Are you trying to make a resolution in your life to improve yourself in some way? Perhaps you want a promotion or ace in the exams, or maybe you’re trying to get in shape! But, all your endeavours to be successful might not be enough to reach your goals if you don’t have a strategic personal development plan.
A personal development plan or PDP is something that can greatly improve your chances of being successful by keeping you guided, motivated and most importantly, well-informed about your career path.
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What is a personal development plan?
A personal development plan is a written record of self-evaluation and improvements, which helps you achieve academic, personal or career goals. In a broader sense, the process of creating an action plan based on your values, awareness, reflection, goal-setting and planning as part of your career, education or self-improvement sum up into a personal development plan.
A personal development plan or PDP is often a requirement within the workplace as part of the business training.
A PDP will help you do the followings:
- Recognise your strengths and weaknesses.
- Identify the need for improvement.
- Allow you to establish your goals.
You can personalise your PDP with the list of actions or activities that will help you get to certain objectives.
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.
Why do you need a personal development plan?
Imagine you are going on holiday with little or no planning. What are the chances that you won’t end up being frustrated? It’s very likely that you’ll need to plan everything during the trip, which can be quite troublesome.
However, if you have a basic plan of the things you want to do or an idea of where you want to go, it’ll be much easier to travel.
Life is also a journey that you need to continuously plan to achieve your goals, whether it’s a short-term goal or a long-term goal.
Having a personal development plan means:
- You are working towards the development of your future.
- You have a better sense of control over your life.
- And you will make better decisions on the way.
If you don’t plan in advance about the obstacles you face, or you might face in the future, you can easily get disappointed. So, you need to begin your day with a little planning. And if you can invest an hour detailing your plans and strategies for the month or even for upcoming years, chances are it’ll make a tremendous difference in your life.
Personal development plan examples
One of the most reasonable and apt decisions you can make in your life is to endeavour continuous personal development. Some of the common things that we all want in our lives include:
- Enhancing the quality of our lives
- Achieving success in an academic or professional career.
- Trying to be a better version of ourselves.
These are the reasons we set personal development goals in our lives. Listed below are some of the most important personal development examples that will help you augment your personal growth journey into a happier and more important you.
1. Wake up early
The alarm is beeping! But your body is refusing to get out of the bed. Your eyes are exhausted and dazed. And you wish you could sleep more. This is the common scenario when you can’t cultivate the habit of waking up early.
Early rising is considered to be the first step towards success because it not only makes your day productive but also makes you healthier. Here are some benefits of waking up early:
- Better decision-making: Getting up early in the morning will help you let go of bad habits, such as overeating, sleeping late, vegging out in front of a screen etc. Moreover, you can plan your day more wisely.
- Beating the traffic: If you are a commuter, you must get up early in the morning. It’ll not only save you from getting wrapped around the axle but also get you to your destination in time without any stress, hassle or road rage.
- Having time for self-care: Whether you are a student or a job holder, there are too many things on your to-do list every day. And it’s very unlikely that you’ll get enough for self-care if you don’t wake up early. Self-care doesn’t mean herbal tea and fine chocolates. Whatever elevates your spirits is self-care, for example, exercise, meditation, eating right, spending time with friends and family etc. And becoming an early riser will ensure that you can find something to enjoy.
2. Discover your core values
At some stages in our lives, we compare ourselves to other people and their definition of success. But you need to understand that you can’t achieve success if you chase everyone else’s idea. You need to uncover your values and purpose. Here’s what you can do:
- Find out what matters the most to you.
- Live in accordance with your personal values. It’ll bring a sense of fulfilment to everything you do.
Your personal core values will determine how you act, make decisions and live your life. Always remind yourself that only you can decide if you have achieved your goals. So, you need to stay focused on your path to success and not get distracted by others’ achievements.
3. Find new challenges
Your personal development plan must include the things that you want to achieve from your current position. New goals mean new challenges. And challenges will always keep your job or career interesting and fulfilling. If you want to be creative in your job, you need to come up with ideas that are never acted on. And you must find your ways through the obstacles that may come between you and your ambition.
So, how can you achieve this goal?
- Talk to your manager, boss or supervisor about your current responsibilities.
- Ask about new projects you can get involved with and try to provide your point of views on issues as they arise.
- Find new challenges by focusing on yourself rather than constantly trying to impress your employer.
- Challenge yourself to continuously improve on your work. Always remember that your work reflects you as much as it reflects your employer.
4. Turn your weaknesses into strengths
One of the key purposes of a personal development plan is to recognise your own weaknesses. If you know your weaknesses, you can focus on the areas you deem important to improve.
Identifying your weaknesses also manifests self-awareness and strength in your character. However, you have to first accept that your skillset isn’t perfect while creating a strategic plan for improvement. So, how can you achieve this goal?
- List the difficulties you face in your daily life, workplace or in your academic life and find out the reasons.
- Get guidance from your tutor, manager, employer or someone you trust.
5. Improve emotional intelligence
One of the most controversial topic during the last few decades has been Emotional Intelligence (EI) and how it affects almost every domain of life. And a debatable question that led many scholars into research: How do people with mid-range IQs surpass those with the highest IQs?
People initially thought that one’s IQ leads to their success. However, it’s the emotional intelligence that can help you excel in your life.
Having good emotional intelligence means:
- You are better equipped to understand your feelings and control them.
- You can relate to others’ emotions and respond appropriately.
Improving emotional intelligence requires patience and time. Adapting to different situations at the same time, having a good sense of self-awareness is a challenge that not everyone can achieve successfully.
6. Don’t hold onto your emotions
It’s quite normal to feel afraid when you are out of your comfort zone. Perhaps it’s a personal grudge against someone in the workplace or something related to your past that can discourage you or make you feel embarrassed.
Whatever the case, you need to feel comfortable with the ambiguity and uncertainty of the situation. Don’t let your emotions be an obstacle to achieving your goals. You must:
- Let go of the past.
- Deal with negative emotions and find out ways to overcome them.
- Identify the experiences that cause you to hold back.
- If you struggle to overcome your limiting emotions, talk to someone about it.
- Think about positive, motivating factors that can help you move past those negative emotions.
7. Get along with others
You spend a lot of time with your colleagues, so it’s important to build good relationships with them. People typically work better together when there’s a personal element to their relationship.
Having a positive professional relationship not only affects your performance but also lays the foundation for your ultimate success. Therefore, you should nurture your relationships with others to work in harmony with them. Here are a few more strategies to help you get along with others:
- Practice good work habits such as helping others, being punctual, listening to others etc.
- Welcome diversity, both in culture and ideas.
- Embrace failure and learn from others.
- Be open to suggestions.
8. Improve time management skills
Time is a factor that determines most of the outcomes for every decision we make. Completing tasks before deadlines while managing workload stress might seem impossible to many. However, if you improve your time management skills, you can not only increase your productivity and efficiency but also be able to dedicate more time to your other endeavours.
So, how can you achieve time management skills?
- List the activities, and the time it takes to accomplish each task.
- Organise daily tasks, schedule and goals in a way that can achieve them all.
- Monitor the use of time on an ongoing basis and try to self-report on progress.
- Try to adapt to changing priorities as needed.
- Keep track of how you spend your time and make a backup plan in case your day gets a little jumbled.
9. Build resilience
Life’s challenges can come as a surprise, no matter how self-aware you are. But learning to move through these painful times in a strategic way can help people bounce back more quickly. If you build strong resilience, you’ll be able to cope with adversity and adapt to challenging situations whether it goes as you expected or not. Resilience can move you from feeling powerless to being able to face problems with confidence. Here’s what you should do to build resilience:
- Focus on what you can learn from experience, even if the situation is not in your favour.
- Don’t feel overwhelmed with excessive workload; try to finish one task at a time.
- Increase self-awareness.
- Get daily exercise. It’ll help your body secrete chemicals such as dopamine, endorphins and serotonin that help you feel good.
10. Become more proactive
Are you reactive or proactive when a situation goes south? Negative situations are inevitable and can have a big impact on your life if you always wait to react to problems. However, if you prepare for any problem and try to control it, you’ll minimise the issue.
So, how can you inculcate the habit of proactiveness?
- Don’t consider yourself to be the victims of external conditions.
- Don’t let others determine your fate.
- Take responsibility for any outcome.
- Focus on what you can control.
- Prioritise your work.
11. Learn to manage stress effectively
We all experience stress at some point in our lives. It can cause damage to health and career. Excessive workload, failure to meet deadlines, dealing with personal issues can build up your stress.
So, you must know how to manage stress effectively.
- Develop the willingness to fight stress.
- Find different ways to tackle stress.
12. Work on your growth mindset
Many people believe that they were born with their abilities already set into place, and therefore they don’t invest enough time into learning something new. On the other hand, people having a growth mindset are always open to learn new skills and collaborate with others.
A growth mindset is something that can make you believe that you can continue to develop your talents throughout life. Common features of people with a growth mindset include:
- Sharing information with others.
- Looking for feedback.
- Striving for innovation
- Admitting own mistakes.
- Looking forward to the potential learning opportunities.
So, how can you develop a growth mindset?
- Embrace imperfection and alter your point of view on challenging situations.
- Seek out learning opportunities.
- Stop your limiting beliefs that your talent and abilities aren’t infinite.
- Reflect and recognise the skills that you have improved throughout your life.
- Stick to your goals without getting distracted.
- Find something that you’re interested in and put forth the necessary effort to accomplish it.
- Keep moving forward, no matter how difficult things get.
- Handle negative feedback positively.
13. Develop communication skills
An important component to better collaboration with your team and improved efficiency is communication skills. Today’s work environment requires apt communication skills to ensure the success of any company. Not to mention that effective people management skills are necessary for leaders.
You can build your communication skills as part of your personal development plan, starting from your academic career. Below is a list of tasks you can include in your personal development plan to develop your communication skills.
- Listen to others.
- Use friendly gestures.
- Take a pause before you speak to think about what to say and how to say it.
- Treat everyone equally.
- Maintain eye contact and a positive attitude.
14. Ignore your limitations
Holding onto limiting beliefs such as fear of failure, fear of rejection, I don’t deserve; can delay your progression in life. Limiting beliefs not only hinders your progress but also stops you from taking risks or trying new things. It’s important to identify your limiting beliefs and change them into positive beliefs that’ll enable you to achieve your goals in life. Do the following tasks to let go of your limiting beliefs:
- Challenge your own thoughts.
- Think outside the box to find potential new solutions.
- Don’t think about the tangible consequences.
15. Be more patient
It’s tough to be patient, especially if you are short-tempered. Even people with high patience can lose their temper. However, patience is something that can be achieved with practice. Keeping a calm state of mind during times of despair can allow you to effectively solve problems without being frustrated.
Continuous patience is crucial while making decisions, especially in the workplace. So, how can you achieve this goal?
- Stop thinking critically before making any decisions.
- Don’t rush yourself into making decisions that will suit your needs for instant gratification.
- Focus on your breathing.
- Find the silver lining in the extra time that you’ve given.
16. Appreciate constructive criticism
Criticism or negative feedbacks are meant to be helpful, though many people find it very difficult to deal with. Considering criticism as an attack can put you on defence, and you can lose the opportunity to learn anything from it. Instead, you should use feedback to your advantage. And it’s crucial to get feedback for creating your personal development plan.
You can take the following steps to turn feedback to your advantage.
- Analyse the feedback.
- Ask questions for improvement.
- Strategise on how you can improve better.
- Create goals based on feedback.
17. Tweak your work-life balance
Living a happy life means maintaining a healthy work-life balance. But success won’t come if you continuously focus on your work and career. You need to make time for recreation.
Taking sufficient breaks from work not only affects your wellbeing positively but also improves your performance. Therefore, you should:
- Prioritise your life. For example, don’t check work emails while having dinner with family. Leave your work at work!
- Take paid time off.
- Set a specific time for checking emails.
- Add sufficient time to your daily routine for exercise, a healthy diet and relaxation.
- Mark of reoccurring time blocks. Whether you hit the gym for an hour every day or read books or spend time with family, make sure you revolve your personal life around your work schedule.
18. Read more. Read often
The best way to acquire knowledge and new skills is to read. Nothing is more powerful than the treasure of knowledge, and the best way to acquire this treasure is to read as much as you can.
Acquiring new knowledge will not only satisfy your thirst for competence but also make you happier. So, you should develop the habit of reading books that will help you acquire new skills as well as polish your existing skills.
19. Become a lifelong learner
Today’s job market primarily require people to have the ability to work in diverse situations. Therefore, the ability to accept change and being flexible are two common features that employers look for nowadays. Keep in mind that, with the development of the job market, the uncertainty regarding what skills will be needed in the future are also changing. So, you should be prepared to learn new skills and face any challenges that are yet to come. You can achieve this goal by:
- Having a goal of continuous skill development.
- Being Always on the lookout for anything new happening in your industry.
- Keeping up with the trends and new technologies
Learn more from our blog that enfolds important ways to improve your personal development skills.
Personal development plan examples for students
A personal development plan is not just for the employers, employees or workers. It’s a process that should and can be undertaken by any learner to evaluate their learning process and plan for personal, educational and career development. Students are the backbone of any society. Therefore, they should have their personal development plans so that they can start their lifelong journey by learning new skills and continuous achievements. Below are some important reasons why students need personal development plans:
- To become more effective learners.
- For becoming more potent at reviewing and monitoring their progress.
- To recognise and express their strengths and weaknesses.
- To provide an insight into how their academic, personal and career development can relate to each other.
Some common examples of personal development plans for students may include:
1. Goal setting
A student must be aware of his or her personal values and life purpose. It’s vital to have the motivation and inspiration behind their goals. Listing short term goals to achieve long term goals can be quite helpful.
2. Self-awareness and assessment
A student must identify success-related competencies and the reasons for seeking a college degree or higher education. Knowing what goals to achieve and how to achieve them will make a student more aware and focused on his or her responsibilities. Having in-depth knowledge of career information will help a student to overcome potential challenges too.
Students must plan on whatever goals they want to attain, whether it’s a daily activity or a career plan. Start from the available resources to detail information on how resources and experiences will develop specific skills and knowledge both in academic and career field.
It’s important for students to consistently research and identify realistic and informed academic or career goals. Having a thorough knowledge of career information and competitive majors will also help students identify alternate pathways to achieve their goals.
Students must analyse their academic progress in terms of advancement toward academic and career goals. Success and challenges both should be considered as learning sources. However, a student must know which action, decision and motivation lead to success and which are for overcoming challenges.
6. Transdisciplinary skills
Students need relevant skills which will help them to thrive and adapt in their career, challenges or in any situation. Transdisciplinary skills are a set of skills that can help students throughout their learning process within and outside the classroom. Common transdisciplinary skills include:
- Thinking skills
- Social skills
- Communication skills
- Self-management skills
- Research skills.
How to write a personal development plan
The First step to achieving anything important is to take time to make a detailed plan. Therefore, to create a personal development plan, you must consider some important things.
- Firstly, define your goals. List the things that are important to you. Achievement s that would make you happier should be at the top of your list. If you want to fulfil any dreams or move ahead to the next stage in your career, list them too. Your goals should be something that you want to accomplish, whether it’s related to your career or to improve your personal life.
- Secondly, set deadlines for each of the goals in your life. If you don’t know when you want to achieve your goals, chances are it will never happen. Be more realistic and make good assumptions about the timeframe for your goal.
- Thirdly, list your strengths and weaknesses that can help you achieve your goals and hinder you from achieving them, respectively.
- Additionally, list the new skills that you want to acquire.
- Moreover, measure your progress. It’s important that you self-assess your progress and get any support if you need from your tutor, manager, employer or supervisor or even from a friend.
Last but not least, take actions. Set out your journey according to your personal development plan. And always remember to update your plans for more improvements.
Personal development plan template
Your personal development is a journey that you should keep track of the progress. You can either make a weekly plan, monthly plan and annual plan as well. Set short-term plans that’ll lead you to achieve your long term goals.
- Daily progress
- Monthly progress
- Decide where you want to be at the end of the year.
We’ve designed a personal development plan template to help you structure your thinking and create a strategic plan for achieving your goals.
Often in our lives, we are too busy with our day-to-day activities to have time for planning and important decision-making. But having a personal development plan wards off the obstacles in all aspects of your life. The personal development plans discussed in this blog are all dependent on your ability to retrain your brain to think in new ways.
So, take a moment to contemplate your personal development goals. And make your own personal development plan based on which of the aforementioned examples are the most important to you.