Personal Development Plan - 5 steps simple guide


A simple Personal Development Plan Guide,


What is Personal Development?

Why Personal Development is needed?

How to work on Personal Development?

What is a Personal Development Plan?

The Simple Plan

    1. Get a clear vision

    2. Set a Goal

    3. SWOT Analysis

    4. Create a Plan

    5. Execution



Personal Development is a continuous process. Everyone wants to grow in their personal or professional life. But are we equipped to develop ourselves? That's a million dollar question. In this article we will see in detail about Personal Development and How to create a Personal Development Plan.

What is Personal Development?

The primary aim of our life is development. There is a quote "If you don't grow, you deteriorate". It is true for both Physical and Mental development. It is even scientifically proven that we start to shrink if our growth is stopped. 

Personal Development is defined as the process of continuously enhancing once capabilities to achieve the maximum they can. It can be Skill development, Career development, Physical health or Fitness improvements, gaining Self awareness/Self-knowledge, Creating wealth and good Life Style and Improving relations (Checkout my post on the multiple stages in developing a skill).

In simple, Personal Development is improving our life and achieving a goal we think important to our life. But it will be a life long process. 

Why Personal Development is needed?

Many people created many ideas on Personal Development. One of the most famous ideology is Maslow's hierarchy of needs. In his idea, he mentioned people wants to satisfy their needs and its starts from basic physical needs to Self-Actualization. Self-Actualization is a level in which a human achieved his/her highest possible potentials. So everyone of us are consciously or unconsciously trying to achieve the higher levels in the Maslow Pyramid. 

Let it be a promotion in office, achieving a stardom or getting success in business, we want to upskill ourselves to match with our expectation. Personal Development is helping us to achieve our goals and get the output we want.

How to work on Personal Development?

The Personal Development starts with a clear vision. You need to identify what you want to become and where you want to go in a long run. Identifying your passion and strength is the first step in Personal Development. If you don't know where you want to go, you will wander and end up in nowhere. If you want be a fittest person but you don't care about your lifestyle, it is not gonna change anything in your life. A person wants to become an actor but doesn't sharpen his acting skills is just a dreamer. There are various steps in Personal Development and a plan drafted to incorporate the personal development is a "Personal Development Plan". Personal Development Plan need to be smart and actionable to achieve your goals.

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What is a Personal Development Plan?

It is a precise plan for an individual to achieve a Goal. The Goal may differ but we can have a simple plan which we can redefine for each of our goals. Lets see that simple plan,

The Simple Plan:

1. Get a clear vision:

The first step of any Personal Development Plan is to identify our vision. It should be precise and tell you what you want to become and where you want to go. You are going to plan according to your vision. So it should be definite, precise and well built. Any changes in your vision may cause delays or failures in achieving your goal. 

How to get a clear vision?

You may have multiple visions. Write down all of them. Filter the most important goal to you which you think may have impact in your life. 

You may be working as a manager in an office and want to become a VP or get a promotion. Also you may have interest in playing instruments and want to become a musician. Now you have two paths. Write both of them and validate which one you want most.

2. Set a Goal:

Now we have a clear vision of what we want to become. The Next step is setting a Goal to attain the vision. When a vision is defined within a time limit, it becomes Goal. In general definition, A Goal is something we create with a bounded time so we can pursue. Goals should be specific and definite. 

How to set a Goal?

In the example we saw in vision, lets take one path. if some one is a manager and wants to become a VP. Now he/she need to give a bounded time to set a goal. Lets say, he/she wants to become a VP in 5 years from now. 

Now, It is a Goal to pursue "I want to become VP in 5 years". 

I would suggest you to take a notebook and write down your Goal. Writing the Goal and seeing it every time gives you an urge to pursue. 

(Checkout my post of SMART Goal Setting)

3. SWOT Analysis:

Once you have a Goal, you can start working on it. But how to start and where to start? 

Before starting anything you have to do a self analysis. There are so many methods to do self analysis. Here lets take one of the simplest, SWOT analysis.

S - Strength, W - Weakness, O - Opportunities, T - Threats

Personal Development Plan: SWOT Analysis
Personal Development Plan: Swot Analysis, Image Courtesy: Xhienne, CC BY-SA 2.5, via Wikimedia Commons

How to do SWOT analysis?

Note down you Strengths and Weakness. Keep in mind, you are doing this for your own good and no one is going to judge you. So be true to yourself and write down all your Strengths and Weakness. All of your knowledge you gained so far may help you at any point of time. So don't neglect any points. 

You have your strengths and weakness. Now its time to find out what are the opportunities you have and what are the threats you have to face. 

Incase of our previous scenario, a person wants to become a VP in 5 years, he/she may have opportunities like, rapidly expanding market with a good exposure, benefits of online business hours to upskill, A good rapport with the upper management who can help to mentor and guide them in the process. Threats may be, competition in the work environment, unable to identify a replacement for current position. 

4. Create a Plan

Once you are done with the SWOT, you have data on what you are lacking and which grey area you have to concentrate. It is time to concentrate on your weakness to overcome them. By overcoming your weakness, you are making yourself more eligible for your goal. Your goal may need multiple skillsets and qualities. You may need to enhance in multiple areas and start to wonder "How I am going to do that?". The answer is proper planning. 

The Goal may be big(It should be Big) but what leads to our goal is our daily routine. To get good results, we need to change our daily routine. How to change it? We have to create a process to follow and have to stick to it. The process should align with our Goal. A proper plan will define our daily process and lead us to our Goal.

How to create a proper plan?

You Goal is big and you know what you want to do from the SWOT analysis, to achieve your goal. Now write down your action plan in the notebook. You have to achieve your goal in 5 years. Lets split it into 5, 1 year plans. 

Make a note of what you want to achieve in the next one year that can lead you towards your goal. Further split them into 12 months plan and then into week. When you have a week plan in hand, now plan for everyday for the next week. 

Make a list of tasks you want to do in the coming week. Mark them which one is important/need immediate attention and which one can be done later.

Some tasks need to be done immediately, but some can be done later, Some tasks, you can delegate. How to identify which one is important and which one is not? 

There is a rule called 80/20 rule. It states that our 20% of tasks lead us to the 80% of our results and remaining 80% are only contributing to 20%. You primary task is to identify that 20% which is contributing more to your result. Make them your priority and prepare a plan to do them first. Include the non important tasks only after important tasks and whatever can be delegated should be delegated. No use for you to do them on your own.

Now we have a plan ready for tomorrow and for an entire week. A main important task to be added to your list is, review and retrospect your plans on daily/weekly/monthly/yearly basis. We define the plan, and we can also change them according to the circumstances. No plan is foolproof. In the execution, we will see how and why to review and retrospect.

(Checkout my post on Planning and Target Setting)

5. Execution:

It is the most important step in the Personal Development Plan. Because in a self development, the most important part is, consistency. Planning for daily but executing once in a week or once in a month is not going to help. On daily basis, you have to review the tasks, execute and retrospect them. 

Lets assume that you have prepared a task list with the of the important tasks. Review them and sort them from urgent to not urgent, which one needs to be done first and which one can wait. Once sorted, start completing them one by one. Some tasks may be rough and make you tired. But keep in mind, your are doing them to better yourself. 

Once all are done or at least most of them are done, retrospect the tasks. Ask these below questions with the task list in your hand,

1. Have I completed all my today's tasks which can contribute to my goal?

2. What went wrong, what can be done better, what have I missed in the planning phase and how to include it in the future task lists? 

3. If something important is missed, why? and how to fix it in future? 

4. Have I atleast made a small progress to achieve my Goal?

5. Is it okay to keep the same plan or it needs any changes?

The first question is to review your task completion and it will give a fine satisfaction if you have completed all your tasks. Be Happy that you have conquered the day, if you completed.

In Paper, we can plan well, but in reality, we may face issues. The second question will give an idea about the difficulties in the real world. It is useful in checking the real world issues and correct the plan accordingly. 

For example, a delivery person may set a target of 100 deliveries in a day without considering distance and traffic parameters. While executing he may faced difficulties but can change his targets according to the real world data in future.

The third question is about wrong categorization of the tasks. we might have tagged a task as not urgent but it may become urgent but we might have missed it. Using the third question, we review the task list and make changes in the tagging so we may not miss important tasks in future.

The fourth question is to check whether the completed tasks contributed anything to your goal? It is to check regularly whether our task list is alive or not. There are so many changes that are forced on us either internally or externally. At one point of time, if our task list becomes obsolete, then there is no use in following them. We have to constantly check whether our daily tasks are in align with our Goal. 

Depends on the above questions, we have to take decision whether any changes needed in our plan or it is good to proceed with the existing one. There is nothing wrong in changing a plan to align with our goal and it is called improvising.


One may have multiple needs and have multiple Goals. Don't set multiple plans and execute them at the same time. We are restricted by time and energy. So do "One at a time". Target one important Goal at a time and that focus may help you to achieve what you want quicker than expected. 

Since we have mentioned a 5 year example, it doesn't mean that Personal Development is time bounded. Personal Development plan can be time bounded as we associate it with a Goal, but Personal Development is a continuous process which is a life long one. In every field, excellence will happen as long as you are ready to excel more.

I hope this article give you an idea about "How to create a simple Personal Development Plan" and execute it. 


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