7 Tips on How to Write a Personal Development Plan

Avatar for Èlisabeth Krussand
Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan will help you reach your goals in your career. It helps you think through what your goals and aspirations are, and to plan steps to take in order to get there. To be effective, it should also cover what motivates you and what habits you need in place in order to get there. It is also important that you can measure your progress.

Internalise and set goals

To begin with, when making a personal development plan, spend some time thinking and internalizing. Consider what you are good at. What do you like to do? Where do you want to be in 3 years, and in 5 years? It can be difficult to think 3 years or 5 years into the future. But remember you can always change your plan as you go.

Make sure that it is your own wants and goals and that it is not other people’s expectations you want to fulfill. Of course, other people’s opinions and expectations matter to us.  Like our parents, our children, extended family, spouses, and friends. But when making a personal development plan, you need to make sure that it is your wants and your goals. If it also coincides with the expectations of others that is a nice bonus but be aware it should not steer you.

Dare to dream

When you set goals and intentions for what you want to achieve, then dare to dream. Make some goals that excite you and that are a stretch. Do not worry too much right now about how you will achieve them, or if it is possible. If the goal motivates you to do things that are outside of your comfort zone, then it is a good goal.

“Most people will overestimate what they can do in one year, but underestimate what they can do in 5 years.” -Tony Robbins

Consider the why

Why you do something is your driving force. Extrinsic motivations like money, benefits, and position are important. But do not forget intrinsic motivators like learning, the greater good, and giving to the community.  Research shows that we need both extrinsic and intrinsic motivators. And when it comes to long-term persistence, intrinsic motivators become increasingly important.

Ask 7 times

A way to find your deeper and intrinsic why is to ask yourself why you want to achieve a goal. Normally, extrinsic motivations come first. For example, I want to make more money. If we then ask: “Why do I want to make more money?” Then we might get the answer: “I want to live more comfortably.” If you in turn ask: “Why do I want to live more comfortably?” The answer could be: “I want to have enough energy to play with my children and follow them up at school.” “Why do I want more time with my children? Because I want them to have a good future and have a positive impact on society. As you can see, every time you ask, you go a bit deeper. 

Assess where you are now

Where are you now? What skills do you have that will help you achieve your goals? And what skills do you still need to acquire to get there? 

For the skills that you still need to get, what can you do to get them? Is there a course or class you can take? Are there people in your office that have these skills, can they advise or mentor you?

Make a plan

When making a plan, you should divide your goal into smaller goals and stages and set a deadline for each stage. Be specific and set measurable goals. What are the parameters you can measure on each level of your goal? What needs to happen in order for you to say that you have reached the part of your goal? 


In the beginning, when we have set a goal we are excited and it’s easier to do what it takes to get there. But after a while, you will notice that the willpower wears off. Reminding ourselves of the goal and our motivation helps. Still, we can only go so far on willpower and we will get tired. This is why it is good to have good habits to fall back on. And to be aware while we are still motivated that we make habits that will help us get there. These can be things such as getting up a bit earlier every day, time blocking our tasks, exercising regularly, or having a planning session each week.

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