As human beings, we always look for ways to better ourselves and grow as individuals. Whether you are a college student looking to develop new skills or an established professional with plenty of life goals to fulfill, a self-actualization plan could be what you’re missing.

However, coming up with an effective, concrete plan which will assist you in your personal development can be difficult, especially when you consider the self-discipline it takes to do it right.

Let’s take a look at how you can write a self-actualization plan which will effectively allow you to build on your skills, personality, or anything else you’d want to work on.

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1. Put Thoughts on Paper

Most of us are guilty of procrastination and vague goal-setting which never gets put on paper. However, the best way to start your self-actualization plan is to put the literal thoughts on a paper, notebook, or your favorite planning app.

Start by describing your goals, the state in which your current skills or experience is, as well as how you can fulfill your plans. Platforms such as and Evernote can help you edit and format those thoughts into more concrete goals to use in the following steps.

2. Ideate Long-Term Goals

Self-actualization works best when you think long-term. As individuals, we are capable of change over time, be it in a span of a few months or several years. The long-term goals you set will allow you to understand your own thought process and whether you lean towards ambitious or realistic expectations.

Your goal can be anything from finishing academic education to landing the first place in the state marathon. However, those goals should be attainable in your current situation, which means that systems such as SMART can come in handy in this phase of the process.

3. Take it Step by Step

Big goals cannot be reached by random acts of good intention. Instead, break down your lofty goals into smaller milestones, which will make the process manageable. Following the previous example, your academic degree goal can be broken up into segments such as “finding the right school” to “finishing the first year on the first attempt.”

Break the goals down into a series of smaller milestones which will allow you to focus on individual steps of the self-actualization process. That way, you will never feel overwhelmed by a large and seemingly impossible goal which will come true as a result of clearing the milestones before it.

4. Set Deadlines and KPIs

Once your goals are broken down into smaller segments, you should assign deadlines and KPIs to them. Deadlines will allow you to limit your development milestones to specific timeframes, thus enabling you to keep moving forward toward your ultimate goals.

KPIs, on the other hand, will allow you to enumerate your development and growth, making it much easier to measure how much you’ve changed or improved over time. While self-actualization is an inner process first and foremost, empiric measurements should be taken to gauge the progress of development.

5. Ask a Friend for Help

While self-actualization is self-centered, that doesn’t mean you should be left to your own devices. This is especially true if you have problems with focus, discipline, and procrastination for whatever reason. Ask a close friend, a relative, or someone from your social media circles to keep an eye on your progress.

Make sure that they remind you to check your notes, time management app, and other tools you’ve prepared for your personal development. That way, you will always have an outside source of assistance should you lose motivation or persistence during the process.

6. Reward Yourself for Progress

One of the best ways to motivate yourself is to set rewards and bonuses throughout your self-actualization plan. Small things such as a favorite candy bar at the end of a hard week’s work or a trip to the swimming pool after you’ve reached an important milestone work wonders for your motivation.

Don’t make these rewards too frequent so that they don’t lose impact over time. Make it a natural part of your progress. You will want to work that much harder for your next milestones.

7. Don’t Settle for “Okay”

Mediocrity is one of the worst enemies of self-actualization. After all, personal development doesn’t have binary, good, or bad outcomes. Instead, varying degrees of success will be waiting for you at the end of each plan’s cycle, so make sure to prepare for the outcomes.

You might not reach the desired level of knowledge in Spanish, Greek or Russian during your initial goal-chasing excursion–and that’s not a bad thing. However, you should continue improving, practicing, and working on your goals for as long as it takes for you to be personally satisfied with the outcome. Don’t settle for just “okay” and work on your goals for as long as you have the time and motivation to do so.

8. Reflect & Start Over

Once you begin to reach your goals in their fullest, you should reflect on your work and progress so far. Think about where and who you were before the self-actualization plan took place. Recognize that personal development made an impact on your personality, skill set, and experience as an individual.

Most importantly, find new ways to improve yourself on an ongoing basis. That way, personal development will become a part of your everyday life, and you will always have something new and exciting to look forward to.

In Summary

Self-actualization doesn’t have one correct road which works for everyone. Instead, it will take time for you to discover a system which works for your personality, work habits, and daily levels of motivation.

Don’t give up on your goals prematurely and try to understand the benefits which could come from your personal development. Only then will you be able to articulate, break down, and achieve the goals you’ve set out for yourself as an individual.

Lori Jones

Lori Jones is a graduated digital marketing specialist with a Master’s in Business Psychology. She is a writer and editor at where she aims to put her knowledge into practice through concrete projects. In her spare time, Lori enjoys origami, yoga and listening to chill music with her two budgies.