A personal development plan is one of the most effective tools for students and professionals who want to achieve excellence in their respective fields. It utilizes the concept of reflection to enable one keep track of the steps they have made to acquire skills and knowledge. It enables one to keep track of the changes required in their life and the weak spots requiring improvement. The plan provides a gauge for a person to see their progress, and determine the skills to be achieved in the future. It aids in the achievement of personal and professional development goals. This is because success requires planning and goal setting. The goals set in the plan have to be clear and measurable.
Review of the initial PDP
According to my initial PDP, communication and social skills acquisition was the main goal for the semester. I had planned to communicate more with my instructors in the areas of my weaknesses. The utilization of the instructors’ office hours and the taking of extra time to get in touch with them enabled deeper understanding of the concepts taught in class. This was the main change that I had to make. During this semester, I have been able to increase the amount of time spent with instructors on learning after classes and ensured that I go over everything I learned in class. If there was a point or an idea that needed clarification, I have been leaving it to myself to talk to the teacher in order to understand the concept before the next class.
Social development was also a significant part of my PDP; I discovered that I lack soft skills in relation to other people. The importance of these skills in the work place is significant, and I required developing them in order to avoid the skill mismatch in the workplace (Zenger and Folkman, 2009, p. 137). The improvement of interaction with other people was one of the main goals of my PDP. During this semester, I have changed how I relate with people by leaving more time for the interaction with them. I was able to achieve this by seeking an elective post as a representative in one of the professional clubs at the school. Acquiring this leadership position was important for my development of leadership skills. The acquisition of this post has also helped me develop communication skills since I had to communicate the needs and issues of the club members to the club leaders. It has also made me a good listener and a more focused person due to having other responsibilities besides schoolwork.
I also intended to improve my social interactions inside and outside the campus. One effective way that I chose to achieve this goal was getting involved in extra-curricular activities. Choosing a sport or a club was not easy because I am not too athletic. However, I knew the importance of this and thus decided to join the badminton team and have become an active and competent badminton player over time. Having an extra-curricular activity and a social group outside of classroom has enabled me to deal with stress more effectively. It has also allowed me to relax actively and to live a more productive life. Joining the badminton team has proved to be helpful and beneficial in many ways.
On the issue of time management, I planned a weekly schedule of the things I would be doing every week in order to make sure that I was not falling behind on time. The weekly schedules have been effective but I have had problems achieving some of the overall goals set for the semester. The time schedule has been a difficult one to follow due to overcrowding and poor execution. Some of the milestones that had to be achieved by the end of the semester such as reading inspirational books have not been completed. The schedule made for the reading of inspirational literature has been too overcrowded, and I have only achieved half of what I had planned. According to Zenger and Folkman (2009), Inspirational literature is very important for motivation (p. 24). My inability to finish the reading plan is bothering and discouraging. This highlights a time management problem that I have to take into account in the next personal development plan.
A reflection on my performance
My academic performance during the semester has been at par with other semesters. There has not been any considerable difference in my performance, which is not satisfactory. I intended to improve my GPA performance every semester in order to graduate with honors. Therefore, more needs to be done and dedicating more time to studying is necessary. According to my PDP, I required to achieve an average of 70% in all the tests and assignments before the end of the semester. The more time spent consulting the lecturers and instructors has only had a marginal effect on my performance. This implies that more time should be spent on doing so in order to achieve the desired results. One of my instructors said that what I needed was more practice as opposed to theory. Changes in the amount of practice required have not been implemented effectively since the results have not been satisfactory.
Gaining hands-on experience in the field has been an important factor and determinant of success. I intended to work part time during my free time to gain experience and practice in the field to aid the theory learned in class. This step has only been partially achieved because I could not secure employment in my field of specialization. The job I acquired was in car sales, which is not what I consider perfect for the practicing of the skills learned in my course of study. I actually spent more time than the experience I gained was worth. Yet in my next PDP I will surely include more time for finding suitable work to ensure that experience is gained in the perfect field and the perfect job.
Overall, I have learned that I have potential I have not been utilizing. Previously, I could not find time to engage in other activities besides class work, yet I did not perform exceptionally well. I have discovered that I can live a more holistic life without compromising the time spent on studies. Planning has enabled me to visualize what needs to be achieved and decide how to achieve it. I learned that my poor performance in school has been the result of little or no practice. It has also shown me that personal skills are important, and they are not as difficult to learn as I thought earlier.
PDP for the next four semesters
My current performance level is average and needs to be improved by the end of the semester to ensure that I graduate with honors. Therefore, more time will have to be spent on activities that improve the amount of knowledge gained during class time and outside of class. Practice is also required; therefore, the time spent practicing the learned skills will have to be increased over the next four semesters. My academic performance is the most important aspect of my studies, thus more time will be dedicated to it alongside the inclusion of other activities such as sports. I will keep a record of the activities that I am involved in concerning work experience, personal character development, and other life experiences. The main aim of the plan will be to achieve the knowledge and skills that will match the market requirements (Fry, 2009, p. 120).
The plan will also integrate academic development with personal development. Personal learning activities such as spending more time in the library conducting research on some important aspects of my professional field will also be considered. This means that I will require dedicating more time to find work that is in line with my field. This learning experience will be aimed at learning from other people and encompassing the learned ideas and methods into my skill set (Niven, 2006, p. 295). Developmental changes are necessary to ensure improvements in the overall well-being of my career prospects. I will undertake more involvement in social activities and situations to develop confidence. The goal is to attend at least one social event every two weeks. In addition, acquisition of leadership and interpersonal skills will be given proper attention since these skills are what the professional world requires.
Establishment of learning habits will become a major part of the plan since life is all about continuous learning (Fry, 2009, p. 124). Motivational literature will form a significant part of my learning culture and habits. I will improve my time management skills to ensure that I read two or more motivational books every month. In order to improve my employment prospects and recognize the weak points I need to work on, I will ask one teacher to become my mentor. I will then make sure that I meet with the teacher at least once a semester. During these meetings with the teacher, I will ask for feedback on my career prospects in the field and the type of skills I need to work on. I will also ensure that the teacher gets a chance to criticize my efforts and improvements, and suggest areas for improvement.
Another important aspect of life that has to be included in the development plan is the achievement of financial goals. This is one of my main weaknesses and it was not included in the previous PDP. The goal is to achieve financial freedom and independence by the end of the four semesters. This will be achieved by ensuring that I obtain the habit of saving money. I will save half of the money that I earn during holidays. Doing so I aim to save at least $ 5,000 every year. These savings will be used to cover living expenses upon completion of my course of study until I get a permanent job. This goal will be achieved by ensuring that I change my spending habits to only spend on the necessary things. Avoidance of unnecessary and non-value adding activities will be the main weapon against excessive expenditures.
The personal development plan is very important in enabling the tracking of developmental changes that are necessary for the achievement of set goals. Planning is very important since it provides a medium for a person to set goals and decide how they will have to be achieved. My personal development plan will…
Personal Development Planning (PDP)
Personal Development Planning means:
- reflecting on your own learning, performance and achievements
- planning your all-round personal, educational and career development
- recording your achievements.
PDP can help you to:
- increase your self-awareness – who you are and what you want
- identify the skills and experience that you already have, and those that you need
- create a plan to acquire the skills you may need for your academic studies or your chosen career path
- keep a record of your achievements that you can draw on when you apply for further study or employment.
Why make the effort?
PDP will help you make the most of your time at university:
- by thinking through your skills and experiences and understanding your own learning style, you will find it easier to focus on areas you want to develop and on what you want to achieve
- having a clearer sense of your own direction will help you to feel more in control of your studies and your life
- by developing your understanding of how you learn and the areas in which you need to develop skills, you can not only make the most of your degree programme, but also of the range of skills training, placements, volunteering, sporting and work opportunities available to you
- by keeping a record of your achievements, you will have a ready-made stock of examples of your skills and experience that you can translate into what employers are looking for – setting you apart from other candidates.
How do I get started?
You may already be on a programme that incorporates personal development planning into initial skills training, placement and work-based learning or work towards accreditation in particular professions. Ask your personal tutor or Director of Studies about the personal development opportunities that are available to you as part of your programme.
For further information:
Want to know more?
You might find Harriet Swain’s article ‘The art of personal development planning’ in the Guardian’s ‘How to be a student’ series useful.