Personal Development Plan: The Ultimate Guide

“Be the change you wish to see in the world.” – Mahatma Gandhi

Personal development is essential if you want to reach your goals and live life to the fullest.

Consistently improving yourself and living up to your true potential benefits not only you but everyone and everything around you.

You literally have the power to change your life – and the world! – through your own thoughts, beliefs and actions.

It all starts with you.

But in order to do so, you must first have a plan.

Because, in the words of the wise Antoine de Saint-Exupéry, “A goal without a plan is just a wish.”

So, here’s how to create your own personal development plan for whatever you want to accomplish in life.

*This article is the first in a two-part series. The second part will be published next Monday.

Part 1
-What is Personal Development?
-Why Do You Need a Personal Development Plan?
-Defining Your Personal Development Goals

Part 2
-How Are You Going to Reach Those Goals?
-Personal Development Planning 101
-Implementing Your Personal Development Plan

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What is Personal Development?

“Success in life can be defined as the continued expansion of happiness and the progressive realization of worthy goals.” – Deepak Chopra

Personal development is basically the pursuit of enhancing one’s life through self-improvement.

There is no end or technical completion of “personal development” as a goal in and of itself. Rather, personal development is an ongoing process that continues throughout life.

You are never done growing because there is always more to learn.

As you evolve, so do your personal development goals.

You are, and always will be, a work in progress.

Personal development encompasses Mind, Body and Spirit.

Everyone’s personal growth journey will be unique. Some people may have personal development goals pertaining to their career while others may be more focused on getting in touch with their higher self.

Examples of Personal Development Goals

Some examples of personal development goals include those relating to:Building confidence, self-efficacyCareerCognitive intelligenceCommunication skillsConquering fearCreativityDeveloping talents/skills/strengthsEducationEgo/handling criticism and rejectionEmotional controlEmotional intelligenceForgivenessGratitudeHabitsInterpersonal relationshipsMental healthMindfulnessMindsetPersonality developmentPhysical fitness & healthProductivitySelf-awarenessSelf-careSelf-control, disciplineStress-managementSpiritual growthChanging limiting beliefs

So, you can see that personal development goals are as unique as the person setting them.

It all depends on what’s most important to you.

Everybody can engage in personal development – it’s for anyone who wants to improve.

In my opinion, the only two things you need to succeed with personal development are: 1- desire and 2- self-awareness.

If you have the desire to grow and you can be honest with yourself regarding your actions, your thoughts, your strengths, your weaknesses, etc., then you are ready to create a personal development plan!

Exupery quote pin

Why Do You Need a Personal Development Plan?

“If you don’t know where you’re going, you’ll probably end up somewhere else.” – David Campbell

Having a concrete, clearly defined personal development plan will help you to actually accomplish the goals you set for yourself.

It’s like your own personal roadmap to an improved life and becoming a better person.

Without a plan, you probably won’t get the results you desire.

Because, as with any goal, it’s best to set your sights on something specific. If your idea of what you want to accomplish is too vague, you will not know how exactly to go about pursuing it or even be able to realize when you’ve actually accomplished it.

Although, keep in mind that your personal growth action plan is not set in stone. It will grow and change with you. Through experience (both success and failure), your perspective will change and therefore your goals will too.

This constant process of self-development increases your confidence, happiness and level of fulfillment.

It also helps tremendously when it comes to chasing your dreams and reaching your goals – whether they relate to happiness, inner peace, career, relationships, or whatever you decide.

Create Your Personal Development Plan

Where to begin? Well, that depends on what your goals are.

To create a personal development plan, you must:

  • Know what your goals are
  • Have a plan for how you’re going to achieve them
  • Execute that plan

So, let’s start with 1- know what your goals are.

1. What Are Your Personal Development Goals?

In order to turn your dreams into reality with a personal development plan, you must first determine what those dreams are.

If you’re not sure, think about what is important to you.

Not what anyone else says should be important, but what actually means the most to you.

Society has tried to convince us that money, good looks, popularity, and other externally-driven goals are what define success.

But, we don’t have to conform to that mindset – we are perfectly capable of determining what success means to us.

What’s your definition of success? What’s most important to you? What does your ideal life look like?

Know Yourself

If you don’t know, then it may be helpful to get to know yourself a little better before you begin creating your personal development plan.

Try answering these 71 insightful questions (available in the Freebie Library) that may help you discover your goals- such as, “What would you do if you knew you could not fail?”

The Wheel of Life

To really pinpoint the areas of your life that you’d like to improve, you can use an assessment tool called the Wheel of Life (originally introduced by Paul J. Meyer).

The Wheel of Life is basically a pie chart representing different areas of your life.

Rating your level of satisfaction in each will help you to see which areas of your life you are satisfied with and which need more attention.

The categories can vary according to personal preference; feel free to change them to whatever suits you best.

I have chosen 8 main categories for my Wheel of Life:

  • Physical Health
  • Mental Health
  • Finances
  • Career
  • Fulfillment
  • Fun/creativity
  • Spirituality
  • Relationships

Free PDF in Freebie Library: Wheel of Life Assessment Tool for your

Personal Development Plan 

How to Use the Wheel of Life

Rate your satisfaction with each slice of the pie from 1 (extremely dissatisfied) to 10 (fully satisfied). The areas that rank the lowest are the ones that need the most work.

Notice which areas you are neglecting and which are getting the lion share of your attention – for example, scoring a 10 in Career/Fulfillment at the expense of Relationships, in which you scored a 3.

Completing the Wheel of Life can help you to not only see which areas of your life you want to work on but also to prioritize your goals (it’s important to limit your focus – having too many goals often results in accomplishing none).

Define Your Goals

Once you see which area of your life you want to improve, narrow your focus towards a particular goal.

For example, let’s say you scored lowest on career. Your personal development goal could pertain to advancing in your current career path or quitting your job and pursuing your passion.

Examples of Personal Development Goals

Here are some more examples for each category:

Physical Health

-exercise 3-5 days a week

-eat 5 servings of fruits and vegetables a day

-cut out soda, sugar, junk food, etc.


-learn to control your anger

-devote more time to your partner

-improve your listening/communication skills


-start a side business

-open a retirement account

-deposit $x into savings each month


-forgive those who have hurt you

-spread unconditional love

-come to terms with your own mortality

Mental Health

-make a self-care box

-practice mindfulness

-meditate 20 min./day


-enroll in relevant training/school

-network/improve and increase professional relationships

-quit your 9-5 and become an entrepreneur


-complete a gratitude exercise or journal prompt each day/week

-travel, start a blog, have children, or do more of whatever brings you joy

-volunteer for an animal shelter, environmental organization, homeless shelter, food bank, religious charity, historical society, or whatever other cause you are passionate about

Fun/Creative Outlets

-learn to play an instrument

-read 2 books a month

-develop your artistic talents

Hopefully this gave you some ideas and you are now able to identify a few personal development goals!