Personal development planning: What you need to know

It can be difficult to remain motivated when it comes to pursuing your true ambitions.

But, what if we told you there was a doable way to make your future goals a reality? Creating a Personal Development Plan could provide you with the structure and guidance you need to be proactive, and actually take the steps needed to reach your eventual aim.

To help you understand the purpose and benefits of creating your own Personal Development Plan, here are our top tips on what you need to know:


What is a Personal Development Plan?

A Personal Development Plan is a written account of self-reflection and improvement, which doubles up as a detailed action plan used to fulfil academic, personal, or career based goals.

It’s usually created within the workplace or when studying (with guidance from your manager or tutor), and works by allowing you to establish your aims, recognise your strengths and weaknesses, and identify the need for improvement.

Objectives are put in place based on the areas you’d like to improve on, and the plan consists of your own personalised actions that will help you to achieve them.


What should I include?

When creating your own Personal Development Plan, it’s essential to make sure it accurately outlines your personal goals, why they’re important to you, and how you plan to achieve them.

Although all PDPs are specific to each individual, the plan will generally detail your ideal future based on your short and/or long-term ambitions. Areas of development will be specific to you, and could be centred on work, education, or self-improvement.

It should also always recognise the potential obstacles you might face, and how you propose to overcome them – and if the roadblocks can’t be tackled, include a contingency plan to help your career keep moving forward.


How do I track it?

One of the most important things to consider when creating your PDP is an accurate way of measuring your success.

Not only will this be a great way to prove your knowledge and skills, it will also keep you motivated to succeed – and allow you to up your game or adapt the plan if things aren’t moving in the right direction.

Make sure your goals are realistic, and set a clear timescale. If your dreams are so farfetched that no doable plan would make them a reality, then it might be worth a compromise.


Personal Development Plan template>>


What should I plan for?

A PDP can be used to plan for a variety of things, including career progression, career change, moving into further education, or to organise the actions needed to gain a new skill for your own self-improvement.

However, in order to reach your long-term goal, short-term goals must also be completed in the process. These would typically be based on the specific areas of improvement you’re planning to pursue – with your eventual goal in mind.

These areas are normally based around learning and development, such as taking courses or professional qualifications, but may include things such as workshops, independent study, networking, on-the-job training, joining a club/support group, or something more directly linked to your current job or the company you work for.

All of these opportunities will all allow you gain new skills and knowledge, and could be the vital steps you need to take to ensuring you meet your targets.

When should I make one?

A PDP can be created at any point in your life – providing the targets you set are specific to you and your individual situation.

In a working environment, your PDP will be put together in conjunction with your manager to identify your weaknesses, allow you to improve on them, and become aware of any key areas you’d like to progress in. They can then assist you in whatever way they can, to make sure you’re happy with where your career is going.

A PDP is used for a similar purpose in education. Through communications with your tutor, you’ll be able to realise the areas you excel in, and the areas that need work.

They can even be a useful tool if you’re currently between roles. With a clear set of objectives, you’ll be able to make the most of your time off, and add real value to your CV. You can even take it with you to an interview to demonstrate your enthusiasm to your potential employer.


What are the benefits?

From helping to plan a career change and build on your current skills, to being the push you need to learn something new and quantify your abilities, a PDP is a logical way of accomplishing a range of different objectives.

It can help to define a particular career path or area of study, and give you a realistic and well thought-out goal to aim for. Not to mention making sure you stay motivated and can accurately track your career progression.

And, by documenting your individual development, you’ll be able to demonstrate your dedication, enthusiasm, and ability to learn and plan – all being key skills for any job or educational field.

Even if you don’t end up achieving all of your goals, the effort alone could be enough to show an employer your desire for self-improvement. Which could be the perfect step in helping take your career to the next level.


Not sure how to put your Personal Development Plan together? Use our free Personal Development Plan template now.