Of course, you want to develop yourself, but it can be hard to decide what to include in your development plan. I recommend that my clients have a mixture of experience-based development (stuff you can learn on your job) and formal classes or workshops.

And as you start pulling your development plan together, make sure to include:

  1. Something that serves your organization
  2. Something that serves you now
  3. Something that serves you in the future
  4. Something that lights you up
  5. Something that scares you (yup!)
Your development plan should be exciting AND scary! #personaldevelopment #developmentplans Click To Tweet

Something that serves your organization

It’s pretty common to frame our development plans strictly in terms of what they can do for us.

Think of at least one thing on your development plan that serves your organization. In fact, once you’re done making your plan using this list, go back and see how each one of the things on your plan can serve the organization you work with.

It’ll be way easier to convince your boss to support your plans when you can show the value proposition for the organization, and not just you.

Something that serves you now

Put something in your development plan that you can put into action immediately. Like, right when you get back to your desk.

If you’re doing a lot of project management, you could learn about the latest PM techniques or how Design Thinking can help with projects. If you’re a numbers geek, maybe a spreadsheet or macros online class would fit the bill. Or if you’re a lab rat, you could get certified on a new piece of equipment in your lab.

Think, too, about practices or habits that you can develop that would be helpful in your job, like a weekly reflection practice or a focus on keeping calm.

Something that serves you in the future

You’ll also want a development item that will pay off over the longer term; making sure your development plan has a future component will do that for you.

Do you want to be a people manager in the future? What could you put on your plan that would strengthen the skills you need as a leader? (Hint: anything on this list would work great – compassion, curiosity, communication, vision, resilience.)

If you’re dreaming of a role in a different department, how could you prepare yourself for it? You might consider asking to do a temporary assignment in the other group, or partnering with a colleague from the new group on a project.

Something that lights you up

Since growth and development aren’t easy, it’s important to include something that you really want to do. It might fit into one of the other categories on this list, too, but be sure there’s something that makes your heart sing or would make you deeply happy to achieve or learn.

Something that scares you

Doing something that scares you will probably bring you your biggest transformation. No, it doesn’t mean skydiving if you’re afraid of heights (necessarily). But it does mean you need to get uncomfortable. We often avoid the very things we should be developing because they’re scary.

Do your knees knock together when you give a presentation? Bingo. Learn about public speaking, and have something on your development plan that requires you to practice this new skill off, or ideally on the job.

Are you afraid to show other people what you’ve written? Take a writing class, and offer to write an article for your department’s newsletter or to be the communications lead on a project.

Are you avoiding applying for an executive job because you get nauseated at the thought of looking at financial data? You know what I’m gonna say here . . . learn about finance! You might get a mentor, take a class, or read everything you can get a hold of, but whatever you do, get after it!

Your development plan will be stronger and more effective if you include all 5 of these elements. What are you most excited to develop? Tell us in the comments below.