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A Personal Development Plan: It’s Like Crazy Paving

Graham Proud Four Steps Training

There is no such thing as a career path.  It is like crazy paving and you have to lay it yourself

Dominic Cadbury

A quote from Dominic Cadbury I use at development centres for high potential managers. When assessing what they want from their careers, it’s a great starting point in the process of creating a personal development plan.

Personal development is best summarised as preparing yourself for the future. It helps you to get more out of your current role and prepares you for your next career move.

It is clear the rate of change is accelerating and as such we need to ensure we are not left behind and take a regular and proactive look at what we want out of life.

When was the last time you really reflected on your career?

Many of us amble through life without a clear plan and so often find ourselves in a role or organisation more by chance than anything else.  Often this can work well for us, however for many they find themselves feeling unfulfilled and unhappy.

Still not convinced it’s time to take control, here are some other points that may convince you:

  • It’s really only your responsibility
  • To make sure that life is what you want it to be
  • Keep growing & ensure you keep relevant in a changing world
  • You can’t rely on job security these days
  • Makes others appreciate you so you feel valued at work 
  • Remain focused on what is really important as what you do at work impacts on home life too
  • You may increase your job satisfaction without having to change jobs
  • We spend a lot of our life at work – so make sure you’re happy

So here’s the Four Steps Plan to help you identify your personal development needs.

Use the following questions to take stock of what you have done, what you are currently doing and what you want to do in the future.  This should help to identify the priority areas for your personal development plan:

Step 1: Where have I been?

  • What knowledge and skills have I acquired in the past based on my previous experience?
  • What is still relevant?
  • What do I want to retain?
  • What can I let go of?
  • What skills gaps do I need to address?

Step 2: Where am I now?

  • What skills, experience and qualities do I currently possess both inside and outside of work?
  • How effective am I in using them?
  • Where do I believe I make the most contribution? 
  • What current job changes and development areas are on the horizon?

Step 3: Where do I want to be?

  • What do I want as a desired lifestyle? 
  • What kind of future do I want for myself and my family? 
    • Including thoughts about future roles and promotions
  • What difference do I want to make at work?
  • What projects or career moves would best help me to prepare for my preferred future?
  • What skills and experience do I need to acquire?
  • Which skills are likely to be most important for my preferred future?

Thinking about these primary questions can take a little while to consider, to research and to clarify.

It isn’t something many of us normally do on a regular basis, however does form the basis of assessing our development needs.

I’d also encourage you to ask for feedback from other people as they may have a different perception of you and may notice strengths that you take for granted.

Step 4: How will I get there?

There are dangers in trying to make too many development changes at the same time. So only focus on a few of your priority areas at any one time.

Also consider how you could use your strengths to develop further e.g. if you are good at planning perhaps look for an opportunity to project manage. Think of ways to use your skills in a different area?

Now looking back your answers to the earlier questions, what are your priority development areas?

Short-term Priorities
(less than six months)

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Plan of Action Timescales
Medium-term Priorities
(six months to a year)

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Long-term Priorities
(more than a year)

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Make sure you monitor your progress of these development areas on a regular basis, and take time to celebrate successes.

Once you have met your development areas, or you are well on the way to meeting them, revisit your other priorities and re-assess what you need to work on next.

Research shows there are many reasons why we fail to succeed in our plans, however most revolve around four key elements:

  • Hastiness
  • Decision Dodging
  • Analysis Paralysis
  • Going it Alone

So take time out to plan, tackle those tough decisions, take action not just talk about it and involve others to help; colleagues, your line manager and friends and family.

Four Steps Training can also support you or your organisation in every aspect of personal development, so do get in contact. From career coaching to succession planning, running development centres and psychometric profiling we have experts ready to help.

Let us guide you in your career path crazy paving!

Graham Proud, Head Of Training

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