A personal development plan or PDP is an important aspect of continuing forward in your career and life in general. It is a great way to organize your goals and to track your progress.
Essentially, it is an action plan based on your values, education, goals, and self-reflection that will help you improve your skills, relationships, career, social interactions, and yourself.
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Creating a Personal Development Plan
Most plans have three main forms: learning, connecting, and creating. Many people give one of these forms priority based on where they are in their career.
The beginning of the process requires self-reflection. You need to ask yourself what you have been doing well and what you still need to gain in order to make progress in both your professional life and your personal life. After you decide what you would like to gain, you can then work out how you can gain those skills.
For learning goals, you may want to take a course. Or you could learn new things independently by reading books or finding self-paced online materials. Another good place to start would be your company’s learning management system or the learning and development department.
When looking to connect, you may want to start with looking at your social network, not the online version, but the actual people you interact with or are around on a daily basis.
Connect with people who can help you along the way. If you create a map of all your connections and identify the strength of those relationships, you can begin to see where you need to make improvements.
One skill that is often overlooked is creating. When you produce content by writing articles, creating videos, giving speeches, or making podcasts you reorganize what you have learned and retain it in a different way. You also can share the content to make connections with other people.
Another advantage of creating content is that it can help you build your personal brand. Sharing your knowledge with others can help you get the reputation as an expert in your field, which will increase your chances of other opportunities and career advancements.
In order to help focus your plan and gain some insight into the process, there are some questions below that can help:
- Am I happy with my life right now?
- What kind of person do I want to be?
- Have I taken the right life path until now?
- What are my goals, short-term and long-term?
- What have I achieved so far?
- What am I good at right now?
- What kinds of skills do I need?
- What are some challenges I might face?
A Dose of Bravery
Many people and companies overlook the fact that creating a PDP is a difficult process. When looking at the end product, it does not seem like it would be that hard to do. But when PDPs are taken seriously by employees and employers, they require introspection and discussion.
Self-reflection is not a skill everyone has and is not always easy, especially when these thoughts have to be shared with a manager. In the end, the best PDPs and the most development take place when people add a bit more bravery to the plan.
This means that they are honest with themselves and honest with others about their current state and where they would like to go in the future.
The Risks of a PDP
The problem with personal development plans is that they are often seen as just a necessary practice in a paper-pushing bureaucratic system. They have no real value for many people. Managers see them as a waste of time, the plans continuously fail, or they are not created in a way that drives success.
To start the personal development plan off on a good path, it needs to be created with the individual in mind. Every person can have the best of intentions, but unless they take their energy, motivation, and passion into consideration.
Many people also get feedback from another person about their plan. This feedback can lead them to create a plan that they are not very interested in.
In order to give the plan the best chance a success, people need to take their competencies, passions, and the needs of organizations in mind. This way they can incorporate what they do well, what they love to do, and what others need them to do.
The Benefits of a PDP
When done right, there are many benefits to creating personal development plans.
Many people find that a good PDP helps them clarify what they want to do with their lives and how to get there.
They can also help you track your progress. They are written reminders of goals and how much further you need to go before you achieve them.
Having a PDP can help you discover the “why” in life. You can plan a course and discover why you need to do certain things or why you need to attain a certain goal. This insight can help increase motivation to get through your tasks.
A plan can help you take your long-term goals and break them down into short-term tasks. This can take something that seems far away or impossible and turn it into something more manageable.
Having an effective PDP can increase confidence in skills and decision making. You will be more confident when it comes to planning future goals. You may solve problems or make decisions easier since you have had some success with a PDP.
The next time you look around and wonder where your life is headed, it might be time to create a personal development plan. And by being brave and asking yourself some tough questions, you will be on your way to becoming your best possible self.