Reviewing and Revising Personal Development Plans
Our page on Planning Personal Development explains why it can be helpful to document your goals and plans for personal development, especially if you want to develop particular skills. Once you have planned your development, you can then go on to develop the skills that you have identified.
But even that is not the end of the process, because it is important to review and evaluate your development.
This reflective process has two main purposes:
- To check that you have actually followed your development plan; and
- To ensure that your planned development has helped you towards your goals.
You may also find that your goals are no longer valid, and you want to update them.
A regular review process can therefore lead to you revising both your goals, and your planned development activities, to ensure that they take you where you want to go.
Evaluating Your Personal Development
It is worth taking time to review your activities against your plans on a regular basis, probably every quarter or so. Less often, and you may find that you are not placing a high enough priority on your development activities, and letting progress slip. More often, and you are likely to find that you have not made enough progress, or that you are tempted to put the review off, because the last one was so recent.
Regular review will ensure that you keep tabs on your activity, and are not tempted to make personal development a lower priority.
It is easy to forget about personal development, especially if you have just started a new job or course of study. But a regular review of your development plan keeps the process on track.
A Possible Review Process
Set aside time for your review. It is no good trying to reflect meaningfully in just five minutes. Make sure you are in no rush, and also that your environment is conducive to quiet reflection.
See our page on Learning Preferences for more about this.
Find your original plan, with your goals and planned activities. You need to know what you said you were going to do.
For each planned activity, assess how far what you have done by way of activity was in line with your plan.
You need to be honest with yourself:
- How much did you do?
- Was it as much as you were expecting to achieve?
- Did you do something different, but more effective?
Consider how successful you feel your development has been in getting you to your goals.
- Have you made progress towards your goals?
- Have you identified more activities that will need doing that might slow down your progress?
- Are your goals (and their timing) still realistic?
Decide what you need to do next.
- Is it more of the same, or something different?
- Do you need to take more time, or find some external support, perhaps?
Revise your plan to set out your new activities.
It is helpful to document your thinking during the review process. This means you can look back next time and remember why you changed your goals or activities. It also helps to articulate the reasons behind the decisions, and make sure that they are not just ‘I couldn’t really be bothered’.
Reviewing Your Goals
Every year or so, it is also likely to be helpful to review your personal development goals. As with the review of your planned activity, it is important to set time aside for this process. Again, it is also helpful to document it, because this forces you to articulate your reasoning.
- Are these goals really what I want to achieve more than anything else?
- Do they inspire me to take action?
If the answer to either of those is ‘no’, then you probably have the wrong goals.
Take a look at our page on Setting Personal Goals to see if you can develop new and more inspiring goals.
Changing the picture
If you are struggling to identify your real goals, try doing something different. For example, take yourself away for the weekend and go for a long walk. Walk up a hill and sit and look at the view.
Think about what matters to you. What do you really want out of life?
The advantage of going somewhere outdoors is that the landscape has been there a long time, and it has a way of making things look simpler. But you can try doing almost anything that takes you away from your usual environment and gives you time to think.
It is fine if the answer is ‘I don’t really have any goals right now, because I’m pretty happy with my life’. In that case, give yourself a break and don’t worry too much about personal development for a bit. But do come back to it in a few months, a year at most, and make sure that this is still the case.
The answer, however, is more likely to be ‘yes, but…’
In other words, yes, that is still more or less what you want, but you have refined your thinking consciously or unconsciously. In that case, tweak your goal until you are feeling more inspired, and it really is what you want to achieve more than anything else.
Once you have your revised goals, you can then go through the process of deciding what activities you need to develop your skills.
Moving Towards Reflective Practice
In time, regular review and reflection on what you have achieved should become a habit. You may find it helpful to read our page on Reflective Practice to understand more about this.
The process outlined on this page of reviewing your plans and goals on a regular basis is a step in that direction. It ensures that you set aside time for reflection, and hopefully, that you start to document your thinking and progress on personal development.
Remember, though, that there is no rush. There is a reason why personal development is sometimes called ‘lifelong learning’…