How to Make Your Professional Development Plan Simple Yet Powerful
What comes to mind when you think about putting structure to your professional development? Does the very thought of it seem overwhelming? Or do you struggle with knowing a smart way to start? We are big proponents of professional development but, to be effective, growth has got to begin with a solid plan. Done right, the professional development plan becomes your blueprint for where you want to go with your career, what you want to be, and the steps that will take you there. If you need more help with putting structure to your plan, this template will provide guidance on how to build a professional development plan. It’s just four pages total, with lots of white space and a user-friendly feel. Filling it out takes willpower, a bit of time, and a general mindset of commitment on your end. But it’s all manageable and very doable. So get the structure you need—or if you’ve already got this framework in place, revisit and make a point to update it. Let it be your catalyst for success.
Here are three ways to boost your odds of making your professional development plan work for you:
Commit to do it. Whether you’re checking in on your current plan or completing this template for the first time, be proactive and disciplined about this activity. Set a time, date and place where you can really focus and get this task done. Put it on your calendar—make it a meeting date with yourself. Then choose a place where you can relax and not be interrupted by fellow co-workers, family, friends, etc. This could be the coffee shop, the library or your work’s conference room over the weekend. The key is to eliminate distractions, even turning off your cell phone and avoiding email if you can. Give it your all, and you’ll get the most back out of it.
Don’t strive for perfection. This is a living document…it’s going to change over time. Recognize and accept that fluidity, realizing it’s never going to be perfect. For instance, the exact words you use when filling it out aren’t as important as the activity of taking control of your growth and writing your plan. If you get hung up on the expectation for this to be perfect, you might find yourself struggling to start or get it done. Remember, this is a guide. If there are aspects of it that you want to tweak or customize for you, go for it—after all, it’s got to be something you can own, something you can believe and honor. And yet try to keep the vital elements in tact. We’re sure you’ll find they’re all solid in terms of a reliable and credible blueprint…that’s why we’ve stood behind this tool for decades. Many of our clients have achieved their goals and dreams using this template as their starting point and an ongoing guide.
Share your plan. Developing leaders all need a trusted advisor or two. This could be a business partner, your MAP consultant, or another type of viable mentor. Turn to this person and share your plan. Get some feedback from this confidant and build accountability with this person, asking him or her to actually hold you accountable to the goals and action items you’ve listed. Set up periodic meetings (ideally, monthly) to review your status, revise where necessary, and identify opportunities to take corrective action and celebrate your wins. When sharing your plan, make sure you’re doing it with someone who knows something about professional growth. A co-worker you like but who is not disciplined in challenging himself or herself isn’t ideal. Pick someone you know will push your comfort zone and help get you to that next level in your leadership potential.
What other steps can you take to ensure this remains a living document after you get it written?