top of page

4 Steps to New Growth: Personal Planning 101

As I took a walk with my dog, Logan, this morning, I noticed that although the ground was icy, some of my perennials were coming up. They were actually a little frozen but I was encouraged to see that new growth was coming. It made me want to thaw out the ground a little, clear off the dead leaves, add some water to melt the ice away and create a path for new growth.

January is almost past. A new year is coming and great things are ahead for you. They are inevitable. You have planted seeds in this past year ~ and in the years before. It is time to set yourself up for new growth.

What is it that you are growing? For yourself? For your business? For your nonprofit? For your team? For your family?

Think and plan.

Planning is for every part of our lives. Planning is about dreaming. Planning is about assessing. Planning is about setting goals. Planning is about committing to actions.

If you have not yet taken a moment to dream in this new year, now is the time. But I want you to remember that you have already planted many seeds. You are exactly where you need to be on your path. And, it is time to think about new growth that you would like to foster this year.

Here are some steps to kick-start your process.

(Get something to write on. Record the results of your brainstorming session.)

Step #1: Dream

Fast forward one year form now (January 2017). At that point in time, what is it that you would like to say you have accomplished? What's new and different in your life, your organization, your (fill in the blank)?

  • You are likely to get a list of things. Go ahead and dream. Write it all down. Then pick one area to work on.

  • If you have a group working with you, you can divide and conquer - have each group pick an area to work, establish clear assignments and have them report back to the group. Keep your eye on the prize - remember that the result of this process is establishing goals and action steps for achieving the dream.

Step #2: Assess

Take an inventory of how you are doing in the one area that you have selected. What's working? What's not working? What should you be doing more of? Less of? What do you need to continue doing?

  • Divide your list into two columns - one column is for all the positive points and the other column is for growth areas. Be sure to give yourself credit for things that are working. Look objectively at areas for improvement.

  • This process is designed to help you get more specific. For example, if you want to improve communication, decide what it is that needs improvement. Is meeting efficiency the problem? Is it information overload? Not enough information? Isolate the problems/successes and imagine what it looks like on the other side.

Step #3: Dream - more concretely

What, specifically, do things look like on the other end of your dream? What are you capable of? What's realistic to achieve? Where do you see yourself one year from now?

  • For example, if you would like to be physically healthier one year from now, what does that look like for you? What are you eating? How are you exercising?

  • If your dreaming has to do with an aspect of work, what is happening differently one year from now?

Step #4: Set Goals

What commitments are you willing to make? What actions do you need to take - on a weekly basis - to get started? Are there other people that you need to bring into your process to gain their buy-in, support and commitment? What are your first few steps?

  • Long-term goals happen as a result of short-term commitments and actions. This is the step where you have a chance to translate the big dream into realistic actions - thereby setting yourself up for success.

  • Look first at actions that you can take to impact the situation. If my issue is "lack of support" then I need to look at actions I can take to increase the level of support from others (create buy-in, communicate more proactively, increase my level of confidence, etc.). Remember that, while we may not be able to control the behaviors/responses of other people, we can control our own behaviors and responses. This is a check point to make sure your action plan is all about steps that you can take - not steps that someone else needs to take to make things better.

  • If you know your first few steps each week and commit to taking them, you will be moving forward. One day at a time. One step at a time.

Now is the time. Take a walk outside today and look at the ground underneath your feet. Think about the potential of winter. Think about the inevitability of spring.

There is power - right at your feet. What is it that you are growing? Take some time to think about it today.

© Kathy Sturgis, Ph.D. Kathy is founder of Refreshment Zone and is an organizational and personal development specialist with a doctorate in communication. Contact for more information on motivational programs.

bottom of page