Guide on Effectively Writing a Personal Development Plan

Writing a personal development plan is an intricate process and can sometimes be quite a daunting task.

There are many aspects involved in writing a personal development plan, so take as much time as you need and don’t get discouraged when you are crafting your plan.

To help you in this process, here are some guidelines and tips on writing a personal development plan.

Following these guidelines can help make the journey as comfortable as possible.

Pre-Writing your personal development plan

First off before you start writing a personal development plan, make sure get into a strong state first.

Don’t write your personal development plan when you are feeling tired, bored, lazy, uninspired.

Before you actually start writing your plan, take a few deep breaths and calm yourself down. Move about a little if you need to get your energy levels flowing.

Say to yourself some words of encouragement and make some power moves and gestures to get yourself going.

If you prefer, turn on some classical or soft music if you prefer. Make sure that you won’t be interrupted.

Next think warm, positive thoughts. Tell yourself that you are doing this to improve yourself further and to achieve great success.

Motivate yourself by acknowledging you will gain from this and it will bring you a step closer to your dreams.

You will only do a good job writing your personal development plan when you are in a calm effective state.


Now to writing a personal development plan. I have broken the process down to 5 sections.

1. Discovering strengths and weaknesses.

For some people, they are absolutely clear on what they are good at and bad at. Others struggle to discover it. If you belong to the latter category, don’t despair.

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First know that everyone has their strengths and weaknesses. Next ask yourself the questions below to help yourself get going.

  • What area/activity do I generally have success in? And like wise, what do I frequently fail at?
  • What do people normally compliment me for?
  • What do others usually complain about me? What are their gripes about me?
  • What are some of my good habits and bad habits that I know of, or that people mention about?
  • What am I comfortable doing, and what do I feel uncomfortable about? (we are usually weak in the things that we feel uncomfortable about)

Also, look to get feedback from others. Ask them what they observed you are good at and what you’re not so good at.

Apart from that, look for things that routinely happen in your life that may give you an indication of your strengths/weaknesses. Such as avoiding public speaking, losing your temper, making others feel comfortable around you etc.

Just remember, when getting feedback from others, make sure that you’re asking the right people. People who know you well enough and that are objective in their observation.

After discovering your strengths and weaknesses, prioritize and decide which area you want to focus on.

Don’t focus on too many at once. Work on only a few simultaneously. 1-3 focus area is a good number. Prioritize by identifying the area which you would need to change the soonest.

2. What do you want instead and why do you want it?

This is the next step in writing a personal development plan.

After identifying the focus areas, now decide and illustrate what your ultimate objective for each of those focus areas would be. Make it detailed and specific.

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Make sure it is very ambitious, yet still realistic and within reach.

Then proceed to list for reasons for wanting to that ultimate objective. Strong reasons is what keeps you going and gives you meaning for continuing to work on those focus areas.

Answering the following questions can help you in this section.

  • Why do I want to achieve that?
  • How does it help me?
  • What can it give me?
  • What can it prevent/stop?
  • How does it impact my life and those around me?

Short term and long term goals

The following step in writing a personal development plan is to set your short-term and long term goals for the identified focus areas.

The goals should be measurable, actionable items which can be achieved. Make sure it is not vague. The solution here is to turn the goals, which are usually ‘being’ goals into an action that you can ‘do’. Being to doing.

Here is an example ;

Develop confidence = Able to make a 30 minute speech in public (or whatever that is challenging for you)

Read Also:

  1. Do you have Low Self Confidence?
  2. Goal Setting, your road map to Success.

Set medium term goals if required as well. Short term goals should be smaller action items that are steps to achieving your long term objective.

4. What do you need to learn/do (action steps) and where can you find resources for it

Next identify what is it you need to learn or practice in order to achieve your goals and what & where can you can get the resources for it.

Back to the example of developing confidence, here are some examples of identifying action steps and resources;

  • Signing up for a self esteem class
  • Reading books on developing self confidence (specify specific book if possible)
  • Joining toastmasters to train public speaking and confidence
  • Get a life coach to help you develop confidence
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5. Scheduling & timeline

The final step in writing a personal development plan –

After identifying all what areas to improve on, your ultimate objective for it and the approach to achieve it, it is time to schedule and set a timeline for it.

Take out a calendar or notebook and set time aside for you to work on your personal growth. This time should be scheduled for you to take the action steps identified in step 4.

For example;
Every Sunday 4pm – 5pm : Reading developing confidence book
Every Saturday 4pm – 6pm : 1 on 1 coaching session with life coach

Then set the deadline for achieving your short and long term goals. Naturally, your schedule & the amount of time and effort you decide to put in every week should be set according your goal deadline.

Post writing

A good idea would be to set periodic reviews on your progress. It could be weekly, fortnightly, every 10 days etc.

Then you can assess the situation and how effective your approach is and subsequently make adjustments to your personal development plan.

Try not to view your personal development plan as a finished product. Rather it is something that is always a work-in-progress and evolving for the better.

Final thoughts

When writing a personal development plan, break it down into chunks such as the above to make it more manageable and structured.

Take your time when writing a personal development plan & have fun in the process!!