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“Create a personal development plan for carrying out your desire and begin at once, whether you’re ready or not, to put this plan into action.” ~ Napoleon Hill

The one personal development skill that I observe is making a huge difference in people’s successes is the ability to plan ahead. Writing your own personal development plan is exactly the process that, if done right, can give you this advantage in life.

Why Personal Development Planning?

Because a well laid personal development plan will give you a strong direction in life. On the other hand it will be in perfect harmony with who you really are. This is something done wrong very often, but what good is it for to have a great plan that is taking you to a wrong destination? So the key is to create a personal development plan not for the sake of just having it, but to have a plan that is perfectly mirroring your own individual wants and needs (see also “What is Personal Development?“). The idea is that you are actively starting to give concrete thoughts to why you are here on this earth, what your purpose is and what steps will help you to fulfill it.

What Makes a Great Personal Development Plan?

1. Purpose Driven

A good personal development plan is first and foremost purpose-driven. That’s why it is in perfect harmony with the core of your being.  It aims to give you personal fulfillment and helps you to grow. In simple words: What you plan is what you REALLY want. That is key, of course. Otherwise you would deceive yourself and plan for something that is not really in alignment with yourself. That sounds trivial, but sometimes when you get an external push to do personal development planning, you may do it, but stay essentially disconnected from your true desires.

How is it different from your personal development goals? Goal setting is an important part of a personal development plan, but not the whole picture. I like to look at it like goal setting being a technique or a process to define exact goals, while planning is similar to developing a vision and giving your life a general direction.

Planning is like laying a strategy, goal setting is like creating the tactics to fulfill the strategy. Planning comes first, goal setting second.

2. Based on Personal Values and Strengths

Your individual personal development plan must be rooted in your own values. And it has to take your personal strength and weaknesses into account.

List 5 of the most important values in your life. Popular examples are: Integrity, Family, Wealth, Success, Love, Faith, Creativity, Adventure, Freedom, Power etc.

My personal top 5 values are: _______________

Then put them into a priority by asking yourself, which value is more important than the other, so you have a TOP 5 in the end.

Now think about your personal strengths. Popular Examples are: self-confidence, empathy, analytical, creative, action-oriented, energetic, people-oriented, communicator, business-oriented, family-oriented etc.

My personal top 5 strength are: _______________

Finally think about your personal weaknesses. Popular Examples are: self-discipline, organization, mathematical, communication, self-presenting, patience, energy. (basically the same as strength, but on the other side of the scale of course)

My personal top 5 weaknesses are: _______________

It is a nice exercise to get clarity about your values and strengths and weaknesses. This knowledge will guide you to develop the right personal development plan for you. So when you write your plan, think about how those goals are in harmony with your top values and if they align with your personal strength and avoid your weaknesses more or less.

3. Aims for Life Balance

A great personal development plan is also covering your complete life and aims to create balance. To reach balance in your life, one of the most important things for happiness, you have to take a broad perspective and look at all areas of your life. In my detailed article How to Create Balance in All Areas of Your Life I already covered work-life balance and suggested to have 7 main areas:

  1. Mind including Emotions, Learning, Reading, Focus, Vision and all kind of mental Skills
  2. Body including Energy, Health, Sport, Exercise, Fitness, Wellness, Beauty, Outlook
  3. Spirit including Raising Consciousness, Being present, Meditation, in Contact with our Soul
  4. Social including Family, Spouse or Boy/Girl-Friend, Friends and all other Relationships with other people
  5. Finance including Money, Savings, Belongings and Things we own
  6. Juice means all things Fun like Traveling, Celebrating etc.
  7. Profession is what I create in my Work as a meaningful Contribution to society and to my personal Fulfillment

You don’t necessarily need those 7 in your life. Think about the areas that are most important for you, where you want to develop, and then define them for you (in writing). I wouldn’t suggest to use not more than 7, maybe less if you can. Stay below 10 for sure.

My 7 life areas are: _______________

You can also vary those areas if you want to create a personal development plan that is focussed on some special area, maybe your eduction or your job development. But keep in mind that you need overall balance in your life even when you focus on just one specific part at the moment.

How to Create Your Personal Development Plan?

To create the perfect personal development that is unique to you, take your life areas and set one personal development goal in each life area. Don’t go overboard, it’s always best to stay simple and focused to get the results eventually. You can do more than one goal per life area of course, especially if you really feel that you want those, but my suggestion is to keep life simple.

Take your time and really put some thought into it. This is the perfect time to use my Guide to set compelling personal goals: Goal Setting: 7 Steps to Set Your Life Goals.

Along with your goal you will develop an Action-Plan and set a Deadline.

Use this Free Personal Development Plan Template:

In the following personal development plan template we bring everything together. You have your chosen life areas, then your goal and the deadline by when you want to achieve it. You have a success criteria by which you know you reached your goal. Then you will develop your action plan, which includes all important steps to reach the goal. And you can make some notes in the template:

Personal Development Plan Template

Download the personal development template as a PDF, or here as an Excel file.

Here is my Personal Development Plan Example:

Personal Development Plan Example

Now start entering your individual figures. Good luck with your personal development plan and I hope you will reach all your goals with it! If you have comments or questions, please let me know below!

6 comments

  1. Dan Reply August 5, 2012 at 4:28 pm

    If you’d like a tool for setting your goals, you can use this web application:

    http://www.Gtdagenda.com

    You can use it to manage your goals, projects and tasks, set next actions and contexts, use checklists, and a calendar.
    Syncs with Evernote and Google Calendar, and also comes with mobile version, and Android and iPhone apps.

  2. Myrko Reply August 13, 2012 at 11:23 am

    Thanks for the note, although it’s a bit promotive for a first comment ;-) Looks like a good app for planning, though.

  3. Ianina Reply August 28, 2012 at 5:11 pm

    Very nice post. And though the first comment was in fact a bit promotive, it is as I found, a nice tool…but I also downloaded your Excel file for starting :-)Keep writing! Hugs from Brazil (from an argentinian)

    • Myrko Reply August 28, 2012 at 5:17 pm

      Thanks Ianina, Hugs back :)

  4. jonathan ikwekwa Reply December 7, 2012 at 10:54 am

    Please am a student at Greenwich university under long distance and am doing my third year in which am tasked to draw up my leadership development plan as one of my assignment.assist in this regard

  5. Esteban V. Prado Reply September 21, 2014 at 2:37 am

    I was creating my Personal Development Plan, but the thing is that I´m super structured, so I wanted to create an easy to follow PDP system that I (and maybe others) could follow. So after having created my model, I started looking on the web to look at other models of PDP´s. And it turns out yours and mine are very similar. I also even included the 5 Core Values! Of course they differentiate in some ways, but they are indeed similar haha. Just wanted to say that :D

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