What is personal development planning?

Transitioning through life; flickr.com

As the world moves forward in technology, communications and global relations, individuals must find a way to keep up with the changing pace. Personal development planning is a way to bring out a person's distinct characteristics and strengths.

In doing so, individuals develop the skills needed to excel within their areas of expertise.


People who are capable of earning a living in today's world may not necessarily be using their abilities to their fullest. To use an ability, a person must first know that it's there. Personal development planning provides a framework in which individuals can identify untapped abilities and construct a plan that will capitalise on their specific skill sets and strengths. Development is an ongoing process that integrates personality and character with the demands that everyday experiences bring on a daily basis. Personal development may often require the learning of new habits so new patterns of productivity can emerge.


Personal development planning is designed to affect all areas of a person's life. The overall process emphasises the importance of personal values. The choice of career path and personal goals are all based on core values held by the individual. From there, the habits and behaviours required to make these values a real part of life can be factored into the plan. As a result, the effects of a clear sense of purpose and direction causes distractions and unnecessary conflicts to lose importance.


The focus of a personal development plan will provide a theme from which a person can develop individual goals, as well as the behaviours and habits that will make these goals possible. The focus ties in with a person's core value beliefs regarding life, and the role she wishes to fulfil. In effect, each individual goal, habit and behaviour change will work toward a certain life direction. Part of identifying the focus involves knowing what the end point of a particular plan will be. Financial independence, a career and a simplified lifestyle are all examples of possible end points.

Areas of Development

Areas of development within a personal plan fall into two categories--building on existing strengths and abilities, or developing new skill sets. Identifying which areas to work with requires a person to know what his current strengths are and which abilities need further development. Self-reflection and feedback from others are ways to hone in on strengths and abilities. Feedback from others provides input on qualities that may be difficult for a person to see in himself. This type of feedback should be workable and rational, meaning a noncritical and specific directive will be apparent.

Behaviour Change

The process of behaviour change can be challenging even under the best circumstances. Behaviour change requires a person to incorporate new habits and attitudes that may run contrary to her current lifestyle. Personal development planning is designed to connect this process of change with a person's core values and motivations. By doing so, the reason for change takes on a real and personal meaning. The objectives laid out in the plan should provide clear guidelines on how a particular habit will be incorporated into a person's daily routine.