By Preston Roach

Who else uses the GPS on their smartphone on a daily basis? I know I use it multiple times a day even in my own city. It’s so easy to just throw a google search out for my destination and hit the “directions” button until I find myself following the turn by turn all the way to where I am going.

I’m not THAT old, but I do remember using an old-fashioned map as a kid being the navigator on a family trip. I was in heaven when Mapquest was launched, and you could just punch in the addresses for “to” and “from” and it would print out step by step directions to get you where you needed to go. It wasn’t always accurate, but it was better than just a map!

The conveniences that have been developed over the last decade have made the world a much different place than it was at the turn of the century.

What would you do if you were going on a trip to the next town over and you didn’t have access to a map or a GPS? Would you just take off and hope you were heading in the right direction? Would you call a friend that lived there and ask them to at least tell you which highway you needed to take?
I’d like to think I would try to get a good feel for where I was headed before I took off.

Something that I have to question is why do we treat our own personal development as if it were a road trip without a map or a destination?

There’s a commonly accepted statistic that we spend 95% of our time thinking about ourselves. If we aren’t actively solving a problem, or engaged in an activity then we are probably thinking about ourselves.

I wonder what we think about during all that time. I’m probably thinking about what I’m going to wear or eat for a few minutes a day. Maybe I’m thinking about how to present myself during a meeting, or thinking about how the other person is perceiving me.

If I’m being honest, it’s probably a lot more vain than that. I spend too much time thinking about how I look, sound, or smell.

Why don’t we take a chunk of that time and spent it on our own personal development and growth? Chances are, if you’re reading this, then you’ve already had this thought. You’re out there searching for ways to be the best you can be. That’s commendable!

The only person’s opinion that we should care about is ourselves. It is so much easier said than done. If we are spending 57 seconds out of every minute thinking about ourselves, then why do we care so much about the opinions of others?

Sure, you have obligations to fulfill your duties as a husband, wife, father, mother, sister, brother, etc… but that’s not the same as being worried about their opinion. We want to make ourselves better so that we can serve our loved ones and friends better.

If we aren’t good to ourselves then how can we expect to be good for anyone else?

So now, you’ve decided that you want to spend some time on your personal development, but you’re wondering how in the world to start. You’re on a road trip without a map or a destination. You just took off driving, which is the first step to getting anywhere, but you don’t know if the road you’re on is leading you to where you want to go.

It’s time to develop a personal development plan. This is the roadmap to self-improvement. I recently wrote about how I believe change happens overnight. Change does happen overnight, but we want to make sure that we are changing in the ways that are making us better.

The first step to your personal development plan is to write out your goals. Make your “bucket list” and then work your way back.

If you want to run a marathon then you’re probably not just going to walk out the front door and start running for 26.2 miles. You will start with a more attainable goal. You decide that in 60 days you want to finish your first 5k. That is definitely achievable, and it’s a great start to working your way up to a marathon.

We need to break our goals down into small actionable steps. Then we need to develop these steps into daily habits. Once they become habit, then there’s no stopping you from reaching your goals.

Here’s what I use as a personal development roadmap:

It looks so nice and easy as a straight line! We all know that nothing is ever as easy as it looks. Looking at the big picture like this gives you an idea of exactly what is needed to make it to your goals. Keeping it this way helps to keep you on track. Take a piece of paper and actually draw these bubbles out and fill them in. It’s a soothing experience to get it all out where you can see it.

Your bucket list could be items that you do next week or that you will spend your entire life working your way up to. For instance, one of your bucket list items could be traveling to Australia. You don’t have to wait your whole life to travel like that. You could add saving for the trip to your 1 year plan, and book your tickets next year! Then tick that box off your bucket list.

Another one of your bucket list items could be to own a lake house. This one may actually take longer. It could be 20-30 years of saving before being able to afford a lake house. So you would add saving for the lake house to your 60 day plan and 1 year plan. You would put exactly how much you plan to save, and then follow through with it on your daily action plan.

By breaking it down into more attainable goals, it will allow you to see how to get where you want to go. You use your bucket list for the big goals that you want to achieve. You are consciously deciding what the most important things in your life are.

It is the act of sitting down and deciding these things that has the real power.

Being intentional and focusing your attention on the goals that are most important in your life will inherently rule out many other decisions that would otherwise distract you and fill your time. By saying yes to one thing, you’re actually saying no to a hundred others.

The most crucial item of them all is our daily action plan. We must establish good habits to complete our checklist every day, otherwise we may as well call our bucket list a pipe dream. The actions that we repeatedly take are who we are. I believe that all humans are natural dreamers, but it’s the ones that will put in the work everyday that will be able to surpass even their wildest dreams.

     We spend a majority of our time thinking about ourselves. There’s nothing better than spending that time productively by focusing on our personal development. The secret to success is no secret at all. It is persistent consistent action towards your goals. Develop a plan to reach your goals and stick with it!

     I’d love feedback on things that you do to improve yourselves. I have some tips and tricks that have helped me grow into a much better person than I used to be. Just try to become better one day at a time!

     Don’t forget to visit for a free copy of my easy to use personal development plan!

     Preston is a personal finance, self improvement, and mental health blogger. His passion is to help others make choices that will help them be more fulfilled, happier, healthier, and educated about money. He strives to write with honesty and integrity. His hobbies include reading, writing, traveling, Brazilian Jiu Jitsu, and spending time with his wife and dogs.

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