Why Plan?

decorative image: person looking into the distance on a rock that says "academia"The Individual Development Plan taps into goal-setting theory. According to the literature, goal-setting around concrete objectives, as well as frequent adjustments to and reflections on goals, are basic criteria underpinning achievement.

The basic idea of goal-setting theory is that "conscious goals affect action" (Locke & Latham 2002: 705). As such, the IDP is both a process and a document: it is the product of 1) self reflection, 2) establishing priorities for the future, 3) planning goals, and 4) engaging and tracking progress.


The Value of Self Reflection

The link between intrinsic motivation, goal achievement, and subjective well-being is well supported. So-called "self-concordant goals" (i.e. goals that are intrinsically motivated and forged at the intersection of values and interests) are more easily sustained and attained, thus increasing levels of subjective well-being and positive self-regard. Anticipating goal achievement through self-reflection enhances feelings of self-efficacy and motivation, creating a positive feed back loop through which mental and academic well-being further drive goal attainment.

Anticipatory affect - the positive feelings stemming from the sense that your goals are progressing - is especially necessary for long-term success as it energizes and prolongs goal commitment. In this way, using self reflection and benchmarks to monitor and structure goal progress provides a natural outlet for anticipatory affect to occur and for goal pursuit to continue.


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