Personal development plan

4 Steps to High Impact Personal Development Plan [2023 Guide]

In this guide, Jef Menguin encourages everyone to start creating a personal development plan to achieve personal success. The 4 steps are the simplified version of the Four Disciplines of Execution, which ensures you can make great things happen.

Leaders can use the same steps in helping employees accomplish their professional development goals. You can follow the steps using his examples in writing a book on team building. You may also download the Make Great Happen Worksheet to help you get started.

From Goal Setting to Getting It Done

Are you interested in starting a personal development plan? I will demonstrate four easy, simple, and practical steps based on the Four Disciplines of Execution.

Why is this important?

Most personal goal-setting methods teach people to set goals that are not acted upon. Some methods focus more on aspirations than actions. Other methods consider the plan like a wish list (something like a New Year’s Resolution).

One example of ineffective goal setting is this sheet you can find in Course Hero. This is also used in Philippine schools.

It teaches students to identify the things that they want to stop, minimize, continue, improve, and start. At first glance, this may look okay. But this plan does not take into account the impact or the transformation that a person desire.

So, if you are here because you want to make positive change happen in your life, congratulations.

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.

What is personal development?

Personal development refers to the activities a person deliberately undertakes to improve, evolve and transform himself into the best that he or she can be. Personal development requires a person to replace bad habits with good.

You can accelerate personal development 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 a design of your intention or decision on what you will do with your life. It is a lifelong process of growing, developing, reinventing, and transforming yourself. A personal development plan may contain everything you want to achieve in life. However, it can also be a specific design to improve an aspect of your life.

Some gurus promote personal development plans as a life blueprint. But many successful people admit that their development plans are products of many iterations, pivots, and recognizing new opportunities.

Workplace professionals use personal development plans for career development. But, unfortunately, only one in every ten people has a personal development plan.

It is a visual guide.

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.

A plan, no matter how well-thought cannot bring you anywhere without action. The personal development plan that I will teach you will move you from a dream to strategy, execution, and momentum.

So, congratulations. You are about to make good things happen in your life.

4 Steps In a Personal Development Plan

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 gurus think of a personal development 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.

You can think of it as a map. An incomplete map you created for yourself based on what you have heard and imagined.

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 impact goal.

Focus on one goal that has the biggest impact on your personal development project. You don’t have to work on many things that will only overwhelm me. You are limited by time, resources, and ability.

It is wise to focus on one goal that you 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.

  1. Identify the areas or aspects in your life that you want to see positive change.
  2. Brainstorm your impact goals.
  3. Narrow it down to 1 or 2 goals.
  4. Write your goal using the statement “from X to Y by When.”
  5. Finally, write your first big goal on a piece of paper.

I will demonstrate how to do this.

I want to improve my professional life. I am an entrepreneur, a motivational speaker, a leadership consultant, and a team-building facilitator.

I desire to improve myself in all of these, but I don’t have all the time. I want to pick one which may make the biggest difference.

I desire to become an international speaker, but that may take more effort at this time. I do leadership consulting. But the one area where I get the most inquiries, the one that will keep my money engine running is team building.

To help me define my goal, I will ask myself some questions:

  • How can I increase the number of clients?
  • How can I increase my fees?
  • How can I become a recognized authority in team building?

You can do this with me too.

Here’s the list that I made.

I will pick writing a book. 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 leverage actions.

Leverage actions refer to high-impact activities. You can do a thousand actions to achieve your goals. But given limited time and resources, you need to identify the actions that require less effort but produce greater results.

You will find a lever that can help you lift a heavy load.

Let’s go back to my example.

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 influentiable 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 1000 words a day. 
  • I will interview 3 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 daily.

It is challenging to write 60,000 words. But I can manage 1000 words each day.

On some days, I can write 5000 to 7000 if I so desire. But this means that I will sacrifice my time for clients, gardening, and others.  If I write for the next 80 days, there’s a good chance that I will be able to write 80,000 words. And I will only need 60,000 words to write my book.

Steps 1 and 2 are easy. Focus on one goal, then find two or three leverage actions.

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 visual scorecard.

Keeping a scorecard helps you see if you are behind or ahead of your set schedule. It will also show you whether you are ahead or behind. It means that if you are not working on your leverage actions consistently, it is likely that you are not moving.

Let’s go back to the two leverage actions I came up with in publishing a book: Write 1000 words a day and interview experts every week.

I could write 60,000 words in 60 days if I lived in an ideal world. However, I don’t need to write for one day or 8 hours. I can write 1000 words in 2 hours or less. 

But because I know myself, I know that there are days I can only write 1000 or 750, 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, you should be able to see whether you are winning or losing. You will compete against your projected goals. Your 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 1000 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, an online screen-sharing platform, which has a transcription feature.

Here’s an example of a visual scorecard.

Let’s proceed to step 4.

Step 4: Build Accountability

You need to put in the plan how to be accountable for your results each day. Accountability and focus build momentum.

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.

One way to build momentum is to create a tiny habit.

Another way is to keep a morning routine and momentum meeting.

Here’s how to keep your morning routine. 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.

personal development plan at work

Summary of Personal Development Plan Steps

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

  • Focus on one thing.
  • Find the vital few actions.
  • Keep a visual scorecard.
  • Build accountability.

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.


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.

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.

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, a personal development plan can help.

Next Articles to Read

Continue your journey on personal development. I recommend the following 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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