How to stick to your personal development goals – Part 1

personal development goalsIf you heard about three simple, but solid methods that could help you to stick with your personal development goals (or New Year’s Resolutions), would you be interested in learning more about it?

You see, people are asking me during workshops: “Okay, the workshop is nice and provides a lot of insights, but what happens when I am back in the office? How will I be able to maintain the momentum?”

So, what if I showed you a proven strategy which avoids that personal development goals just remain some words written on a paper? I will share with you my personal answer to this question. It is not magic, it is actually quite simple and it works.

Why is the personal development goal itself so important?

Imagine you are in an annual interview with your boss, both of you were asked to reflect upfront about possible personal development goals for you.

You: “I would like to improve my French, that would allow me to communicate better with my colleagues on the project and there would be less misunderstandings.”

Boss: “I would encourage you to generally listen more. I have the feeling you talk a lot during meetings and always try to push your ideas.”

Well, those suggestions are very different… We could argue with what the boss is saying, but this is not the topic here.

There are two clear differences between both suggestions:
Personal interest: You are likely to prefer your suggestion more, as you have a personal interest and therefore very likely more motivation (include link to ingredient article!).
Old versus new: Your suggestion includes learning a new skill, something technical which can be learned. Your boss is addressing something less tangible which is likely linked to your behaviour and beliefs.

These differences can have an effect on how you progress. It is often more difficult to change an old behaviour than to develop a new skill. Just bare in mind this difference when actually setting up your self development plan with your goals and actions, which does not mean that you should avoid to get rid of old annoying habits. Seriously.

Do you agree?


The art of sticking to your goals, even the ones that were suggested to you

Now, imagine that your boss has validated a 20-hour French course for you on the condition that you start working on your listening skills through an in-house seminar.

Having both goals in mind, I want to share with you my favourite 3 methods on how to stick to my self development plan. And this will be from my personal experience – NOT just me taking what everyone else is saying and sharing it with you. Are you ready for them? Lets go.


#1: The Blank Page Benefit (Mindset & Focus)

What is a Blank Page Benefit you ask?

The Blank Page Benefit (that’s what I call it) is a method to stay focused on your objectives, while being as unbiased as possible with regard to the upcoming steps and experiences. This method actually works in many circumstances, notably in new and insecure environments. Those steps that you have to take when your boss tells you to participate at a particular training and you want to get something out of it.

How to start with a blank page?
Step 1: Look yourself in the mirror (literally) and tell yourself to start from ‘zero’. No expectations, no false hope, no flawed info from other people. Reset your brain as much as possible.

Step 2: Repeat step one as often as some negative thoughts come up, such as “I am never going to be able to change”. This should allow you to regain a positive state of mind. For this you will need to learn to monitor your own thinking. In the beginning, set yourself a fixed time per day, when you analyse your thoughts. The more often you do it, the more of a habit it becomes.

Step 3: Enforce the positive state of mind, the more positive you think, the more positive results you will notice, negative elements will become smaller (this method is also used in meditation, for this specific reason).

Step 4: Write down your objective on a piece of paper and put it somewhere visible in your office (or put on your list of priorities, if you have one). To continue with our example, link the objective to speak French with a trip to France – this make it more tangible and something to look forward to.

Step 5: Track your benefit progress. It is not easy to always have a positive mindset, so, you should praise yourself every once in while through literally noting down the steps you have taken to reach the goal. You can use a simple paper for this, or if you are a smartphone lover, you could use this cool app called Lift.

Ok, this is it for now. There are two more tactics to follow in next week’s post. Check it out!

Now, I pass it on to you…Have you been using something like the above mentioned tactic? Does it work for you? Talk in the comments.

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Image credit: iStockPhoto


  1. Thanks for these great tips and for sharing the awesome app, Lift. I’d never heard of it before but downloaded it to my Iphone straightaway. It is already helping me create and keep positive daily habits 🙂
    Tehmina Zaman recently posted…How To Set Up Your Self-Hosted WordPress Blog [Infographic]My Profile

    • Jantje Bartels says:

      That is bold action! Good on you, Tehmina! I am glad you find what I share useful.

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