Personal Development Plans

All business owners generally create business plans before starting a business and your personal life is no different, perhaps more important. Creating a personal development plan is essential to get the most out of life to achieve your goals.

Examples of personal plans include your current skills portfolio, your goals, your knowledge gaps and tactical plans required to achieve all your objectives.

Advantages of a Personal Development Plan (PDP)

Developing a plan for yourself has many advantages. The main advantage being that you actually have a plan of action to take you towards your goals. The very fact that you've written down your goals is a step further than 90% of the population undertakes at any time in their life.

Setting a Clear Direction

Many people move through life thinking they know what they want and have a foggy mind because there is so much they want to achieve. Unfortunately, most have no way of getting there because they may not have the skills, knowledge or time. Then, after many years, they feel some sense of failure because their inherent dreams did not materialise and felt life has passed them by without realising their dreams.

A Plan of Focus and Achievement

So actually developing a personal development plan will in itself provide some sense of achievement and clear your mind because you have a plan.

Distilling Disadvantages

Some people say there are disadvantages in having personal plans, much like business plans because the plan itself is too rigid. Circumstances change on a daily basis, and you may go off course if you follow your plan to the letter.

But it doesn't need to be like that as we shall find out.

Personal Development Planning

The ultimate goal of your plan is to analyse and develop the following:

Where Are You Now?

List your achievements so far, how you achieved them and the skills and knowledge you possess. This process in itself helps to clarify that you have already achieved something in your life!

Where Do You Want To Be?

It's critical to know where you want to be as you can't develop a plan if you don't know where you're going. Have in mind some clear, specific and actionable goals rather than being vague in your outlook.

How Are You Going To Get There?

Planning the steps required to achieve your ambitions is the most difficult part. Most people present barriers that revolve around time and money. You can overcome all barriers with additional knowledge and experience, for example:

I Have No Money

There are often grants, scholarships and loans available for those who want to further their education. You can also find additional sponsorship opportunities from businesses in your area wishing to support local people.

I Have No Time

If you leave home early and come back late from work then time is a premium. Families with young children also have the same difficulties. However, you need to make time. You may only need a few hours each week that may involve a small lifestyle change.

These questions are very easy to sum up hypothetically. Most people ignore thinking they need to work at this and understand what's driving them forward. But, if you can answer the above questions, then you're 90% of the way there. So what happens now?

Analysing Your Current Strengths

So you can work out what type of additional skills, help or knowledge you need, you'll need to first state what you currently possess. Complete the following as this will sum up what you already possess to move yourself forward:

Item Your Success To Date
My personal achievements
My work achievements
My Qualifications
Training courses attended
My financial status

Everyone has something they can already offer the world. Although it's human nature to list weaknesses, you should be candid and open to highlight your strengths.

Your Personal Circumstances

It's easy for training people to say "do this" and "do that", but most of us have time-limited busy lives or can't commit money towards career or business development. With that in mind, you should think about what you can invest in your own life.

Item Your Availability Per Month
Hours I can commit
Money I can commit

As this is a personal development plan for you and if you're really serious about developing your life for you and your family think about the time long and hard. Moving a life forward is not easy, and it's only you who can do it so you may need to put aside time in the evenings or weekends.

If you've children to look after, then perhaps you can get family members to look after them. If you simply want to move on then set aside at least one hour per day to invest in your future.

Your Long Term Goals

PDPs can be for next month, next year or 3 years time. The longer the goal time frames, the more chance of you not fulfilling it because you may put things off for tomorrow. But if you put a plan for this time next year, the time will pass quickly. To realise your objectives, you'll need to act on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.

Your Goal Description
Financial Goal I want to earn £40,000 per year in 2 years time
Financial Goal I want to start my own business, I want my business to double profits
Financial Goal I want to own my own house and start a family

You should write goals in the SMART format. These goals should be:

  • Specific (not general).
  • Measurable (that you know when you've reached the goal).
  • Achievable (only you know what is possible).
  • Realistic (that you can reach them).
  • Time-bound (i.e., by a certain date).

Plugging the Gaps

Now you have your goals; you should write down where you are now. So if you want to earn £40,000 per year and currently earn £20,000 per year, you know the actual gap you need to get there. This step may sound obvious, but the important element now is putting plans into action to fill that gap to get to where you want to be. This stage is where your action plans come into play.

Developing Action Plans

Having developed the gaps you'll need to come up with specific actions you can take that will ensure you move towards your goals. This element may be the hardest part of this exercise.

Item Description
Your Goal I want to earn £40,000 per year in two years time.
Current Status I currently earn £20,000 plus £2,000 in overtime.
Change Required I need to get a promotion up two pay scales to achieve this.
Personal Plan I need to complete my accountancy training to get qualified.
Actions Required 1: Attend distance-based learning classes for next six months for level 2 and take the exams. Then take distance-based learning classes for next year and sit the final exams afterwards. Total cost is £1,750 which I will fund with a personal bank loan.

Although the above is fairly simplistic, it shows the step-by-step process of completing the task. This involves knowing your current status, your overall goal in two years time, the gaps need to get there and the specific action plans to achieve the goal. Some of your objectives may be harder to develop, but by using this framework almost everything is possible.

Your Learning Style

Not everyone learns in the same way, so it's important to understand how you learn. Are you better in a classroom with other people, sitting down by yourself and reading books or would it be better using some of the online learning systems available via the internet?

This structure is important if you need to get additional qualifications, so you don't put this element off. Think about how you learned at school or a recent training course you attended for the best way to gain training knowledge. There are many study programmes available and not all cost money.

The government are certainly pumping money into the system. If you've found the qualification you want, then search online to see if there are local government aided courses or grants you may be able to get. If you're unemployed, speak with your local job centre to see what's available.

Taking Action

To achieve almost anything people need to possess the skills and knowledge to get there and not everyone wants to enrol on a course or "can't be bothered" to further their skills. Most people are "happy with their lot" but this doesn't need to be that way.

A year or two quickly passes, so imagine if in two years time that you took action from this very article, got additional qualifications and are now achieving your salary goal? What would that mean to your lifestyle and more importantly to your family?

Taking action today to at least develop a personal development plan for you could radically change your life - not just today or two years, but forever! So take action today to develop you.