We see self-help being made fun of all the time in film and TV. But we all desire betterment and improvement. Perhaps the reason self-help is such comedy gold is because we all recognize how stinking hard it is to pull ourselves up by our bootstraps.

We often feel trapped by our own habits. We feel weak compared to our own sticky imperfections.

And when we see people on TV listening to self-help tapes, we giggle because we see ourselves in those kooky characters. We’re the person listening to the guy drone on about how good he is, how capable she is, how much they matter.

But we don’t have to be the silly person on the screen. We can improve our actions and our habits. And a self-development plan will help you keep on track. Here are a few tips on creating an incredible plan.

1. Don’t Hesitate

If task initiation is your problem (I’m that guy, so I know!), procrastination will only delay your improvement. You need to get on it right this moment.

I don’t care what you had planned at this moment. Stop reading this article! Get a pen, paper, or just open a word document and get writing!

“It won’t be perfect!” You say. I don’t care. Neither should you.

Just puke words on that page.

What should you write? Glad you asked.

Start with your goals. Start at the end. Visualize where you want to end up.

Work your way backward from there. You’ll eventually have a skeleton of a plan already.

Now we need to pare things down a bit. If you’re still confused as to what a development plan is, click here.

2. Baby Steps Out the Door…

Here’s the thing about reaching your goals. If you don’t break them down into bite-size bits, you’re gonna choke.

Just like Bob from What About Bob, you should look at most of your life as baby steps. In fact, the zany philosophy made fun of in What About Bob is a real-life idea.

The concept is Japanese in origin. It’s a Kaizen management system. Its goal is to affect gradual and continuous change by breaking tasks into small and manageable steps.

It’s a life philosophy about making changes like this on a regular basis. You’re looking to find new and creative ways to change your life. And it applies to everything from the most mundane to the most stressful and important tasks in your life.

So, when writing your self-development plan, find creative and fun ways to break down your goals. You could the Pomodoro method to break down writing projects. 25 minutes of work, five minutes of fun.

When I was trying out the Pomodoro method (not my cup of tea), I would reward myself by reading a chapter of fiction, doing some Capoeira, or grabbing a snack. It works for some.

You could break your day into 10-minute slots. In a typical day, you have 100 ten-minute slots. But be sure you leave room for transitions like leaving the house. Don’t assume getting your jacket, keys, and walking to your car will take no time at all.

3. Find a Mentor to Guide You

I know I harp on mentoring all the time. But if you know someone who has created their own self-development plan and seen results, you should talk to them.

Of course, a self-development plan is a personal document. Don’t copy their plan directly. That way leads to destruction.

Instead, ask them about their process. How did they go about deciding what to include and what not to include?

You can then adapt their method to your own idiosyncrasies.

If you don’t know anyone who has created a plan and had success, you can look elsewhere for a mentor. Score.com is a great place to find a mentor. They feature 100s of thousands of mentors across the country in every conceivable sector of business.

Now if this not business related, I’d recommend you find a counselor to help you develop a plan. Religious leaders often take on the role of counselor. If you belong to a religious organization, ask your leaders if there are any counseling opportunities in your organization.

If you’re not religious, cities often offer counseling services or even personal development/job counselors.

4. Find an Accountability Partner

Going alone is not a good idea. You want to change, but it’s easy to derail your own efforts if you’re not accountable to another.

There’s a reason that Alcoholics Anonymous is such a successful program. It replaces the drug of alcohol with family.

When addiction happens, you replace something good with something destructive. It’s the same with any bad habit. And having people along the way helps you figure out how to replace those bad habits with good ones.

5. Be Positive

One of the main reasons people don’t finish their personal development plan is because they get downright negative. If you’re being hard on yourself while creating your development plan, you’ll likely create impossible goals.

Why? Because if you’re already hard on yourself, you’re going to do self-destructive things with your plan.

If you followed steps 3 or 4, you should take advantage of those sources. You may not realize how unrealistic you’re being. Sometimes we need outside eyes to tell us, be positive. Stop being such a jerk to yourself. You’ll be more likely to complete your goals and become a better person.

If you want to improve yourself and your business, check out Shoeintology.

By Ben Mattice

Benjamin Mattice is a freelance writer/editor, horror and sci-fi writer, SEO and affiliate marketing newbie, dog wrestler, cat wrangler, capoeirista, and long distance runner. He lives in the Palouse with his wife, three dogs, two cats, and two rats. Yes, that would probably be considered a mini-zoo.