Is there really any point to a personal development plan (PDP)?
I mean, can it actually make that much difference to your future? In my opinion YES but that really does depend on what you are trying to achieve and how you want to get there. There is absolutely nothing wrong coasting through life, taking the highs with the lows and just accepting the path as it presents itself in front of you. On the other end of the spectrum there are people who absolutely know where their life will take them and the steps to take to get there, this is where a personal development plan comes in to keep you focused and on track.
The two mains things a PDP helps you focus on is, ‘what do you want from life?’ And ‘how are you going to achieve it?’ You are then able to break this down in to specific actions, what things may get in your way and how to overcome them, and what else you will need to achieve your goal.
The best way to start any PDP is to begin dreaming and thinking about the next 3-5 years. What do you want to achieve in this time? Write it down on a piece of paper and note down all the things that you associate with that dream. It may be for example to get a promotion at work. What does that promotion look like? What does it feel like to be in that position? Where is your new desk? Who are you working with? Write it all down exactly how you want it to be and more.
Maybe your dream is to take the trip of a lifetime to South Africa. Who are you there with? What will you see?, Where will you stay? And what time of year will you visit? Get some holiday brochures, search the web and print some pictures of your dream destination so you are reminded everyday of where you are going. Feels good right?
Now its time to set yourself some targets to keep you focused. Think about what you need to achieve your goal, when do you want to achieve it by and an important step is to write down on your plan how you will know when you have achieved your dream. Is it when you have booked the ticket to Cape Town or is it when you step off the plane? Remind yourself what it will feel like to have achieved that.
Oh how lovely it is to dream!
Let’s take a reality check. What is your current situation and how does that compare to you goal? Have you taken any steps, or it is from this day forward? In the case of career progression then it is very likely you have already taken some strides towards your goals but where are the gaps? Who do you need to talk to? Is there any training available? The question to ask yourself is; What needs to happen for your goal to become a reality?
Here comes the big task of creating a list of actions you could/should take to reach your goal. They should all be measurable, with a timescale assigned to them to keep you on track. You can do this anyway you like, a spider diagram or a long list whatever works for you.
One of the actions for South Africa may be to open a savings account, another maybe to buy some reference books so you can start researching places to you. You’re getting the idea!
Take that long list and create your plan, what are you going to do in the short, medium and long term. If you were to complete one action within the next 24 hours what would it be? What about the next 48 hours, and within the next week and so on? You should have a clear plan of what needs to happen and when. Don’t be worried if the goal posts move just adjust your plan to fit, likewise if an action is no longer relevant just remove it. This is not set is stone and can be flexible to fit with you. The point of the Personal Development Plan is to get you to where you want to be, when you want to be there and in the best possible way.
A PDP can be highly motivational, keep you on track and lead to enhanced self-improvement. Make sure you are realistic with your timescales and the resources that you have available to accomplish your objective. A PDP is not a magic solution and will require hard work and focus and there may be stumbling blocks along the way. Dust off, pick yourself up, refocus and carry on.
This PDP is yours, after all it is your PERSONAL development plan so make sure it is about you, your goals and aspirations.