personal development plan

You’ll Just Love This Simple Personal Development Plan

Are you feeling anxious or stuck because you don’t have a personal development plan? Or maybe you sorta have a plan in your head, but nothing’s written down? Then you’ve come to the right place.

I get so mad when articles tell you that you need to have a personal development plan. BUT THEN they don’t tell you how to do it.

So I’m taking on the challenge to guide you as you create your own plan. I have used this process to help hundreds of folks like you find direction and chart out their own plans.

We’re going to go through several steps so you have the information you need to be smart about your future. This blog covers steps 1 and 2. Steps 3 through 6 will be in the next two blog posts.  Watch for TOOL ALERTs, resources and websites that will help you along the way. I’m going to make this as simple as possible.

personal development plan

You are going to have to do the hard work, though. Creating your own personal development plan takes deep thinking and a good chunk of time.

The steps in this blog will help you decide if you want to

  • Stay in your current job
  • Reach the next level in your current job
  • Make a lateral move in your current company
  • Find a similar job with a different company
  • Switch to a new job/career entirely

Our simple but powerful guide to your personal development plan will help you find your direction and set goals to get you there.

And it’s free!

[NOTE: If you want to spend money, contact me about coaching you through this process.]

#1 Identify What You Don’t Want to Do

This first step is one most people skip. They just dive into what they think they want to do.

The point of this exercise is to take options off your plate, to get rid of things you know you’ll never do no matter how much someone pays you to do it.

Your first step in creating your personal development plan is to create two lists: things you “hate and never want to have to do again” and “things you can do but don’t want to.” By putting things on these lists, you reduce the number of possibilities for you to examine. This step makes this process so much easier.

Coming up with a list of things you hate is usually fairly easy for people. More challenging is the “can do but” list.

These are things you can do but would rather not do in a job. Yes, you can paid to do them, but do you truly want to do them every day at work?

Take networking, for example. Yes, you can do it, but do you want networking to be 80% of your job? No?  Then put networking on your “can do but” list.

personal development plan

How about writing? Do you love writing in your journal, but dread writing reports for work? Put writing on your “can do but”  list. It’s not something that you want to be central to your career.

One caution, however. No matter what your job is, you are going to have to write. I promise you. I know lots of accountants who chose accounting because they didn’t want to write. Guess what? They still have to write, but at least it’s about the accounting, which they really enjoy and are good at.

Here are some things on my lists and why I’ve put these items here.

Things I hate and never want to do again

  • Biology—‘nuff said
  • Anything related to frogs (ask my brother) or other hoppy things—don’t like hoppy unless it’s a bunny
  • Getting stuck on a bus in Chinatown –claustrophobia
  • Great heights—won’t be a steelworker on a high-rise
  • Lazy people–impossible to manage

Things I can do but don’t want to

  • Accounting
  • Create highly detailed itineraries or plans
  • Meetings that waste time and accomplish nothing—which are most meetings in my mind
  • Run/walk the Peachtree Road Race (6K)—been there, done that, got the T-shirt
  • Work in a bureaucracy

Do you get my drift?

Take time to really think through this. Your goal is to find the best spot for you–one where you can excel and shine. Don’t shortchange yourself and go with something on the “can do but” list.

Give yourself an hour or two to create these lists. You can always add to them later as you get to know yourself better. This is your personal development plan. Take it seriously.

Do you have your lists done? Good. Now move to step 2.

#2 Identify Your Skills

There are two parts to your homework for this section. The first is to figure out what you know you’re really good at. The second part is to find out what other people think you’re really good at. Start a new list and call it Skills.

A. I Know I’m Really Good At . . .

Create a list of Things You’re Really Good At. Ask yourself these questions.

  • What are your hobbies?
  • What do you love to do at work?
  • What do you love to do in your spare time?
  • What would you do even if you weren’t getting paid to do it?
  • Where do you spend your money?
  • Where do you spend your time?

A common response I get in workshops is: “I love helping people.” OK, that’s great. But dig a little deeper.

personal development plan

In what way do you love helping people? Are you teaching, leading, or encouraging? Do you provide a service, such as working in a soup kitchen or providing first aid at a mud run? Maybe you help at a community theater by building sets?

Or do you love helping certain people but not others? Do you prefer children over seniors? Or helping people with a disability?

For each of those questions above, ask yourself “why” you whatever. Why do you like the soup kitchen or building theater set? Why toddlers vs. teenagers?

Dig deep, people. This is your life you’re planning.

B. Friends Say I’m Good At . . .

Often our friends know us better than we do. Or at least they see skills and abilities in us that we don’t see in ourselves. You want to find out what these are.

For example, my friend Nancy is a master at helping refugees feel safe and welcome when they move into homes around our church. Nancy knows just what to say, what questions to ask, and how to make a stranger feel like he/she has found a new friend, even if they don’t speak the same language.

I see these skills in Nancy.

  • Compassion because she knows where the refugees have come from and what they’ve been through.
  • Ability to create a welcoming home, with the necessities but also with warm, small details that convey love and community
  • Ability to read body language and understand someone whose language Nancy doesn’t speak
  • Make detailed plans to ensure a home is ready for a new family, along with food and outside contacts
  • Ability to work with the bureaucracies of different refugee agencies
  • And so much more.

Do those sound like skills a potential employer would value? Sure, if those skills are a good fit for the job.

Are you the person your friends come to for advice? Maybe it’s because you’re a good listener or you can empathize with others.

Are you the one who always organizes events and makes dinner reservations? It’s probably because you’re good at planning or organizing. That’s an incredibly valuable skill you bring to any employer.

Think about things you automatically do, without even having to really think about it.

TOOL ALERT–a must for any personal development plan

Want some help in this area? Check out StrengthFinders. (Click on the book above to purchase now.)

This book comes with a code for you to take an online assessment. The assessment tells you what your top 5 strengths are. This comes from years of extensive research by Gallup.

I learned my strengths are

  • Strategic
  • Positivity
  • Activator
  • Maximize
  • Connectedness

These are me to a T. I am strategic about everything—really, everything. My husband and I once set aside a day to tour waterfalls in an area of North Carolina. I had a map that showed where each one was. As you can imagine, they were scattered about, not all in a straight line for easy visiting.

I challenged myself to just go with the flow—so to speak—and not worry about the most strategic and efficient way to see all the waterfalls. It almost killed me. In the end, my strategic planning genie took over and dictated the best path for seeing all and not backtracking.

I use all these strengths in my coaching, particularly Activator. I am really good at getting people to do things, once we’ve figured out what the best things are for that person.

TOOL ALERT–help for your personal development plan

personal development plan

This free online tool is one of several to help you figure out what your skills are and where they are needed in the workplace.

The O*NET Interest Profiler measures six types of occupational interests:

  • Realistic
  • Investigative
  • Artistic
  • Social
  • Enterprising
  • Conventional

This is a scientifically valid assessment that will help guide you. It is not a 10-question survey that someone created for the web.

Add your results from this assessment to your skills list—the one you started at the beginning of Step 2. You will refer back to this information later for your personal development plan.


You will find many other resources and assessments that can help you flush out your skill set. It depends on how much time and money you want to spend. Here are some popular tools right now.


The Enneagram is very popular now and may provide some useful information for you. You can take a free version of the test at You have to give your name and email to access the questionnaire. They do not send you a copy of your report, so take notes when the final screen pops up. I took it twice and got different results.


David Keirsey has done monumental work on temperament, a personality typing system that goes back to ancient times. You can take his free temperament sorter hereI have found temperament to be excellent in helping people recognize themselves and others. I use it with clients routinely.

Keirsey’s site also has tons of information to help you learn more about temperament. You have to give your name and email, but you do get a copy of the report.

Myers Briggs Personality Type

I am a huge believer in Myers Briggs personality type assessment (MBTI) and have used it with every single client for over 20 years. There are free versions on the web, but they are not scientifically tested and validated. If you’re interested in learning more about the real MBTI or want to find a certified administrator, go to this site for resources. Or email Pam at

personal development plan


DISC is another popular personality test, often used by companies with groups of employees. I am not a huge fan, but the info DISC provides may be useful to you. I know lots of folks have found it helpful. Here are two sites offering a free version:  and

Emotional Intelligence

Emotional intelligence (EQ) is a hot topic now in leadership circles, and it should be. Your emotional intelligence–vs your IQ–says a lot about you, your ability to manage yourself, and your ability to interact with others. I am certified in the Bar-On EQ-i assessment, but others are available. To learn more about emotional intelligence, check out these blogs:

 Google Embraces EQ; Are You Up to the Challenge?

How Do You Show Empathy? 5 Ways to Get Better at It

Here are two sites that offer a free EQ assessment.

And, of course, you can email me if you want to take the assessment:

How is your personal development plan shaping up?

I’ve given you a lot to think about and do in these first two steps to create your plan. I trust that you have all your lists pulled together so you can move on to the next steps. Here’s a preview.

#3 What Do You Really Love?

#4 What Are Your Core Values?

#5 The subject few people even think about when creating their personal development plan–and it is such a critical piece!

You won’t want to miss any of this.

Send Feedback

I’m here to help you figure all this out. Take advantage of that and ask me your questions. Let me know when you’re drawing a blank or hit a wall. You can do so in the comments below or–and you know this by now–email

I am here to help you. Please reach out and let me know what you need.

© Pamela A. Scott, 2017

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