A personal development plan is a way to help a person achieve their goals and improve themselves. For people unsure of where they want to go with their lives or how they want to get there, a personal development plan provides a guide map to show them the way. Even sitting down to draw up a personal development plan can provide new insights into your personality, achievements and goals.

Step 1.

Determine your strongest personality traits. A personal development plan should be tailored to who you are, not a fantasy version of who you think you should be, so be honest when determining your personality strengths. Not everyone has the sort of personality desired by employers and Western society, which is often outgoing and optimistic. Perhaps you're a productive and creative introvert, or a pessimistic but brilliantly analytic thinker. Write down these personality traits, whether you consider them good or bad. The strongest aspects of your personality will determine the sort of personal development plan you draw up.

Step 2.

Determine your goals. After determining your strongest personality traits, use these traits to figure out your goals. Goals are most likely to succeed if they fit within the limitations of your personality. An introvert will probably never be an extrovert, and pretending to be one can be a tiresome and potentially damaging experience. Thus, a career in sales, which attracts gregarious and outgoing personalities, may not be the best role. However, an introvert who wishes to become a writer will have a better chance of success. Goals can be what you wish to accomplish in the long term or short term, but the best goal list will include both.

Step 3.

Create a mission statement. After determining your goals, writing out a mission statement can help you to create a focus for the personal development plan. A mission statement should be brief; no more than a few sentences. A mission statement defines who you are and what your purpose in the world is. It can also include where you hope to be in the future, or who you wish to develop into. A mission statement can also include your most important values.

An example of a mission statement is, "I wish to foster the relationship between humans and animals by becoming a dolphin trainer," or "I will further the field of autism research because I believe in the integrity of all human beings and their rights for equality, regardless of mental or physical handicaps."

Step 4.

Create a plan. Now that you have goals and a mission statement, determine how these goals will be accomplished. The easiest way to do this is to break each goal down into smaller tasks. These tasks can be broken down into yearly, monthly and daily steps. If you wish to become a veterinarian, the first thing to do is to research different veterinarian schools. Then apply for different schools and study. Creating a plan and breaking these goals down into tasks will ensure that these goals are more likely to be reached.

Step 5.

Give yourself occasional rewards for completing tasks. Keep a schedule or day planner, and track your progress. Occasionally reward yourself with a treat, such as a book, movie or a day off, when you make progress.

Step 6.

Reassess your personal development plan when necessary. Goals and plans change depending on what happens in your life, and sometimes a goal that you once desired no longer seems desirable. Reassessing a personal development plan is not only healthy and normal, but oftentimes integral to improving yourself.


Avoid goals that are based on status, such as popularity, wealth, or prestige. Achieving these goals is often unsatisfying and, in the long run, not helpful for personal development. Effective, long-lasting goals should be congruent with your values and detail how you can make a difference in the world.