Tips For Developing A Personal Learning Plan
Ivelin Radkov/Shutterstock.com

6 Tips To Develop A Personal Learning Plan

We all imagine possible scenarios about what our life would look like if we achieved our dreams and goals. While plenty of people successfully reach their goals, many fail because they did not create a plan of action. Taking the necessary steps to reach goals require determination, persistence, desire, and a plan.

If you are interested in learning something new, increasing your skills, or just enhancing your life, you should develop a learning plan. Learning plans allow you to work toward goals according to your needs and schedule. Learning involves acquiring new knowledge, new skills, and abilities. There is no one way to create a learning plan because it must fit your individual needs. Some plans are highly organized while others change according to your schedule and commitment.

The plan begins with answering, what dreams and goals do you want to reach?

1. The End Goal

To begin creating a plan, you must decide what you want to learn. Educators often use a backward design, where they begin with the main learning objective and then create a plan to meet that goal. You must also consider a backward design when you first begin to create your learning plan. What is your end goal?

If you are searching for a new profession, consider which career is your end goal. If you are looking to enhance your skills and want to learn a new language, picture yourself traveling to another country and using your skills. Envision the end goal first, and then begin creating the steps to reach your goal. Keep in mind that this vision is based on what you want. When you are thinking about all of the possibilities, consider getting out of your comfort zone and learning new skills rather than relying only on skills you already have.

Adopt a growth mindset. Some believe that they are born with a certain number or type of skills, so learning new skills that are outside of your comfort zone seems impossible. However, with a growth mindset, you accept challenges and embrace new experiences. You look at setbacks as a way to grow, and you reflect on ways to use your skills to help you improve your deficits.

Consider why you want to learn a particular skill. Once you can answer why you want to learn it, you must be motivated to reach your goal. Sheer motivation will help you start and get you through some of the difficult times when acquiring a new skill. But, how to maintain your motivation requires research, attainable goals, commitment, and some help.

2. Conduct Research

Now that you have a vision of what you want to learn or do, you need to conduct research. Do you need to attain a degree? Are certifications required? Of course, the internet will provide a multitude of articles and blogs dedicated to your new skill or desired profession. But, along with reading, try to find someone who is doing exactly what you want to do. Mentors offer invaluable knowledge and expertise. They can give you advice on possible pitfalls to avoid and opportunities to pursue. Finding a mentor is not as difficult as you might imagine; talk to friends who may know someone or reach out through social media. Many people relish the idea of becoming a mentor. After all, it is the ultimate compliment to someone who is living your dream.

3. Small Steps And Small Goals

Now that you have more knowledge about how to achieve your learning goal, you can begin creating small steps that need to be taken in order to reach your desired outcome. These steps should be measurable. For example, if you are trying to learn a new skill, require yourself to work on it for twenty minutes each day. Or, tell yourself you will attend every class and participate fully. The first step may be as small as finding a course and then signing up for it. If you are a procrastinator, set a date. The easiest way to actually reach the goals you set is to keep them simple and write them down.

Showcase these steps in a place that you view each day. Keep them at your desk or on the refrigerator so you are reminded often of your goal and the steps needed to achieve it. Not everyone is a list maker but writing the steps and crossing off each one you accomplish can feel rewarding. Or, you can actually give yourself a small token as a reward for each step completed.

4. Focus And Commitment

With the plan in place, you must create a lifestyle that allows you to focus on your plan. If part of your plan requires you to set aside time each day to learn something new, then you must create a schedule that encourages this new behavior. If you need to wake up 15 minutes earlier to work on your learning, make this part of your schedule. You must change your behavior to match your learning plan.

Changing behavior requires commitment and motivation to succeed. You know yourself, so if you need to write down reminders and place them throughout your living place, do it. If you need to reward yourself as you reach specific milestones, then do it. Whatever it takes to encourage you to remain committed and focused will help you stay the course.

5. Stay On Top Of It

Along with reminders and rewards, enlist family and friends to help you with your learning plan. Holding yourself accountable can be difficult, but if you enlist a friend or family member to help you stick with your plan, you will feel obligated to complete the task and guilty if you don’t. In fact, the more people you tell, the more likely you will be asked about your progress. These simple inquiries may be just what you need to stay on top of your plan. Sticking to a learning plan and reaching your goals will only benefit you; however, getting through the rough patches, when you don’t feel like committing or working, is the hardest part.

6. Use What You Learn

True learning involves changing behavior. With each new skill you learn, use it. If you are learning a new language, find opportunities to practice your new skill. The more you practice and put your new skill to use, the more likely you own it. Find ways to share your knowledge; use it at work, create a digital portfolio, write a blog, or teach someone else.

Creating a learning plan is essential when you truly want to reach a goal. Remember, the plan and the dream are yours to create. Set yourself up for success and create a personal learning plan that works for you and meets your individual needs.

Close