Personal Development Plan Ideas

OK, lets go through a list of things we can use for our personal development plan.

1. Define your goals

2. Prioritize your goals

3. Set a deadline for when you want to acquire them

4. Understand your strengths and weaknesses

5. Recognize opportunities and threats

6. Develop NEW skills and increase your knowledge

7. Take ACTION!

8. Don’t be afraid to ask for support if needed

What is a Personal Development Plan?

A personal development plan isn’t just a mandatory plan that managers make you do before a yearly appraisal; they’re also that firm rock that helps your dreams and desires stay in sight.

A good plan provides focus; it helps you map out a path towards your version of success; it allows you to make better decisions, and it prevents you from taking backwards steps. A good plan also allows you to strategize and get back on track when things do go wrong.

A clear plan is also beneficial for your mental health as a sense of purposefulness can often help reduce stress and anxiety. So if you haven’t considered where you want to go or if you’ve ever thought that a five year plan isn’t for you, now is the time to start thinking about who and where you want to be in your future.

If you’re struggling after finishing uni or the job market just isn’t what you thought it would be, its easier than you might think to get organized and discover what you truly want.

Why do I need a Personal Development Plan?

Imagine if you asked a contractor to build your new house and they said ‘’we don’t need a plan, we’ll figure it out as we go’’. You wouldn’t tolerate that for a second. So why do so many of us go through life that way?

Most of the time we harbor aspirations and dream dreams, yet we rarely stop and think about our future in detail. A personal development plan helps you know where you’re headed and how to get there, with specifics. First, this will bring clarity to your thinking and you’ll know exactly where you want to be. What’s more, it will give you peace of mind that you’re going in the right direction on a daily basis. Efforts will feel more deliberate and decisions will be easier as you will have a clear benchmark.

Personal development expert Jim Rohn said: “When you look at successful people, you will almost always discover a plan behind their success. It is the foundation for success.”

How do I build a Personal Development Plan?

The process of building your plan can take considerable time. This is completely normal and you shouldn’t rush things. However it is a good idea to set a deadline in your mind. After all, tasks are a kind of fluid – they take as much space as you give them.

Here is an example of a personal development template,

Step 1. Clear out your vision

You have to start with the end in mind. To build your personal development plan, look at what’s on the other side. Think about your future life. Choose a time frame that makes sense for you – if you are still in your 20’s. a look at 3 or 5 years from now is enough. The older you get, the longer the planning period you can have.

Now, imagine your life in 3 years and go through your imaginary day:

· What’s the first thought that passes your mind in the morning

· What’s the reason you get out of bed

· How’s your day structured?

· What’s your workplace? What do you do there?

· How much time do you spend with friends and family?

· What makes you feel accomplished at the end of the day?

· What give you energy moving forward and what drains your energy?

In her book, Pivot, Author Jenny Blake even suggests you craft a full story – heres her template for an ideal day mad lib.

Now take one step back and review. What are the areas that will make you feel successful? This will help you determine your values. Map them out – you can use anythimg, from a note taking app to blank sheet of paper, from a simple bullet list to a fancy visual board. The best way this works for me is by using a mind map with several main nodes for each of the areas in your life.

Some people prefer to keep that simple, with 2-3 nodes for professional, personal and social fields. Other forms of more detail – the framework blogger Michael Hyatt uses 10 life domains:

1. Intellectual

2. Emotional

3. Physical

4. Spiritual

5. Marital

6. Parental

7. Social

8. Financial

9. Vocational (career related & professional)

10. Avocational (hobbies and interests)

I believe the map works best with 5-6 categories and you can put there everything you do – if you feel like travel is a key field for your development, best to have it in there.

Step 2. Outline your strengths and areas for improvement

You’ve put down a pin on where you want to go – now lets see what are the means of going forward. First think about what you already have going for you – what are the strengths and the skills that are already relevant to your dream”? Maybe you want to move into a new work field – then your natural networking skills will help you get to know the industry quicker. Then, make a list of skills you need to develop and projects you can start working on to move you closer to your goals. Think about the people you can contact and who can help you along the way. At this point you don’t have to be too specific – think of it as a kind of brainstorming.

After you’ve created a long list, loo at the different points and group them together to form clusters. You can use word to make up the template or simply draw a four quadrant map and use each part for your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Step 3. Build your Personal Development Plan

After you have a clear direction, let’s go into detail. The key here is to get down to specific actions for the future.

You start by setting up specific projects. What do you need to get them done?

  • What resources will you need? Books to read, courses to take, tools to subscribe to…
  • What people will help you do it? Friends, mentors and so on.
  • What will success look like? Set specific criteria for measuring that.
  • What is the time frame? Either put in a general deadline or milestones for different parts of the project.

You’ll end up with a clear idea of what needs to get done and how to do it. Now get doing! You can even tie your personal development plan to your annual goals.

Step 4. Review and adapt

President Eisenhower once said: “Plans are useless, but planning is indispensable.” The importance of a personal development plan is in getting the clarity that comes with answering questions about your future. But it is not set in stone. After all, life changes fast and we need to change with it. That’s why it’s important to review and adapt.

Reviews can go on a quarterly basis. Make sure you keep your eye on the prize and remind yourself why you’re doing what you’re doing. Reread your vision, check out your values mind map. But after that focus just on what needs to be done over the next quarter – otherwise, you might feel overwhelmed by the full picture and never get around to doing anything.

If some project no longer makes sense, don’t hesitate to remove it from your personal development plan. Don’t hesitate to adapt the plan according to new interests or a change in circumstances. A good personal development strategy grows as you do. As Tony Robbins put it, “Stay committed to your decisions, but stay flexible in your approach.”



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  • Adam – thank you so much for sharing this blueprint for a personal development plan. You really made a great point when you mentioned if your contractor who was building your house said they didn’t have a plan. That would be pretty scary. So in the same way, we should have a plan as well and work through that plan. Keep up the good work. 🙂

    • Hey Turner, exactly. I know what you mean. It wouldn’t make sense so it’s funny we just jump into these things thinking were going to make a change within ourselves when really we have no actual direction. You need a structure and a plan. Goals are goals and you need to strive for them in order to reach them.
      Thanks for your comment. First on on this article I believe 🙂
      Sign up for the mailing list if you get a chance. It will be at the bottom of the article.
      Love & smiles,

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