If you were guaranteed that 2/3 of what you put into a letter addressed to yourself would become reality, would you try it? That’s the general concept behind a powerful tool we call a Performance Letter meant to help you achieve your goals. I have informally polled peer groups I have worked with over the years. The general consensus across over 100 people is that about 66% of what they project for their future year when put in the Performance Letter format comes into being. So how does this work?
Most people in leadership roles work off a personal development plan template of some sort. Plans are linear and “left brain” in their function. Left brain thinking is analytical and verbal. By adding a vivid description of how your year has gone as if it has already happened, you access the “right brain.” Right brain thinking is intuitive and uses pictures. The power comes from using both approaches in planning your year. You enhance your chances that your preferred future will become reality.
Here are the basic steps to create your personal development plan:
1. Date the letter 1 year from today. Create a vivid description of your career and life at that point in time – where you are, how you arrived there, and why you chose your particular path. Include details as much as possible – more details mean a greater likelihood of success. In other words, write the letter one year into the future as if it has already happened.
2. Describe your long-term vision and how your one-year letter advances it. Vision answers the question, “If my highest wishes for myself and others were realized in the next 3-5 years, what would I see?” What progress have you made toward your long term vision this year?
3. Also talk about how you’ve grown as a leader. Include a section on your personal growth and development and your plan to achieve those goals. What are some of the activities you are engaging in? Who is assisting you?
4. Include how you are feeling physically, emotionally, mentally and spiritually. It’s also helpful to write a personal section on the relationships that are important to you.
5. Read your letter often (at least monthly) and picture it unfolding in your mind’s eye. Make adjustments to the letter as needed so that it still rings true when you review it.
The goal of writing a Performance Letter is to visualize yourself achieving the highest and best for yourself and others. The average letter is anywhere from two to three pages. Once finished with the exercise you’ll have a perfect personal development plan template. I usually start mine with the phrase: “It’s been a wonderful year of work success, strong relationships and fun…”