Norton Seal Woman learning to play guitar for her personal development plan

Support for Your Dreams

9 Steps to Creating a Personal Development Plan

We all have personal goals and dreams we want to achieve. Whether yours are about self-improvement or personal growth, your dreams can sometimes be challenging and difficult to attain. That’s why creating a personal development plan outline can be so important. A personal development plan is an effective way to outline the steps you need to take to achieve your personal goals.

Ready to learn how to make a personal development plan? Keeping track of your progress towards achieving your dreams is easier than you may think.

Why Should You Make a Personal Development Plan?

A personal growth development plan can help you organize and focus your efforts so the personal goals you’ve always wanted to accomplish can finally become a reality. By developing a personal development plan, you can benefit from:

  • A clear path towards completing personal goals to help you stay motivated
  • A greater sense of self-awareness by understanding what you want to accomplish
  • Saving time by creating an action plan personalized to you

How to Make a Personal Development Plan

A personal development plan typically consists of writing out nine steps:

  1. Set your goals
  2. Prioritize your goals
  3. Set timelines
  4. Know your strengths
  5. Recognize threats
  6. Utilize opportunities
  7. Learn new skills
  8. Lean on others for support
  9. Track your progress

By crafting a detailed plan using these nine steps, you’ll know exactly what needs to be done as you work towards completing your dreams. Let’s breakdown what makes up each of the nine steps:

1. Set your goals

The first step in achieving your goals and your personal development plan is setting your goals. Do so by writing your goals down and defining what exactly they are. Long-term goals lend themselves well when constructing a personal development plan, as they take time to accomplish and become easier to manage by detailing how you will achieve them. Consider making a personal development plan for long-term goals like:

  • Getting promoted to a senior position at work
  • Completing your first marathon
  • Improving your diet
  • Learning an instrument
  • Publishing an article for a professional journal

One effective way of setting your goals is using the SMART goal methodology. SMART goals are:






The SMART process can help you clarify the purpose of your goals and may even help you be more productive. Learn more about SMART goals below and download this worksheet to help set your goals.

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2. Prioritize your goals

Trying to achieve all your goals at once is an easy way to give up or feel overwhelmed. Prioritizing your goals is all about deciding which goals you should focus on first, and figuring out what makes the most sense for you.

For example, if you’re planning on climbing up the company ladder, you may want to consider prioritizing career goals like improving your public speaking abilities or learning specific leadership skills.

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3. Set timelines

Taking the goals you’ve prioritized into consideration, it’s now time to set deadlines. Timelines are a key component when building a personal development plan, as they can keep you accountable and help increase the likelihood of you achieving your goals.

Write out your estimated deadline for completing your goals and be sure to be realistic. That means you need to consider your schedule and establish a reasonable amount of time to accomplish each goal. Often it takes more time to complete a goal than you’ll estimate, so take that into account. And be sure to reward yourself — once you’ve completed the goal — as an added incentive.

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4. Know your strengths

In this step you’ll need to outline what skills and strengths you have that will help you accomplish your goals.

Write out and answer these questions to get started:

  • What are my biggest strengths?
  • What am I good at?
  • What skills do I already possess that will help me achieve my goals?

Struggling with these questions? Ask a friend or family member to answer these questions about you. Chances are they’ll have insight about yourself you may not have considered.

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5. Recognize threats

Next, you’ll also want to ask yourself what may keep you from attaining your goals. By identifying possible roadblocks now and starting to think about how you can avoid or stop them, you can save you a lot of time down the line.

Ask yourself these key questions:

  • What may prevent me from completing my goals?
  • How can I avoid these distractions?
  • Could any of my habits keep me from achieving my goals?
  • How can I stop doing these habits?

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6. Utilize opportunities

Be sure to take advantage of any opportunities that may help you achieve your goal faster. These are actions you should consider starting or events you may want to go to. For example, if you’re working on a career goal, commit yourself to registering virtual events or seminars that you’ve always wanted to attend. These opportunities may just be the extra boost of help you need.

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7. Learn new skills

Achieving something you’ve never done before often means learning something new. Once you’ve listed the strengths and skills you already have, do your best to identify the skills or knowledge you’ll need to learn in order to complete your goals. This may require a little research but doing so now will mean less work later.

Now that you’ve written down the skills you’ll need, try answering these questions to make your plan more actionable:

  • Can I learn these skills online?
  • Will learning these skills require additional schooling?
  • How long will it take to master these skills?
  • How can I stay focused and ensure I’ll ace these target skills?

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8. Lean on others for support

A great way to stay on track while working to achieve your goals is to share your goals with others. Having someone to help you along the way or offer words of wisdom can make a huge difference and keep your goals viable. Take time to jot down everyone you think can that may be willing to help you along the way. Friends, family, coworkers — often your support network is larger than you think!

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9. Keep track of your personal development progress

The last step of creating your personal development plan is making sure you track your progress towards completing your goals. Write down any milestones, important updates or lessons learned as your dreams get closer to becoming reality.

Revisit your personal development plan often and be sure to note if anything isn’t going well. Identifying challenges and work on ways to improve the process. This step is a difficult but key part of your personal development journey.

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Learn More About How to Set Goals & Achieve Them

Now that you know how to make a personal development plan, take the time to make your own. With hard work, dedication and a plan in place, you’ll be prepared to achieve those lofty goals that are so important to you.

Want even more strategies for making your dreams a reality? Learn about how to set goals and join the dream movement today for additional resources and guidance.

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Related Topics: Personal Development