An example personal development plan is provided on this page, with a description of how it was developed and the benefits of having a personal development plan.
This personal development plan sample was generated and used "for real" by me.
By definition, a personal development plan is personal so please use this example as a stimulus to develop your own personal development plan template.
Ok, but what's involved in creating an example personal development plan?.
To prepare your personal development plan, keep it simple - all you have to do is five things:
1. take a look-in-the-mirror at your existing situation, skills, knowledge, relationships, contribution, potential etc. - (this is where you are right now)
2. think about the future of your choice and what you need to achieve it; to realise more of your potential; to grow and develop; to become more valuable and to become more satisfied etc. (this is where you need to be - your goals)
3. “write down” what learning investments and actions are needed to achieve your goals and future, what benefits will be realised (for you and others), what learning methods you will use e.g. courses, coaching, shadowing, benchmarking, assignments, open learning, action learning, and how this will be implemented and evaluated
(this is your personal development plan aimed at closing the gap between 1. and 2. above)
4. (if necessary) agree step 3. above with others, including timelines and resources and support that you may need (e.g. from your partner)
5. JUST DO IT, close the loop by checking your results and go to step 1. again to create your next personal development plan (i.e. make this an annual cycle)
For steps 1. and 2. above it is usually very helpful to get others’ perceptions through feedback processes and to add them to your own self review and appraisal.
Ok, but what does it look like? Show me an example personal development plan.
It is a real plan developed and used by me to respond to a pressing and significant situation.
I have described what happened, and the process I used to develop this example personal development plan, in three parts (and in some detail for learning purposes):
* part one is the explanation of the circumstances that led to the creation of the example personal development plan and how it was a good illustration of using the i-c-s-i process in practice
* part two explains how the example personal development plan was created and used. It also reflects on the benefits to self motivation, self discipline, self confidence and personal development
* part three is a copy of the plan I used, and am still using, to deal with the situation in a proactive and effective way.
NEW Just before we proceed with the Example Personal Development Plan:
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* what should I expect at an interview?
* what and how do I need to prepare?
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* what questions will I be asked and what are the best answers?
* how do I deal with difficult or awkward questions?
* what questions should I ask?
* what's the best way to rehearse?
* what's the best way to follow-up an interview?
This second edition contains a new chapter - What is the best way of getting an interview?
At the age of 57 I had a routine medical which revealed an abnormal ecg result.
The diagnosis was, “you’ve either had a heart attack or you are going to have one”.
The prognosis was that this is a degenerative disease and will need heart by-pass surgery at some time in the future.
The prevailing medical advice involved invasive techniques such as an angiogram and significant medication, neither of which held much appeal for me.
I was feeling very frightened, numb, battered and confused all at the same time.
This news shifted me way outside my comfort zone and threw all my goals, beliefs, activities and priorities into chaos.
I didn’t like it and I didn’t know what to do.
The doctors did.
They were the experts and they had experience.
In this situation, I had neither of these things. I was deep in unchartered waters and the stakes were high. I had never been here before.
Even so, despite the, "just do as we tell you", message coming from the doctors, my strong belief in being proactive came to the fore.
Simply being passive and relinquishing control in this situation felt wrong.
So, I decided that whatever the outcome might be, my health belonged to me and it was my responsibility to deal with it.
I decided not to hand over ownership of my health to the doctors but to work with them as vital resources in treating the condition.
I decided that my future was my choice and I needed to invest in self development (this example personal development plan was one outcome).
But, to start with, after considering my options with the cardiologist, I rejected the angiogram and had a non-invasive thallium scan instead.
This showed some narrowing of the coronary arteries which would only get worse if not treated.
Choosing to be proactive about my health and self development made me feel better and calmed down my negative emotions - a little.
But it also put into sharp focus a weakness. I was badly short of information and I didn’t know what I was talking about. Some research was needed.
This was a powerful practical example of the "i" part of the i-c-s-i process - investigate.
I investigated, with enthusiasm. What I discovered was to form the basis of this example personal development plan.
Before long, I arrived at the work of an American cardiologist, Dr. Dean Ornish.
This was a breakthrough for me because Dean Ornish had proved that heart disease could be reversed without drugs or surgery.
Up to studying his research projects and their outstanding results, I had assumed that I had a condition which would only get worse.
I had no basis for challenging this assumption and I had been interpreting the messages I received from my cardiologist as confirming the existing paradigm: heart disease just gets worse until surgery is needed.
Dr. Dean Ornish’s work changed all that for me.
Now I believed that I did know what I was talking about when I decided to make significant lifestyle changes based on Dr. Dean Ornish’s amazing results.
This investigate stage alone contributed significantly to my self confidence, self motivation and example personal development plan.
It was also critical in helping me make the decision to commit (the "c" of the i-c-s-i process) to change my life and to create a personal development plan to help me do so.
This, in turn, had further beneficial effects on my self confidence and self motivation and the example personal development plan you will see proved vital in boosting my self discipline.
Part Two - how the example personal development plan was created and used:
By now, I was keen to get started (the "s" of the i-c-s-i process), but I knew that just dashing off in all directions like a headless chicken would be a dumb thing to do.
So, I used my journal to summarise what I'd learned so far and to develop what was to become the example personal development plan described below.
At this stage, following my investigations, I knew that I could beneficially affect my diagnosed heart disease and I believed I could reverse it by making lifestyle changes.
So, I had a clear over-riding PURPOSE and vision of the future I wanted to achieve.
In summary, this was to use lifestyle changes to reverse my current heart disease, without needing drugs or surgery.
Now I needed to develop this into a motivating action plan for self development and that I could also use to monitor my progress.
The first thing I did was to turn the purpose statement above into three personal development key goals:
1. physical condition.
One doctor had said to me, “don’t become a cardiac cripple”, and I was determined to heed his advice.
So, I continued with my usual hectic work schedule as a business consultant and added to it a regular exercise programme based on heart rate monitoring.
I then captured this personal development commitment as a SMART goal.
To achieve this goal, I had to take certain actions - my example personal development plan included, for example, purchasing the heart rate monitoring gear I needed, including software to capture and monitor performance.
I had learned a lot about the effects of a diet containing high cholesterol, animal protein, saturated fat, sugar, alcohol etc. etc. and it was not difficult to express the personal development goal I needed.
I became a vegetarian immediately and a vegan about 3 years later.
The action plan was also simple - just do it. That is, from now, only make dietary choices in line with this goal.
No exceptions, no treats, no feeling deprived, just positive determination and self discipline to achieve this goal.
This was a great example of START, the "S" of the i-c-s-i process.
I just needed to start, so I did, and then every time I faced a choice re my diet, I just started again - simple.
My work often requires me to eat in restaurants and hotels and, in the early days, this was a bit tricky.
My experience was, though, that if I explained carefully what wasn't healthy for me, and made some suggestions as to what was, I was able to achieve the nutrition goals I had included in my example personal development plan.
Hotels and restaurants, I think, are getting much better at responding to special dietary requests.
3. psychological and emotional condition.
Having committed myself to reversing heart disease, an important personal development goal for me was to ensure that I managed my expectations and created a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
In particular, I wanted to programme myself for success.
This goal in my example personal development plan was very valuable in building my self confidence, self motivation and self discipline.
Within four months, my cardiologist discharged me and I had reduced my cholesterol level by 22%.
The healing effects of my lifestyle changes enabled me to halve the medication I was taking. My self improvement goal now is to get off all medication completely.
My ecg reports at annual medicals are negative and show no abnormalities.
Is there a personal development plan template?
Your personal development plan is very specific to you and your circumstances, by definition, so I think a "one-size-fits-all" template is inappropriate.
YOUR plan must work for YOU - anything that helps you make the changes you need is fine.
Anything, however beautifully written or presented, that languishes in a drawer or sits on a shelf or doesn't inspire you is useless.
Having said that,
a personal development plan will most often provide answers to some common questions, such as:
* what do you want to achieve? what is your purpose?
* why do you want to achieve it? and, whatever your answer is, why is that important to you?
* what are you dissatisfied about and want to change? (this may be helped with a self diagnosis exercise and the self diagnosis summary pattern of strengths and weaknesses that emerges)
* what is your vision of the future you want to create?
* what are the benefits of change?
* what are the risks or costs of change?
* what personal development goals will you need to achieve to satisfy your purpose? (express these in SMART terms) what will success look like?
* what actions will you need to take to achieve your personal development goals?
* how will you monitor your progress? how will you know you have succeeded (or not)?
* what other resources and / or support will you need? (including help from others)
* are you in a fit condition to succeed? what do you need to do to make sure that you are?
* how will you programme yourself for success?
* how will you ensure stickability and self discipline? what will you do if you revert to bad habits or begin to loose focus and self motivation or self confidence?
* how will you celebrate your success?
There's nothing rigid about this self improvement planning process, or questions to use, so a useful approach is the "s" of i-c-s-i.
That is, start: put together an example personal development plan, use it and find out if it works.
If it doesn't, learn, modify it (or start again), and use it and keep doing this as many times as it takes to achieve your self improvement purpose.
Part Three - a copy of my example personal development plan.
What follows is a summary of the example personal development plan I used to improve my health.
It wasn't neatly typed out as it is below, it was a bunch of scribbled notes in my journal, but the content is the same.
In my personal development plan sample, I used 3 major headings as my personal development plan template rather than, for example, a more structured format with boxes.
But, whatever works for you is fine.
Example personal development plan:
1. My overall purpose:
is to make permanent lifestyle changes which will reverse my diagnosed heart disease, without needing drugs or surgery.
2. My 3 key personal development goals are:
i. physical condition.
* my goal here is to exercise my heart, up to 80% of maximum heart rate, by jogging every other day and on the days in between to do 30 minutes of yoga postures and 15 minutes weights.
* I will record my heart rate with a heart rate monitor and software programme to show either increasing effort for the same heart rate (e.g. further distance or quicker times) or faster recovery times for the same effort.
* I will schedule these activities from 6.30 - 7.30 am each morning, except weekends (10.30 - 11.30 am).
* when I can't do this (e.g. traveling and working away from home), I will, at least, use stairs (not lifts or escalators), ensure a walk before dinner or breakfast, and do yoga every day.
* there will be no finish or "done that" point. This is now a permanent part of my lifestyle.
3. Actions needed to achieve my goal:
In my example personal development plan, my action commitments included, for example:
* investigate and purchase the heart rate monitoring gear I needed, including software to capture and monitor performance, within one month
* setting the alarm clock for 6.15am EVERY weekday morning, starting now
* reviewing the results every week re recovery times and more effort for the same heart rate, and modifying the next targets accordingly
* have an annual medical examination.
* my goal is to eliminate all meat from my diet and to minimise my intake of saturated fats (and avoid processed foods and trans fats), replacing them with organic, plant-based whole foods instead, starting now.
(for me, this particular goal in my example personal development plan was easy to achieve - I became a vegetarian immediately.
About 3 years later, as a result of success from the above, and further investigation re diet and cancer, I choose to eliminate all fish and diary products and I became a vegan).
iii. psychological and emotional condition.
Having committed myself to reversing heart disease, an important goal for me was to ensure that I managed my expectations and created a positive self-fulfilling prophecy.
In particular, I wanted to programme myself for success.
3. My third personal development goal, therefore, contained the following actions:
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