In today’s hugely competitive working environment, it is no longer acceptable for employees to confine their careers to the typical 9-5 daily grind. These days, workers are expected to own, develop and realize a Personal Development Plan (PDP). But what is a PDP and how can it be used to achieve success?

The aim of a PDP is to enhance the career and prospects of an employee by setting out clear, actionable and achievable goals over any given period of time, usually long term such as 2-5 years, or beyond. A PDP that is planned and managed properly can propel the career of an employee to unparalleled heights by outlining clear, specific, measurable targets which aim to stretch the employee’s limitations.

If such targets are met, the individual will have achieved a greater level of understanding, gained invaluable experience and will have become a greater asset to their employer having added value to their personal and professional worth. Having a PDP also develops self awareness, uncovers potential and nurtures talent. It can turn aspiration into reality by defining a manageable career path.

Although a typical career path can be somewhat unpredictable due to constantly shifting workplace and economic dynamics, an employee will be better positioned if they are able to steer their own careers as opposed to letting other dynamics steer their careers for them. A PDP can ensure that an employee has the right skills, knowledge, training and competence to be able to accept their responsibilities on an ongoing basis.

The contents of a PDP do not necessarily have to be set in stone; moreover it is considered a working document which can be amended at any time as long as the ultimate goal is not unreasonably affected. It acts as a framework for the employee’s career path and will guide the employee towards achieving the longer term objective.

A good PDP should be a document which can be visited regularly to measure progress, document success and highlight areas for further development. There are no definitive methods on how to create a PDP, however most of them will comprise the following attributes (or similar):


Current Situation

This needs to be documented in order to provide the ‘before’ situation so that you can compare it to the ‘after’ situation once you’ve reached your ultimate goals. It is a statement to outline where in life you are now, and how you got there. It would also be useful to highlight why you feel the need to change, hence the PDP.


Every PDP has an objective or series of objectives which the individual will be aiming to achieve by the end. These could be personal, professional, tangible or intangible.  Whatever the goals, they should be clearly defined, slightly stretching, worthwhile and designed to create value. Break your long term goal into a series of smaller goals to allow progress to be measured. This will give you guidance.


All goals must have deadlines in order to provide a sense of urgency and to inject purpose into achievement. Bigger, more challenging goals will obviously have longer deadlines however there should also be smaller, tighter deadlines within which to accomplish smaller tasks en route. Assign dates to deadlines if possible. Try as hard as possible to meet deadline, but don’t become disheartened if you miss any. Take everything in context and always keep the bigger picture in mind.


What methods, tools and techniques will you use to achieve your goals? The more resources you have, the better your chances of success. Use as many as you can. These can include practical work, research, training or studying. Why have you decided to use these particular methods or techniques? Obtain advice from a mentor or superior in order to ensure you are best equipped for what you are doing.


How will you know once you’ve reached a target? Having physical documents as evidence or grading progress on a scale of say, 1 to 10 will allow you to understand where you are and how far you’ve come since the last goal. If you haven’t progressed as much as you’d hoped, don’t worry. Reassess your goal, adjust your deadline if necessary and remain focussed. Investigate why you missed a target as it may help in future scenarios.


Your hard efforts need to be rewarded on an ongoing basis. Give yourself a treat whenever you achieve a goal. Keep a larger, more worthwhile reward in mind for when you reach the ultimate long term objective. Don’t reward yourself unless you completely fulfil the requirements of achieving the goal. Rewards are there to motivate you and spur you on. No success = no reward. Ensure you are disciplined!


Always document exactly how you’re feeling. This can be done at any time and is useful as a release mechanism for your thoughts. Keep a diary, write a blog, share your feelings with others. It may inspire you to generate ideas which might help you on your path to success. Your thoughts usually turn into actions so knowing what state your mind is in will give you an idea of where you are going.

There is nothing to stop you having more than one PDP for example, in your personal life as well as your professional life, or for different unrelated goals you may have. However do not give yourself so much to do that you end up being defeated before you even start. As per the proverb – From little acorns do mighty oak trees grow.

Vishal C Patel is from the East Midlands in the UK – and is an experienced Internet Marketer specializing in Self Improvement. His passion lies in helping people to improve their lives by becoming more successful and achieving their dreams. Think Your Way To Better Health, Wealth And Financial Freedom. Find Out How AND Get A FREE Copy Of My NEW eBook @ © Vishal C Patel. All rights reserved.
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