How To Write A Personal Development Plan (PDP)

It is very hard to map out where you want to be in terms of a whole range of issues (career, personal and social life) without some guiding process or document that helps you get to where you need to be. Only the very fortunate manage to be content and at ease with themselves without some form of guide or plan and even such people will need to have some sort of a map by which to set out where they are going at some point.

So, what should be appearing in YOUR Personal Development Plan?

  1. A clear vision of where you want to be and why. This needs to be written in such a way that you can monitor your progress and understand what your next steps are. This should be set down in a clear timeline with realistic outcomes detailed after one month/six months/one year/five years from the start of your Plan. Your vision should be as detailed as possible because the more detailed it is the more it will drive you on to succeed. (A vision with very vague and uncertain content will easily be forgotten and ignored as the outcomes are not specific enough to tie you into actions!).
  2. Understanding the skills that you need to develop to achieve your vision. List the skills that you want to develop BUT make sure that they are linked to some clear purpose in your Plan. Again if the skills are too vague then attaining them will be difficult because they are not tied into your vision. “Improve my IT skills” is a poor example of personal skills analysis as it contains no detail and could be achieved by a quick 10-minute on-line Word Processing package: a far better approach would be “to complete a PRINCE 2 qualification and use this to gain interview experience by applying for x number of jobs in the next 12 months”.
  3. What standard do you want to achieve in developing your skills and knowledge? How different is this from your current standard? How long exactly will it take you tom raise your game to the level that you would like it to be? What resources and what timescale are needed here? Be very honest and accurate in completing this analysis so that what you sign up to can be delivered.
  4. Set up a level of priority for each area in your PDP. Remember that it is not possible to do all of the things that you want to do at the same time! Ask yourself how important each area of the Plan is to you and how essential is it to develop these skills right now?
  5. How will I work through the Plan? By having a focus upon one or two specific areas at a time you will be able to systematically complete sections and build up your skills, knowledge and confidence as you go. Always remember to identify key points in time as in section 1 by looking at actions and their completion at the one month/six months/one year/five year points (or whatever the time points that you consider to be important). Break down your required actions into a logical and achievable sequence.

Good Luck!

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