How to Create a Personal Development Plan | 7 steps to success

calendar Oct 3, 2022 12:00:00 AM
author Written by Artur Glukhovskyy

project management person at work

A lot of us look at our personal development journey like it’s a line. We go from point A to point B as though we’re a train on a track.


But your career isn’t a train, and you can jump off or change tracks at any point!


Whether it’s in your career or in your life in general, every so often it’s good to reassess where you’re going, and where you want to be going.

At Growth Tribe, we work with people every day who are looking for professional development or even a change of direction.


We’ve seen how investing in your personal development goals can change your career thousands of times.


Creating a clear action plan is a great way to achieve the personal growth you want. 



0. Why do you need a personal development plan? 

1. Step 1: Understanding yourself and your motivations

2. Step 2: Find our vision or North Star Goal

3. Step 3: Break your vision down

4. Step 4: Break your milestones further down into smaller goals

5. Step 5: Assess your skills

6. Step 6: Get your manager on board (optional)

7. FAQs



Why do you need a personal development plan?

Achieving professional goals requires making a plan. We all know this, but we often get swept away in our day-to-day and struggle to make changes when we need to.


Personal development planning can give you a clear vision of where you want to go and how to get there.


It breaks down your mission into small, realistic goals and provides you with a blueprint for success.


You’ll be able to make deliberate decisions, and understand how these decisions are helping you reach your personal goals.


Time management expert Alan Lakein said:


Untitled design-1

 Planning is bringing the future into the present so that you can do something about it now.


So, if you’re ready to do something about the future now, we’ve broken the individual development plan down into 7 steps.

  1. Understanding yourself and your motivation
  2. Finding your vision or north star goal
  3. Break down your vision into milestones
  4. Break your milestones further down into smaller goals
  5. Assess your skills
  6. Get others on board
  7. Get practical with your development plan


Step 1: Understanding yourself and your motivations

Before you can start planning, you need to know where you want to go. So this step will involve a bit of soul searching.


We call this the Personal Analysis. You’ll start by understanding who you are, what motivates you and where your strengths and weaknesses lie.


These questions often sound daunting, because they are.


If you’re struggling to figure out what motivates you, or what you’re good at you can always try self-assessment tools (such as the Character Strength Survey or the MBTI).


But make sure to use them as guidance as opposed to gospel.


If that’s not for you, try on the following questions until you have a good understanding of who you are and what drives you:


  • What do you live for?
  • What are you really good at naturally?
  • How do you know you’re really good at that?
  • According to others, what are your strengths and weaknesses?
  • What do you absolutely dislike (in general, in your personal and professional life)?
  • What did you always want to learn?


If you find it difficult to answer those questions, get some input from the people you spend a lot of time with first: your colleagues, your manager, your friends, your partner, your family, etc.


As all of them know you in a different setting, you should be able to get 360 feedback on yourself.


Choose a couple of questions from above that resonate most with you and reflect on the answers you get.


→ Do you agree or disagree?

→ Is there anything that surprised you?

→ Did they miss anything that you deem very important?

💡 We’ve created an easy to use document so you can map out this whole process, download it
here. 👈


Step 2: Find your vision or North Star goal

Now that you have a full picture of who you are and what motivates you, it's time to find your vision or 'north star' goal—the guiding light that directs your path towards success.


A vision or north star goal is not just about vague short-term aspirations without clear benefits. It's about setting a single goal that guides you in everything you do.


And it has to be split into achievable goals that are specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART goals).


Your individual goals should resonate with you on a personal level and provide a sense of direction.


Make your vision big and ambitious, even if it feels overwhelming at first. Writing down your ambition should evoke a slight sense of fear because life goals are a serious matter!


Remember, turning your vision into reality requires long-term dedication and commitment. Goal setting is not a one-year endeavor; it's about shaping your future goals.


However, be open to the possibility that your vision may evolve over time as you grow as a person. Don't be afraid to rediscover yourself and adjust your goals accordingly.


North Pole




Step 3: Break your vision down

So, you’ve got a big dream. How are you going to get there? Part 2 of the free, downloadable personal development plan template will help you break your vision statement down into smaller learning goals and milestones.


Ask yourself:


  • What do I need to learn? What soft skills and hard skills do you need to achieve your career goals? Think: Time Management, Flexibility, Front-end code.
  • How does this help me meet my long-term goals?
    Why do you think this is important to learn? This will help you prioritise all your learning goals.
  • How will I learn this?
    This can be a combination of methods like courses, networking, discussions, readings, and more.
  • How will I measure my progress?
    What will success look like for this learning goal? E.g. course completion, business case studies.
  • What’s my timeline?
    When would you like to achieve this learning goal? Be realistic, but don’t shy away from a challenge!

goals set and personal development plan

Here's an example of some goals set with our Personal Development Plan template.


Step 4: Break your milestones further down into smaller goals

Next, ask yourself what goals need to be achieved in order to reach your milestones.


Think about the goals you set in step 3, and break them down even further.


For example, if your goal is to improve your time management, and you’ve decided to use the Pomodoro Method to achieve this, break the process down into smaller steps.


Here's what that might look like:


  1. Research the Pomodoro method
  2. Compare apps and tools to help you use this method
  3. Test it out for an afternoon of work
  4. Reflect on what went well and what didn’t
  5. Try using the Pomodoro method a couple of hours a day for 2 weeks
  6. Decide whether it works for you using the framework laid out in the Personal Development Planner.


And if you are already interested in this topic, you can take one of our courses and pursue your personal development for Free! How? Using the STAP Budget


Dont miss out banner stap budget



Step 5: Assess your skills

You've developed a well-structured plan, and you're on the brink of implementing it.


Now is an opportune time to have introspection and engage with those around you.


Foster open discussions with your colleagues or family and friends to assess your current skills and identify areas for improvement.


This valuable communication will contribute to gaining a better understanding of your baseline.


Suppose your goal revolves around enhancing time management skills.


In that case, there different potential things to be done:


  • You can evaluate your own abilities.
  • Seek feedback from people in your social circle to gauge your strengths and areas of improvement, and, based on this input
  • Establish the baseline from which you aim to progress.


This comprehensive assessment will lay the foundation for personal development skills, professional skills, and even leadership skills that you may wish to cultivate in the pursuit of your goals.


Remember, effective communication skills play a crucial role in these discussions, fostering an environment where you can openly explore your strengths, weaknesses, and aspirations.


Additionally, don't underestimate the significance of public speaking skills, which can enhance your ability to express yourself confidently and persuasively.


Self analysis



Step 6: Get your manager on board (optional)

In the course of our lives, we spend an average of 90,000 hours at work.


That’s why it would be great for your personal development goals to overlap with your career development.


This way you can develop some of the skills you need at work (if you’re currently working at a company), and there doesn’t need to be a conflict between them!


A good way to embed your vision in your day-to-day is to think about what your company wants you to develop and how you can relate this to your own North-Star Goal.


Identify any overlapping areas which you can focus on for your short-term goals.


Imagine a Venn diagram with the skills and capabilities your company wants you to develop in the short term.


And the skills and capabilities you want to develop in order to reach your North Star Goal in the long term.


The overlapping area between the two is where you should focus on your personal development.

personal and professional development circle

Not sure how to go about this?

  • Plan a talk with your manager to get an understanding of what skills you might be missing or could be needed in the future within your team.
  • Look at your job description and define where you think you might be falling behind. Which areas could use new challenges? In what areas could you stretch yourself a little?
  • Discuss your goals and ask how your company can help you achieve them. Make sure you're also clear on how it would benefit you and the company.



Step 7: Get practical

Now that you’ve figured out your vision, know what milestones you need to reach to get to your vision, have broken down milestones into manageable goals and you know what skills are needed to achieve them.


It’s time to get practical and start developing your skills!


Do your research, talk to your network and find the best resources that fit your needs.


Whether it’s a course, a book, a seminar, coaching, make sure to consider all options you have and pick the one that best suits you and your needs.

Download The Personal Development Plan



Which are some of best personal development books?

Here is a list that we can provides some of the best personal development books: 

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear: This book provides a simple and effective framework for creating good habits and breaking bad ones.
  • The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck: This book is a guide to living a more authentic and fulfilling life. Peck argues that the only way to truly find happiness is to face our challenges head-on and to live our lives according to our own values.
  • Man's Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl: This book is a memoir about Frankl's experiences in Nazi concentration camps during World War II. Frankl argues that even in the most difficult of circumstances, it is possible to find meaning in life.


How to start a personal development blog?

Starting a personal development blog is an exciting journey of growth and self-improvement. Follow these steps to launch your blog:


1. Create a blog with a hosting service. Siteground is one of the best alternatives and it includes WordPress! 


2. Define your blog's purpose and create a content strategy aligned with your personal development goals.


3. Embrace personal growth as a lifelong process and share your experiences to inspire readers.


4. Offer valuable advice for professional growth, such as career advancement strategies.


5. Prioritize mental health with posts on mindfulness, self-care, and stress management.


6. Address career progression by sharing insights on personal branding and goal setting.

Here's an examples of blog posts: "5 Strategies for Career Progression," or "10 Daily Self-Care Habits."


By combining personal anecdotes, practical tips, and engaging content, your blog can become a valuable resource for readers' growth. Happy blogging!


Here's a great video to setup your blog, just in case. It's in Italian, but the translator works very well. Enjoy it! 





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