Creating a Personal Development Plan: The What, Why and How!

I have recently been talking about goal setting, success and reflection.  Last week I took a look at goal setting and achieving goals.  I got to thinking that it would be useful to pull everything together so that you can create a personal development plan to set you on the path to achieving your goals.

In the past, I would have to do a Personal Development Plan (PDP) as part of appraisal processes for work.  I would spend hours trying to come up with all the things I wanted to achieve and would find this really hard to do.  I would solely concentrate on my work-related goals (which was appropriate as it was a working document). Still, I never considered that I could use various tools to help me and also that I could use these tools to help provide me with a road map to achieve my life goals.

What I am going to share with you is a strategy I have found invaluable in helping me create my own PDP; hopefully, you can use it too.

  1. Begin with the End in Mind

I have talked in the past about finding you why, and this is really important.  This is going to take you one step further to define your vision and mission in life.  What is your purpose?  Doing this will make you feel worthwhile and allow you to make rational choices and decisions.

It can be difficult to do this if you have no clear idea of your why, purpose, vision, or mission. To help you with this, spend at least 30 minutes answering the following questions:

  • When you were a child, what did you want to be “when you grew up?”
  • Name three people who have had the biggest influence on your life and why?
  • Name your top three achievements of your life so far
  • What was so special about them?
  • When you are at your happiest in life, what are you/were you doing?
  • Name three people you admire the most and why? What characteristics and qualities do they have?
  • What is your superpower?
  • What could you do in life to maximise your strengths?
  • What results are you currently having in your life? What are you pleased with? What are you not pleased with?
  • What do you value the most in your life?
  • What would it be if you could pass on a piece of wisdom to the whole world that you have learned in your life to date?

Having answered your questions, you will hopefully have a clear understanding of your mission and purpose in life and can move on to the next step, which is:

  1. Create your Goals

I have gone into this in previous weeks, but this is a different way of doing things and will help to quantify your goals in each area of your life.

Take 6 A4 sheets of paper and create one for each of these areas:

  • Career
  • Relationships
  • Fun
  • Health
  • Possessions
  • Money

Spend at least three minutes on each piece of paper, filling it with what you want to achieve in that area.  At the end of it, you will hopefully have a full piece of paper for each area.

Now, next to each thing you want to achieve, put a realistic time frame, such as:

  • Less than a year
  • 1-3 years
  • 3 years plus

Take your less than a year goals and choose the top two from each area.  Voila, you now have 12 goals to achieve this year.

Next to each one, write your compelling reason why you want to achieve that goal and why it is an absolute must for you.  This is to make sure that your motivation is strong enough to take you to the end.  You won’t see it through if you have no compelling reason, or your reason isn’t compelling enough.

Remember that telling yourself you “should” do something won’t be enough to get you out of bed.  I should get more exercise, but that’s not enough to stop me from hitting the snooze button each morning.

To help you get to your compelling reason, here are some questions you can ask:

  • What pleasure will it give you?
  • What will you be able to do with it?
  • What will you miss if you don’t complete it?
  • Why is it so important to you?

Now you have completed this activity, you are ready to move on to the next step, which is:

  1. Create your Action Plan

Think of your goal like a car journey, something you need to map out.  If I were going to drive from London to Scotland, I wouldn’t just set out and hope for the best.  I would need to have a clear plan in my mind of how I would get there, how long it would take me and what resources I would need on the way.

Now, driving so many miles in one go would seem daunting.  I might need the courage to begin my journey (or at least my passengers might if they were getting in the car with me!), and I would need to break it down into more manageable steps. I might break my journey into realistic chunks, working out where I might need to stop.  I would work out where all the services were (I might even work out which coffee I was going to have at each).  I would work out how much fuel I needed, how much money I would need to purchase more fuel (and all those coffees), and at what points I was going to stop.  I might work out a contingency in case I get stuck in traffic.  I would also ensure that my car was fit for the journey before I set off.

This preparation is important to help me get from A to B.  Being specific and not generalising is important.  It is important to visualise exactly what it is you want, what it looks like, and how you feel when you get it.

Breaking your goals down into sub-goals is also key.  If you concentrate on these small steps, the big steps take care of themselves.

What you want to be left with is an action plan that has been well-defined, systematically broken down and which ultimately leads you to achieve your goal.  It also gives you little victories to celebrate along the way.

So to re-cap, your PDP should include two goals you are going to complete this year for each area of your life.  You will have a compelling reason for each of these goals.  Each goal will then be broken down into sub-goals with their own time-frames and actions. You will have listed the tools and resources needed to complete each.

Don’t forget to keep hold of all of the other goals you identified at the start of the activity so that you have something to reference when you achieve the first set of goals!

Do hit reply and let me know how you get on with these steps and how you are getting on achieving your goals.

Until next time, here’s to your continuing success….