How To Create A Successful Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan, also known as a PDP, is a detailed plan of action based around your long-term goals. Here's how to get the most out of your PDP.


We all have aspirations of what we want to achieve in our lives and careers - mapping out what you need to do to get there can help get you on the path to success.

A personal development plan, also known as a PDP, is a detailed plan of action based around your long-term goals. It outlines how you can achieve your goals by developing your strengths, improving weak areas, and acquiring new knowledge and skills. A key element of personal development planning is setting milestones, which help keep you motivated and on track to achieve your objectives. Personal development plans can be used to fulfil academic, career-based or personal goals. They are usually created in the workplace or when studying, with guidance and input from your manager or mentor.


Why do I need a PDP?
It’s easy to say, “I want to be doing XYZ in five years” – but time passes by quicker than you expect! This is where personal development planning comes in. Setting clear objectives for completion within a given timeframe helps you stay on track and take the steps necessary to meet your targets. It also allows you to prioritise your objectives, ensuring that you can focus on developing the skills which are essential in order to achieve your goals, before moving on to secondary ones. Breaking your targets down into smaller steps and tasks can also make them feel more achievable, and writing down your goals and ticking off objectives you have completed helps you to keep motivated.

You can use your PDP to work towards a promotion, a career change or even further education.


When to make a personal development plan
A PDP can help you fulfil career-based, academic, or even personal goals and you can make one at any point in your life or career. In a workplace environment, your manager would typically support you in putting together your PDP and suggest key areas for improvement. They can also help you decide on your goals and the metrics you will use to measure your progress, along with identifying the resources you will need to complete your goals.

Writing a PDP can also be a useful exercise even when you are in between jobs or planning out the next step in your career. It will help you see where you need to focus your energies so that you can develop the skills you need for the new role or promotion you’re working towards.


Steps to creating your personal development plan
Start by thinking about how you learn best, and which resources you have access to – whether it’s a formal course, learning on the job, or online resources. The SMART method is ideal for formulating your personal development plan – this means that each one of your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic, and time-bound. Here are a few tips to get you started:

  • Make specific targets. For example, if you want to improve your public speaking skills, is it your presentation skills you want to work on or your speech-writing ones?
  • Make sure that your short-term objectives will contribute towards achieving your long-term goals.
  • Be honest about your weaknesses. What can you do to improve them?
  • Don’t just focus on your weaknesses - think about your strengths and how you can build on them.
  • Ensure your targets are realistic and specific. For example, ‘getting a pay raise’ is not something that is directly in your control - however, learning to use a specific software that may lead to one is.
  • Make sure you set deadlines for your objectives to help you stay on track. It’s a good idea to include some simpler, more achievable targets along the more challenging ones so that you don’t get discouraged along the way.


How to track your progress
Commit to carrying out the actions you have outlined in your PDP - simply writing them down will not get you to where you want to be. It is also important to keep track of your progress – this will help you stay motivated throughout your journey. Here are a few things you can do to stay on top of your game:

  1. Use software like Trello, Asana, or Evernote can help you organize your PDP and monitor your goals.
  2. Set small rewards to celebrate each milestone you reach.
  3. When reviewing your progress, check to see if your objectives are keeping you on track towards achieving your overall goal. You can always adjust them if you feel they are diverting you from your path.
  4. If you have a manager or a mentor, involve them in the review process. They will be able provide support and encouragement when you need it.


For more career advice, check out our other candidate blogs here . If you need help updating your CV or to find out about our latest roles, contact your local Adecco branch and connect with a recruiter today!

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