Make a Personal Development Plan (pPDP)
Many do not think thoroughly, continuously, and in a structured manner about their life and goals unless a mentor pushes them.
“First say to yourself what would you be; and then do what you need to do.”— Epictetus
What is PDP?
A personal development plan allows you to consider where you are in life professionally and personally, review which direction you’re heading, compared to where you would like to be heading, and last, but not least, what is currently your longer-term target.
A PDP is a living thing, changing even on a weekly basis, and certainly month by month, growing alongside you.
It is the business plan of your personal self.
What is pPDP?
That is my fancy way of promoting PDP to be used as a day-to-day tool outside of work, regardless of whether you are a student, a freelancer, unemployed, retired, or working full-time.
How to get started?
An example of how this might look for you could be as simple as just the notion that within the next 5 years you want to buy a house, start a company, finish a Master’s or achieve a certain amount of savings.
Then you should dig deeper, and make your PDP multi-dimensional. Expand into where you would like to be in terms of career, education, family, financials, network, diversity of experience, new hobbies, and living location in the short term and the long term.
Figure out who and what actions can help you achieve your goals as they are right now. Go note all of these things down without worrying about structure, but if you want some, there are many templates out there.
Inventing your own structure that you feel comfortable with and helps you ensure you will come back and review it periodically is the best option.
How often I should review it?
Monthly in the worst case. But the point of it should be that whenever you make a reasonably important decision you will make it with your PDP in mind. You will be assessing whether you are making the decision that actually takes you towards the direction you want to go to without missing some of your goals unintentionally.
We are only human, and having the PDP in place helps us keep ourselves accountable to our-selves.
Ensure the PDP feels comfortable to you. What often happens is one creates it and then leave it to gather dust.
What is the value add?
This recorded thought experiment will force you to think about your values across many axes. And you may realize how different they might be but also how they can align and help each other (e.g. how your professional life can help personal and vice versa), in a way you may have been missing before.
Additionally, you will soon notice the amount of time it takes you to achieve things gets shortened because there’s much more clarity on what you can do and will do next to forward specific goals. It’s not being left to you to remember when you remember it, and there’s less room for things to be missed out.
You already do this for your groceries and you probably do it for your boss or job. Do yourself a favor, and do it for yourself as well!
Is this grounded in reality?
The goal is not to dream about blue sky or see the world in black and white, but an evolving spectrum of which you are part of and can plan for.
It can be life-changing to set this up once and then review and update it continuously.
- Start on a blank page or with a template
- Note down what is important for you to achieve
- Note down what you’d like to have achieved when you’re 80 or older
- Note down actions you can take for each category to push it forward
- Relax once you’ve offloaded all of this from your mind
- Review it periodically, update it when needed, and keep yourself on the track you’ve set for yourself
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