How to Write a Good Personal Development Plan

by | Aug 26, 2011 | Coaching Skills | 1 comment


Why do I need a Personal Development Plan?

If you want to change your life and make your dreams a reality, you need a good personal development plan. Your plan will help you get clear on what you need to feel happy and fulfilled. It will also provide you with the blueprint fpr how to get there.


What is a Personal Development Plan?

A personal development plan is a document that defines:

  • Your life’s vision/purpose
  • 6-month goals (that align with your vision/purpose)
  • A weekly routine (that you use every week for 6 months to ensure you move toward or arrive at your vision/purpose)

A good personal development plan will:

  • Be fun and be easy to follow
  • Store all the important, conscious choices you have made about what you ideally want to happen in all areas of your life
  • Serve as an action plan of how to get where you want to be
  • Help you stay focused
  • Motivate you to move forward every week


Most PDP’s Suck

Unfortunately, most personal development plans are a waste of time and space. Most plans are incomplete and uninspiring because they aim for the story you think you should have – not what truely makes you happy and fulfilled.

These uninspiring plans sit in a drawer and collect dust, while your dreams stay on hold.

But personal development planning does not need to be this way, it can and should be fun and above all motivating.


Personal Development Planning That Works

Over the years, I have discovered the secret to creating personal development plans that are inspiring and that work! It is a 3 step process that anyone can do.

If you are serious about changing your life, steal 2 hours from your busy day; grab a pen, a notebook and a coffee; and follow the three step process outlined below.


Step 1 – Vision Statements

Step 1 is the most important step because you can only reach your dreams when you know what your dreams are!


How to Write Vision Statements

  • Write as much or as little as you need to, to build a compelling, ideal picture of how you would like each area of your life to be. 1-5 sentences is usually sufficient.
  • Write one vision statement for each of the main life areas.
  • Think big. Dare to explore the boxes you put around your thinking.You can open up by asking  yourself what you would be, do and have in each life area if:
    • You could not fail?
    • Money was not an issue?
    • You had no fear?
    • What are you putting off until tomorrow, next week, next year, until you retire?
  • This is critical – your vision statements should describe the characteristics of your ideal life.When vision statements become too specific they can become dangerous symbols that you start to measure your success and failure by.For example, let’s say you want to live in ‘Paris’. That is too specific because it means you are unlikely to consider other cities that might make you  just as happy or even happier that ‘Paris’.Here is another example of a dangerous symbol. Sue has her mind set on getting a masters degree which means going back to university and forking out a lot of money. When I asked her, “For what Purpose do you want to go back to school” we eventually discovered that she longed to hang out with creative people and be involved in creative projects.These are excellent characteristics! What Sue then was able to see, for the first time, was a handful of other (less expensive) options for living her ideal life.



Sample Vision Statements


Vision Statement for “Physical Environment”

I live in a perfectly comfortable house with a huge grassy garden for my family. The house feels open and spacious. There is easy access to water for swimming and a beautiful view of the sunset from the porch. The area is safe and quiet with easy access to amazing motorbike riding experiences. We live close enough to civilization to be convenient and far enough away to have a sense of space. The area attracts like-minded people so we have a handful of intimate friends within walking/biking distance.


Vision Statement for “Career/Business”

I am a global thought leader in an area that I m passionate and curious about. Every week, I inspire people to be even more than they already are and to follow their dreams.


Step 2 – 6-month Goals

Before you do this step you must have written a compelling vision statement for yourself in each of the 8 life areas (see step 1). Once you have done that, you are ready to set 6-month goals that link with each vision statement.

You may be surprised at how quickly you can achieve a vision statement. For example, a 6-month goal such as “move house”, “get new job”, “start a business” can get you a long way toward realizing a vision.


How to Write 6-month Goals

  • Start out by asking yourself what you would need to do to make your vision a reality within the next 6 months. If it is not possible to fully achieve your vision in the next 6 months, think of the milestones that lie on the path to your vision and make one of those milestones your 6-month goal.
  • As a guideline you should have at 1 -5 goals for each vision statement.
  • When you are writing your goals use the SMART Goal method. This basically means that each goal is Simple, Measurable, Attractive, Realistic and Timed.
  • Make sure you are challenging yourself enough by answering these questions:


  • What is the worst that would happen if I did <vision> now?
  • If I actually did <vision> within the next 6 months, what would I have to do to get back to where I am right now?
  • What am I postponing to retirement? Why am I choosing to wait? If I did <vision> now, what would I learn?



Sample 6-month Goals


Goals for “Physical Environment Vision Statement” (above)

  • Decided on a location to move to
  • Collected items needed to make the new baby comfortable when she arrives.


Goals for “Career/Business Vision Statement” (above)

  • Started a blog
  • Logged all of my ideas in a notebook
  • Collected at least 2 testimonials for each of my products
  • Developed and published a video tip each month



Step 3 – Weekly Routine

Before you do this step you must have written clear goals for each of your vision statements (see step 2). Once you have done that, you are ready to develop a weekly routine for yourself.

Your weekly routine should include time each week to work on each of your 6-month goals.

Let’s say that one of your 6-month goals is to develop a new blog. Your weekly routine might say, “Work on blog Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday from 9:00-11:00 am”.

TIP: If you want to have a separate project plan, which lists all of the detailed things you need to do to get the blog built, that is fine. In that case, you would simply work through your project plan during the allotted time in your weekly schedule. Don’t clutter up your schedule with details – keep it simple and consistent because that is the key to making it work!

It is essential to keep your weekly routine the same for 6 months because we learn through repetition. By repeating the same schedule over and over for a log period of time you learn it so well that it eventually becomes second nature and easier to stick to!

This heightened conscious awareness of how you spend your time each week helps you to see how smart your time spending choices really are. Is most of your week spent in aligment with your vision statements?

How to Write A Weekly Routine

  • You have a 7 day period to work within i.e. Mon-Sun. Choose the what day(s) of the week and times (if applicable) that you will work on each of your 6-month goals.E.g. I will Exercise on Monday, Wed and Friday for 1 hour anytime of the day.
  • Ask yourself:
    • What is a good time of the week for me to work on <6-month goal>?
    • How much time do I need to spend each week on <6-month goal> to make sure that I reach it within 6 months?
    • Do I need to create a detailed project plan for any of my goals?
  • Lock those time slots into your calendar/diary. This is your new weekly routine.
  • Repeat your routine every week for the next 6 months.



Sample Weekly Routines


Weekly routine for “Career/Business”

Time Day High-level Task
Everyday Carry ideas notebook with me where ever I go
9:00 – 11:00 am Monday Work on Blog
8:00 am Tuesday Send out a request for a testimonial
9:00 – 11:00 am Wednesday Work on Blog
2:00 – 5:00 pm Thursday Work on video


Weekly routine “Physical Environment”

Time Day High-level Task
Any time Saturday Shop for baby items
With morning or afternoon coffee Sunday Daydream/discuss with partner/research locations that align with my vision statement for physical environment


Is My Personal Development Plan Any Good?

If you have done the exercises (above) you will know if you’ve got it right if you feel inspired to implement you new weekly schedule right away. If the motivation is not there, you may have some incongruencies with what you think you want and what you really desire deep down.


Want More?

If you like these concepts and want to learn even more about how to write a kick-ass personal development plan you may want to check out my eBook, How to Wake Up Inspired and Motivated. You’ll love it – it expands all of this out into about 50 pages of wholesome goodness including diagrams, lots of tables (for easy reading) and exercises!

1 Comment

  1. Desheen L Evans

    This is a PDP that works ONLY when the person truly invest in themselves, stay focused and believe in their self worth can this be truly effective. I am a living testament and I have a 1 year PDP and I follow it, make necessary modifications and work it. I am an acclaimed Visonpreneuer which lead to the birth of the Eyes of Power company.

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