How a Personal Development Plan Can Work For You

If you don’t design your own life plan, chances are you’ll fall into someone else’s plan. And guess what they have planned for you? Not much. ~Jim Rohn

You wouldn’t set off on a road trip without a map, would you? And yet, you’d be surprised how many people dive headlong into their careers with no idea of where they’re going or how to get there. If this sounds like you, perhaps you need a personal development plan.

What is a Personal Development Plan (PDP)?

A personal development plan, or PDP, is a way of identifying opportunities by asking yourself a series of questions. You think about the answers, and use what you’ve learned to plan your future.

Some employers require their workers to create a PDP. Even if that’s not the case in your job, you can still benefit from taking the time to create one. You might even find you have fun doing it, and at the very least you’ll gain some insight into yourself.

Let’s Get Started!

When thinking about how to create your PDP, you’ll need to do a bit of deep thinking. Here are some things you want to consider when developing your PDP:

  • Do you have the information you need to make the right choices?
  • How do you define success? Your PDP is all about helping you find the way to achieve what you want out of life. So, what exactly do you want? Money? Personal comfort? Good relationships? It’s all relevant.
  • Do you have people (friends, family, co-workers) with whom you can toss around ideas?
  • Does your employment situation allow you opportunities for personal growth, or are your wings clipped?
  • What motivates you?

This is all about increasing self-awareness.

What’s in It for Me Personally?

Developing a PDP will give you a better idea of what makes you “tick.” You’ll be more aware of what you really need, and how to get it. You’ll achieve a better awareness of what you have to offer to those around you, and this will help you to move forward in a positive fashion.

What’s in It for My Employer?

If you’re only doing this because your employer is making you, you’re missing out on a great opportunity. But since you asked, most employers these days want you to hit the floor running – meaning that they want you to be ready to take charge of your own performance, whilst at the same time having the ability to manage others. They want you to be adaptable and not resistant to change, and to perform well under stress. If you understand what affects you personally, you will be more adaptable and thus a greater asset to your employer. You will also have a better understanding of what you want to achieve professionally, and that will help your employer to guide you toward events and training that will enhance your skill set.

Make It Happen!

Get yourself a pen and paper, or snuggle up with your laptop. Now, ask yourself, if you could do anything at all with your life, what would it be? How are you going to make it happen? Set yourself short-term, medium-term, and long-term goals for various areas of your life. As an example, in your work life, a short-term goal might be, “Tomorrow I want to rearrange my office, so that I can accomplish the tasks I need to do more quickly.” A middle-term goal might be, “In six months I want to be promoted to foreman.” A long-term goal could be, “In five years, I want my boss’s job.”

Now, think about how you’re going to make it happen. Write down some strategies. Take this same approach for other areas of your life, like family, friends, leisure activities, etc.

Feel free to brainstorm – you don’t have to finish this right away; in fact, you should take your time. After all, this is your life we’re talking about.


Creating a PDP is highly individualized, and this is just a brief overview. You can find detailed PDP ideas online, or in books or professional journals. Get started, and you’ll be glad you did!

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