How to Create a Personal Development Plan

When I was in high school I had quite a few friends, but looking back, I didn’t have much in common with a lot of them. Sure, the guys on the track team liked running and so did I, but for the most part finishing high school was the number one thing we had in common. Everyone’s main concern was earning our diplomas so we never had to go back to that place again. We basically wound up becoming friends because we all had to be there together.  It didn’t matter if we were planning to head off to college, join the military or start working for a family business— we all wanted out.

It’s funny to think that the majority of teenagers have personal development plans—even if their main goal is to finish school, it’s still a plan in my book—but most adults do not. Do you know what you want to do with your life? Do you know where you’re headed? Not really? Then figuring out how to create a personal development plan is right up your alley.

Why Personal Development Plans are a Good Idea

I love setting goals and doing my best to achieve them. I’ve had some failures along the way but I’m successful a lot of the time, too. Based on my own experiences, I’ve realized that when I create a personal development plan, I know three things: what I’m trying to accomplish, why I’m trying to do those things, and how I plan to get to the end result.

All too often, people only focus on their professional life or their finances when it comes to planning things out, as in “I want to become a supervisor,” or “I want to be earning twenty thousand dollars a year more than I do now.” It’s great to have professional goals or goals related to your bank account, but you shouldn’t ignore the fact that you’re a human being—you have a personal life outside of work.

Is there a place you’ve always wanted to see, but never been? Is there a hobby you’ve been dying to pick up, “when you have more time?” If you’re single, do you want to meet someone? Ask yourself where you’d like to be … six months from now, a year from now, five years from now, ten years from now … if you know where you want to be and what you want to be doing, it’s going to be a whole lot easier to get there.

A personal development plan is a list of things you’d like to accomplish, with milestones or mini-goals to help you out along the way.  It doesn’t have to be fancy, but it should be written out somewhere—a notebook, a journal, your computer. You might not finish writing it all in one sitting and that’s fine, but be sure to cover a few different aspects of your personal life when creating your personal development plan.

Aspects of Your Life to Include in Your Personal Development Plan

Here are some suggestions of things to cover in your personal development plan:


Whether you like it or not, relationships play a big part in all our lives. We have relationships with our spouses or partners, our families, our friends, our co-workers, and even people that we see out in public regularly even though we’re not close with them—baristas at Starbucks, waitresses at restaurants we frequent, etc.

Make it a point to improve all of your relationships. If you’re involved in a relationship that is one-sided or unhealthy, you should make a decision. Do you want to try and work things out? Do you want to end the relationship? Think of all the relationships that you have going on in your life right now. What do you want to improve or change? How are you going to go about making those changes?

Health and Exercise

Your overall health and well-being are important things to consider when creating a personal development plan because they can play a huge role in your mental health and your overall outlook on life. If you’re always eating poorly, getting little or no exercise and constantly getting sick, it may be time to take a look at the big picture.

Schedule a physical and find out what’s going on with your body. Stress can do a lot of damage to someone, and hearing what a medical professional has to say about the situation often acts as a wakeup call.

Start eating better and get off the couch and away from the computer—even if it’s just walking outside for twenty minutes a day. Create some small health goals to start. My guess is that you’ll feel a lot better rather quickly.


We all have our own skill sets. What do you think you’re good at? What skills do you have that can use improvement? Is there something that you’d like to learn? Public speaking is a skill that I’d like to improve upon, and I’m also interested in studying new languages—especially after travelling through Europe for the past few months.

If you want to improve on things or learn something new, join a group or take a class at a community college. Learning doesn’t have to be expensive, and if you’re studying something out of your own free will you’ll probably enjoy it a lot more than you would if you were being forced into it.

By the way, tutoring others is also a good way to improve your own skills. Music teachers have to stay on top of things because they explain concepts to other people, and teaching someone about blogging or computers means that you’ll have to really know what you’re talking about.

Hobbies and Fun

Don’t forget to leave time in your life for hobbies and fun things that you enjoy just for the sake of doing them. Reading, traveling, playing sports, doing crafts, cooking, hanging out with friends … whatever you like to do, include it in your personal development plan.

Ask yourself if there’s a way to turn your hobby into an income. A lot of people make a bit of extra cash by selling crafts or selling used books online after they’ve read them.

It might sound funny at first to create goals regarding your hobbies, but it’s not. All too often, they’re overlooked. That’s why people have boxes full of art supplies, books or sports equipment in their garage or attic. Stop overlooking your hobbies. They’re important.


If you consider yourself religious or spiritual, be sure to make room in your life for your beliefs. I know a lot of people that only attend church on religious holidays because they claim they’re “too busy” the rest of the time.

Spirituality can offer a sense of calmness or peace, which is why a lot of people find that it helps reduce stress and increase optimism and their outlook on life. If it’s important to you, don’t ignore your faith.

Final Thoughts on a Personal Development Plan

Setting goals and creating plans for your personal life is more important than most people realize. Hopefully these basic ideas will help you understand how to create a personal development plan and help you get a good start on the project. I update mine regularly and I get a pretty good feeling each time I accomplish something I set out to do.

Take Action. Get Results.

36 thoughts on “How to Create a Personal Development Plan”

  1. Great post as always! I am a big believer in having a plan and following it. I have a tendency to be lazy and to procrastinate, and having a plan and long term goals helps to combat those tendencies.

    I also find it helpful to post my plan in a conspicuous place (mine is on my mirror) so I am reminded of what I need to do each morning.

    • I think it is easy for anyone to procrastinate. Specifically on long term goals. That is what makes plans so great.

      It MAY even be true the the more of a tendency people have for procrastination the more a really good list can help.

  2. Hi Steve,

    This is a great article!

    I am a firm believer in planning. If you don’t know where you want to go, you will probably end up nowhere.

    As I read through your article I realized that my personal development plan was too focused on financial goals. I had neglected other goals that are equally important.

    The points that resonate strongly with me are as follows:


    Although I exercise regularly, I have to make an effort to watch my diet as well. I also have to learn to manage my stress better because I find it difficult to relax. I need to return to my meditation again.


    I have indeed been neglecting some of my important relationships with friends. It is so easy to get caught up in our busy lives that we forget the need to nurture relationships.

    Thanks for sharing this article!

    • Thanks,

      It is very easy for success oriented people to focus solely on their success goals. After all, personal time is a few more hours that can be used toward goals.

      IN the long run though, spending time on your goals, like health and relationships, will actually make you a happier and more productive person. They could very well make you more productive rather than less.

      Regardless the whole point of success should be to enjoy it. If you are sick and alone, success really does not mean very much.

  3. Steve,

    its too late, and this post is too insightful to take it all in right now, but I just wanted to say thankyou for providing it because I know I am going to get a lot out of this when I absorb myself in it.

    Bookmarked – BRB Steve 🙂

  4. Steve, it is great to read a post which realizes that life is a whole, it business plus pleasure, plus a whole load of other things. A lot of web stuff seems to concentrate on one area (business) or the other (spirituality or health) with few seeing the person as a whole.

    I doubt many people have a personal development plan. I know I need one. Did you come to this realization by yourself, did you work with a coach? Where did the notion come from?

    • Lesley,

      I can’t say the idea f a personal development plan was all my own. I have read it in a few books. I cannot remember the titles offhand (I will come back if I think of them).

      You are right, often a life plans you find online do tend to concentrate on either business or life. But in reality there is a lot more out there that is really important. One thing I have always thought is that too much an ANYTHING is bad. Everything should be about balance.

      As for having a coach, no I never have. Just reading and maybe my father. He will often act as a “coach” for family members when they are messing up. He even does up power point presentations on what we need to do to improve. (not that he does that a lot)

      anyhow, I hope you have a great week. Thanks for a wonderful comment.

      • Steve, thanks for the information. My Dad died 20 years ago, I often wish he was around to advise. That’s one of the reasons I am so keen on balance, he worked so very hard, but didn’t live long enough to see the benefit.

  5. Hi Steve:

    Today I not only read your post with full attention but also I like the picture you chose for it. You have created a great personal development plan, starting from relationship,health exercise, skills, hobbies fun and spirituality, all this is very hard to maintain.

    You have organized the topic in a very meaningful life. This kind of life will create and accomplish goals very well.

    Thanks for words of wisdom


    • Glad you liked it Fran.

      I do believe that life is really about balance. everything you do if you overdo it can become an addiction. Even the positive things. you can overwork, over exercise, over play and even over love. The best thing is to find that perfect balance.

      Of course nothing is every really perfect and different thing will be more important to different people. That helps to make us unique. But as much as I love to work and achieve. It does need to be balance by fun, health and romance.

      Thanks for a wonderful comment!

  6. Hi Steve,

    This is my first comment here and actually the first time I’m visiting your blog. It definitely turned out a good find.

    Now on topic – I do agree on your point that sometimes adults can be far more lost than the teenagers, but after all life gets ten times harder when you finish school. Isn’t it? I’m yet to see for myself, since I’m still there though.

    Other than that having a plan on what to do and how to do it is undoubtedly important. Without such a thing you can just get lost in the thousands of opportunities that pass by. In order to achieve your goals, you first need to define and set them. That is where so many people fail – they just don’t have an idea what they are striving for.

    Cheers! 🙂

    • Daniel,

      Glad to have you visit. I will be getting by your blog to visit back in a bit (likely early this evening… or tomorrow in the States….) Running a bit behind now and I want to reply to a few more comments before i run out the door…

      Now for ME to get back on topic…

      It is not necessarily “harder” as an adult. Though I think the volume of stuff you have to deal with increases I also believe the capacity to deal with it likewise increases.

      What I think people lose is the “big picture” over time people can get so caught up in the day to day stuff they lose the real specific and people lose the clear vision of their goals that they had when younger.

      I am sure you have a clear goal of Graduating, perhaps something about college or starting a career. Whatever it is it may be clear. with all the stuff that piles on over the years I think it is easy for people to lose that focus and clarity sometimes and chase after things that are important…but are not everything.

      just my $. 02 hope that makes sense.

      Glad you stopped by and hope to see you again! 🙂

  7. I strongly believe that setting up a plan and then religiously sticking to it is very important. Well, after reading your post, it seems to me that I need to revamp my personal development plan Steve.

    I so agree with the part about tutoring others is a great way to learn yourself. You know when I was in high school, I use to tutor a bunch of kids that were in lower grades to make some extra bucks…and not only was I making moolah but I was also refreshing on the things that I had forgotten or the course material that had changed over time.

    Awesome insights. Love reading your posts.

    Later Steve.

    • You know I just realized something -I never said I was quick on the uptake-

      What you said is one of the beauties of blogging. At least for me. Having a subject that I know pretty well, but thinking about “how do I explain this” or “how do I talk about that” really crystallizes the topic in your head.

      It is like tutoring, You know the concept, but you really cannot grasp exactly what you know and what it all means as a whole concept until you try to explain it to others. It seems like, in some ways, one of the best teachers is teaching.

  8. Steve, when I first got into blogging I knew that I wanted it to not only be a developmental plan for me professionally but personally. I wanted to make money but also live comfortably. I had to work hard but also take it easy.

    Moreover, there are a lot of choices and I’ve learned that when you can make the personal succeed, it will go over to other aspects of your life. Thus, being personable online has it’s rewards as well.

    You sharing with us this process through which you’ve understood planning for something beyond yourself yet you’re in the moment with others. It’s that little thought, that comes and even goes. I think it’s more about grasping it and never being satisfied that today is all that’s left.

    Thus, having plans to develop yourself naturally brings on the professional as we need the money to support it right? 🙂 Thanks so much for sharing your strategy for a meaningful life.


    • “make the personal succeed, it will go over into other aspects of your life” – Well said Thu

      If you are able to achieve a decent level of success in all aspects of your life -both personal and professional- it truly does bleed over and effect the other parts.

      If you just work until you are burned out, exhausted and sick, your productivity falls off fast long before exhaustion.

      Balance in life will help to keep you motivated and on track both personally and professionally

  9. Steve,

    I’ve been a personal development junkie for 20 years now, and goals is one of my weaknesses. I think it’s my “ADD” kicking in. I’m a spazz that goes a hundred miles a minute. Don’t know if it’s a good thing, but that’s how I roll. I’ve been relatively successful so far, but know their is more I can accomplish. Really enjoyed this post, and have both bookmarked your blog and followed you on Twitter 😉


    • Mike,

      I auto followback on Twitter, and will be over to your site to check out YOUR stuff later this afternoon! – That is likely my ADD-

      Anyway thanks for stopping by and dropping a comment, bookmarking and following. Hopefully you will see something here that you like.



  10. Hi Steve,

    This is very good! I always tell myself if I fail to plan then I plan to fail. Having a plan and setting goals is always a good thing.

    I’ve never considered setting goals for the different areas that you have recommended. You have encourageded me to work on that. 🙂

    I’m glad you mentioned something about relationships. A reminder that I need to do some checks and balances in that department.

    Take care,


    • Evelyn,

      You seem to be a pretty balanced person to begin with, you obviously know a ton about the work side of things, and since I see you all over the place, I know you work hard… and you are certainly into the health side of the house from what I have seen of your blog

      …so yeah; get out there and kick that relationship thing in the butt 🙂

  11. I did something like this for the first time when I set my New Year’s resolutions last year and it was a huge help in how I spent my time this year. Having goals in a variety of categories means there is always something exciting to be doing as I move forward to achieving them. Really great post and I so recommend people give it a try! 🙂

    • I never really thought about it for new years resolutions, but that is a really good idea. People usually limit themselves to only one (for simplicity sake) but doing it by one for all the categories is actually a wonderful idea.

      Since New years is headed this like a speeding train I may just try that idea out a bit!

  12. Steve,

    This resonates very well with the theme of my blog. What you have written here as Aspects of Life, is what I have been referring to in my posts as the Vital Sectors of Life.

    Now, different people have different ways of representing these, and some people split some of these into different sectors because of the specific importance that they would be associating those things to in their life.

    I am seeing a nice mapping between these aspects that you have outlined and the sectors that I think about in relation to success.

    Nice post, as always! Keep up the good work.


    • Thanks Mark,

      Glad you liked it. whether aspects or sectors, it is a pretty universal truth. there is a strong need for balance for all these things. Like you pointed out, different exact needs within them and amounts of those needs will certainly vary. But everyone does need some time and effort on the facets that improve ALL aspects of life. Not just productivity.

      Thanks for the great comment and encouragement

  13. Scott,

    This is a nice holistic approach to Personal Development! I like this post so much because it presents Personal Development as a holistic and integral aspect rather than the popular approach that focuses only on particular aspect.

    Personal Development involves all things and everything inside and outside of oneself; and, you clearly defined those areas in this post.

    Nice job!


    • Thanks Marlon

      There certainly are a lot of posts on ways to improve your personal development from a work standpoint. I know because I have done a few myself.

      I do believe that the holistic approach is needed. People want to center on what can actually make them money or make them happy, depending on needs. Centering on one may gain some headway for a time, but in the long run, it is work on them all or it will not work.

      I am glad you agree and appreciate the concept. thanks for the kind words and support

  14. I think this is a great blueprint for creating a personal development plan. Excellent idea about not making everything about financial goals! I’ve always been a fan of personal development plans even if I didn’t always call them that. Assuming you take action and don’t let them sit in the filing cabinet that is!

    • How to make money is one thing people are always eager about but the whole package is needed. Partially because rounding out all the aspects actually helps to increase productivity, but mostly because it just helps to make you a better and happier person.

      Thanks for dropping by and leaving a great comment! Hope to see you again!

  15. I think it’s helpful to view all those different aspects of our life and set down goals for each one. For me, I have the following goals.

    Relationship: Meet someone, and get married in the next year.
    Professional: Earn $10,000/month in residual income
    Hobbies: Be fluent in Chinese
    Spiritual: Stop being attached to people, and let them be who they are, and stop caring so ppl who dun care about me.

    • Those are some really good goals. They are all pretty ambitious for a short period of time. Well, ambitious depending where you are at in the process of them.

      But even from a cold start every one of them is 100% possible given a years time and some kick ass hard work.

      Good luck Hen, I look forward to hearing how they are going in a few months!!

  16. Great advice- I am currently working on my goals for the upcoming year…thanks for the tips!

    @ Mike Pederson- you sound like a “male me”- I am all over the place at times….

    I get bored easily…I think that’s why I love blogging- always something new and different to write about, new plug-in’s and widgets all the time, meet new people…..

    • There are a few topics I return to again and again from different angles. Having goals/planning and the importance of having email lists are two of my big ones. They are both things I am passionate about because I think they are UBER important, and though people mention them, I do not think they get all the credit they deserve.

      I agree blogging stays fun because it does give you a wider variety of things to talk about rather than a tight and static niche-site would. Plus all the great people you meet and awesome exchange of ideas. A vibrant blog is a fun and exciting place.

  17. Hi Steve, this was really timely for me as I’ve been thinking my life is off balance. That’s what spurred me to write a post on what happens when you work too hard. I have been focusing on professional and financial goals as you mentioned to the detriment of other things. I’ve made a health plan, but I need to make one to include more time for hobbies/friends.

  18. I know you did not intend this to be an all encompassing personal development post and your goals are a great start. I do tend to encourage people to start with identifying what their limiting beliefs are. If we all can create anything in our lives, and we are in fact doing that right now, then what would you create?

    Very nice post,


Comments are closed.