Personal Development Plan Examples: Identify Your Goals

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Structure Your Personal Development Ideas Properly

Personal Development Plans (PDPs), sometimes called Individual Development Plans (IDPs) or Personality Development Plans, are an important part of your personal and professional development. Find out more about how you can use a simple Personal Development Plan to improve you by reading this article…

What is Personal Development?

Simply, personal development is an individual journey of improving yourself.

Yet using a plan, which very few people actually do, an individual is able isolate and focus on activities that maximise self-awareness, put skills and behaviours under a microscope to identify weaknesses and improvement areas covers alternatively isolate key strengths to be optimised.

As Wikipedia puts it:

‘Activities that improve awareness and identity, develop talents and potential, build human capital and facilitate employability, enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations.’

Yet, because many people fail to see that personal development is a life-long exercise, it is often pigeon-holed as just ‘life’ happening, as normal. As a result, it is missed as a key opportunity to develop the above elements in a way that does actually enhance the quality of a person’s life. With said individual leaving things to chance, and often complaining when things don’t happen as expected, or at all.

‘The Harder I work, the luckier I get’ – Samuel Goldwyn

3 Aspects of a Personal Development Plan?

Categorically, as with any huge monument and incredible feats of ingenuity, personal development is best achieved with a plan.

A Personal development plan provides a set of guidelines and a framework that, if used correctly, creates two points of clarity:

  • The Here & Now
  • The Future Aspiration

Carving out time to reflect on these two areas helps to identify the current strengths and weaknesses. And these may be obvious or sitting in a blind spot. Regardless, if we don’t take the time to reflect and question ourselves on what these both may be, and how aware we are of them, we will miss vital opportunities to help improve and/or leverage the best parts of ourselves.

The third element that comes to life when building a Personal Development Plan; the bridge between point A and point B:

The Journey

This becomes the detailed actions required in order to fulfil those ‘Future Aspirations’.  As with any goal setting, regardless of whether this is personal or business, it’s exactly the same. It works like SatNav. I’ll no doubt repeat this analogy a million times before I die, yet it still holds true in these settings.

In order for Satnav to work, it requires 2 pieces of information. The postcode of where you are and where you want to be. Then based on these 2 reference points, it can help calibrate the best possible journey to accommodate the best possible result. Without A and B, you cannot bridge the required bridge to get there, because you don’t know where there is.

Yet what the Satnav also does, or moreover your phone does, is hold the journey for you. This is what the PDP does. It creates a container that holds all the information that keeps you moving in the right direction.

Why is a Personal Development Plan Useful?

One key reason: Clarity

Person sitting on cliff looking out over a city
A personal development plan will help you gain clarity over your objectives and goals


Your Own – A plan is an excellent way to keep you clear on where you were, where you are and what is still required to complete it. It helps keep you on track. Whether you check this daily, weekly or monthly. It’s a referenceable document or tool that keeps you moving forward.

And if for whatever reason, you do go off course, you can slide back and keep going. Of alternatively, if you find actually you heading in the wrong direction completely, due to business or life changes, it gives you a place to document those moments, evaluate, and get moving on the new trajectory.

Your Team – When each person in the team has a PDP in place it’s easy for colleagues to see what they can/could contribute to their peers and at the same who they can ask for support from. Having this in place helps to encourage peer-to-peer coaching and support, which in turn builds stronger team cohesion.

Your Bosses – If you are working in an organisation and the PDP is part of your regular discussions (and I truly hope it is) it also gives them heart that you’re working on you. They can see the self-respect and self-worth you place in yourself, how you’re developing skills and how that is supporting the growth of the business.

It also gives them the opportunity to contribute, and everyone loves to share what they’re good at to see and help others grow. It gives leaders no greater pleasure than to see their teams’, their people, thrive.

Who is Involved in a PDP?

Number 1. You. The reader at this point.

Although I’ve already highlighted the benefits of the clarity having a PDP in place provides not only you and those around you especially when whole teams use PDPs. Yet, time and time again, something I have to really drill into people when discussing PDPs. It’s a Personal Development Plan. It’s not an [insert company name] Development Plan.

This is about you, this is your work, this is your ambition. Too many organisations and bosses use this tool as a tick box exercise of an opportunity to get people to do what they want. This simply doesn’t work, because, in the long run, people disengage, simply because they’re being told what to do. Yes, there may well be skills on there you need to develop in order to support your role or the team. In the long run, this is about where you’re going.

‘It’s all about you, it’s all about you, baby’ – Song Lyrics, McFly

What Are the 4 Stages of Personal Development?

These are actually the 4-stages of learning:

Hierarchy diagram showing the 4 levels of learning competence.
The highest level of learning competence has the right intuition


That covers the learning journey, shifting up each rung of the ladder. In my understanding of PDPs, I’ve learned from CMI (Charter Management Institute) that Personal Development Planning has 7-stages…

The 7 Stages of Personal Development Planning?

  1. Establish your purpose or direction – Know where you’re going.
  2. Identify development needs – Where am I now in relation to where I want to be.
  3. Identify learning opportunities – Create a list of learning objectives.
  4. Formulate an action plan – Make your objectives SMART.
  5. Undertake the development – take action on your objectives.
  6. Record the outcomes – map your own progress, successes and learnings.
  7. Evaluate and review – come back at regular intervals with yourself and your leader to track the progress and recalibrate.

By doing this process, it becomes cyclic. With the review reinforcing or adjusting the purpose and direction which identifies further development needs and so on and so forth. With that in mind…

What Should a PDP Include?

The PDP (personal development plan), apparently also called an IDP (individual development plan) or a PEP (personal enterprise plan), not that I’ve heard these terms in 23 plus years, usually includes a clear statement of intent; the aspirational outcome, strengths or competencies, required education and training, and all the stages or steps to indicate how the plan is to be realised.

The majority of PDPs cover a 12-month period, and should, therefore, be updated and renewed each year.

Personal development plan examples are widely available online, so it’s easy to get a feel for what steps to take. As I shared earlier Wikipedia highlighted it’s how you ‘enhance the quality of life and contribute to the realisation of dreams and aspirations’. That’s a great deal to expect from a single document. It’s a great idea to look at a selection of personal development plan examples.

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Plan Examples

Most examples of such plans contain important and searching questions. Such as, ‘What are my strengths?’ and ‘What are my areas for further development?’. These are followed by the goal-setting section. This focuses on what actions and resources are needed to achieve the stated goals.

‘Most people overestimate what they can do in one year and underestimate what they can do in ten years.’  Bill Gates.

Although a PDP is about the coming 12 months a plan needs to include separate areas for:

  • Short-term goals – 12-month goals and every objective that falls under that.
  • Medium-term goals – the next 2-3 years.
  • Longer-term goals – beyond 3 years.

By doing this is also help you to clearly align your goals and make sure that one feeds the other. Much like dominoes falling over, by having this train of thought you can see how each step in the journey gets you to where you need to be. This is because it is all too easy to become caught up in daily life and merely react to situations. It’s better to be proactive.

Taking some time to write down ‘My personal development’, in template form, will help to crystalise your thoughts. Plus, begin to form the basis of a strategy.

Personal Development Plan table with the word sample stamped on the front
A personal development plan covers all goals from the next year, to three years and beyond


Another good example of the depth into which some plans delve is found on the site. It requires much finer detail when planning.

Analysing Your Team

At MBM, we offer a similarly detailed analysis of your team to help determine the long-term objectives. If you are building a team to specifically supply UK Supermarkets, we can help create a personal development plan for each member of your team. Uniquely qualified to give advice on and deliver training tailored to suppliers to UK supermarkets, we are the only training provider specifically tailoring our training to supermarket suppliers. To understand your, and your team’s, competency level across 11 skills download the Competency Framework.


Instructions for Completing the Self Development Plan Template

The key principles for completing this template are:

  1. Complete each section, see numbers 1 to 7, one at a time. For example, in column 2, consider the problems you encounter each day at work, like missing deadlines, or getting stuck in your email inbox.
  2. Use a page for each skill/behaviour that you wish to improve, e.g. Time Management Training or People Management Course.
  3. Do not spend too long completing each page. The mistake many people make is spending hours creating a great plan and then never touching it again. They don’t touch it again because it is too big and scary. A total of 45 minutes is recommended to write the plan.
  4. In columns 5, 6 and 7, write one simple and practical task that you will do each month to improve this skill. For example, read 3 chapters of the ‘Eat that Frog’ Time Management book. Or research ‘great project management for 20 minutes’, or book some Executive Coaching with MBM. The simpler and more practical, the more likely you are to keep re-visiting your personal development plan.
  5. Write on this template in pencil so that you can rub it out and write over it. Spending time typing and formatting takes effort that you could be spending developing yourself and also makes the document less likely to ‘live and breathe’.

Let us help you to be the very best version of you, with 121 Executive Coaching Support – Click on the tin can below to see the options that are available to you (A new window will open):

Links to MBM's Executive Coaching training
Learn Executive Coaching with our unique training course from MBM

Better Ways to Self Development

The quest to better yourself is a lifelong process. It seems that every week a selection of new titles is released. There are many different choices on how to chart your personal development and all share some common threads:

  • Where are you now?
  • Where do you want to be?
  • What do you need to do to get there?

Once you’ve plotted those questions and given some serious thought to the answers, you may benefit from some professional people development with a specialist trainer who knows your niche and is an expert in your field. We have a full programme of training courses designed specifically with a focus on suppliers to the big four supermarkets.

At MBM we would be delighted to provide your team with the tools they need in order to succeed in this market. We are a specialist training provider with a stable of professionally qualified trainers who all have UK supermarket experience. Between us, we have over 100 years of UK Grocery industry experience.

Watch the Videos to Build Your Personal Development Plan: Sticky Learning ® Lunches

In part one below you can learn how to begin your PDP:

Links to video about MBM's Personal Development Plan
Build your personal development plan with this helpful video

Setting Goals to Maximise Development

Successful people know that setting goals and visualising where you want to be are both keys to achieving those goals. Benjamin Franklin famously said, ‘If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.’ He knew that if you don’t decide where you wish to go, then life will take you where it pleases. Would you leave your future to chance?

You may have heard of Maslow’s Hierarchy of Needs. It ranks the things which motivate people. The needs are arranged in a pyramid shape, with the most basic needs forming the base.

Once a person’s basic needs are met, they begin to quest for more. They move higher through the pyramid until they reach the pinnacle of Self Actualisation – In other words fulfilling your potential.

Pyramid infographic with Maslow's Hierarchy of needs and five levels of engagement for personal development
Set goals for personal development


It is a long journey to the top of the pyramid. To ensure you make the most of your path, it is a good idea to plan the steps along the way. We can help you to do that.

Related Articles:

Learning to Learn Blog ArticlesSoft Skills Training ArchivesSticky Learning Articles and ContentTraining ROI Articles and Content

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