A Closer Look at the Personal Development Plan

Building a development plan, whether for your personal use or to outline a training program, is no simple task. A considerable amount of thought must go into each aspect of the plan, but where most managers, trainers, and individuals go wrong is in believing that their development plans have to be perfect on the first try. This just isn’t so.

It’s important to remember that your development plan is a guide to help you jump start your personal growth, training seminar, or project. There’s no way to predict changes, roadblocks, or setbacks and there’s no reason to feel bad about abandoning parts of the plan if necessary later on down the line.

Another mistake people make when outlining their personal development plans is in choosing too many goals. It’s perfect acceptable to have a lengthy list of goals, but it’s impossible to focus on all of them at the same time. Choose two favorites (no more than four) and focus on them until you’ve achieved your goals; then move on to the next one on your list.

Finally, make sure the goals you’ve chosen are things you really care about and want to achieve. So many people get caught up in the “development plan” cycle and end up “borrowing” ideas from other sources. In the end, they certainly make progress but it doesn’t really mean anything – they’re simply crossing items off of their “to-do” lists instead of completing tasks that have personal meaning.  It’s OK to browse sample development plans or ask your mentors, supervisors, and peers for suggestions, but in the end you need to make sure the goals you include are personalized and mean something to you.

These reminders apply more to your personal develpment plan than anything else, but knowing what your goals are as a manager or trainer are just as important as your plans for your classes. In the near future we’ll talk a bit about how to tailor effective development plans for your employees and training sessions. Until then, take a look at your personal agendas and let me know what you think! Are you on track or do you need your goals a bit more?

Thanks again,


Sean McPheat

Managing Director

MTD Training   | Image courtesy of Big Stock Photo

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Originally published: 28 January, 2009

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