How To Write Your Personal Development Plan In 8 Steps
“A goal without a plan is just a wish.”
Makes sense, right?
As an employee, winging it isn’t going to cut it. Having a personal development plan helps you put one foot in front of the other as you walk down the path towards success. It encourages you to spring into action and keep going even if you hit some snags along the way.
Why Should You Have A Personal Development Plan?
Before we deep dive into the steps involved in writing your plan, let’s highlight the importance of having one first.
It’s no surprise everyone wants a taste of personal growth—overcoming weaknesses, achieving personal goals, the works.
Unfortunately, the initial kick of motivation rarely lasts. There are so many reasons behind this psychology, but the most important question is: What happens when the excitement wears off?
Oftentimes, people give up and settle with what they have.
You can help it when you have a plan because you have a clearer picture of where you want to go.
Just think about it. Imagine your dream travel destination.
What do you need to get there? Maybe you first need to adjust your schedule so you can find time for travel. Then, book a flight or buy a train ticket, take care of your lodging, pick out some spots, and arrange your itinerary. Going into these specifics helps guarantee that your time off won’t be time wasted.
It’s not enough to set a goal. You need to list out relevant steps to make it happen. So if you’ve long been wanting to move ahead in your career, goal setting is just the beginning. You still need to sit down and map out a development plan to realize your personal ambitions.
Here are some ways having a personal development plan can improve your life:
- Gain confidence in your decisions
- Develop the skill sets needed to reach professional goals
- Become more positive and flexible.
- Sharpen your problem-solving skills
How do you write a personal development plan?
When developing your own personal development plan, the following steps can help ensure you’ve covered all the bases before diving in:
- Identify your goals.
- Set your priorities.
- Establish a deadline.
- Understand your starting point.
- Enhance your skills and knowledge.
- Grow your network.
- Make a move.
- Track your progress.
These steps help align you to your goals. By sticking to them, you have a higher chance of raking in the professional and personal achievements you’ve long been working towards.
Grab a sheet of paper and pen; you might want to write a couple of things down. Whenever you’re ready, let’s dive into each step.
1. Identify your goals
There are two types of goals—short-term goals and long-term goals. Both of which require you to have a fool-proof plan to execute.
A short-term goal is something you can achieve in less than a year. The most common examples are developing healthy habits, establishing a morning routine, and picking up a new hobby.
A long-term goal, on the other hand, goes beyond a one-year mark. It’s the big picture, so it’s more future-oriented.
For athletes, it can be earning a gold medal in the olympics. For business owners, it can be building autonomy in their business and enjoying passive income.
But for you, it’s transitioning from your current position to a next-level role.
These two types differ, but they go hand-in-hand. Short-term goals allow you to lay the groundwork to achieve your long-term goals faster. These mini-goals set you up for future success.
What are your short-term and long-term goals? List down at least five of each.
2. Set your priorities
All your goals are important and valid but to varying degrees.
And you know this yourself. When you look at your list, there has to be at least one that stands out to you with more magnitude and urgency.
So, what is that? Some people consider getting a promotion to be on top of the list. Others who value their personal life might want to free up more time for family and friends and enjoy work-life balance.
Personal development categories are still a bone of contention, but ultimately these can be split into five key classifications—social, mental, emotional, spiritual, and physical.
Self-reflecting is one way to identify which to prioritize, but you need to be smart and practical about how you approach it. For instance, which of your goals can hit two birds (or maybe 3 or even 4) with one stone?
For instance, if you focus on attending seminars and workshops, you might be able to tick off more than one box on your list. Besides learning something new for your job, you can also work on your social and speaking skills.
Take time to identify which of your goals can do this for you or feel more important and pressing. Rearrange your list accordingly.
3. Establish a deadline
If you’re familiar with SMART goals, then you know the T stands for time-bound. Your personal development plan also needs to be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound), and having a deadline helps set the course.
Avoid being vague. Don’t say you’ll work on your professional skills, both technical and soft, some time this year. You have to be clearer than that. Instead, pick a specific date. For instance, by the end of this month, you should have improved your time management skills. This way, you have something to work toward.
Establishing a deadline is one of the hardest tasks, especially with a big goal. Large projects usually take longer than smaller ones, so be careful not to be overly ambitious when setting a deadline.
You don’t know if something will come up that will throw your scheduled plan out of whack. Set a deadline that’s both realistic and achievable. Give allowances when making your plan, but don’t focus too much on the hurdles you’ll face along the way.
To make this part less daunting, write a reward for yourself (besides the date of the deadline) which you can enjoy once you’ve reached the goal.
4. Understand your starting point
Take a good look at where you are right now and compare it to where you want to be.
For example, an employee’s development plan will require them to look at their current position and sort out their key strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re unsure where to begin, you can ask the people you work with, your family, and your friends. Again, put them in your piece of paper.
Study how these strengths and weaknesses affect your goals.
Another thing that you need to look at is your current habit. How does your daily life influence your professional goals?
Maybe a promotion requires you to communicate in a new language, so you’ve committed to learning it. But instead of spending 30 minutes a day on a language-learning app, you spend it all on social media.
Make a table with two columns. Under the category, STOP DOING, list down all the habits that are hurting your goals. Beside it, label the category START DOING, and write down the patterns you need to develop or enhance.
Self-awareness keeps you in check. It allows you to hone in on the specific actions which can help you prosper in your development plan.
5. Enhance your skills and knowledge
Since you already have defined your skill sets and your Achilles’ heel, you’re in a much better position to work on yourself.
You can up your current skill levels because it will also play to your advantage, but we’ll advise you to work on sealing the gaps first.
What does this entail?
Let’s paint a picture: As an employee, you’re probably well-versed in your current role and what you need to do to get the job done.
But if part of your career plan is to get promoted, you have to think about the skills and knowledge you need to move ahead. It’s not only for the company’s benefit, it’s actually more for you. You need to prepare yourself for what lies ahead.
List out the skills you want to develop and enhance, and don’t forget to write down how each can open doors for you.
6. Grow your network
No man is an island. Your life shouldn’t only revolve in your office.
You can learn from various people–fellow employees, friends, and family. However, you won’t get a bird’s eye view of how things work since you’re only exposed to the same people sharing your principles and insights.
If you expand your circle, you’ll have a more open mind. You might luck out and find a mentor to offer you guidance. However, don’t forget that when you’re growing your network, it’s a two-way street. You have to be ready to pay it forward or assist people whenever you can.
Check online and see if there are forums or social media groups you can join. You can also cross to the physical realm and attend meet-ups in your areas, seminars, workshops, and so on. Write them down and see how which ones can fit in your schedule.
It also wouldn’t hurt to talk to a professional. Get into a coaching program if you need to take specific actions you’re not familiar with. But before you do, conduct a research first to see if they match your professional development plan.
7. Make your move
Depending on your goals, you probably have at least three actions that you can do right now to make sure you meet your target.
True to form, let’s keep this section short. Act now.
Write down three or more key actions you’re planning to take as soon as you’re done with this personal development plan.
8. Track your progress
How are you faring so far? Answering this question helps you fine-tune your approach, so it’s not something you should bypass.
Too often, people become scared of coming face-to-face with how much they’ve progressed for fear that it’s too little to notice. But slow progress is lasting progress, and every bit of it can inspire you to keep going.
Also, it helps you shift the gears if something isn’t working. Just because you have a plan doesn’t mean you can’t welcome adjustments. Back when you’re getting a higher education, didn’t you experiment with your studying habits?
It’s the same thing, you need to be more open. If you’re looking for a new job and have been sending out your resume once a day, maybe you need to double or triple your efforts.
To end your personal development plan, you can write down some metrics (M of SMART goal is measurable, after all). You should also brainstorm some alternatives you can try if you don’t meet them.
A personal development plan is a dependable tool you can use to assess your current qualifications, career plans, mindset, resources, and how you can use these to yield the life you want.
In a nutshell, nurturing every aspect of your life will be the best preparation in order to achieve your career goals. After all, your job will define your future. That is why it is very important to make the right choices so you will not have any regrets.
So, what are you waiting for? It’s time to get to work. If you’re looking for a company that will nurture your professional needs, join our team now.