It can be common to feel like life hasn’t quite turned out how you imagined it would. Perhaps you aren’t feeling satisfied with the way things are. Unfortunately, when we look at our lives and where we’re currently at, we sometimes feel a sense of dissatisfaction or disappointment—like we’re not succeeding in the game of life, or somehow didn’t luck out like we were supposed to.

But the fact is that life isn’t a game—and success and happiness, for the most part, aren’t dependent upon luck. In order to reach a point in your life where you’re satisfied with your personal achievements or your work, you first need to know where you’re going. You’ll need a roadmap with clear guidelines and directions showing you how.

This is where checklists come in. Our lives need direction, structure, and purpose—and writing things down is one of the best ways to ensure that your big-picture dreams get translated into goals and turned into doable steps. These steps can be written down in the form of checklists, which are immensely valuable for keeping you on track, allowing you to ensure nothing is forgotten. Writing things down has been proven to help us remember things longer. And, as Atul Gawande outlines in his bestselling book The Checklist Manifesto, checklists are a remarkable way to increase effectiveness while at the same time reducing errors.

Making lists will help you find better focus, instead of attempting to remember everything. Making a personal development list is a great way for you to get your thoughts in order, set goals (both long-term and immediate), and start effecting change in order to be the person that you want to be—or to reach those goals that you’ve been wanting to achieve!

With this in mind, let’s take a look at a few tips for creating personal development lists and see how you can get a jump start on your journey.

1. Define Your Goals

In order to get the most out of your list, you must first define your goals. Having vague or unclear goals isn’t enough. You’ll want to try to be as specific as possible when it comes to goal-setting, in order to create objectives that you can actually track and follow. For example, a goal to “have a good job” isn’t specific enough. Instead, it’s better to determine exactly what constitutes a good job for you in order to give yourself something to work towards. Be specific. Start by writing down a list of 5-10 goals that you hope to achieve.

Need some inspiration before you get started on your list of goals? Take some time to get to know yourself better. Have a look at the 52 Weeks Project—a journal of weekly lists that you can use for self-development.

2. Prioritize

Once you’ve listed your goals, it’s important to prioritize them. Make sure you have at least one prominent goal that takes first priority. It’ll be the one that you should focus your attention on first.

3. Develop New Skills

Next, it’s time to start developing new skills! The whole idea behind a personal development list is to develop new skills and expand your knowledge. Identify which new skills you’ll need to brush up on in order to reach your goals. If your goal is to launch your own product line, for instance, you’ll want to start learning all that you can about marketing, sales, budgeting, and running a business. Create your list accordingly.

4. Map Them Out

Once you’ve listed your goals and the skills necessary to reach them, you’ll want to start breaking them up into doable steps and assigning dates and deadlines to tasks. This will be your roadmap to success and will help to keep you accountable and on track. Write down your steps—everything that you need to do in order to reach your goals and develop your skills. Assign dates to them and transfer these items to your planner to ensure that they get done.

5. Take Action

It’s time to take action! As you progress, your goals will shift and you’ll find that new ones take their place or that your original timelines change—and that’s okay. Personal development is an ongoing process, and your checklists are something that you’ll want to revisit and renew.

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As public speaker and author Brian Tracy says, “Remember, to achieve something you’ve never achieved before—you must do something you have never done before. You must become someone whom you have never been before.”

Determining to work on personal development will lead to tremendous rewards and help you to become the best that you can be! It’s an exciting journey—one that should be filled with constant inspiration. Creating lists is one of the best ways to hold yourself accountable; allowing you to give yourself an honest assessment of where you are currently, as well as where you want to be. Don’t forget to check back in on your lists to see how far you’ve come—and to write down new ideas and goals as they come to you, in order to continue your transformation into the person that you want to be.


What do you think of personal development lists? Are you going to start creating your own?