By Jay Ledesma

Taking charge of oneself 

January 25, 2021, 2:48 pm

THE start of a brand new year is the time for most of us to set our plans for the rest of the year.

While we busy ourselves setting the plans for the team and the organization, one very important plan that is often neglected, ignored, and overlooked is our own personal development planning. 

Personal Development Planning means improving oneself by focusing on certain habits and activities that will promote personal growth and help achieve one’s dreams and aspirations.

The concept of Personal Development Planning only became popular in the Philippine workplace in recent years. In the past, doing a plan for your own self-development is often frowned upon. It’s considered being “too ambitious” or “adelantado”. And since most Filipinos in the past believe in the “Bahala Na” system where everything is left to chance, personal planning is not in their vocabulary. You would often hear the phrases “Bahala na ang Diyos” or “Bahala Na sa akin si Boss”, when talking about better career opportunities.

Do you know of someone who is supposed to be good and have the potential but have often missed on a great career or business opportunities?

Many people underachieve in their careers or businesses because they simply fail to realize and work on the areas of personal development that can help them earn the expertise, competence, and credibility. 

While some people were able to land good opportunities because they happened to be in the right place at the right time, for most, they have to look for or create those opportunities. And they better be ready when the opportunities come.

That is why it’s important that we make our personal development plans. Creating a plan for our personal development will prepare us and help us get a better sense of control for whatever comes our way. Having a personal development plan is crucial for our continuous personal growth, for increasing our potential for success, and for maximizing possible opportunities.

In my experience and observation, just like any plans, preparing our personal development plan starts with having clear goals— both short term and long term. What do we aim to achieve in 5 years? What should we accomplish each year to help us hit our 5-year plan? Having a clear goal will allow us to plan the right course of action. Be S.M.A.R.T. when doing this.

The next step is knowing and being conscious of our strengths as well as areas of improvement. Being honest about our “givens” is the first step to being better. What areas are we naturally gifted? What is lacking in us? We need to constantly assess where we stand in relation to achieving our goals.

Tapping our natural gifts is not enough. We need to grow our skills and talents in our workplace. We need to be creative thinkers always looking for faster, better, easier, and cheaper ways to get the job done. We need to continuously better ourselves and step out of our comfort zone. Attend all available training programs offered by the company, even those not directly related to our current job. Be involved in committees and projects which will expose us to other job functions and new skills. If opportunities are not available in the workplace, do self-study. There’s a lot of free learning materials on the internet which we can use. It is our job to be a better version of ourselves than we were yesterday.

We need to possess and demonstrate good work habits and maintain a positive mental attitude. How are we under pressure? How do we behave when no one is watching? Sometimes, even the most skilled and talented ones missed on better career opportunities simply because they don’t display the right work habits and work attitudes. Don’t count the time and efforts we put into our job, give our best to whatever we do whether it’s recognized or not, be a team player, don’t take all the credits especially when it’s not yours, and always look at the brighter side of things instead of being “negatron”. I promise you, these will not go unnoticed!

Personal development also involves expanding our contacts and network. Having an ever-widening circle of contacts increases the number of open doors coming our way. Joining committees, projects, and other intracompany activities will not only help grow our skills but will also allow us to develop better and wider working relationships and connections. The same is true when we join industry organizations and associations. We expand our social exposure and access. Being surrounded by people with like-minded goals and who are willing to help us can directly affect how successful we can be. 

As we expand our network, we need to develop or enhance our personal brand. How are we known or perceived by the people we work with and work for? Is it the brand that represents who we really are and who we can be? Is it the brand people want to be associated with? How we think, how we behave, what we say, and how we look to make up our brand. Let us be conscious of the kind of brand we are creating for ourselves. 

And finally, we need to work on our health and wellness. Our mindset, stress level, and work stamina are affected by our physical well-being.

When we are healthy and physically conditioned, we can think and perform better and accomplish more. Spend at least 1 hour a day on meditation to clear our mind, on exercise to tone our body, and on prayers/reflections to enrich our soul. 

If you agree and believe that you need to have your personal development plan, now is the right time to do it as we are starting a new year. If you are an employee, you may consult or partner with your HR Team or superior. Most organizations now include Individual Development Plan in their performance management system. If you have the extra resources, you can attend formal programs on this or hire a Coach. Otherwise, there’s a number of websites showing DIY personal development plan. 

For a first-timer, this may look overwhelming. The key is to take one step at a time. You don’t need to do everything all at once. But you have to start somewhere NOW. 

Let’s be mindful that it’s only you who know what you want to achieve, and the key to achieving it is in your hands through the actions you take.

Hard work is very important but is not the be-all. But it If you set a goal, make a plan, and work on it every day, you will see personal development and progress within your career.

You will become unstoppable and you will see your entire future open up in front of you. It’s time you take charge of yourself! 


About the Columnist

Image of Jay Ledesma

Ms. Jay Ledesma writes about local tourism and business bits that delve on investments and insurance.