A personal development plan encourages you to achieve what you have not achieved before. It also inspires you to do what you have not done before. If you want to improve, evolve, and transform your life and make a great difference in the lives of others, consider working on your Personal Development Plan.

A bold personal development plan will help you focus on your goals and help you make breakthroughs.

What is personal development?

Personal development refers to the activities a person deliberately undertakes to improve, evolve and transform himself into the individual he wants to become. Personal development requires one to replace bad habits with good. One can accelerate it by building skills and developing personal discipline.

I have designed many personal development programs for employees. But, at first, I was surprised that more than 90 percent of employees do not have personal development plans.

A few companies provide coaching and mentorship to employees, but most of these interventions are work-related. As a result, employees’ personal growth becomes the sole responsibility of the individual employee. 

I write this guide to help everyone design a robust, easy-to-do breakthrough personal development plan. Explore the various tips on self-improvement. Each can help you set doable goals.

Personal Development Plan is a Big Chance for Change
Chance for Change

What is a personal development plan?

A personal development plan is your roadmap; it is how you intend to improve, evolve, or transform your life based on the information available to you today. Your personal development plan may give you clues about possible obstacles, the skills required, and the resources you need on your journey. It can tell you about milestones and landmarks. But it won’t make you perfectly prepared; you have to adjust as you learn new things on your journey.

Therefore, it is a waste of time to overthink your personal development plan. It is not set in stone; it is dynamic and ever-changing.

The only perfect personal development plan is that which you play safe. That which you are not doing anything new, a familiar place that does not need a road map.

Personal Development Plan at Work

Some companies require employees to accomplish a personal development plan or PDP. They sit down with their supervisors to come up with an improvement plan. Many see this as a transactional activity, but excellent managers can turn this into a professional development opportunity.

In a company, a personal development plan is a detailed written proposal of how an individual employee will achieve personal growth in six months to one year. The plan may include the goals, realities, opportunities, and steps that the individual will take. At times, it may also have a personal vision, values, and mission.

Anyone at any age can write a personal development plan. Your plan is better than writing a “New Year’s Resolution” which is often just a list of wishes.

Personal Development Plan for Students

It is best if students start a personal development plan at the start of the school year. It inspires them to work on a goal. It provides clears up the purpose of their study.

When I was teaching, I introduced the personal development plan using a 4 x 6 Index Card. They write about their ambitions, desired grades, and three steps they’ll consistently make to make their goals happen.

Teaching them how to do a simple PDP was also my opportunity to challenge them to think bigger.

Schools must teach students to write a simple, easy-to-understand personal development plan. Consider personal development as a declaration of commitment to becoming a better person.

Make the Plan Simple

Make your personal development plan simple. Put it in something that will allow you to carry it wherever you go. Post it in places where you can see it naturally. And when you make a scorecard, make it easy to understand.

Most personal development plan overwhelms people. However, I know of many performance gurus who sell personal development plan notebooks, planners, and job aids that seem to make a very detailed plan.

You can have a one-page personal development plan. For example, I use the 4 Disciplines of Execution in writing my PDP.

You may not be able to include everything in your plan. You don’t have to. It is not a feasibility study. It is like a Business Model Canvas. You can change it at any time to make it more desirable, viable, and useful.

Let’s talk about why it is important.

Why is a personal development plan important?

A personal development plan helps you consider the many components of the improvement, evolution, or transformation you want in your life. By writing your plan, you allow yourself to gather information, find insights, and imagine possibilities. You become aware, mindful, and confident about your actions. Without a plan, there is no urgency to make something happen.

In addition, an effective personal development plan may give the following benefits.

1. It can help you focus on the essentials to be the best you can be.

A PDP enables you to clarify your intentions. And as you gain experience, you will see new realities. Most of us are working blind the first time we work on our plan. But as we progress, we start to see things clearly.

2. It can help you define your vision and mission. Your vision, a vivid picture of the future, is a dream with a deadline. On the other hand, your mission is how you intend to make your vision a reality.

3. It makes you focus on your high-impact goals. You do not need to write 10 or 20 goals. Having 1 of 2 high-impact goals is enough.  When you are preparing your plan, you will generate many ideas. You will be able to dig deep and find treasures.

4. It makes you consider your leverage actions. You will like to continue to do 90 percent of your routines. You don’t have to write them in your plan. Instead, you will identify the vital activities that will help you grow faster. That means you will find the 20 percent or even the 20% of 20 percent that will make a hundredfold impact.

5. It shows milestones. It is like a landmark., you will know how far you have traveled. Even though you are going to a place for the first time, landmarks can help you calculate the time left for the journey.

6. It keeps you engaged in personal development growth. When you have a plan, you pay attention to how you improve each day. Without a plan, days will pass by without your notice.

7. It helps you identify the skills you need to multiply your results. In the absence of a plan, most people ignore developing skills. With a PDP, you will give attention to meta-skills, soft skills, and other skills that will help you succeed.

How long should a personal development plan be?

You can craft your personal development plan on a piece of paper. You can have it on an Index Card. It is very short that you can tell me about it in 15 seconds. Though your brainstorming and planning are typically longer, the plan itself is brief enough to remember.

You can craft a personal development plan for each area of your life. For example, you can have PDPs for your social, physical, intellectual, financial, spiritual, and relational lives. You can write each on one card. But then again, as I have mentioned above, you don’t really need many goals too.

A very long plan is often a misstep.

I remember that in 2011, I wrote my goals and actions in a 259-page personal development workbook. I bought it from info-marketers who said doing so would help me improve my life.

These days, I still meet experts who think a personal development plan is like corporate strategic planning, which is often long, tedious, complicated, and never to be implemented.

Write your personal development plan on a single page. You print it on a 4 x 6 index card. The best PDP is simple, short, and doable.

Why is this possible?

I ask: If everything in my life remains the same, what is the one thing I could change that will 10x my life?

The answer will bring the first version of my PDP.

Can we live our lives without a plan?

It is not difficult to imagine a life without a personal development plan. Most people live even without a plan.

You can live your life one day at a time. And some people think this is a good mantra. You live simply. There is no anxiety. 

This is a beautiful experience shared by very few. I don’t know anyone, but I heard this often from some gurus.

The effect of having no plan that I see every day does not paint a beautiful picture. Instead, I hear Judas singing his song Dukha. Listen to the song Dukha on Youtube.

“Isang kahit, isang tuka, ganyan kaming mga dukha”.

I cannot find a direct translation in English. But dukha (very poor) is like a chicken who need to scratch the ground to forage for food beneath the surface. 

Poverty is the most significant impact of not having a personal development plan. 

Poor in spirit. Poor in friendship and love. Inadequate in dealing with people. Poor in so many things.

There is also subtle but observable evidence that a person has no plan.

Ningas Kugon. A person burst into action but lost enthusiasm soon. This person has aspirations but no plan.

Procrastination. A person delays doing what he needs to do. This person knows what to accomplish but is afraid to face challenges. As a result, he does not create a plan.

Headless chickens. They work harder than anyone. But they keep themselves in one place because they don’t have a plan.

I don’t particularly appreciate labeling people. And I don’t want you to place yourself in these categories. But always, naming something helps us understand.

My point: if you want to change your life, the personal development plan I will teach you can help.

Personal Development Plan in 4 Steps

You can work on your personal development plan in 4 easy steps. Focus on one thing, find the vital few actions, keep a scorecard, and just do it. The best personal development plan is that which you intend to execute.

This is to me another way of doing your plan. It is easy, not like the ones I read online.

There is no single way of writing a personal development plan. Some goo-roos sell the idea that it is very detailed. That means you can have a 20-page personal development plan.

Some think of a plan as a life blueprint. 

You are not going to build a house. You are going to a place you’ve never been before.

I don’t know about you, but most people are not into blueprints too. Instead, they want to see how things will be in easy steps.

If you are starting, I recommend that you do Step Zero. Clarify your purpose. Knowing your whys will help you create solid plans.

These steps assume that you are already clear about your purpose.

Step 1: Focus on one thing.

The one thing is a goal that has the biggest impact on my personal development project. I don’t have to work on many things that will only overwhelm me. I am limited by time, resources, and ability. It is wise to focus on one thing that I can do regularly and consistently.

We have different definitions of big goals. You will decide that for yourself. Choosing a big goal is both practical and strategic.

Small goals do not excite people. Big goals encourage you to step out of your comfort zone. It enables you to do something you were afraid to do before. Of course, you will take risks, but you know doing your big goals will help you big time.

To find your big goals, you follow these steps. Brainstorm your big goals. Narrow it down to 1 or 2 goals. Third, write your goal using the statement “from X to Y by When.” Finally, write your first big goal on a piece of paper.

I will demonstrate how to do this.

Let us say I am considering expanding my professional speaking career this year. I will write goals that, when achieved, will impact my growth.

You can do this with me too.

Here’s the list that I made.

I will pick writing a book on leadership. I believe it will create more impact on my business because when it comes to authority weight, it has more weight than a blog or an online course. 

Also, I am already in the habit of writing every day. But instead of writing a blog, I will find my focus and author a book.  

You are almost done with the first step. Then, I only need to write the formula X to Y by When.

Write and publish a book in 90 days.

X is implied. There is no book yet.

Y is the finished book.

The duration of this plan is 90 days.

That good start. Now, let us proceed to step 2.

Step 2: Find the few vital actions.

Vital actions refer to the high-impact activities I must understand to ensure I can produce and publish a practical book based on practitioners’ experiences. Many actions will lead to the authorship of a book. But a few crucial steps are predictive, influenceable, and ongoing.

An action is predictive when by doing, the chance of producing a book is bigger. It is influential when I can do it myself and do not need to wait for others to do it. And it must be an ongoing process and not just a one-time event.

Growing oneself is like growing plants. It is continuing. You may not notice a plant grows, but it does. Growing is a continuing process.

I have brainstormed some actions, and I have identified the following to be crucial. 

  • I will write 3000 words a day. 
  • I will interview three experts every week.

There are many more actions and steps. But these two steps ensure not only that I will come up with many ideas and useful advice, This means that I will be able to write the book real daily. It will grow.

It is challenging to write 150,000 words. But I can manage 3000 words. I can even write 5000 to 7000 a day if I so desire. But I will sacrifice my time for clients, gardening, and others. 

Steps 1 and 2 are easy. Focus on big goals and find two or three crucial actions. I got two essential activities.

Most personal development goals aren’t implemented precisely because the focus is on step 1 alone. Step 2 make sure that you can take baby steps each day. 

Step number is what keeps you going.

Step 3: Keep a scorecard.

Keeping a score helps you see if you are behind or ahead of your set schedule. It will also show you why your speed is fast or slow. It means that if you are now working on your vital behaviors, the actions that you need to do consistently, it is likely that you are not moving.

Let’s go back to the two vital actions I came up with in publishing a book: Write 3000 words a day and interview experts every week.

I could write 150,000 words in 50 days if I lived in an ideal world. However, I don’t need to write for one day or 8 hours. I can write 3000 words in 3 hours or less. 

But because I know myself, I know that there are days I can only write 2000 or 1000, or 500 words. There will be days I will not able able to write at all. But if I hit my target, I need to impose a daily goal and a deadline.

By keeping a score, I should be able to see whether I am winning or losing. I will compete against my projected goals. My score should show the ideal against the actual.

When I am behind schedule, I will push myself to write more. When I am ahead of schedule, I will pay attention to other activities.

I will also keep a scorecard for my other crucial action: interviewing experts.

Step number 3 is the difficult part. I have control over when and how I will write. But I cannot control the time of people I will interview each week.

Of course, if my intention is simply to write 3000 words a day, I can do that without interviewing anyone. But then, that’s not the kind of book I want to publish.

On the other hand, if I get to interview more people each week, I can speed up my writing. I can hire someone to write a transcript of the interview, and clean it. Or I can use Loom which has a transcription feature.

Let’s proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Generate Momentum

You need to put in the plan how you will generate momentum each day. You have momentum when it is easy for you to constantly and consistently take action. You are in the flow and fully engaged in your personal development activities when you have momentum.

Here’s how to keep your momentum. It is simple, you only need to start thinking about it for 10 seconds a day and 15 minutes each week.

First thing in the morning, schedule the time that you need to work on your plan. It may only need ten seconds to do it.

If you have a mentor, you can meet with your mentor once or twice a month. If you are meeting with a peer, do so once a week. 

Call this your Momentum Meeting. You can have your meeting in less than 15 minutes.

You only need to do three things.

  • Review what you have accomplished.
  • Share what you’ve learned.
  • Commit to the next steps.

It is best to do this Momentum Meeting with others. But if you are doing this alone, record your meeting. I use Loom.

The Momentum Meeting is short and simple but of utmost importance. 

With it, you will be able to adjust your performance. You can reflect on what you are learning. And you can create momentum. It is momentum, not motivation, that keeps us going.

Once again, the four steps to creating a powerful personal development plan are

  • Focus on one thing.
  • Find the vital few actions.
  • Keep a scorecard.
  • Generate momentum.

Wait, what if you don’t have a mentor or a peer to meet with at your PDP meeting? Find one. And if that is not possible, meet with yourself.

Next Articles to Read

Continue your journey on personal development. I recommend the following articles.

Related Articles

You can also explore these related topics.

  • What Leadership Is. Find out how you can get started in leading people. This article is an excellent resource if you want to understand what you need to know and develop to become a leader that people wish to follow.

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Personal Development for Smart People: Beginner’s Guide [2022]

This Hero Guide to personal development will help you accelerate and achieve exponential growth. It can help you multiply your income, increase your influence, gain more friends, get healthier, strengthen the bond of your family, and become the person that you want to be.

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