Self-Development for Work: How to Create a Self-Development Plan

self development plan for work

To advance in your career, you need to be constantly developing yourself. Sometimes development will come from work, but often, you’ll need take charge of your personal development. And to ensure you’re constantly growing and developing, you need a self-development plan.

When you think of self-development, you need to be aware that there’s self-development in the workplace, what you do day-to-day, and personal development, what you do on your own time.

In this article, we’ll be looking at self-development in the workplace. We’ll also show you how to create a self-development plan that can help advance your career.


What is self-development?

Self-development, or personal development, is the concept of adding new skills and improving skills you already have. To develop yourself, you need to create habits and activities that help you achieve your goals and dreams.

For example, if you want to rise from a junior to a manager and become a leader in your field, you need to move from knowing the basics to having advanced knowledge in your field.

To achieve your goal, you need to learn the basics of leadership, including the five levels of leadership, the differences between leadership and management, and so on.

All of this requires developing yourself, both personally and professionally.


Self-development books to consider reading

One of the top ways to develop yourself is to read books, or listen to them. If you write ‘best self-development books’ on Google, you’ll get an endless list.

That’s why I turned to friends and connections for their recommendations of the best self-development books.

These books cover ideas like success, creating habits and using them to drive yourself forward, learning to think in a certain way…etc.


Here are their top recommendations:

  • Atomic Habits by James Clear
  • Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman Daniel
  • The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg
  • The War of Art (book 1) and Turning Pro (book 2) by Steven Pressfield
  • Tools of Titans: The Tactics, Routines and Habits of Billionaires, Icons, and World-Class Performers by Timothy Ferriss
  • Discipline is Destiny by Ryan Holiday
  • Grit by Angela Duckworth
  • How to Talk to Anyone by Leil Lowndes
  • The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
  • Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins
  • Quite the Power of Introverts by Susan Cain
  • How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie
  • How to Stop Worrying and Start Living by Dale Carnegie
  • The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey
  • The First 20 Hours: How to Learn Anything…Fast! by Josh Kaufman


You can check out all the recommendations for self-development books in this LinkedIn post.


Whether you’re at the beginning of your career or in the middle of it, you’ll notice that habits make a large portion of our success – or failure. If we’re able to maintain certain habits, these will drive us forward.

However, not everyone’s habits will work for us. Many of the world’s billionaires start their day at 5 a.m. This habit may work for them, but it may not work for you, now. It may work for you later, or it may never work for you.

What you need to do to develop yourself, is to create a self-development plan that suits you and your needs.


What is a self-development plan?

A self-development plan, or personal development plan, is a guideline you create to help you develop yourself over a period of time.

It’s important you ensure your self-development plan fits your needs and doesn’t contain excessively hard-to-achieve goals. Otherwise, you’ll end up abandoning it.


How to create your self-development plan

According to Brain Tracy, your self-development plan should cover:

  • What kind of person want to be
  • The skills you want to acquire and/or develop
  • What you want to achieve

Based on this information, you can then write down a list of short-term and long-term goals. The next step is to determine how you’ll achieve those goals.

For example, do you need to take certain courses? Do you need to do certain projects? Build a portfolio? What skills do you need to acquire or improve and how will you do that?

These are all questions you need to answer. You don’t have to go into much detail at the beginning. You can certainly come back and make changes to your self-development plan.

Finally, you should create a timeline for acquiring those skills and completing these courses or projects to achieve your goals.

“Effective leaders focus on continual self-improvement and know there is no substitute for hard work.” – Brian Tracy


Why does self-development matter in the workplace?

We’ve mentioned that there is personal development and there is development in the workplace. Your self-development plan can cover one or both areas of development.

Self-development for work involves acquiring certain skills that help you advance your career in a certain company or industry.

Sometimes, a company will provide training for its employees. However, often you’ll have to take the initiative yourself and find training or courses that help you hone your skills and gain new ones.

As an individual, you’ll need to develop yourself.

But it’s important for companies and HR teams to create training and development plans for employees. Here’s why:

One of the top reasons employees leave companies is because they don’t get any training or opportunities to develop themselves.

LinkedIn research in 2018 found 94% of employees saying they “would stay at a company longer if it invested in their career.”

According to LinkedIn data for 2023, 89% of learning & development (L&D) professionals believe that “proactively building employee skills will help navigate the evolving future of work.”


This means that one of the reasons for high employee turnover is the lack of training and development opportunities.


Final words

Self-development offers tons of benefits to both employees and the employers who hire them.

Sometimes, employees may seek hobby-skills and training. But still these skills can contribute to their career growth.

For example, taking a creating writing course may not sound beneficial to a company. However, this type of course not only relieves stress, but also helps the employee think creatively. This, in turn, may have a positive impact on how they handle issues and bottlenecks in the office.

With tons of online resources, companies can include learning and development in their compensation and benefits strategy and plan. Doing so gives employees the opportunity to learn what they want, while also investing in them.

In other words, if you’re an employee, invest in your personal self-development. If you’re an HR manager or specialist, consider ways to help employees improve, whether professionally or in terms of soft skills.

Learning has never held anyone back. But a lack of learning and development will prevent employees from growing in a fast-changing job market.


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