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How to Formulate The Perfect Personal Development Plan

a motivational quote for someone's personal development plan

“We can’t become what we need to be by remaining what we are.” ­

Oprah Winfrey

Time is precious and life is short. We could spend each day reading and developing ourselves but never leave our door step to see the real world. We could party and have fun non stop but never grow as a person. Personal development is about finding a harmonious balance of continual growth and learning about our self and the world, and a balance of educating ourselves in harmony with real world living.

What Is Personal Development?

What is personal development? Personal development is the development of self. It goes deep into mindset, spiritual thinking, philosophical stance, and it is about becoming our best self.

Many of us only seek out improvement or change when we need to or if a life event forces us to. We stop learning once we have finished school as we are now ‘ready for life.’ In reality this is far from the truth; we should continually develop our self, learn more about nature, learn more about culture and keep learning new skill sets.

The Difference Between Personal And Professional Development

What is personal and professional development? Personal development can overlap with professional development and the phrase personal development can often be interpreted as more of a business type phrase. This is where the two phrases can overlap. I prefer the term personal growth, but personal development is a popular phrase and in essence it is about developing our best self and optimal human functioning.

Professional development is more bespoke within the framework of specific industry; you may want to become a better manager, a better sales person, or better at your trade. According to recruitment expert, Sarah Simpson (Associate Director at Nigel Wright Group in Yorkshire) employers have a key part to play in the personal development planning process. Ensuring development plans are aligned with organisational needs is an obvious goal, however, managers should also use personal development planning sessions to help employees frame their development in a way that will have a positive impact on their attitude and motivation.

Personal development is broader and could include becoming a better parent, improving our health or expanding our boundaries.

What Is A Personal Development Plan?

A personal development plan is a way to add structure to our personal development goals and also to the organic continuation of the development of self.

Without a structure in place and a plan, we could easily quit and not make the changes that we desire to make.

How To Write A Personal Development Plan

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It is so important just to start right this second, as we often put things off time and time again. Having said this, the most important thing that we should actually start with is our personal development plan. It is easy to say; ‘I have exercised a lot this week,’ or ‘I didn’t spend that much on junk this week;’ but if we actually wrote this down on paper we would likely be very surprised. The importance of a plan starts to make our goals real, we put pen to paper, and we can plan micro-goals towards our bigger vision. We can also look back on 3-6 months worth of journalling and see key moments when our fortunes changed. From this we can repeat our patterns of positive behaviour for our future success.

How to write a personal development plan:

  • Set Your Goals: Dream BIG. We should shoot for the stars and strive for our dreams. We can be practical along the way and be realistic at stages of the journey, but we should dream big. You are going to arrive somewhere in five years, that is guaranteed; why not take a chance and believe in yourself and arrive somewhere that you are passionate about. Your end specific detailed goal will probably work out slightly differently, but many of the positives in your dream will come true in different forms. You may strive to get a good career in a new country, but through the process of that vision and tasks along the way, you may end up in a different country with your own business. The true vision may have been to live in a location with certain benefits, and for you to be a success in a certain industry. But the country you reside in and the actual job itself may end up being different. We do want clarity in our goals, and we do want to dream big, but the exact outcome might differ in certain details. This does not matter so much, as the process of dreaming big, the accumulation of skill sets and the planning that went into that vision will take you to a beautiful place; and that end destination will tick many of those original boxes.
  • Priority List: Choose three of the most important things that you can do every single day and week for your goals. Then choose three things that make you most happy. For example goals – 1) ‘I will write each day,’ 2) ‘I will post on social media,’ 3) ‘I will interview people on webinars.’ For example happy – 1) ‘I will spend an hour each day having quality conversations with my family.’ 2) ‘I will dedicate one evening a week for my friends,’ 3) ‘I will go jogging every day.’ If we choose three things we can always do to grow our goals then we can be consistent, and the one thing that can trump talent and money is consistent dedication for our goals success. If we also choose three things that we love, family, friends, health, and we do these each day/week, then we can find a harmonious balance. The happier and healthier we are the more likely we will achieve our goals. If we ignored our loved ones, sacrificed our friends and lost our way with our health, then we would become unhappy and sick. It is important not to waste time. Remove social media scrolling and remove elongated time in front of the television. Prioritise three things for your goals and then prioritise your family, friends and health. A one hour deep conversation without distraction with a loved one or friend is far better than 2 hours where you keep looking at your phone. Dedicate quality time with others and on your tasks with presence and no distractions.
  • Micro-goals: Moving on from our priority list, we want to set our micro-goals. We cannot go from no fitness at all to running a full marathon in one day. We want to have our end goal written down or also in a diagram or vision board. Then we want to break down our steps to getting there. Set weekly and monthly micro-goals. By the end of the month you want to achieve X. In order for you to achieve this mark you know you must do Y several times per week to achieve that monthly target. If you have a tough week, you can always catchup the next week and maintain the monthly target. If you do everything in your power to achieve that monthly target but you fall short, do not despair, you are further ahead and you should compliment yourself for your consistency.
  • Obstacles: Life will get in the way and throw obstacles at us. No same day will ever be the same. Use your end of week (perhaps Sunday for most), to prepare for your week ahead. You might prepare your meals, you might prepare all of your social media content for your business, you might spend that time reading books. Have a Plan B for all major tasks and plan these also at your end of week for the week ahead. If something prevents you from getting to the gym, then your Plan B is a pre-set jogging route around town. If you get writers block, your Plan B will be a fun creative game, music or exercise to help you find the foundation of creativity again. Be compassionate with yourself; if something is not working on a certain day, take a breath, respect that you are only human, laugh it off and then begin your Plan B without hesitation.
  • Support: We are learning continuously about the importance of healthy relationships and a sense of community for our health and well-being. Prioritise time with others (ideally each day). Take part in healthy activities with friends and push your boundaries, volunteer for a charity, invite your family over and cook for them. The more new skills you learn within a social setting; not only will you be happy more often, but you will be able to handle life’s challenges better.
  • Evaluate: Journalling your goals, tasks, thoughts and feelings along the journey will help you tremendously in keeping track of your micro-goals and bigger vision. Imagine 6 months from now looking back at key moments when things really started to improve for you and being able to understand why with clarity. Also people often give up on things too soon, just before good things happen. If you can look back at your journal and you know for a fact that you tried one strategy and it did not work, then you have the facts in front of you. From this you can alter your strategy for your plan and goals. it is easy to say something did not work if we only try it 2-3 times. Have we tried this approach 10-15 times over a good period of time and written down our findings?

Our online life coaching can help you get started.


It is so important to keep growing as a person, even if we do not have a big end goal; we may simply seek to become a better artist, to learn more about new cultures, to meditate every day with consistency. We may dream big and wish to achieve a lot in our lives. No matter what your aspirations, continual personal development is good for for us. You may also enjoy our overthinking quotes page, which will inspire you to take action and to not spend too much time overthinking.

Learn more about your personality and strengths to help you with your personal development journey in our free discovery assessment:

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