in to learning and developing my interests. I have no responsibilities (work/church/school) here which can make it hard to focus, I want to do everything at once. Your advice is great way for me to get started. Thank you!

  4. The skill I want to develop is book writing , then product creation. Dude, I would gladly pay $50 for 3 months of hanging with you. :)

  5. Would like to know how to create stories in preaching and also how to create stories in worshiping as I talk to God and how really I can know the spirit of
    God is talking

  6. wooo! is powerfull,i need more information on leader

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