Simliar to Objectives a
Personal Development Plan is a structured plan setting out over arching long term goals (1 to 3 years), then breaking them down into short term goals (3 months) then breaking down the short term goals into actions.
These actions through continuous small improvements lay the foundation to achieve your bigger goals. Seeing yourself complete these actions can keep you motivated when the journey is long and hard.
It takes time to do things, if everything was simple and easy we would not appreciate success. These long term goals need to be ambitious but realistically attainable. A great example goal is working towards a promotion, for example you may want to move from
Junior Software Engineer to
Intermediate Software Engineer so I am going to use that as my example for this post and draw inspiration from other goals and actions that I have set for myself in the past.
You dont have to only set one goal, you can work towards things in parallel just take into account your mental wellbeing and existing responsibilities you may have. In my case, I’m a dad and husband so I need to always remember my child and wife also need my time. Even your own hobbies are important, just remember you have to make sacrifices sometimes.
These dont need to hugely ambitious although dont make them super simple, remember its about growth. Each of these smaller goals collectively make up the over arching long term goal. Some example short term goals that would work pretty well with the promotion goal described above could be:
- Learn better communication skills
- Improve upon impact on squad and wider team
- Establish mentorship relationship
This would not be a complete list but serve as a pretty starting example, you could have 2 to 10 short term goals but it would depend on the over arching goal.
One or more actions make up a short term goal. There is a neat framework called SMART that I really like to use to set these actions. mindtools.com have a great post on these so I’ll just summarize what SMART stands for here:
- Specific, the action you will take
- Measurable, is how you know its done
- Attainable, a goal you can actually do and keep yourself motivated to achieve
- Relevant, is this relavant to your goals or just noise
- Time orientated, stick to the time constructs you have set. If its too large, break it down.
Using the short term goal
The result of this action was:
- Cool source code to reference
You can keep track in any manner that makes sense as long as you can explain it and show progess. With the current covid situation we work from home a lot so a miro board is a common way to keep track and follow a logical flow. The below is a contrived example with a single flow. Your board may have many stickys, notes and links. When it becomes a mess (and it will) be sure to keep it relevant and updated so only useful data is kept.
Mature companies require staff to report back on their development plans. Using a structure like STAR to explore the behaviors in a constructive and detailed way is a great way to communicate with your People Lead / Manager.
If your employer doesnt have existing pillars / expectations that your over arching long term goal aligns to then you can still use structures like STAR to summarize your journey.
- Situation, set the scene
- Task, describe the purpose
- Action, exaplain what you did
- Result, share the outcome
An alternative structure is SBI
- Situation, set the scene
- Behavior, observable action
- Impact, what I felt/thought/experienced
Good luck with your Personal Development Plan! If you stick to it, show ententional and sustained growth you will reach your goals.