What is a Personal Development Plan?

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  • Written By: K. Testa
  • Edited By: Michelle Arevalo
  • Last Modified Date: 07 April 2019
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A personal development plan is a strategy for organizing one’s life activities in terms of certain objectives. It can address personal goals, professional goals, or a combination of both. Some examples of areas on which to focus when creating such a plan can include education, career, personal relationships, and health. One of the benefits of a personal development plan is that it can help someone transform his or her abstract goals into tangible achievements. He or she has several options for preparing the plan, either alone or with the help of resources, like books and online courses.

At work, an employee’s personal development plan might be private, retained by him or her to help him or her set goals and track progress. On the other hand, some businesses conduct training programs and prefer to see a career development plan submitted along with the employee’s curriculum vitae (CV). This type of planning document is often helpful to have on file with human resources departments, to help someone set professional goals and ensure that he or she is fulfilling his or her job description. Generally, it is a written document that covers several topics, and can include lists, charts, and other graphics.


Most personal development plans involve some self-reflection before taking any specific actions, to determine one’s aspirations and talents. By assessing one’s current competencies and ultimate objectives, one can figure out what steps to take to make up for anything that is obstructing his or her path. Someone may decide, for example, that he or she should pursue an advanced academic degree in order to qualify for a professional position with more authority.

Goal-setting is usually the next logical step in creating a personal development plan. Depending on their ultimate objectives, people often focus on what they want to achieve within a certain period, such as one year or five years. The plan might center on one or more long-term goals. Many people also include short-term goals, as well. Then, it usually helps to create a list of manageable tasks with deadlines. Many people find that breaking large plans down into smaller actions makes them easier to follow.

Once someone has defined his or her goals and the steps needed to reach them, he or she can incorporate specific actions into his or her schedule or calendar. This generally requires some project management skills, especially if someone is working on several items at the same time. Additional tools that many people learn by creating a personal development plan are time management and the prioritization of tasks. To measure one’s progress, it often helps to use tangible benchmarks. A certificate of completion of an on-the-job training program is one such example.

Many resources are available to help people construct their personal development plans. There are books as well as online sources of information, such as training courses and seminars. Someone who assists another person with his or her personal development is commonly referred to as a life coach. Furthermore, business consultants often work with human resources departments and individual employees of certain companies, to help them set professional goals and implement their career development plans.



Discuss this Article

Post 4

Cupcake15-You are so right. I also think that learning to manage money enhances your quality of life and gives you opportunities to explore things that you always wanted to do because you now have the money.

Dave Ramsey offers money management seminars that really change people’s lives. It is amazing how empowered you become when you no longer have any debts.

When you take control of your money and value it; you will enjoy everything that you do more because you do not have the burden of additional bills to weigh you down. This is another personal development goal people should consider.

Post 3

Sunshine31- I could not agree with you more. I am a runner and that is what I do to keep me motivated. I also challenge myself to run a little faster sometimes.

I think that personal development courses are important to develop a passionate life. Too often we get caught up in daily life and forget to pursue things that are meaningful to us.

It is important to note that when pursing a goal not all days will run smoothly. There will be difficult days and those are the days that you have to develop extra resolve in order to stay on track.

Always aim for a bit of progress not absolute perfection.

Post 2

Bhutan-I like what you said about reaching attainable goals. When you set personal development goals you should break your goal down per day to see what you can do daily to reach your goal.

While a few days might not seem like much in regards to attaining your goal,over time the contribution will seem larger and the progress will be measureable.

For example, if you say that you want to lose thirty pounds. The best thing is to put together an action plan on the very things that will allow you to lose that weight.

You may decide that daily exercise, eating fruits and vegetables, and eliminating sugary snacks will be your primary focus.

You may

want to tackle the daily exercise first and write down on your calendar what you actually did. If you walked several miles then you should note that so that you can see over a few months how much faster you are walking or even running at that point.

Also, consider a weekly weight loss goal of one to two pounds. This is really ideal and you should not expect any more than that.

Post 1

Personal development goals can come from a variety of areas.

For example, a person can choose to lose weight and go back to school at the same time. The important thing to remember with personal development planning is that the goals are measurable and attainable.

Too often people go to these personal development seminars and get excited about changing their lives but then do not follow through with any planning.

Wanting to change your life but not establishing measureable goals that are actually written down converts your goal into a wish.

If you were to say that you wanted to lose weight you would have to break down your goals per week in order to determine how long it will take you.

If you write these goals down on a calendar you can be reminded every day of your goal. Listening to tapes of motivational speaker Tony Robbins also helps to keep you focused and positive.

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