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Blog Training and Development

Individual Development Plans: 14 IDP Templates & Examples that Motivate

By Michelle Martin , Feb 15, 2023

Individual Development Plans

The terms Individual Development Plan and Employee Development Plan are often used interchangeably, but the outcome is the same: a document outlining a person’s professional and career goals with an action plan to get there.

Does every employee in your organization have an IDP? Or if you’re here to make one, has your manager discussed a plan for your professional development?

If your answer is “no” to either, you can’t afford to ignore individual development plans any longer. Companies that invest in employee development earn, on average, 11% higher profits than those that don’t. You’re also risking your workforce as  86% of professionals  would switch jobs if the new one offered more growth and development opportunities.

Not to fear: Here’s everything you need to know about creating useful individual development plans to boost your profits and attract and retain top talent.

Click to jump ahead:

What is an individual development plan, why do you need an individual development plan, 13 individual development plan examples and tips, how to make an individual development plan, individual development plan faqs.

An individual development plan (IDP) is a collaborative document between a manager and an employee to define career goals and map out how to learn new skills or improve current ones. It matches an employee’s strengths and interests to key business objectives.

Usually, individual development plans are part of the annual performance review and general  employee development  discussion. But you can make or update one anytime.

You can also create an individual development plan for yourself to pursue career or personal learning goals.

IDPs usually include:

  • Short and long-term career goals the employee wants to achieve.
  • Current skills the employee wants to improve, or new ones to learn.
  • Skills the manager wants the employee to further develop.
  • Specific action steps to achieve the goals (e.g. taking a course, attending a workshop, finding a mentor, etc).

Many different formats work well for individual development plans, from plain text documents to elaborate tables and timelines. Mix and match blocks, tables, and more with this flexible IDP template to customize it to your needs.

Healthcare Individual Development Plan Template

Return to Table of Contents

Individual development plans are beneficial to everyone, including the company. IDPs encourage your employees to voice their career goals and co-create a plan to get there. Even if they end up leaving for another company in the future, you benefit from their new skills until then.

Your employee will likely also be grateful for their growth with you and happily refer others to open roles. Since we’re in one of the  tightest labor markets ever , referrals and word of mouth can mean the difference between filling your open positions or not.

Individual development plans also address a real business need:  56% of businesses  surveyed by Statistics Canada in 2022 said most of their employees weren’t “fully proficient” at their jobs. If your company has over 100 employees, that most certainly applies to you as 93% of large companies responded that way, whereas only 33% of companies with less than four employees did.

IDPs help your employees learn the skills they need to achieve their own goals, but they’re also key to ensuring your business needs are met.

A stylish table format is effective for communicating goals and action steps which are both important parts of an IDP. List the goal category on the left, the action step in the middle, and a target due date on the right.

For example, a goal category could be “improving public speaking skills.” An action step could be joining a local Toastmasters group or hosting a Lunch and Learn for the office.

Leadership Readiness Checklist Template

Give this worksheet-style template to your employee before your IDP meeting to find out their goals and how they view their progress so far. By getting their ideas on paper first, you’ll make better use of meeting time to discuss actions and solutions.

Healthcare Individual Development Plan Worksheet Template

Are you (or your employee) a visual person? Just because most individual development plans look like traditional documents doesn’t mean yours has to. Try out this creative and colorful quadrant template to prioritize goals and actions by their importance, due date, or any other criteria that make sense to you.

Healthcare Performance Training Development Venn Diagram Template

This template is structured as a corrective action plan but could also work well for an IDP. As a reminder, IDPs aren’t a disciplinary tool or for underperforming employees. Everyone should have an individual development plan focusing on their strengths, while also acknowledging weaknesses that may impact the achievement of career goals.

Employee Corrective Action Plan Template

Another great template for visual folks, this serves well as a progress tracker for the action steps in your IDP. The simple, one-page format is quick to update and makes it easy to see progress toward your goals.

Marketing Skills Training Matrix Roadmap Template

This template could be another self-evaluation tool for your employee to fill out prior to your IDP meeting to rank the importance or priority level of specific actions or goals. Or, use it as a progress tracker by listing out the actions and ranking them from “Not Started” to “Complete.”

Leadership Skills Inventory and Self-Assessment Checklist Template

Often, an IDP has a big goal in mind, like being the head of a division or something else several steps ahead of you. In order to get there, you need to break it down into smaller goals along the way.

Growing into a C-suite position could mean first managing an important project, then a small team, and then a larger team, and so on. By visually planning the smaller goals along the way, you (or your employee) have realistic expectations of what’s needed to get to the ultimate goal and a focused approach to get there.

Healthcare Individual Development Plan Process Infographic Template

An individual development plan is a lot like a product roadmap, except with your goals instead of new features. This simple timeline template is a good way to work through the order you’ll need to accomplish action items in and set target deadlines.

It’s also useful for visual thinkers to see a simplistic overview of their trajectory on one page. You can detail each goal or step in subsequent pages.

Simple Iconic Career Roadmap Template

Using a 30, 60, and 90 day timeline is an effective way to break down large goals into achievable steps per quarter. This can also work as a one-page quarterly plan — just add an extra column — or a multi-year plan.

30 60 90 Day Plan Template

This template serves as a compact yet detailed action plan that’s perfect for goal tracking in your individual development plan.

Plan Of Action And Milestones Template

This multi-page template is highly flexible so every page of your IDP will look professional and on-brand. Easily add tables, lists, and more to the content pages as needed to create a detailed and aesthetic development plan.

Microlearning Onboarding Menu Materials Template

While this is set up as an orientation plan, you could easily customize it as an individual development plan.

individual development plan long term goals examples

If you like a quarterly planning approach, this template is helpful to detail the action steps you need to take for the rest of the year.

Colorful Quarterly Product Roadmap

Any of the templates above can be your starting point for creating your organization’s IDP template, or choose from all our  business templates . Some templates are available only to our paid subscribers, but all the options above are free for everyone to use.

Starting with a template saves time and ensures your finished IDP looks polished and professional. It’s easy to customize any of these with our free online editor in just a few clicks.

Step 1: Sign up for a free Venngage account

All you need is an email address to  sign up for a free Venngage account .

No free trials, credit card numbers, or any of that. You can edit any of our free templates with your free account… for  free , okay?

Step 2: Choose an individual development plan template to customize

Pick one of the templates mentioned above or browse our full database of  Human Resources templates , including  letters ,  plans ,  presentations , and more.

venngage template

Step 3: Edit the template for your IDP

Once you’ve picked a template, the fun part begins: Making it your own. Click  Create  on any template to enter the editor where you can change colors, text, graphics, and more.

I’m using this IDP checklist template as an example:

employee checklist IDP template

I like to match a new template to my brand first as this saves a lot of time if you want to duplicate the page to add more content later.

Our Business and Premium subscriptions offer  My Brand Kit  to store your colors, fonts, and logos for easy template customization anywhere for your entire team. But no worries for our free account holders: Editing is just as easy.

Click on any text area or graphic to edit it. Type new text, or use the top menu to change color, font, size, spacing, and more.

venngage editor

You can replace existing graphics with one of our  3 million+ free stock photos , over 40,000 illustrations and icons, or upload your own.

Explore the left side menu to add a background or a new layout, like a graph or table. You can also click and drag objects around the page to your liking. Use the right side menu to duplicate the current page or add a new blank one to your document.

venngage editor

Step 4: Share or save your new IDP

Once you’re happy with your new individual development plan template, click on the  Share  icon or  Download  button to save it to your computer (Business or Premium accounts).

So easy, right?

venngage editor

What are good IDP goals?

There aren’t “good” or “bad” goals as each IDP is as unique as the individual it’s for. However, effective IDP goals have a few things in common, like being:

  • Related to the employee’s career path.
  • Achievable in the specified timeframe. (You can list out big goals but ensure the action steps to start with are reasonable to accomplish, or at least start, within the next year.)
  • Collaboratively planned between manager and employee, with both having input.

If your employee wants to lead their department one day but hasn’t managed anyone before, some good IDP goals to set for the upcoming year could be:

  • Taking a leadership course or program from a nearby or online business school.
  • Leading a big project, including supervising their peers and providing feedback.
  • Finding a leadership mentor within the company and regularly checking in with them.

How can I support my employee’s IDP goals?

This depends what your employee’s goals are, but a few general ideas are to:

  • Offer time to try new roles and responsibilities to learn new skills.
  • Reimburse or partially cover courses, seminars, and other educational tools.
  • Encourage your employee to start a side hustle or passion project to learn from.
  • Offer professional development days, separate from vacation time.
  • Create a mentorship program to connect junior and senior staff.

Unsure what would be most effective? Ask your employees what would help them the most, and check our guide to employee development for more ideas .

What should I put for areas of improvement?

Individual development plans encourage and motivate your employees to achieve their dreams. However, as their manager, you may have some insights they don’t about skills they’re lacking to get them to the next step.

It’s best to bring these up during the planning meeting, so your employee can hear why you think these skills are important and how you’d suggest working on them. Together you can add action items to address them in the IDP.

It’s key to frame these developing areas in a positive and constructive light. You don’t want your employee to feel like they’re doing badly at these things, or their job. After all, no one’s perfect! Be open and honest and chances are, they’ll be grateful for the feedback and eager to improve the skills you’ve identified.

Create a professional IDP today with a customizable Venngage template

Whether you’re preparing for an employee’s annual review or creating an individual development plan for yourself, we’ve got the free templates you need to knock it out of the park.

Get started now and have your new IDP finished by the end of the hour. While you’re at it, why not also create a branded  offer letter  or  onboarding guide ?

For everything in your business, we’ve got a template for that.

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Your guide to individual development plans (with examples)

person-reading-a-book-individual-development-plan (1)

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It’s often said that any organization’s most valuable asset is its people. If you prioritize retention (a top area of focus in today’s labor market ), it’s not enough to focus on just getting people in the door. Researchers are consistently finding that a strong career development program is one of the top benefits employees are looking for . If you’re looking for a meaningful way to begin emphasizing employee growth, individual development plans (or IDPs) are a strong place to start.

IDPs were traditionally used to coach poor performance, but they’re becoming increasingly more common in the workplace. It’s a good idea to offer them to everyone at your company. You can integrate IDPs into your performance review process or one-on-ones . 

What is an individual development plan?

Giving your employees feedback is a multi-part process — but not everyone follows through on all the stages. First, the area for growth needs to be identified. Secondly, it has to be brought to the employee’s attention. Then the need for change should be made clear, along with the benefits of it. An action plan should come next, followed by consistent review and adjustment.

An individual development plan, or IDP, outlines an employee’s development needs and career goals. While typically used to coach underperforming employees, IDPs are excellent tools for career planning and tracking skill development.

An IDP measures an employee’s current job performance against the expectations of their role. It highlights their current skills, as well as development opportunities. If they’re interested in moving (either up or sideways) into a new position, an IDP can help them chart the core competencies needed to get there.

training-employee-at-computer-individual-development-plan (1)

How do individual development plans support employee growth?

In many ways, IDPs take the best parts of a performance review and a career conversation and put them into one action plan. 

Giving feedback has many benefits — among them increased productivity, engagement, and job satisfaction. But a key part of making the most of feedback is having a plan in place to implement it and follow up. IDPs aren’t meant to be punitive, and companies that only use them in that way are missing out on huge growth opportunities.

A thoughtful IDP can:

  • Support professional development
  • Increase productivity 
  • Lay a clear path toward long-term goals
  • Build trust between managers and employees
  • Improve retention

What goes into an individual development plan?

At a minimum, IDPs should be a list of personal and professional development goals. However, if you’re creating an IDP template (for yourself or your organization) it’s a good idea to include the following components:

  • Key milestones to date
  • Any area for development
  • Self-assessment
  • New skills to focus on

two-people-working-together-at-desk-individual-development-plan (1)

Steps to write an individual development plan

Your organization should have a formalized individual development plan template in place. If they don’t, it’s a good idea to create one to standardize the growth and feedback process. Because people tend to associate feedback with deficiency, singling out a person or team to complete one can feel like implicit criticism.

A good practice is to follow every performance review by revisiting the IDP. While you don’t have to spend the bulk of your time going over every line, it should serve as a place to record areas for improvement and short-term goals. Here are 3 steps to take for every performance development plan should have:

1. Note the date and review period

This may seem simple, but SMART goals are highly dependent on the time frame available. Make a note of the date that you’re implementing the plan and set a time to revisit it. What kind of growth do you expect to see within the next week? Month? Quarter? Year? If the time frame is longer than a month, set interim action steps to keep you on track.

2. Current expectations and performance

In order to get someone on track for their professional goals, you need to have an understanding of where they currently are. While this isn’t a full performance review , you should make a high-level note of the expectations for their role and how they currently measure against them. This is true even if they’re exceeding expectations. Remember, an individual development plan tracks action steps needed to go to the next level. And even if you’re doing well, there’s always a next level to go to.

3. Set goals 

Together, the employee and manager should brainstorm goals for the next period (likely a month or quarter). These should be SMART goals: specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely. You might include a certain number of finished tasks, projects, presentations, or sales calls. You may also want to focus on results, like increasing sales by a given percentage.

There are an endless number of goals that could go in this blank, but the important thing is that they address the specific area of improvement. To be effective, goals need to be anchored in feedback at one end and an objective at the other. Put another way, if you don’t know where point A and point B are, you have no idea if you’re on the right road.

Individual Development Plan for [Employee Name Here]

Date: October 2022

Growth Period: Q4 (October 2022 - December 2022)

Current performance:

[Employee] is an associate account manager with the goal of soon becoming an account executive. They are performing well in their role, with ratings of ‘meets expectations’ in the last three performance reviews. [Employee] has exceeded revenue goals this quarter. However, the employee’s customer response rate is below average.

In order to become an account executive, [Employee] needs to gain more experience with identifying new business opportunities. Here are the steps we will take over the next quarter:

  • Increase revenue goal by 5%
  • Increase customer response rate to 100%
  • Assign and meet with a mentor on the account executive team
  • Enroll in and complete sales coaching program
  • Identify one potential business opportunity and create a plan for approaching them

social-coach-your-team-individual-development-plan (1)

Measuring the success of an individual development plan

When the goals are clear, it should be easy to review the success of an IDP. That’s why it’s critical to start with measurable objectives and expectations. Both managers and employees should work together to create the IDP. This kind of buy-in at the start reinforces it as a developmental (rather than a punitive) process. 

The IDP process is an important tool for performance management , but it’s an equally valuable part of leadership development . These types of initiatives help employees feel valued and supported in their growth. Ultimately, it’s an investment in building the individuals who can move the organization forward.

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Allaya Cooks-Campbell

BetterUp Associate Learning Experience Designer

8 examples for setting professional development goals at work

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Individual Development Plan [Examples & Templates]

By Status.net Editorial Team on June 15, 2023 — 10 minutes to read

An individual development plan (IDP) is a valuable tool that helps you identify your goals, strengths, and areas for growth. By creating and regularly reviewing your IDP, you can align your personal development with your professional aspirations, ensuring continued growth and improvement in your career. When crafting your IDP, it is important to include your specific short-term and long-term goals, identified skills to develop, and the necessary resources or support. You may also wish to set specific timelines or milestones to track your progress. To simplify the process, we have provided a complete IDP template and a detailed example to guide you in creating your own. By following this guide, you will be well on your way to designing a strategic professional development plan that will unlock your full potential and elevate your career.

What Is an Individual Development Plan?

An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool designed to help you identify your professional development needs and set clear goals for personal growth. IDPs can improve your overall job satisfaction and performance, and they are often used by employers to support employee development and retention.

In an IDP, you should include a thorough assessment of your current skills, as well as a list of areas where you would like to develop further expertise. This may involve identifying your strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities for growth. To maximize the effectiveness of your IDP, it’s important to set specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals that focus on your desired outcomes and actionable steps to achieve them. Related: 60 Self-Performance Review Goals Examples

Implementing an IDP in your office can be a valuable way to boost employee performance, job satisfaction, and long-term career development. Consider encouraging your team to create individual plans by providing resources and guidance, scheduling regular progress meetings, and offering relevant training and development opportunities.

The Importance of Individual Development Plans

Employee engagement and retention.

An individual development plan (IDP) is a valuable tool for improving employee engagement. By investing in your employees’ professional development, you show that you care about their long-term goals and career success. This can lead to higher job satisfaction, increased motivation, and ultimately, better retention rates.

Career Growth and Succession Planning

IDPs can also support career growth and succession planning within your organization. By actively identifying your employees’ strengths and areas for improvement, you can help them pursue their career aspirations. Moreover, you can align their professional goals with the needs of your company, ensuring a pipeline of qualified candidates for key positions in the future.

Performance Improvement

Implementing IDPs can lead to significant performance improvements as well. By setting clear expectations and measurable objectives, employees are better equipped to focus on their areas of growth. Additionally, regular performance reviews and monitoring of their progress can help keep them accountable and invested in their development. This not only benefits the individual employee but also contributes to the overall success of your organization.

Components of an IDP

Goals and objectives.

When crafting your Individual Development Plan (IDP), it’s crucial to establish clear goals and objectives. Ensure that your objectives are SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound) to set a strong foundation for success. Consider both short-term and long-term aspirations as you outline your desired milestones.

Strengths and Weaknesses

Identifying your strengths and weaknesses is vital in developing a well-rounded IDP. Your strengths can be areas where you naturally excel, such as communication skills or proficiency in software like Excel. Recognize and list your weaknesses, as well, to help you target areas for improvement and growth.

Action Steps

Once you have determined your goals and assessed your strengths and weaknesses, it’s time to outline action steps. These are specific, manageable tasks that will lead you toward accomplishing your objectives. Be thorough in your planning, and ensure that your action steps provide a clear path toward achieving both short-term and long-term goals.

Establishing realistic timeframes for each action step is essential in holding yourself accountable and measuring progress. For each action step, set a target completion date. Remember to give yourself enough time for each action, and be prepared to adjust your timeframes as necessary throughout the implementation process.

Creating an Individual Development Plan


Begin by conducting a self-assessment to evaluate your current skills and identify areas for improvement. Use performance reviews as a starting point and consider the following steps:

  • Reflect on your strengths and weaknesses
  • Determine your career goals and desired outcomes
  • Identify skill gaps between your current abilities and future goals
  • Create a plan to address these skill gaps

Related:  20 Examples of Strengths for Self Evaluation

20 Self-Evaluation Weaknesses Examples

Mentorship and Feedback

Seek out mentorship and feedback from colleagues, supervisors, or industry professionals. It can be tremendously helpful to have experienced individuals provide guidance and advice. Use their feedback to:

  • Refine your self-assessment and skill gap analysis
  • Gain insights into industry trends and opportunities
  • Develop new skills or further improve existing ones

Establish regular check-ins with your mentors to track your progress and maintain accountability.

Career and Skill Development

Explore development opportunities to acquire new skills and enhance your career prospects. Consider the following options:

  • In-house training programs
  • External workshops, seminars, or courses
  • Professional certifications
  • Online resources and self-paced study materials

Remember to align these opportunities with your self-assessment results and feedback from mentors.

How to Create IDP

To create your own IDP, consider including the following key components:

  • Personal Information : Your name, job title, department, and contact details.
  • Current Skills Assessment (Strengths) : A list of your skills, experience, and areas of expertise.
  • Development Needs Assessment (Weaknesses) : Areas where you would like to improve or develop new skills.
  • Objective Statement : A clear statement of your career goals and what you hope to achieve through your IDP.
  • Goals : Specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound goals to work towards.
  • Action Plan : Concrete steps, resources, and support needed to achieve your goals.
  • Timeline : A timeframe for achieving each goal, including benchmarks and milestones.
  • Progress Tracking : A system for monitoring your progress and adjusting your plan as needed.

IDP Template 1

For example, let’s say you’re a marketing professional seeking to improve your digital marketing skills. Your IDP might include the following:

  • Example of Objective Statement : To become a versatile and skilled digital marketer within two years, proficient in key areas such as content marketing, search engine optimization, and social media advertising.
  • Improve content marketing skills to the level of industry best practices within six months.
  • Achieve Google Analytics certification within three months.
  • Develop a comprehensive understanding of search engine optimization, with the ability to implement effective strategies within nine months.
  • Attend online courses, workshops, and relevant industry events to learn from experts and gain practical experience.
  • Seek opportunities to collaborate with colleagues on digital marketing projects and initiatives.
  • Allocate time each week for self-study and practice of new skills.

IDP Template 2

Let’s say you’d like to get a promotion in your marketing department. Your IDP could look like this:

Objective: Become a Marketing Manager in the next two years.

Performance improvement plan: Improve project management skills and acquire higher-level marketing certifications.

Skills development:

  • Learn advanced project management techniques
  • Complete professional certification in digital marketing

Mentorship and coaching: Work closely with your manager or a senior colleague to get guidance on project management and marketing strategies.

Goal Setting:

  • Complete a project management course within six months.
  • Obtain a professional marketing certification within one year.
  • Successfully lead at least three major projects by the end of year two.

Action Steps:

  • Research and sign up for a suitable project management course.
  • Study for a professional marketing certification exam.
  • Request to be assigned to key projects as project lead.
  • Project management course: completed within six months
  • Marketing certification: obtained within one year
  • Lead three major projects: completed by the end of year two

Tracking and evaluation: Regularly review your progress with your manager, seeking feedback on your performance and adjusting your IDP as needed.

Implementing IDP in the Workplace

Manager’s role in idp process.

To implement an Individual Development Plan (IDP) in your workplace, it is crucial to understand and emphasize the manager’s role. As a manager, you should collaborate with your employees and HR to develop personalized IDPs. This will help your employees reach their professional goals while contributing to the organization’s success.

During the IDP process, you’ll assist your employees in setting realistic goals aligned with their career aspirations as well as the objectives of your organization. It’s essential for you, as a manager, to offer guidance, provide resources, and create a supportive environment that encourages growth.

Monitoring and Adjusting IDP

An effective IDP is a flexible and dynamic tool that requires ongoing evaluation. To ensure successful implementation, regularly monitor your employees’ progress towards their objectives. Schedule periodic performance reviews, solicit feedback from both employees and supervisors, and adjust the IDP as needed.

Frequently Asked Questions

What are the key components of an idp.

An individual development plan (IDP) includes a clear set of goals, a timeline for achieving them, and actionable steps to help you get there. The key components are:

  • Objective – Identify your long-term career goals.
  • Skills – Determine what skills you need to develop or improve on.
  • Action Steps – List specific activities to enhance your skills and work towards your objective.
  • Timeline – Establish deadlines for completing each action step.
  • Measurement – Identify benchmarks to gauge and track your progress.

How do you create an effective IDP?

To create an effective IDP, follow these steps:

  • Self-assess: Evaluate your strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations.
  • Set SMART goals: Choose specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound objectives.
  • Identify the necessary skills: Determine the competencies and qualifications needed to achieve your goals.
  • Develop action steps: Map out detailed activities, courses, or projects to improve the required skills.
  • Collaborate with your manager: Seek feedback and support from your manager to ensure alignment with organizational goals.
  • Monitor and revise: Regularly review your IDP to update your goals and make adjustments as needed.

What are some common goals in an IDP?

Common goals in an IDP can vary, depending on your career aspirations. Examples include:

  • Developing leadership or managerial skills.
  • Gaining expertise in a specific field or industry.
  • Enhancing communication or presentation skills.
  • Learning a new technical skill, such as software programming or data analysis.
  • Building networking or collaboration abilities.

How can you track progress in an IDP?

To track progress in your IDP, establish regular check-ins with yourself and your manager. Monitor your progress by comparing your achievements to the benchmarks and deadlines set in your plan. Update your IDP as needed to reflect changes in your objectives, skills, or action steps.

What is the role of a manager in an employee’s IDP?

A manager plays a critical role in an employee’s IDP by:

  • Providing guidance and support in setting realistic goals.
  • Offering resources, such as training and mentorship opportunities.
  • Facilitating regular check-ins to assess progress and address challenges.
  • Advocating for the employee’s growth and development within the organization.
  • Encouraging the employee to own and take responsibility for their career development.

How can an IDP contribute to career growth?

An IDP contributes to your career growth by providing a structured framework for personal and professional development. By setting clear goals, identifying required skills, and planning actionable steps, you gain a deeper understanding of your aspirations and what it takes to achieve them. Your IDP can also help you navigate potential opportunities within your organization and chart a path for long-term success.

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Employee development  is most helpful to your employees when it’s intentional and carefully planned. In fact,  Culture Amp research  found that employees who don’t feel they have access to clear development opportunities are 41% more likely to leave their current company.

This is where individual development plans (IDPs) are especially valuable. These detailed plans clearly outline an employee’s career goals along with the tangible steps the employee can take to achieve their goals.

In this blog, we explain what an individual development plan is, why they’re important, and how to create one. We’ll also give you individual development plan examples and a template so you can build your own and start prioritizing employee growth today.

What is an individual development plan?

An individual development plan, also known as a  personal development plan , is an actionable document used to guide employee development. It defines an individual’s long-term career goals, highlights their current strengths, lists areas of improvement, and shares an action plan detailing how the employee can invest in their skills and make their career aspirations a reality.

An IDP is typically a collaborative document created by an employee and their manager. These plans are often put together following professional development conversations, which are typically held complementary to, yet separate from, a company’s formal  performance management process .

Why are individual development plans important?

IDPs are a crucial part of employee development. Aside from helping employees define the next steps in their careers, individual development plans also:

  • Guide employee growth:  IDPs outline the steps employees can take today to reach their larger career goals tomorrow. They provide clarity and direction while breaking larger goals into attainable tasks. They also empower employees to take ownership of their growth and development.
  • Inform managers:  Managers that know their direct reports’ long- and short-term career aspirations are equipped to be better coaches and advocates. IDPs give each manager a detailed account of employee strengths, goals, and action plans to support direct reports throughout their career journey.
  • Boost loyalty : Showing employees that your business is invested in their development can inspire loyalty and trust.
  • Increase productivity:  Working towards a tangible goal can keep employees motivated and productive.
  • Improve retention:  When employees can imagine a future with your business, they are likelier to pursue their career goals within your company.

A step-by-step guide to making an IDP

While an IDP has a few different components, these plans aren’t difficult to make. You can help an employee create an individual development plan in just four steps. Here’s how:

1. Complete a self-reflection

To start, have the employee fill out a  self-reflection . The reflection should touch on three key areas – the employee’s:

  • Motivation and strengths
  • Long-term career vision
  • Short-term objectives

Together, these criteria give employees a better understanding of their career goals and the skills and experience they will need to achieve this level of success. An honest and open self-reflection will guide the rest of the IDP process.

2. Build an actionable individual development plan

With the information from the self-reflection in hand, your employee is ready to start building their individual development plan. Walk them through these three steps:

  • Review your plan objective:  This will most likely be the short-term objective from the self-reflection or what the employee will work towards following the creation of their individual development plan.
  • Identify growth areas:  Work with the employee to determine the skills and behaviors they need to learn or strengthen to achieve their objective.
  • Build development goals:  Lastly, encourage employees to set realistic, measurable goals that will help them improve the identified growth areas and bring them closer to their overall objective.

Let’s see what this looks like in practice. Here’s an individual development plan example for a sales account executive aspiring to become a regional sales manager:

Objective:  To be promoted to a regional sales manager next review cycle

Growth areas:

  • Product knowledge
  • Leadership and coaching
  • Sales forecasting

Development goals:

  • Hit or exceed quota for the next three quarters
  • Receive a manager net promoter score of >70 during the following  engagement survey
  • Improve internal awareness of my team’s performance by sharing a monthly recap email with senior department leaders

Using this detailed IDP, the employee will clearly understand the actions they need to take today to work towards their promotion.

3. Review the plan together

This step can go before or after step two, depending on your organization or employee preferences. Wherever you choose to place this step, just know that each employee and their manager must meet to discuss their self-assessment and proposed IDP. This ensures both parties agree about the employee’s strengths, areas for improvement, interests, goals, and organizational requirements.

During these conversations, encourage managers to ask lots of questions and work to understand each employee’s career aspirations. Managers can  provide a business perspective  and shed light on how they see business priorities evolving in the coming months. This will help employees envision how their career aspirations can align with changing business needs.

4. Implement the plan and evaluate outcomes

Now it’s time to get to work. While the employee pursues the training and development identified in the plan, meet with them frequently to help track progress,  share feedback , and evaluate their performance. These continuous manager check-ins, or  1-on-1s , provide an external perspective, remove obstacles and barriers, and help employees reach their goals more efficiently.

Individual development plan template

Here’s a closer look at what to include in your IDPs as well as an individual development plan example to guide your creation.

1. Employee details

At the top of your plan, start with the key details – who the plan is for (employee name), their position/job title, their manager, and the creation date. This will help you keep track of the IDP and remember when it was made.

In the following examples, we’ll be creating an IDP for a content marketing specialist. Here are her employee details:

  • Employee Name:  Jane Doe
  • Job Title:  Content Marketing Specialist
  • Manager:  John Smith
  • IDP Creation Date:  January 15, 2023

2. Career goals

Next, document the individual’s specific job-related developmental goals, both immediate and long-term. In this example, our content marketing specialist wants to pivot her career to event planning. Her overarching goals might be:

  • Be an integral part of the company’s conference planning team
  • Advance into a role specializing in event planning

These goals will act as her North Star for the rest of the IDP creation process and influence what skills and experience she needs to develop to successfully complete her career pivot.

3. Strengths and development areas

Pulling from the employee’s self-assessment, jot down any skills, strengths, and developmental areas. For the aspiring event planner in our example, this might look like:

  • Organizational skills
  • Time management skills
  • Communication skills
  • Building strong interpersonal relationships

Development areas:

  • General event planning knowledge and skills
  • Familiarity with negotiation and budgeting
  • Learning how to use the company’s event software
  • Creative problem-solving

Now the employee has a clear picture of the strengths she can lean on as well as areas she needs to focus on in order to grow professionally and achieve her goal of becoming an amazing event planner.

4. Action plan

This section describes how the employee plans to acquire the knowledge and skills outlined above. At this stage, try to be creative by using various learning strategies and activities. Employees can learn and  grow in many ways , including:

  • Classroom or online training programs
  • On-the-job training
  • Stretch assignments
  • Conferences
  • Professional certifications
  • Job shadowing
  • Mentorship programs

However your employee decides to improve their development areas, work with them to create a detailed, measurable action plan. Break down their overarching career goal into attainable steps they can start taking today. Include specific KPIs you and your employee can use to track progress and understand the impact.

To revisit our content marketing specialist example, her action plan could be:

  • Assist with the planning and execution of the company’s annual user conference (stretch assignment)
  • Work closely with the Event Manager to better understand her role and expertise (mentorship)
  • Complete “Event Planning 101” and earn a certification (online training/certification)

While these steps may be detailed enough for some individuals, it never hurts to tie specific KPIs to action plans to help assess progress and evaluate success. Our employee might decide to use feedback from the event planning team post-conference to assess her contributions to the event. She could also set up a recurring 1-on-1 with the Event Manager and track meeting occurrences to measure the effectiveness of her mentorship. Her last action is more cut and dry – if she completes the class and earns her certification, this can be regarded as a success.

5. Time frame

You’ll also need to define the timeline the employee has to execute this action plan. Is it a week? Month? Quarter? Year? Be sure to document how long the employee has to complete the action plan, so you can hold them accountable and help track progress along the way. Managers and employees should meet regularly throughout the time frame to share feedback, discuss roadblocks, and touch base on how things are going.

Lastly, leave space for your results. After the specified time frame elapses, complete this section with the employee as a way to reflect on performance and assess success.

individual development plan long term goals examples

How to Create Strong Individual Development Plans (With Examples)

Introduction to individual development plans, why do your team members need individual development plans, components of a strong individual development plan, how to write a strong individual development plan, examples of individual development plans, individual development plan template (free), wrapping up.

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What is an Individual Development Plan?

  • Personal and Professional Growth: Individual development plans are crucial for both team members and managers because they facilitate personal and professional growth. They allow individuals to identify their strengths and areas in need of improvement, which is the foundation for continuous development.
  • Concrete Goal Setting: IDPs enable team members to set specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART) goals . This level of goal specificity provides a clear direction for improvement and helps individuals stay focused on their development objectives.
  • Performance Improvement: IDPs are instrumental in improving performance. By addressing areas that need development, team members can enhance their skills, knowledge, and capabilities, ultimately contributing to the overall success of the team and organization.
  • Alignment with Organizational Goals: Individual development plans help align personal aspirations with the team’s mission and objectives. This alignment ensures that team members are actively contributing to the team’s success while pursuing their own professional growth.
  • Feedback and Progress Tracking: IDPs establish a framework for continuous feedback and progress evaluation. They help team members and managers assess how well individuals are advancing toward their goals, providing a structured means of tracking growth over time and promoting accountability.

components of individual development plans

  • The individual development plan should include a skills assessment that identifies areas for improvement and potential learning opportunities.
  • Creating a step-by-step action plan with timelines can help you progress toward your goals while providing a framework for ongoing feedback and evaluation of progress.
  • Regular assessment of the plan is crucial to ensure success and adjust as needed.

Professional Goals and Aspirations

Strengths and talents, development opportunities, action plans.

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Review the Past Performance

Set realistic goals, create an action plan, define a timeline, evaluate regularly.

steps to create an individual development plan

IDP Example #1: Team Manager Sarah

  • Improve team management skills: Develop skills to manage and  motivate team members effectively.  Implement a new system for tracking and measuring team performance.
  • Develop project management skills: Implement a new system to improve project execution and delivery.
  • Enhance communication and collaboration skills: Practice these skills in team meetings and one-on-one conversations with team members to ensure smoother operations.
  • Develop strategic thinking skills: Practice developing and implementing a strategic plan for the team.
  • Find relevant courses or workshops: Select a team management course or workshop to attend within the next three months. Similarly, look for courses on communication and collaboration skills that can help overcome hurdles.
  • Implement a new team performance tracking system: Find a new method for tracking and measuring team performance. Implement the new system within the next six months and monitor progress.
  • Implement new project management system: Research and select a new one to implement within the next six months. Train team members on the new system and monitor progress.
  • Develop and implement a strategic plan for the team: Meet with team members to gather input and ideas for a strategic plan. Develop a plan and present it to the supervisor for approval within the next six months.
  • Monitor progress and adjust goals as needed: Monitor progress regularly and adjust plans as needed. Seek feedback from team members to ensure goals are aligned with team needs and expectations.

IDP Example #2: Team Manager John

  • Enhance technical leadership skills: Effectively provide technical guidance and support to the team.
  • Improve project management skills: For leading projects and ensuring successful delivery within budget and timelines.
  • Foster a culture of continuous learning:  Encourage team members to engage in ongoing learning and skill development. 
  • Attend leadership workshops/conferences: Identify relevant leadership workshops or seminars in the software development industry. Register and attend at least two events within the next year to gain insights into effective technical leadership.
  • Mentor junior team members:   Assign mentorship roles  to experienced team members and guide junior developers. Regularly meet with mentees to discuss their progress, challenges, and career aspirations.
  • Lead a complex project: Take on a difficult task to demonstrate technical leadership. Coordinate with team members, facilitate effective communication, and ensure the project’s successful execution.
  • Implement a learning and recognition system: Research and introduce a learning management system that enables team members to access relevant learning resources. Establish a recognition program to acknowledge and reward individual and team achievements.
  • Follow the process: Start by conversing with your team members to understand challenges from their perspectives and share from your own. List the common areas of improvement that you want to work together on for the next period.
  • Initiate a realistic plan: Based on the discussions, create a set of goals for your team members. Ensure the goals are SMART and practical , and supplement them with the resources and support required to achieve them within the set timeline.
  • Talk of reviews: The best way to use IDPs with your team includes making them holistic and relevant to the team members. Thus, as a manager, you should provide support through reviews and checks to resolve queries and concerns as they come. You can integrate IDPs into your performance management system to improve it!
  • Remember that IDPs are not one-size-fits-all: Individual needs and growth pathways are different. While a template can help you start, be ready to accommodate your team’s and individual members’ varied needs. It will show care toward their growth – enabling a relationship based on mutual trust.

individual development plan long term goals examples

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What are some examples of individual development plan?

How do you write an individual development plan, how do you write a good idp.

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What is an individual development plan: Complete guide with examples

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Navigating the intricate landscape of personal and professional growth, an individual development plan template (IDP) emerges as a strategic compass for individuals across various industries.

This comprehensive guide unveils the essence of individual development plan , transcending industries, by delving into their significance, crafting personalized examples, and illuminating their impact.

From hospitality to engineering, this guide offers a roadmap for individuals to chart their unique journeys toward mastery, a leadership position, and fulfillment. With a wealth of examples tailored to different sectors, this guide unlocks the door to transformative growth and success.

What is an individual development plan?

Employees lifting each other

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a comprehensive document that outlines an individual's professional goals, strengths, areas for improvement, and the strategies they will undertake to achieve career growth and skill enhancement .

It serves as a roadmap for personal and professional development, helping individuals align their aspirations with the organization's goals. IDPs typically include a self-assessment, a list of short-term and long-term goals, action steps, timelines, resources required, and methods for tracking progress.

These plans are often created collaboratively between employees and their managers , ensuring that both parties are invested in the individual's growth journey. IDPs are essential tools for fostering continuous learning, skill development, and career advancement within the organization.

Benefits of creating an individual development plan

Happy employees after achieving something big

Creating an individual development plan (IDP) offers a range of benefits that contribute to an individual's personal and professional growth, as well as the overall success of the organization. These benefits include:

  • Clear goals and direction : An IDP helps individuals define clear goals and objectives, providing a roadmap for their career and personal development journey .
  • Focused skill development: IDPs identify areas for improvement, enabling individuals to focus on developing specific skills and competencies.
  • Alignment with organizational goals: When IDPs are aligned with organizational objectives, employees' growth contributes to the company's success , fostering a win-win scenario.
  • Enhanced performance: As individuals develop skills and knowledge, their performance improves, leading to increased productivity and contributions to the organization.
  • Increased motivation: Setting and achieving goals outlined in an IDP boosts individuals' motivation, job satisfaction, and overall engagement .
  • Support for learning: IDPs encourage continuous learning and self-directed development, empowering individuals to seek out relevant training and education .
  • Effective career planning: IDPs provide a structured approach to career advancement, helping employees envision their desired career trajectory and plan accordingly.
  • Structured feedback: Regularly reviewing and updating IDPs facilitates ongoing conversations between employees and managers, fostering open communication .
  • Talent retention: Organizations that invest in employees' growth through IDPs are more likely to retain top talent , reducing turnover rates.
  • Succession planning: IDPs identify potential future leaders , aiding succession planning by grooming employees for higher responsibilities.
  • Personal fulfillment: Accomplishing goals outlined in an IDP goals contribute to personal fulfillment, as individuals see tangible progress in their development.
  • Customized development: IDPs are tailored to each individual's strengths, aspirations, and learning styles, promoting personalized growth strategies.
  • Organizational agility: Employees with diverse skills acquired through IDPs contribute to an agile organization prepared for dynamic challenges .

Individual development plans offer a structured and strategic approach to personal and professional growth. They empower individuals to take ownership of their development while benefiting the organization by fostering a skilled, motivated, and engaged workforce .

What are the 5 areas of a personal development plan?

Employees are listening to their leader's plan

A comprehensive personal development plan encompasses various areas that contribute to an individual's holistic growth. While the specific areas may vary based on individual goals and circumstances, the following five key areas are commonly addressed in a personal development plan:

Professional skills

This area focuses on enhancing job-specific skills and competencies required for current and future roles. It includes technical expertise, industry knowledge, and certifications. These skills form the foundation on which your career growth stands, ensuring you remain not just relevant but indispensable in your field.

Personal skills

Personal skills encompass soft skills like communication , time management, problem-solving, and adaptability, which are crucial for effective interpersonal interactions and career success. These skills are the adhesive that holds your career together, fostering meaningful connections and paving the way for lasting success.

Leadership and management skills

Developing leadership qualities , such as decision-making, team management, and strategic thinking, prepares individuals for leadership roles and fosters their ability to guide others. Strategic thinking elevates your ability to see the bigger picture and plan for the long term. These skills not only prepare you for leadership roles but also shape you into a mentor and guide for your peers, propelling your career to new heights.

Personal well-being

This area emphasizes physical, mental, and emotional well-being. It includes practices like exercise, stress management, mindfulness, and maintaining a healthy work-life balance . Well-being isn't just a checkbox on your development plan; it's the fuel that keeps your career engine running smoothly, enabling you to thrive in all aspects of life.

Career development

This aspect involves setting clear career goals, identifying growth opportunities, networking , and planning steps to advance in one's chosen career path. This aspect of your personal development plan is your roadmap to success, ensuring you not only reach your desired career destination but also excel beyond your own expectations.

These areas collectively ensure a balanced approach to personal development, nurturing a well-rounded individual capable of excelling both professionally and personally.

What are the 6 components of personal development plan?

A leader is planning development plan for employees

A well-structured personal development plan (PDP) is like a roadmap to self-improvement and success. To craft an effective PDP, you need to consider six key components:

  • Clear goals: Start by defining your objectives. What do you want to achieve personally and professionally? Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound (SMART). Clarity here is crucial; it's your destination on the map.
  • Self-assessment: Take a good, honest look at yourself. What are your strengths and weaknesses? What skills or knowledge do you lack? Self-awareness is the compass that helps you navigate your development journey.
  • Actionable plans: Once you know your goals and where you stand, outline the steps you need to take. Break down your goals into smaller, manageable tasks. These are the roads you'll travel to reach your destination.
  • Resources: Identify the resources you'll need. This could include books, courses, workshops, mentors, or online tools. Resources are like the fuel that powers your journey; make sure you have enough to reach your goals.
  • Timelines: Assign realistic timelines to your goals and action steps. A timeline acts as your schedule, ensuring you're on track and not wandering aimlessly.
  • Monitoring and evaluation: Regularly review your progress. Are you moving in the right direction? Are you achieving your milestones? Adjust your plan as needed; it's like recalculating your route when you encounter roadblocks.

Individual development plan examples for managers

Managers are working together to attain the next goal

Individual development plans for managers are essential tools for nurturing leadership potential and ensuring that they continue to excel in their roles. Here are some tailored examples to guide managers on their development journey:

Enhancing leadership skills

A key goal for managers is to strengthen their leadership abilities. This might involve attending leadership workshops, seeking executive coaching, or participating in leadership development programs. The aim is to become an inspirational and effective leader who can guide and motivate their teams to success.

Strategic thinking

For managers responsible for decision-making and long-term planning, developing strategic thinking skills is paramount. They can achieve this by engaging in strategic planning sessions, collaborating with senior leadership , and studying industry trends to make informed decisions that drive the organization forward.

Team building and management

Fostering a high-performing team is a critical aspect of a manager's role. Managers can work on their team-building skills by attending team-building workshops, learning about effective communication, and studying team dynamics to create a cohesive and productive workforce.

Conflict resolution

Handling conflicts within a team is another important managerial skill. Managers can focus on conflict resolution through conflict management training, mediating disputes, and learning techniques to foster healthy workplace relationships.

Time management

Managers often juggle numerous responsibilities. Improving time management skills can help them become more efficient and effective. This can involve time management courses, using productivity tools, and setting clear priorities to meet deadlines and achieve goals.

Mentoring and coaching

Managers can develop their mentoring and coaching abilities by actively mentoring junior staff, providing constructive feedback, and staying updated on coaching techniques. This helps them nurture the growth of their team members.

Stakeholder engagement

Building strong relationships with stakeholders, both internal and external, is vital. Managers can enhance their stakeholder engagement skills by networking, attending industry conferences, and developing strategies for effective stakeholder communication.

Individual development plan examples for employees

Employees are working together effectively

Here are some practical examples to inspire and guide employees on their development journey:

Technical skill enhancement

Employees can focus on improving their technical skills relevant to their roles. This might involve attending specialized training sessions, enrolling in online courses, or seeking certification in specific software or tools. By becoming experts in their fields, they contribute more effectively to their teams and the organization.

Leadership aspirations

For employees aspiring to leadership roles, IDPs can include leadership development activities. They can participate in leadership workshops, join cross-functional projects to gain management experience , or take on mentorship roles to build their leadership skills.

Communication and presentation skills

Effective communication is essential in any job. Employees can work on their communication and presentation skills through courses, public speaking opportunities, or even joining a Toastmasters club. Strong communication skills enhance their ability to convey ideas and collaborate with others.

Time management and productivity

Many employees struggle with managing their time efficiently. An IDP can include time management training, using productivity apps, or learning organization techniques. Improved time management leads to increased productivity and reduced stress.

Project management mastery

Employees involved in project-based roles can focus on project management skills. They can attend project management courses, become certified in project management methodologies, and practice project planning and execution.

Cross-functional knowledge

Encouraging employees to broaden their understanding of other departments can be beneficial. This can involve cross-functional training, attending meetings in different departments, or collaborating on projects outside their usual scope.

Networking and relationship-building

Building a professional network is vital for career growth. Employees can set goals to attend industry events, join professional associations, and engage in networking opportunities. Strong professional relationships can open doors to new opportunities.

Work-life balance

Achieving a healthy work-life balance is crucial for employee well-being. IDPs can include actions such as setting boundaries, time management for personal life, and practicing self-care to ensure employees maintain a balance that prevents burnout.

Diversity and inclusion

In today's diverse workplaces, understanding and promoting diversity and inclusion is vital. Employees can seek out diversity training, participate in inclusion initiatives, and actively contribute to a more inclusive work environment.

How do you write an individual development plan for your employees?

Group of 3 employees planning together

Writing an effective individual development plan (IDP) for your employees involves a structured and collaborative approach. Follow these steps to create a well-crafted IDP:

  • Identify development areas: Based on the employee's self-assessment and feedback from managers and peers, pinpoint the specific skills, knowledge, and competencies to be developed.
  • Outline action steps: Break down each goal into actionable steps or tasks that will lead to its achievement. These steps should be specific, tangible, and sequential.
  • Allocate resources: Determine the resources required for development, such as training programs, workshops, courses, mentoring , or job rotations.
  • Create a development plan: Summarize the goals, action steps, resources, and timelines in a structured document. Use a format that's easy to understand and refer back to.
  • Identify support: Specify who will provide support or mentorship during the development process. This could include managers, colleagues, or external mentors.
  • Measure and evaluate: Regularly assess the employee's progress and the impact of the development plan on their performance and growth.
  • Celebrate achievements: Celebrate milestones and achievements to keep the employee motivated and reinforce the value of their efforts.
  • Adaptability: Be open to adjusting the plan based on changing circumstances, new opportunities, or evolving goals.
  • Encourage self-reflection: Encourage employees to reflect on their learning journey, noting what worked well, the challenges faced, and how they've grown.
  • Document growth: Maintain records of completed training, achieved milestones, and new skills acquired, which can be valuable for performance evaluations and career discussions.
  • Continual improvement: Use the feedback from the employee and their experiences to improve the IDP process for future iterations.

Remember, an effective IDP should be flexible, adaptive, and supportive of the employee's growth journey within the organization.

Why implementing an individual plan is both a manager's and HRs responsibility?

Manager and a HR planning together

Implementing an individual development plan (IDP) is a shared responsibility between managers and the HR department due to its comprehensive impact on employee growth and organizational success. Here's why both parties play crucial roles in this process:

Manager's Responsibility:

Direct supervision.

Managers have direct insight into their team members' strengths, weaknesses, and performance. This knowledge helps tailor IDPs to individual needs.

Goal alignment

Managers align IDPs with the organization's goals and the team's objectives, ensuring that employees' development contributes to the team's success.

Guidance and support

Managers provide guidance on setting realistic goals, suggest suitable development opportunities, and offer feedback as employees progress .

They offer constructive feedback to employees , helping them understand areas for improvement and offering insights for skill enhancement.


Managers monitor employees' progress , ensuring that action steps are being followed and milestones are achieved as outlined in the IDP.

Managers recognize and celebrate employees' achievements and growth, motivating them to continue their development journey.

Individualized coaching

Managers take on the role of coaches, providing one-on-one support tailored to each employee's needs. This involves regular check-ins and personalized development plans that consider an employee's unique aspirations and challenges.

Identifying stretch opportunities

Managers actively seek out opportunities for employees to stretch their capabilities and take on challenging assignments. Encouraging employees to step out of their comfort zones fosters growth and resilience.

Skill transfer and knowledge sharing

Managers promote a culture of knowledge sharing within their teams. They encourage employees to share their expertise and mentor each other, creating a collaborative learning environment.

Succession planning

Managers play a pivotal role in succession planning. They identify high-potential employees, groom them for leadership roles , and ensure a smooth transition when vacancies arise.

HR's Responsibility:

Framework creation.

HR establishes a structured framework for creating, tracking, and evaluating IDPs across the organization. This ensures consistency and fairness.

Resource provision

HR identifies and provides access to various development resources, including training programs, workshops, and mentoring opportunities .

Skill assessments

They facilitate skills assessments and competency evaluations that inform the development areas to be included in IDPs.

Development opportunities

HR identifies potential growth opportunities within the organization, allowing employees to explore diverse career paths.

Employee alignment

HR ensures that IDPs align with the company's overall talent management strategy, fostering a cohesive approach to employee growth .

Measurement and reporting

They measure the impact of IDPs on employee performance and the organization's success, offering insights for improvement.

Continuous improvement

HR gathers feedback from both managers and employees to refine the IDP process, ensuring its effectiveness over time.

Legal compliance

Ensuring that IDPs comply with relevant labor laws and regulations is a vital HR responsibility. They stay updated on legal requirements and ensure that IDPs don't inadvertently violate any employment laws.

HR takes a proactive role in promoting diversity and inclusion within IDPs. They work to ensure that development opportunities are equitable and accessible to employees from diverse backgrounds , fostering a more inclusive workplace culture.

Data security

As IDPs often contain sensitive employee information, HR is responsible for maintaining data security. They implement measures to protect employee privacy and data integrity, ensuring that confidential information remains confidential.

Technology integration

HR leverages technology to streamline the IDP process, making it more efficient and user-friendly. They ensure that digital tools for creating, tracking, and reporting on IDPs are integrated seamlessly into the organization's HR systems.

Collaboration between managers and HR is essential for successful IDP implementation. While managers provide personalized guidance and support, HR ensures a structured framework and availability of resources. This joint effort fosters a culture of development, engagement, and continuous improvement , benefiting both employees and the organization as a whole.

How to set goals for your individual development plan?

Employee is running toward company's goal

Setting goals for your individual development plan (IDP) involves a strategic and thoughtful approach. Follow these steps to establish effective and achievable goals:

  • Self-assessment: Reflect on your current skills, strengths, weaknesses, and areas for improvement. Consider feedback from colleagues, managers, and any previous performance evaluations.
  • Define clear objectives: Clearly define what you want to achieve through your IDP. Your goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound ( SMART ).
  • Prioritize: Determine which skills or areas need immediate attention and which ones can be developed over a longer period. Focus on a manageable number of goals to avoid overwhelm.
  • Quantify measurable goals: Use metrics or criteria to measure progress . For example, if your goal is to improve public speaking, set a target number of presentations to give within a certain timeframe.
  • Research and resources: Identify the resources needed to achieve each goal. This could include workshops, courses, books, mentors, or online resources.
  • Flexibility: Keep your goals flexible. Circumstances change, and you may need to adjust your goals based on new opportunities or challenges.
  • Balance: Ensure a balanced mix of short-term and long-term goals, as well as goals that focus on both professional and personal development.
  • Feedback: Seek input from your manager, colleagues, or mentors when setting goals. They can provide valuable insights and help refine your objectives.
  • Regular review: Regularly review and update your goals. This helps track progress, make adjustments as needed, and stay aligned with your evolving aspirations.
  • Celebrate milestones: Acknowledge and celebrate your achievements along the way. Recognizing progress boosts motivation and keeps you engaged in the development process.
  • Leverage SWOT analysis: Conduct a SWOT (Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, Threats) analysis to gain deeper insights into your personal and professional landscape.
  • Set long-term vision: While focusing on immediate goals, also establish a long-term vision for your personal development. Having a clear destination in mind can guide your short-term objectives and provide a sense of purpose.
  • Incorporate learning styles: Consider your preferred learning style (visual, auditory, kinesthetic) when planning your development.
  • Embrace adaptability: Embrace adaptability as a goal itself. The ability to adapt to new technologies, industries, or job roles is a valuable skill in today's rapidly changing world.
  • Networking and collaboration: Include goals related to expanding your professional network and collaboration skills.

How to implement development plans?

Employer lifting employee up

Implementing professional and personal development plans in the workplace is crucial for fostering employee growth and achieving organizational goals. Here's a practical guide on how to make it happen:

  • Needs assessment: Begin by identifying the specific development needs of your employees. Conduct regular performance reviews, gather feedback, and assess skills gaps. This will form the basis of your individual development planning.
  • Set clear objectives: Once you've development identified the needs, set clear and measurable objectives. Ensure they align with the individual's career goals and the company's strategic objectives. These objectives should be SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time-bound).
  • Resource allocation: Allocate the necessary resources for development. This includes budgeting for training programs, workshops, mentoring, and access to relevant tools and technologies.
  • Development activities: Encourage employees to engage in development activities. This may involve attending workshops, taking online courses, participating in cross-functional projects, or seeking mentorship from experienced colleagues.
  • Regular feedback: Provide ongoing feedback and support. Regular check-ins with managers or mentors can help employees stay on track and make necessary adjustments to their development plans.
  • Measure progress: Use key performance indicators (KPIs) to track progress. Monitor skill improvements, project outcomes, and the impact of development activities on individual and team performance.
  • Recognition and rewards: Recognize and reward achievements along the way. Celebrate milestones and showcase success stories to motivate others and reinforce the importance of development.

How to craft individual development plan template for employees, managers, & senior leadership?

Managers are planning the next big thing with recent statistics

Crafting individual development plan (IDP) examples for employees, managers, and senior leadership requires a strategic approach that aligns with their unique responsibilities and career trajectories. Here's how to create effective IDP examples for this group:

  • Needs assessment: Start by assessing the specific needs of managers and senior leaders. Consider their current roles, skills, and areas for growth.
  • Alignment with organizational goals: Ensure that the IDP examples align with both the individual's career aspirations and the organization's strategic objectives.
  • Leadership competencies: Focus on leadership competencies such as strategic thinking, decision-making, communication , and team development. Tailor goals to enhance these skills.
  • 360-degree feedback: Gather feedback from colleagues, subordinates, and superiors to identify areas for improvement and strengths to leverage.
  • Long-term vision: Help managers and senior leaders align their IDPs with long-term career visions, considering potential leadership roles and responsibilities.
  • Executive coaching: Offer executive coaching or mentoring to support their development. Include goals related to improving coaching or mentoring skills if applicable.
  • Change management: If their roles involve leading through change, incorporate goals related to change management strategies and techniques.
  • Innovation and strategy: Focus on fostering innovation, creating strategic plans, and identifying opportunities for organizational growth.
  • Cross-functional collaboration: Set goals that encourage collaboration across different departments or functions, enhancing their ability to lead multidisciplinary teams.
  • Performance metrics: Quantify goals where possible. For example, increasing employee engagement scores or achieving specific revenue targets.
  • Crisis management: Develop skills in crisis management and decision-making under pressure, considering their roles in guiding the organization during challenging times.
  • Ethical leadership: Include goals related to promoting ethical conduct, fostering a positive organizational culture , and leading by example.

Remember, IDPs for managers and senior leaders should be forward-thinking, challenging them to expand their skill sets, embrace innovation, and navigate complex leadership scenarios .

Individual development plan examples for various industries

Individual development plan examples for various industries

Explore diverse individual development plan (IDP) examples tailored to various industries. From tech to healthcare, these IDPs illustrate how professionals can enhance skills, achieve goals, and thrive in their specific fields.

Individual development plan examples for engineers

1. Technical skill advancement:

  • Goal: Master [specific technology/tool] within [timeline].
  • Action: Enroll in relevant courses, and apply skills to projects.

2. Leadership readiness:

  • Goal: Develop leadership qualities.
  • Action: Attend leadership workshops and mentor junior engineers.

3. Certification attainment:

  • Goal: Obtain [industry certification].
  • Action: Study, take preparation courses, and schedule exams.

4. Cross-functional exposure:

  • Goal: Gain insight into [related domain].
  • Action: Collaborate , attend cross-functional meetings.

5. Innovation contribution:

  • Goal: Propose innovative solutions.
  • Action: Engage in R&D projects, and submit patents.

Individual development plan examples for pharma employees

1. Regulatory compliance expertise:

  • Goal: Master regulations like FDA guidelines within [timeline].
  • Action: Attend regulatory workshops, analyze case studies , and contribute to compliance projects.

2. Clinical trial management:

  • Goal: Develop proficiency in managing clinical trials.
  • Action: Participate in trial coordination, learn data analysis tools, and collaborate with clinical teams.

3. Pharmacovigilance skills:

  • Goal: Enhance adverse event reporting and monitoring capabilities.
  • Action: Attend pharmacovigilance seminars, analyze real-world data, and contribute to safety assessments.

4. Cross-functional collaboration:

  • Goal: Foster collaboration with R&D, production, and marketing teams.
  • Action: Join cross-functional projects, engage in knowledge-sharing sessions, and attend inter-departmental meetings.

5. GMP and quality assurance:

  • Goal: Become a quality assurance expert aligned with Good Manufacturing Practices (GMP).
  • Action Steps: Attend GMP training, participate in quality audits, and contribute to process improvement initiatives.

Individual development plan examples for finance professionals

1. Financial modeling expertise:

  • Goal: Enhance proficiency in financial modeling for more accurate forecasting.
  • Action: Enroll in advanced Excel courses, practice modeling complex scenarios, and participate in case study workshops.

2. Strategic financial planning:

  • Goal: Develop strategic planning skills to contribute to long-term financial strategies.
  • Action: Attend strategic finance seminars, collaborate with strategy teams, and analyze industry trends for informed decision-making.
  • Goal: Obtain [specific finance-related certification] to elevate professional credentials.
  • Action: Study rigorously, attend certification review sessions, and schedule the exam within [timeline].

4. Risk management proficiency:

  • Goal: Strengthen risk assessment skills to minimize financial vulnerabilities.
  • Action: Attend risk management seminars, analyze historical data for risk patterns, and propose mitigation strategies.

5. Leadership in finance teams:

  • Goal: Cultivate leadership qualities for effective management within the finance department .
  • Action: Engage in leadership workshops, mentor junior team members, and initiate process improvement projects.

Individual development plan examples for supply chain employees

1. Supplier Relationship Management:

  • Goal: Enhance supplier collaboration and negotiation skills.
  • Action: Attend supplier management workshops , engage in cross-functional collaboration, and lead vendor evaluation projects.

2. Process Optimization:

  • Goal: Streamline supply chain processes for efficiency.
  • Action: Enroll in process improvement courses, map out current processes, and implement Lean principles.

3. Inventory Management Proficiency:

  • Goal: Develop expertise in optimizing inventory levels.
  • Action: Take advanced inventory management courses, analyze historical data, and implement demand forecasting techniques.

4. Global Supply Chain Understanding:

  • Goal: Gain insights into global supply chain dynamics.
  • Action: Participate in international trade seminars, collaborate with overseas teams, and understand regional regulations.

5. Supply Chain Analytics:

  • Goal: Improve decision-making through data-driven insights.
  • Action: Learn data analytics tools, work on supply chain data projects, and present findings to management.

Individual development plan examples for hospitality industry employees

1. Customer Service Excellence:

  • Goal: Elevate customer satisfaction by mastering guest interactions and problem-solving.
  • Action: Attend customer service workshops, role-play scenarios, and seek feedback from supervisors.

2. Multilingual Proficiency:

  • Goal: Enhance guest experience by learning [specific language] to communicate with a diverse clientele.
  • Action: Enroll in language classes, practice with colleagues, and interact with guests in the target language.

3. Upselling Skills:

  • Goal: Boost revenue by becoming proficient in upselling techniques and personalized recommendations.
  • Action: Attend upselling training, create upsell strategies, and track successful upsell transactions.

4. Leadership Readiness:

  • Goal: Prepare for supervisory roles by developing leadership and team management skills.
  • Action: Participate in leadership courses, mentor junior staff, and seek guidance from experienced managers .

5. Crisis Management:

  • Goal: Enhance preparedness by training for effective crisis response and guest safety protocols.
  • Action: Engage in crisis management drills, study emergency procedures, and participate in safety audits.
  • Goal: Develop meaningful leadership qualities.
  • Action: Collaborate, attend cross-functional meetings.
  • Goal: Cultivate leadership qualities for effective management within the finance department.
  • Action: Engage in leadership workshops, mentor junior team members, initiate process improvement projects .

1. Supplier relationship management:

  • Action: Attend supplier management workshops, engage in cross-functional collaboration, lead vendor evaluation projects.

2. Process optimization:

  • Action: Enroll in process improvement courses, map out current processes, implement Lean principles.

3. nventory management proficiency:

  • Action: Take advanced inventory management courses, analyze historical data, implement demand forecasting techniques.

4. Global supply chain understanding:

  • Action: Participate in international trade seminars, collaborate with overseas teams, understand regional regulations.

5. Supply chain analytics:

  • Action: Learn data analytics tools, work on supply chain data projects, present findings to management.
  • Action: Attend customer service workshops, role-play scenarios, seek feedback from supervisors.

2. Multilingual proficiency:

  • Action: Enroll in language classes, practice with colleagues, interact with guests in the target language.

3. Upselling skills:

  • Action: Attend upselling training, create upsell strategies, track successful upsell transactions.

4. Leadership readiness:

  • Action: Participate in leadership courses, mentor junior staff, seek guidance from experienced managers.

5. Crisis management:

  • Action: Engage in crisis management drills, study emergency procedures, participate in safety audits.

Role of an employee development program in implementing an individual development plan for your employees

A group of four employees are having a meeting

An employee development program plays a pivotal role in successfully implementing individual development plans (IDPs). It provides a structured framework for employees to access resources, training, and opportunities aligned with their IDP goals. These programs offer tailored workshops, courses, and mentorship, fostering skill enhancement and career growth.

By aligning IDPs with the organization's development initiatives, employees receive the necessary support, ensuring their aspirations align with business objectives. Employee development programs create a culture of continuous learning, boosting engagement, job satisfaction, and overall organizational success.

In essence, an Individual Development Plan (IDP) serves as a personalized roadmap for growth, regardless of industry. With strategic goal-setting, tailored actions, and ongoing reflection, individuals can harness their potential, cultivating skills that enrich both their careers and their industries at large.

What are some individual development plan examples for managers?

Managers often focus on leadership development, strategic thinking, and team management. For example, a manager's individual development plan may include goals like enhancing leadership skills through workshops, participating in strategic planning sessions, and mentoring junior team members to foster leadership qualities. These plans aim to prepare managers for broader responsibilities within the organization.

Can you provide individual development plan examples for employees in the workplace?

Certainly! Employees can have diverse development goals. For instance, an employee may aim to improve technical skills by enrolling in relevant courses, enhance communication abilities through public speaking training, or build leadership qualities by joining cross-functional projects. These plans align individual aspirations with organizational objectives, fostering a motivated and skilled workforce.

What are the common components of an individual development plan in a professional setting?

A typical individual development plan includes clear goals, self-assessment, actionable plans, resource identification, timelines, and monitoring and evaluation. These components help individuals define their objectives, assess their current skills, outline steps to achieve their goals, identify the necessary resources, set realistic timelines, and regularly review and adapt their plans.

How do I create a personal development plan for my career?

To create a personal development plan, start by self-reflecting on your strengths, weaknesses, and career aspirations. Set clear, SMART goals that align with your vision. Create actionable plans, identify resources, establish timelines, and regularly review your progress. Adapt your plan as needed to stay on track and achieve your career objectives. Seek guidance and feedback from mentors.

What are some real-life individual development plan samples for career growth?

Real-life individual development plan samples vary based on career goals. For instance, a sample for career or personal growth may include goals like obtaining relevant certifications, attending leadership training, and joining cross-functional projects . Another sample for skill enhancement may involve taking technical courses, seeking mentorship, and participating in industry conferences.

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash Ganesh

Kailash is a Product Marketer with 5+ years of experience. He loves story-telling in the simplest way possible and he is an avid reader, movie buff, and likes to travel new places to meet new people.

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What Are Professional Development Goals? 10 Examples + How to Set Them

Professional development goals can help you achieve your short- and long-term objectives in your career.

[Featured Image] Three people are in business casual clothing.  Two coworkers are looking at a blackboard with notes while one person faces forward and smiles.

Professional development goals are objectives you can set for yourself to help further your career. These might include taking steps to learn relevant skills, expand your professional network, or find more satisfaction at work.

Why set professional development goals?

Setting professional development goals can have many benefits. They can help you stay up-to-date on industry trends, increase engagement and job satisfaction, and align you with what you want out of your career and life.

Setting goals that are SMART—specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound —can clarify what you need to achieve in the short-term to arrive at your long-term goals. Read more about setting SMART goals below.

10 examples of professional development goals

Here are ten examples of professional development goals to inspire your own:

1. Develop a new skill set.

Growing professionally often means expanding the arsenal of things you’re able to do. What skill you choose to develop can depend on your industry, job, and personal preferences. In-demand skills across the job sector in 2022 included cloud computing, data analysis skills like artificial intelligence and SQL, management, and UX design [ 1 ].

Don’t know where to start? Approach your manager and see if they have suggestions. You can also browse job descriptions of positions you’d be interested in pursuing; the common skills listed will help you get a sense of what’s in-demand in your field. Do some research to get a sense of what you want to learn and what will be useful to your work.

Develop skills by taking online or in-person courses, shadowing a coworker, or going back to school, among other ways. Think about what fits your schedule and the level of expertise you’re aiming for to see what works best for you.

2. Develop your workplace skills.

Workplace skills are the tools and practices that help people in a workplace connect and interact smoothly with one another. Sometimes referred to as human or soft skills, workplace skills can be crucial for advancing to higher-level positions. Workplace skills include verbal and nonverbal communication, empathy, self-awareness, and leadership.

Specific goals might include:

Complete an online course on communication, negotiation, or psychology

Join a social public speaking club, such as a local Toastmasters chapter

Read more: Hard Skills vs. Soft Skills: What’s the Difference?

3. Take up leadership responsibilities.

Actively seeking out leadership opportunities will allow you to develop leadership skills , and show others that you are striving to grow. Approach your manager to see how you might be able to put your leadership skills into practice. Have a few suggestions at the ready. Here are some examples to get your started:

Lead two team meetings this quarter

Plan and lead a team initiative to collectively learn a new tool or skill

Plan the next team offsite or activity

4. Expand your professional network.

Expanding your professional network can expose you to new ideas, build your profile, keep you informed of new job opportunities, and help you learn continuously. 

Sign up for events to attend in your field, join professional groups in person or through social media platforms like Facebook or LinkedIn, or find opportunities to volunteer your skills through volunteer databases like VolunteerMatch . 

Some concrete goals you can set include:

Attend five in-person or virtual professional events

Find and join three professional groups on LinkedIn

Read more: 9 Networking Tips to Expand and Strengthen Your Network

5. Level-up your credentials.

Beefing up your credentials can open up new career opportunities or clear a path to a promotion. Credentials can include certifications, professional certificates , and degrees. See what makes the most sense for both your short- and long-term career goals . Once you get your credential, don’t forget to inform your manager and list it in relevant places like your resume and LinkedIn profile .

Relevant goals might look like the following:

Earn a certification in your field in the next quarter or year

Complete a professional certificate

Find five degree programs to begin applying to

Read more: Upskilling: What It Means and How It Can Help Your Career

For a limited time, your first month of Coursera Plus for only $1. With Coursera Plus, you have the ultimate flexibility to start new courses and move between programs at no additional cost.

6. Consume media in your field.

Learning more about your field through various media—like books, podcasts, and news publications, to name a few—can enrich your understanding of the context around your work and inform you of ways to improve. Plus, as passive ways of absorbing information, you’ll be able to learn as you, say, go on a walk or wait for the bus.

Ask coworkers or professionals in your network about recommendations. Otherwise, a quick online search should yield plenty of ideas, whether you’re looking for marketing podcasts , books on project management , or something else.

Here are some concrete goals you might aspire to:

Read two books in your field in a quarter

Listen to one podcast on a relevant topic a week

Find 10 experts in your field on Twitter to follow

7. Find other ways to deepen job satisfaction.

Being satisfied as a professional doesn’t necessarily mean striving for constant achievement and earning promotions. Job satisfaction is tied to many factors besides enjoying the work itself—including forming fulfilling relationships with coworkers, achieving work-life balance , and keeping your mental and physical health in check. Plus, there’s evidence that links job satisfaction to higher productivity and less turnover in workplaces—being a happy worker is likely going to benefit your company too [ 2 ].

Here are some goals you might set to improve your workday:

Schedule lunch or coffee chats with coworkers 

Join or start a workplace interest group

Create a plan to prepare healthy meals for lunch

Set reminders to take intermittent breaks throughout the day

Clarify boundaries on work expectations outside of working hours

8. Take a relevant course.

Courses can help you develop skills, learn about issues relevant to your work, and flex new parts of your brain. Courses can be directly related to your work responsibilities, but this might be an opportunity to challenge yourself to develop in new ways. Data analysis , project management , or UX design courses may give you the skills you need—but consider other fields like creative writing, public speaking, or foreign languages that can deepen your work in more unexpected ways.

Specific goals for coursework might look like the following:

Complete a course on XYZ topic in a quarter 

Map out a plan for coursework you’ll take throughout the year

Did you know?

You can start enrolling in hundreds of free courses after you sign up for Coursera. Join our global community and start learning today .

9. Shadow another department.

Shadowing another department can have myriad positives: it can encourage communication and cooperation across siloed teams, inspire ways to improve your own team, and leave you with a better understanding of how your organization works. 

You can set goals such as:

Ask three people from different departments to lunch

Create a program in your workplace to encourage cross-team shadowing

10. Find a mentor.

A mentor can help you navigate challenges in the workplace and help you progress in your career. 

Finding a mentor might sound like a daunting task, but be assured that many have done it before. Some workplaces have mentoring programs in place that make it easy for people to connect with a more experienced professional. You might also find that your professional network will come in handy here. You can start by finding people who have had careers you find close to your aspirations in professional groups or alumni communities. Or if it makes sense, reach out to somebody in your workplace that you think you’ll be able to learn from.

Goals that will help you land a mentor include:

Create a pitch that you can use to contact potential mentors

Arrange a meeting with potential mentors to see if they’re a fit

Map out your short- or long-term goals (or both) of having a mentor

How to set professional development goals

1. know what you’re working towards..

Start by taking some time to consider what you want out of your career, now or in the future. Goal-setting is a useful exercise because it can clarify what you really want out of your career, and identify tangible steps to achieve it.

Don’t know what you want to do in five or 10 years yet? Start smaller, and identify your interests. If you’ve always admired your manager who can speak eloquently in front of others, consider a public speaking course. If you find yourself fascinated by your coworker’s ability to analyze data sets, try learning Python or another programming language.

2. Set SMART goals.

SMART goals are goals that are specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and time-bound. Here’s what each of those components mean:

Specific: Goals should be well-defined and unambiguous so that you know exactly what you’re aspiring to.

Measurable: Goals should have a clear way of identifying whether you’ve achieved them, or if not, how close you came to them. For example, saying Finish three modules of my online course is more measurable than a goal like Work on my online course.

Achievable: Setting a goal that you can realistically achieve is key to actually achieving them. Plus, thinking in the back of your mind that a goal is impossible may be demotivating. Keep yourself motivated by setting reasonable goals.

Relevant: Your goals should be relevant to you—that is, they should align with your long-term aspirations and values. Think of this as the “why” of your goal.

Time-bound: Set a deadline for your goals so you can stay on track and motivated. 

Getting started on professional development goals

Professional development goals can help identify what you want your career to look like in the short- and long-term, and what steps you need to take to get where you want to be. Ready to get started? Learn from world-class institutions with over 8,000 courses, certificates, and degrees on Coursera .

Article sources

1. Coursera. " Global Skills Report , https://pages.coursera-for-business.org/rs/748-MIV-116/images/Coursera-Global-Skills-Report-2022.pdf." Accessed May 18, 2023.

2. Harvard Business Review. " Proof That Positive Work Cultures Are More Productive , https://hbr.org/2015/12/proof-that-positive-work-cultures-are-more-productive." Accessed May 18, 2023.

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Develop Good Habits

36 Examples of Personal Development Goals for Your Career & Life

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If you’re like many other people, you probably make a resolution or two at the beginning of each year to try to improve yourself in some way– get a promotion , start a family, get in shape–things of that nature. And if you’re like many other people, that resolution probably becomes history by January 15th.

However, this common focus on self-improvement derives from our desire to be in the driver’s seat of our own lives and be successful in all of our endeavors. And it’s true that focusing on continuous personal development will greatly improve your chances of being successful in every area of your life, however, simply having any type of goal will not do you any favors unless you follow through by acting on it.

Having clearly defined personal development goals ( as opposed to only having resolutions ) is a great way to start improving your performance in any area of your life, yet the benefit that you derive from it depends on the effort you put forth in achieving it.

I know that once I stopped making vague intentions (lose weight, save money, spend more time with the family), and started to make specific and actionable personal goals, not only did I start achieving my goals and noticing improvements in my life, I also realized the importance of tracking my progress and measuring my success to keep myself motivated to consistently better my life.

In this post, I am going to give you 36 examples of personal development goals both for your career and personal life that will help you cultivate widespread success.

If you'd like a few resources that can teach you all the skills on this page, then I recommend checking out these platforms to learn any skill.

  • Masterclass (You can read the review of it here .)
  • Skillshare (You can read the review of it here .)
  • Udemy (You can read the review of it here .)
  • Coursera (You can read the review of it here .)

Let’s get started.

Table of Contents

What are Personal Development Goals?

Personal development goals are those that are made in an effort to improve your outcomes and overall experience in life.  A personal goal can be any milestone related to improving yourself through skill acquisition , character building experiences, interacting with other people, improving your perception of yourself and your abilities, or how you envision the possibilities for your future. The purpose of having personal development goals is to continuously create a better life for yourself.

These life goals impact you in both tangible and intangible ways. While some personal development goals may relate to improving your ability to be patient with other people, others may have to do with advancing your education in some way.

Some of your personal development goals may clearly fall into a “personal” or “professional” category, however, many can easily overlap into both categories because ultimately, who you innately are as a person remains the same whether you’re at work or at home. Your “soft” skills –such as your ability to motivate yourself and your capacity to feel empathy toward others–will help improve all areas of your life.

RELATED: 21 Examples of SMART Goals

Want to set goals you can actually achieve? Then watch this video that provides a quick overview of SMART goals with 21 examples.

Now that we've defined personal goals, let's talk about the specific ones you can work on developing to improve your life.

Personal Development Goals Related to Your Career

1. build and improve professional relationships.

You spend a lot of time with your colleagues, so it is important to build good relationships with them. After all, team cohesion relies on mature working relationships, as people typically work better together if there’s a personal element to their relationship .

Having positive professional relationships can lay the foundation for your ultimate success. Because each person’s role in your organization either directly or indirectly affects your performance, it’s important for you to nourish these working relationships so you can work in harmony with others.

To improve your professional relationships, help other members of the team whenever you can, and engage in open and honest communication with your colleagues. (And if you're not an effective communicator, these 11 strategies can help improve your communication skills .)

Doing so will help you build trust and strengthen your relationship with the people at work, which will make your professional life much more enjoyable. While it is also important to develop positive relationships with people in your field who work with different organizations (which we will address later), don’t neglect those who are on your own turf.

How to Achieve This Goal

To build and improve your professional relationships, you will need to practice good workplace habits . Not only will this help you develop better relationships with your colleagues, it will also help increase your level of work satisfaction. Be sure to welcome diversity , both in cultures and ideas, by listening to what others have to say in your workplace.

Factor various insights into your decision-making processes and recognize that you can learn something from everyone . If the people you work with can see that you value them and what they bring to the table, you will be more likely to have a good relationship with them.

2. Improve Your Time Management Skills

Throughout your professional career, you’ll face deadlines and competing tasks that fight for your attention every day. As your workload increases, it may seem impossible to be able to get everything accomplished.

In these instances, your ability to manage your time will be tested. Having effective time management skills will help increase your productivity and efficiency, decrease your stress , and  allow you to have more time to dedicate to other endeavors .

Make sure that you’re keeping track of how you spend your time if you feel like time management is an issue for you ( this app can help you do this). Schedule a specific amount of time for every item on your to-do list and don’t allow interruptions during these times. This will help you be more efficient, and once you get the hang of working this way, it will become second nature.

Now, if you'd like to discover additional resources related to time management and productivity, then I recommend checking out the other articles we've published on this site:

  • The Eisenhower Matrix: How to Use 4 Quadrants to Make Important vs. Urgent Decisions in Your Life
  • The 80/20 Rule: How to Apply This Principle to All Areas of Your Life
  • The Pomodoro Technique: How to Manage Your Time in 25-Minute Blocks
  • 27 Best Books on Productivity and Time Management
  • The Rock, Pebbles, and Sand Story About Time Management

We’ve provided you with the tools you need to improve your time management, but having these tools without having the skills to properly use them doesn’t quite cut it. Think of it like this: you could have the highest quality set of knives and most innovative oven on the market, but if you don’t know how to cook, those tools won’t automatically make you a master chef.

So what underlying skills do you need in order to effectively manage your time? Research shows that there are three skills in particular that will make your time management efforts successful, including:

  • Being aware that time is a limited resource and being realistic with how long it takes to accomplish a task
  • Having the ability to organize your daily tasks, schedule, and goals in a sensical way
  • Being able to monitor the use of your time on an ongoing basis and adapt to changing priorities as needed

With this in mind, take these steps to improve upon these three skills:

  • Time yourself at work for every task you do for about a week. Keeping track of how you spend your time can be a huge eye-opener.
  • Put your most important tasks at the beginning of your daily schedule and fill in the rest like Tetris. If you have a really short break somewhere, throw that 5 minute task right there into your schedule.
  • Have a backup plan in case your day gets a little jumbled… which it often will.

3. Improve Your Emotional Intelligence

When emotional intelligence (EQ) first hit people’s radars, it was the answer to a puzzling question: How do people with mid-range IQs outperform those with the highest IQs almost three-quarters of the time?

People originally thought that one’s IQ was a direct indicator of their success. However, decades of research uncovered that a high EQ is an element that brings star performers to the top.

This means that your EQ has a huge impact on your professional success. When you have a high EQ, you are better equipped to understand your own feelings and the feelings of others, which helps you relate to people. Not only does this improve your communication skills, but it also gives you the social competence that’s needed to understand other people’s emotions, behaviors, and motives so you can respond appropriately and successfully manage your personal interactions.

One interesting thing about people with a high EQ is that they have a large emotional vocabulary. While everyone experiences emotions, very few can accurately identify them as they happen, which becomes a problem because unidentified emotions are easily misinterpreted, leading to irrational decisions and ineffective actions.

However, those who have high EQs can understand their emotions, and they have a large vocabulary of “feeling words” to do this. So, while others may say they feel bad, a person with a high EQ would be able to identify if they’re frustrated, hurt, overwhelmed, etc. The more clearly you can define your emotion, the more insight you have into what caused your feelings and how you can address them.

To learn more about this topic, here is a seven-step process on how to improve your emotional intelligence.

Additionally, having a good sense of self-awareness is the most important component to being able to develop a high EQ. With a high level of self-awareness, it will be easier for you to recognize how other people perceive you and adapt to social situations as needed. One effective way to increase your self-awareness is to keep a mindfulness journal , which will help get you in the habit of living in the moment and being aware of yourself and your surroundings.

4. Define Your Own Success

You don’t have to abide by everyone else’s definition of success . You can define what being successful and happy mean to you , which will help you clarify what you need to do to achieve it.

Once you dig deep to uncover your values and purpose and career aspirations , you will recognize that if you try to chase everyone else's idea of what success is, you won’t achieve it. ( Discover your core values with the help of these core value quizzes. ) In doing this, you have to make it a point to not compare yourself to other people . The things that you see other people have don’t define or impact your success. You’re the only one who can decide if you have achieved your goals thus far.

And if you want to be more successful, here are 12 rules to live by.

There isn’t one universal definition of being successful. To define your own success, you need to observe and recognize the characteristics that make you unique from everyone else in the world and celebrate them. The Huffington Post offers three steps to defining your success:

  • Figure out what makes you, YOU. What makes you unique? One way to reflect on this is to write your personal mission statement .
  • Remove your limiting beliefs and open yourself up to taking risks and reaping the rewards.
  • Keep doing whatever you have to do to help you be your best self. This involves practicing self-care , increasing your love for yourself (and here are some more tips for loving yourself more ), and living an authentic life to your true self .

5. Find New Challenges

Finding new challenges in your current position will help keep your job interesting and fulfilling. This personal development goal shows your ambition and can be especially helpful for your organization if they’re frequently coming up with new ideas that are never acted on or no one supervises to ensure any type of follow-through.

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Finding new challenges could be as easy as revising that employee handbook that hasn’t been touched since 2005, or as complex as proposing and creating a prototype for a new product. Finding new challenges for yourself will also help you show your leadership abilities and could lead to further progress within your organization.

If you need a jumpstart, here are 129 30-day challenges you can use to improve your personal and professional life.

The first thing you need to do to find new challenges is to take the initiative to talk to your boss about your current responsibilities. Inquire about other projects you can get involved with and try to provide a fresh perspective on issues as they arise. Doing so could lead to job advancement in the future, which will certainly offer new challenges.

Secondly, find new challenges by focusing on yourself rather than constantly trying to impress your employer . If you are always in the mindset that you’re working for someone else, you may become bored and lazy with your work. Remember that your work reflects on you , not just your employer, and when you think of your work as being for yourself , you’re more likely to challenge yourself to continuously improve .

6. Don’t Be Passive

Passive behavior occurs when you put other people’s preferences or needs ahead of your own. While sometimes this is necessary to build relationships, it can become a problem if you are consistently passive in a way that allows it to become a barrier to your success.

If you like to avoid conflict, you probably tend to be passive. If you simply allow things to happen without standing up for yourself or offering a logical argument in return, others will see this and start taking advantage of your willingness to please. In doing so, you may accept an offer that would be unacceptable by other people’s standards, which could negatively impact your performance and even your organization.

While being passive in the short-term may make you feel good because you are getting other people’s approval, it is damaging in the long-run because it will require you to make larger sacrifices to maintain these relationships.

If you want to take a more active approach in your career, start by writing your career goal statement . This will give you a clearer vision of the professional life you want and how to achieve it.

Also, you can avoid being passive by communicating directly with people ( don’t be shy! ) and being genuine when you’re talking about how you feel about things. You can certainly be assertive without being aggressive by being clear and straightforward with people.

7. Develop a Growth Mindset

People who have a growth mindset believe that they can continue to develop their talents throughout life. These people are often able to achieve more than those with a fixed mindset, who believe that they were born with their abilities already set into place and therefore don’t invest time or energy into learning new skills. People with a growth mindset are continuously aiming to better themselves, and are therefore able to break away from complacency and achieve their goals.

In a professional environment, people who have a growth mindset often share information, collaborate well with others, look for feedback, strive for innovation, and are able to admit their mistakes. On the other hand, those with a fixed mindset are less likely to take risks for fear of failure or embarrassment. They don’t look forward to the potential learning opportunities from trying new things because they think they were born with the maximum amount of talent they will ever have.

Those with a fixed mindset can develop a growth mindset by embracing imperfection and altering their viewpoint on challenges. This is advantageous in the workplace because it offers a greater opportunity to become successful.

If you'd like to develop this quality, there are many resources out there that can help you. First, here are 7 exercises that can help you develop a growth mindset , and h ere are 27 habits you can adopt to support you on this journey as well . By cultivating self-awareness, seeking out learning opportunities and challenges, and being mindful about valuing the process of everything that you do rather than just the end result, you can stop your limiting beliefs that your talent and abilities are finite.

Additionally, h ere are 20 growth mindset examples that will help you fully understand the importance of having this trait, which can help motivate you to make a genuine effort toward adopting it. You can also check out these growth mindset journal prompts if you're already journaling.

Finally, check out these growth and fixed mindset quotes to encourage you to continue to learn throughout your life. And–if you have children–you can get them started on the right track by teaching them how to develop a growth mindset .

8. Grow Your Network

People do business with others whom they know and trust. And the truth is, “companies” don’t make business decisions, people do. Having a strong professional network can help you advance in your career in ways that you would not be able to do alone.

Not only can networking lead to connections with people who can help you enhance your expertise and knowledge, it can also help you stay on top of potential opportunities for advancement in your career.

In order to grow your network, you need to be willing to put yourself out there in new situations, which may feel uncomfortable at first. However, once you do it a few times, not only will you get used to it, but you will start running into the same people multiple times at networking events, which will help you strengthen your network as it grows. Actively look up networking events in your area and GO. Even if you have to bring a co-worker so there is someone there you know, GO.

You can also grow your network through social media , however, having that personal face-to-face time is invaluable when you’re trying to learn about someone and really attempting to make a valuable connection.

Read this post to learn how to create SMART goals that focus on networking.

9. Tweak Your Work Life Balance

Having a healthy work-life balance is an important part of living a happy life . Not only will taking sufficient breaks from work have a positive effect on your wellbeing, but it will also influence your productivity by improving your performance while you’re working.

Create boundaries between your professional and your personal lives that are strong, yet realistic. To you, this may mean sticking to an 8-hour work-day, or it could mean leaving work at work and leaving home at home (i.e. not checking your work email while having dinner with your family). Having a healthy work-life balance will help you maintain your professional motivation and allow you to work smarter , not harder .

One of the first steps to achieving this goal is to work efficiently while you’re at work so it doesn’t have to spill over into your personal life. Here are 26 smart hacks to help increase your work productivity.

It’s also smart to go into each week with a plan so you don’t end up wasting time wondering what you should do next–or feeling so overwhelmed that you just sit there and do nothing. Here are 7 steps to help you plan out your week so you can stay focused.

10. Improve Upon Your Weaknesses

Make your biggest weakness into your biggest strengths by being aware of areas in which you can improve and focusing directly on them.

Being able to recognize your weaknesses shows self-awareness and strength in your character. But what do you tell potential employers when they ask about your weaknesses? Do you tell them the solid steps you’re taking to improve upon them?

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You won’t improve without accepting that your skillset isn’t perfect and then creating a strategic plan for improvement. ( A personal development plan template can help you! ) If you can take concrete steps to turn your weaknesses around, not only will you be a role model for other professionals, you will also be engaging in self-improvement.

This is not to say that your biggest weakness has to turn into your biggest strength, but being aware of the areas in your work where you have room for improvement and trying to bridge that gap is a constructive personal development goal.

First, practice some activities in self-awareness so you can gain this important characteristic, such as:

  • Asking yourself “Why?” three times
  • Label your emotions
  • Go for a walk
  • Keep a journal

Secondly, it is important to get guidance from someone you trust . In doing so, you may be able to learn about some weaknesses that you have but may not have noticed.

And for some things? You really just need to get good enough . It’s alright if you’re never an expert at every task involved in your company–but some tasks are important enough to gain minimal competence, just so you can understand the comprehensive work of your company.

For example, let’s say you’re an internet entrepreneur…but you have very few technology skills. You can trust your employees to take care of the technology piece, but you’ll still want to learn just enough so you can tell if they’re doing their jobs as they’re supposed to and you know if your expectations for their outcomes are realistic.

11. Pursue Ongoing Professional Development

This is another personal development goal that will keep you on top of your game at work. Employers are often reluctant to invest the money in sending their employees to seminars or conferences, but engaging in professional development will help you maintain your competence in your field and excel when faced with the competition .

This continuing professional development can take the form of listening to the best business podcasts and reading the best business books .

Ensuring that your professional skills remain up-to-date in our rapidly changing world is critical to your long-term success . Think of your five-year plan . Your education certainly doesn’t stop with your diploma, and staying abreast of changing trends in your industry will help you be an in-demand candidate for prospective future employers.

You can engage in continuous learning on your own by seeking out opportunities for webinars and new research and things of that nature. You can also look for senior executives at your job whose job may be your goal to obtain one day and ask if you can spend some time shadowing them to learn what they do on an everyday basis.

But if you want to be able to attend and participate in more intensive trainings, you may need to learn how to ask your boss how your company can fit that into their budget. And to convince anyone of this you have to have a strong argument as to why or how your attendance at this conference will benefit the entire company and what kind of knowledge you can bring back from it. So do your research first and approach your boss with a strong argument in mind as to how spending this money will benefit the company.

12. Learn How to Motivate Others

If you want to be a leader in your industry, it is important to know how to motivate your team members. Otherwise, your organization will go through periods of struggle with productivity and overall morale.

If you aren’t in a leadership position, you can still look for opportunities to bring to your leaders’ attention that address motivation if you feel that this is an obstacle in your workplace. If you are able to enhance the motivation of your team or have a positive impact on the work ethic of the employees, you will be helping to maximize the effectiveness of your organization.

Here are 9 ways you can motivate others. Part of doing this is to challenge people and be encouraging when they start to make progress . You want to set others up to be in a position where they’re ultimately motivating themselves, and sometimes this requires prompting them to do some self-reflection as to why they are doing the job that they’ve chosen and what they’re ultimately working toward.

And if they’re still not quite sure, try to get the person to create a vision for their future so they can have a more clear picture of what they want out of life. You can teach them about making vision boards to help them think about their future or add some inspiration to their current work as they make connections to where it may be taking them for the future.

Personal Development Goals for Self-Growth

13. enjoy life more by taking it less seriously.

A lot of people fail to keep the bigger picture in mind on an everyday basis. The majority of us are fortunate to have been born healthy and into families that could provide us with our basic needs. However, many still get caught up in the small things that happen and completely forget about how well-off they are.

Think about someone you know who earns a large salary, but still gets mad at small inconveniences. Taking life less seriously will help you be happier, reduce stress, and make you a more enjoyable person for other people to be around.

If you’re able to move past the small and insignificant things that happen, you will get more enjoyment out of life. Laugh at unexpected inconveniences, laugh at yourself when you make a mistake , and laugh because it will reduce the amount of stress that you’re putting on your body.

“Do not take life too seriously. You will never get out of it alive.” — Elbert Hubbard

There are several things you can do to take life less seriously. Practicing gratitude is a great place to start since it will help you focus on the good things in your life. This will also help you m aintain a positive attitude in the face of adversity.

Try to let go of any stress, worry, or anger so you can live in a more relaxed state of mind. Be mindful of the stress in your life and do your best to rise above it. As you know, there a lot of things in life that you have no control over. Align yourself to a brighter and lighter version of you by adding humor to your life , learning to be comfortable with feeling vulnerable, and spending more time enjoying life.

14. Engage in Self-Care

You can’t be an effective partner, mother, cousin, or friend to anyone if you don’t take care of yourself first. Too often, people fail to take care of their own basic needs, either because they’re too busy or they’re not making it a primary concern.

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Learning how to engage in proper self-care and making it a priority in your everyday life will greatly improve your life and the lives of the people with whom you interact. You can’t take care of anything else in your life to the best of your ability until you take care of yourself.

Check out 274 self-care ideas here . Some of my personal favorites that I feel apply universally are:

  • Find a creative hobby that you enjoy
  • Write in a journal
  • Reward yourself when you do something positive
  • Spend time drawing in an adult coloring book
  • Declutter your living space
  • Learn vital self management skills

15. Be Proactive

Things will go wrong in life–it’s inevitable. These negative situations can either have a large impact on your life, or they could be a bit inconvenient. This all depends on whether you’re pro active or re active . If you always wait to react to problems until after they have already presented themselves, it expands the associated challenges and adds additional stress to your life.

On the other hand, if you’re proactive, it will minimize the issue and give you more stability because you will be facing a challenge that you were prepared for. It’s easier to remain relatively undisturbed if you’re proactive because you’ll always feel like you’re in control of your circumstances.

Being proactive is about being a good problem solver and being solution-focused. It’s about not wasting time and getting things done ahead of time by anticipating issues that may arise or being ahead of the game when it comes to an emerging trend in your industry.

Surround yourself with other people who are driven to increase your probability for success.  You cannot have people around you who drag you down and expect to keep the motivation to be proactive, rather you need to associate with like-minded people who also want to stay ahead. Doing so will also keep you abreast of new research or best practices in your field because you will be able to learn from the people you’re around, and they will be able to learn from you.

16. Practice Patience

It can be tough to be patient, especially if you tend to be short-tempered. However, this is something that can be managed with practice. It’s beneficial to maintain your patience during times of despair because it will help you keep a calm state of mind, which will allow you to effectively problem-solve without being impacted by frustration.

Also, having continuous patience will help you make decisions that will be beneficial for you in the long term because you won’t rush yourself into making decisions that will suit your needs for instant gratification. One way to ensure that you are practicing patience is to stop to think critically before making any decisions . Taking the time to do this will help you avoid having to re-do work, make corrections, or do something that you later regret.

Here are some concrete steps you can take to become more patient. A big part of practicing how to be patient is exactly that– practicing .

I know this may sound like a unique thing to work on because it’s not really tangible–you’re not practicing how to play the piano or practicing perfecting a perfect recipe of some sort. However, practicing patience is not as passive as it sounds. You can practice by focusing on your breathing, finding the silver lining in the extra time that you’ve been given while you’re waiting for something, and learning to battle feelings of anger and frustration that really are the negative aspect of being impatient.

Looking for some inspiration? Here's a collection of our favorites quotes about patience .

17. Say “Goodbye” to Toxic People

Do you have negative people in your life who drain you of your energy and confidence? Or, can you think of some people who are constantly complaining or judging others in some way? These people are known as being “toxic” and you should avoid having them in your life as much as you can .

( If you're not sure if someone is a toxic person, here are 15 warning signs. )

Toxic people will hold you back from achieving your goals. Because putting an end to any relationship is difficult, and you may not want to completely cut ties with a friend from childhood (for example), you can make a concerted effort to spend a minimal amount of time with them rather than completely cutting them off if you feel that would be more appropriate.

Instead, surround yourself with uplifting people who will inspire you and support you in being the best version of yourself . Spending your time with like-minded people will make it easier for you to achieve your ultimate goals in life.

Don’t sit around waiting for toxic people in your life to change. Rather, establish boundaries and maintain them by being comfortable with saying “no” to them . Don’t allow yourself to be pulled into someone else’s crisis just because they’ve been in your life for a long time.

Sometimes it’s ok (and necessary) to let go of the past and old relationships and move on with your life rather than holding onto them because the person has been a friend since childhood. People grow in different directions and while you may be able to have a mutually beneficial relationship with someone at one point in your life, it doesn’t necessarily mean that the relationship should last forever.

Keep in mind that toxic people have a tendency to keep coming back into your life if you let them, so once you decide a relationship of any kind is over, make sure to be firm with that decision.    

18. Accept Your Reality

You may feel like you know yourself, but have you accepted yourself and your life? Have you settled for “less than” what you hoped? Failing to connect with reality may keep you stuck in jobs, relationships, or even living situations that are just not right for you.

You will always be a work in progress and it is perfectly acceptable for you to make mistakes, but in order to make some sort of progression in your life, it is important to accept your reality if you're not living your dream.

Accepting your reality is one of the best things you can do for your future. Even if your current situation is awful, the first step to making positive changes is acknowledging and accepting it in its current state and then identifying the specific things you can do to improve it. Otherwise, you will remain unhappily complacent.

Dealing with the bad stuff takes a lot of practice, but you have to do it in order to make it to the good things. To accept your reality, you have to own responsibility for your mistakes and acknowledge any role you played in getting to where you are today, whether it’s good or bad. What have you done in the past to foster success? What about failure?

You don’t have to beat yourself up about your past mistakes, just look for lessons in them . And make sure to give yourself credit wherever it’s due. Accepting your reality means accepting all of it–starting with your competencies. Focus on your positive characteristics because even if you aren’t where you want to be right now, you’re sure to have done some good things that have put you ahead of where you could be.

19. Don’t Let Your Past Define Your Future

A lot of us have a terrible past, and you may believe that your goals are out of reach due to your undesirable history. Perhaps you’re discouraged, you feel unworthy, or you may even be embarrassed by your past.

But it doesn’t take too much research to find success story after success story of people who were able to overcome their past struggles and become very triumphant . Don’t let your past be an obstacle to achieving the future that you dream of. Rather, commit to your goals and realize that change can occur at any point, and you have endless opportunities for transformation.

Sure, it can be hard to let go of the past, especially if you believe it makes up such a large part of your identity. However, it can be done.

If you’re trying to deal with negative emotions from a past trauma and you want to be heard or understood, you can talk about your experiences with people, but you also have to identify how those experiences are now causing emotions that are holding you back.

Once you identify your limiting emotions, you can think about what positive motivating factors you may have to help you move past those feelings. Then, create new, positive experiences to replace the negative things that have happened in the past so you can reinvent yourself and live a happy and fulfilling life.

20. Let Go of Your Limiting Beliefs

Holding onto limiting beliefs will delay your progression because you will be stuck inside of your comfort zone, unwilling to try new things or take any risks. While you may have a fear of failure or you are scared you’re going to get hurt in the process of working toward your goals , these thoughts cannot mark the end of the road to your success.

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You could have limiting beliefs about a variety of things, ranging from finances to relationships to your own abilities. The key is to identify the beliefs that are holding you back, overcome them, and replace them with positive thoughts that support your path to success.

To learn more, here is a step-by-step guide on how to identify and overcome your limiting beliefs . You will first need to overpower your limiting beliefs with empowering thoughts that can help you move past these roadblocks.

Do this by questioning your beliefs. Are you sure they’re true? Do you have any evidence or are you making an assumption? Are you thinking in “ all or nothing ” terms? Being honest with yourself about your beliefs and thinking outside the box to find potential new solutions can help you realize that your beliefs probably started out as being ideas, then turned to opinions, then cemented themselves in your belief system.

It takes a lot of self-reflection and challenging your own thoughts to move past your limiting beliefs, but doing the work is worth the reward because whatever is holding you back has tangible consequences, whether it’s preventing you from pursuing the job of your dreams, keeping you in an abusive relationship, or anything in between.

21. Set Personal Boundaries

If you’re like me, you have a hard time saying no to people. You want to please those who come to you for help or who need you to do them a favor. However, it’s important to remember that you’re not an endless resource to be used by other people.

You have to know your limits so you have enough time and energy for the things that you need to accomplish. Once you know where your limits stand, set strict boundaries for others and stick to your guns.

This could mean boundaries in romantic relationships, with your family members, friends, or even in the workplace. Setting clear personal boundaries is an important part of ensuring that your relationships are mutually supportive and respectful.

If you have weak or undefined boundaries, you will be left vulnerable and others may take you for granted. However, with strong boundaries, you’re setting the limits for what’s acceptable behavior from the people with whom you associate.

Learn to recognize when the boundaries that you have set are being pushed and be direct about that. With a strong sense of self-awareness, you will notice when your boundaries are being pushed because you will feel yourself becoming resentful toward the other person . When this happens, if you have a proper sense of self-respect, you will not feel guilty about sticking to your boundaries.

If you want to learn how to set boundaries, you can start small. For example, let your friends and extended family know that you’re turning your phone on silent every night at 8pm and won’t look at it again until 6:30 the next morning–at the earliest. This is a good first step to learning how to set boundaries with your time. A next step to consider may be to stop checking work emails when you’re at home. Work at whatever pace of progress feels right to you.

For more on this, here is a 7-step process for saying “no” to people and the requests for your time .

22. Become an Active Listener

We listen to people talk every day, so you would probably think that everyone is pretty good at it. However, this is not the case–in fact, research shows that we only remember about 25% of what we hear.

So when you’re talking to your boss, coworkers, family, and friends for, say, 20 minutes—and you’re speaking for 10 of those minutes–they will only remember 2.5 minutes of what you said. This also means that when someone is telling you something that’s important, you’re most likely going to miss parts of it.

Learning how to actively listen is a skill that pretty much everyone could benefit from. When you improve your listening skills, you can improve your productivity , your influence on others , and your negotiation and persuasion skills.

Also, part of being a great communicator is being a great listener. You give off a good impression to others when you lend them a listening ear, which helps you earn trust. When you are actively listening, not only are you showing the speaker that you want to understand what they’re saying, you’re also offering empathy and support, which builds stronger relationships.

To improve your active listening skills , mimic the speaker’s body language and ask questions to make sure you’re understanding what they’re saying . You don’t want to interrupt the person who is speaking, but nodding along in agreement and repeating back to them what you heard are effective ways to show the speaker that you are engaged in the conversation.

Also, maintain eye contact and ask clarifying or follow-up questions so they know that you’ve been paying attention to what they’ve been talking about. Try to have some empathy while you’re listening so you can feel what the speaker is trying to relay.

23. Learn to Let Go

Holding on to the past will prevent you from becoming the person that you want to be. But, letting go of things that have happened is much easier said than done. In fact, I think we have all heard someone say at some point in our lives, “let it go” and, if you’re like me, it makes you even madder than you were before.

While it seems counterintuitive, Psychology Today reports that painful feelings can ultimately be comforting, especially if most of your past is painful, because these unpleasant emotions become part of your identity, making them nearly impossible to let go.

However, if you carry the negative things from your past around with you for the rest of your life, it will only act as a burden and ultimately hold you back from living a fulfilling life. Remember the lessons that you take away from your hardships, but let go of the emotional weight that you’re holding on to .

A large part of letting go involves learning how to forgive . This doesn’t mean that you have to forget what someone else has done to hurt you, it simply means that you will not allow their actions to have a negative impact on your future.  Offering forgiveness is therapeutic when you’re trying to move past something, and if you share this forgiveness with the offender, it may motivate that person to seek moral growth, and improve themselves as a result of your forgiveness.

Aside from learning how to forgive, it’s important to always remember that the only thing you can control are your own actions and feelings . Don’t waste your energy trying to dictate the paths of other people, and don’t worry about what other people’s opinions are of you. Just focus on being your best self and living the life that you want to live from start to finish.

24. Build Resilience

Even for those who are relatively self-aware, life’s challenges can come at a surprise. But learning how to move through these painful times in a healthy way can help people bounce  back more quickly–or at least start moving in a positive direction.

When you’re resilient, you are able to cope with adversity and adapt when a situation doesn’t go the way that you expected. Having resilience is the difference between feeling powerless and being able to stand up to your problems with confidence and bravery. When you can recover quickly from a problem , you will come out on the other side a stronger person.

Having resilience is what helps you cope with whatever comes your way and just focus on what you can learn from the experience.  This personal development goal can help you in any area of your life, as it will prevent you from becoming easily overwhelmed and allow you to use your strengths to recover from challenges.

Many people use journaling as a way to build resilience, as this exercise helps you explore your thoughts, stop ruminating on past experiences, and it gives your thoughts structure by organizing them on paper. This can help you gain a new perspective and a sense of control over your past.

Journaling can also help you find the silver lining in things as you have the opportunity to purposefully think of positive things that may have come out of an upsetting experience. For example, if you got in a fight with your partner, it may have brought some significant issues to light , allowing you both to open up to each other’s points of  view. 

25. Wake Up 30 Minutes Earlier

Waking up early, energized, and with a purpose is a huge key to success . The most successful people are known for waking up early and getting a strong start to their day. Because of this, a great personal goal that could really enhance your life in all domains is to start waking up earlier than  you’re used to.

Set your alarm to get up early –at least 30 minutes before usual. There are many benefits to being an early riser, such as giving yourself time to eat a healthy breakfast , get some exercise , or complete some productive work before other people are awake and the chaos of your day begins. Waking up earlier than is necessary gives you quiet time to focus on anything that is important to you.

Studies have shown that people who wake up early tend to procrastinate less and get ahead of the game as opposed to their later-sleeping counterparts. So, if you want to get ahead, this is one simple change you can make that can give you a head start.

The first step to being able to wake up early is to make sure you’re going to bed at a reasonable time and getting a good night’s sleep . If you try to go to bed at the same time every night, you will eventually start to wake up at the same time each morning, without needing an alarm clock.

If you need to, you can make this change gradually by starting to set your alarm 10 minutes earlier than usual, and then 20, and so on. Once your body gets into this routine, you will become a natural early bird and wonder why other people waste so much time in the morning staying in bed or hitting the snooze button.

If you're having trouble with your morning routine in general, then this step-by-step resource can help .

Personal Development Goals for a Performance Review

26. improve operation processes.

While operations processes can look quite different depending upon the industry in which you work, the underlying concept is the same for all organizations of any size. The operation process involves turning inputs (raw materials, information, labor, money, etc.) into outputs (products, services, customer satisfaction , etc.)

Companies that can figure out how to do this well end up with a competitive advantage. Because of this, every component of an operations process has to be closely monitored so management can determine if their team is working at an optimal level of performance.

Well-designed operations process goals can help teams stay informed of all necessary information, standard operating procedures, and training. And, ultimately, when these processes are done well, they are what make an organization successful. If you’re at the helm of this, you’re on the right path toward professional success.

The best way to improve operation processes is to streamline them . Look at how your organization works and identify if there are any areas where you can improve efficiency. It’s important to not stay stuck in your old ways because that’s what has “always worked” before. Technology and businesses are constantly evolving, meaning there are new methods and tools available to streamline operations to increase workers’ productivity .

Another thing you will want to keep in mind to improve business operations is to fix small problems before they become big ones. Some seemingly insignificant glitches in your system can turn into a setback that can end up wasting a lot of time and being expensive to fix. So, make an effort to reduce any issue that you can identify within your organization. One way of doing this would be to create a new protocol guide for your team and then review its impact on a regular basis, tweaking the processes as needed.

Here are some specific examples of how a business can improve their operations processes.

27. Improve Clients’ Service Experiences

Goals related to clients’ service experiences with your organization involve greater engagement and client satisfaction. These types of goals may involve elements such as creating more self-service online features on the organization’s website, reducing phone hold times, or improving the timeliness of client follow up.

This type of goal will be highly individualized based on your industry, but whether you are dealing with retail clients in a small business setting or your clients come in the form of the kindergarten students that you teach, you can always find a way to improve others’ experience when they’re on the receiving end of your organization’s services.

Here are a variety of ways to improve clients’ service experiences that can apply to a diverse group of industries. But, in addition to this, it’s important to make sure that the employees are able to show that they truly care about their work and stand behind the company especially when they’re interacting with those receiving your services or buying your products.

To do this, you need to ensure employees have a sense of intrinsic motivation to do their job. When employees are intrinsically motivated to do their job, they will:

  • Respect and enjoy the process of the work rather than simply receiving a paycheck
  • Find pleasure in their everyday tasks
  • Show a sense of enthusiasm for their work
  • Seek opportunities to learn
  • Welcome challenges
  • Live up to their potential

For more information, read our examples of SMART goals for small business .

28. Improve Employee Morale

You don’t have to be in a leadership position to boost employee morale. When employees have a positive attitude about their environment at work and believe they can be successful in their job, employee morale naturally increases.

When working among other people, you can have an impact on the working environment and encourage a positive morale. For example, you can:

  • Praise your fellow co-workers for their hard work or success
  • Avoid using negative language or expressing complaints without offering a possible solution
  • Do something as simple as keeping your office door open or putting a bowl of candy on your desk to make fellow employees feel welcomed when approaching you

The culture of an organization cannot be changed by just one person, however, without at least one person making an effort to improve employee morale, no changes will ever occur. Do your part in creating positive general norms in your workplace.

The most effective way to improve employee morale is to demonstrate it yourself. Your own positive attitude about your work will be contagious to everyone around you. Go out of your way to point positive aspects of your job out to other people– no matter how small they are. For example, if the company buys a new Keurig for the breakroom, make the effort to point that out to someone in passing. Add as much positivity to your workplace as you can to negate any negative attitudes that tend to hang around there .

This video offers some more great ideas on how to improve employee morale.

29. Offer Solutions to Problems

Pointing out problems that are occurring within your organization time and time again gets exhausting for those who have to listen to you. Instead, be proactive about coming up with solutions to challenges that arise before complaining about the problem in the first place.

For example, let’s say that you’re finding frequent mistakes in your coworkers’ reports and you’re having to spend time going back and fixing them. If your method of attempting to deal with this problem involves complaining directly to your boss about your coworkers’ mistakes, you’re just going to sound like you’re whining or speaking poorly about others with whom you work.

There’s not much worse than sitting around wasting time talking about problems without planning on doing anything about them. If you notice a problem at work, have an honest conversation with the offending coworkers about these mistakes, what can be done to improve their work, and what (if anything) you can do to help. This way, when you do talk to your boss about the problem, you can report the action you’ve already taken to try to ameliorate the issue.

Don’t play the blame game , because remember, you’re a part of a team. This means that ultimately, everyone is responsible for the company’s success.

This video talks more about the importance of offering solutions rather than just problems.

30. Make Your Boss’s Job Easier

You were hired to make your boss (and their boss) successful. And the first step to making that happen is to understand exactly what is expected of you and how you should deliver on those expectations. Get to know your boss and his or her preferences so they don’t have to go back and correct your work.

In doing this, it’s important to maintain a sense of personal responsibility and stay accountable for your work . If you commit to something, make sure to follow through with it. By doing so, you’re letting your boss know that they can count on you.

One way that you can make your boss’s job easier is to stay ahead of your work. When you’re given a deadline, be sure to have your work completed at least one day in advance . This will allow your boss to have some time to go over the work on their own schedule rather than waiting until the last minute when you finally turn it in.

Some other ways to make your boss’s life easier include:

  • Learn how he/she operates, what they need from you, and how they want it done. Doing so will help you meet their expectations.
  • Know your boss’s goals so you can help ensure they’re met.
  • Be resourceful and respect your boss’s time. For example, if you have a question about health insurance, ask someone in HR. Save your time with your boss to talk about work-related issues that involve collaboration between the two of you–not questions that should be directed toward someone else.
  • Stick to your promises. Better yet– under-promise and over-deliver.

Here are some more useful tips on how to make your boss’s job easier.

31. Expect Change

Being flexible and accepting of change is critical in today’s job market. In fact, it’s estimated that by 2030, the average person who is entering the workforce will have to learn entirely new job skills between eight and ten times before they retire. As jobs evolve, the uncertainty regarding what skills will be needed in the future also changes, which makes it hard to be able to predict an organization’s future needs.

Because of this, it’s critical to be flexible and prepared to change paths at any moment. It’s important to be aware of the inevitable changes that are yet to come and the fact that the responsibility of keeping up with trends and new technology has shifted to workers rather than employers.

Being a lifelong learner allows for personal employability, which is important to focus on now since it will be a principal component of employment moving forward in this age of rapid automation. Having a personal goal of continuous skill development will become increasingly important as some of the more traditional jobs become replaced by emerging technology.

Being successful in the future job market will be less about current knowledge and more about your willingness and capacity to learn and evolve while your role is potentially redefined . This is where the importance of being able to easily adapt to waves of disruption is already extremely important. Furthermore, you need to stay on top of your skillset and always be on the lookout for anything new happening in your industry.

To “level up” your skills, we recommend three resources:

Finally, here are some growth strategies for being more flexible and adaptable in the workplace.

32. Be Resilient

Being resilient is important for a variety of reasons. Being able to bounce back from adversity helps you develop the tools you need to protect yourself from overwhelming situations and it helps you stay balanced when times get tough.  Resiliency can also help with the prevention of mental health issues down the line. 

Having resiliency and cognitive flexibility is also important for your short-term success at work. While some are born with a better ability to deal with unpredictable change than others, this skill can be learned . And, through your learned resilience, you will be able to develop an internal toolset to help you manage stress and find ways to use your inner strength that you may not have even known you had during the times that you need it the most.

Resilience can be built up with time as you make your way through difficult experiences in life. It’s beneficial to be able to develop the ability to determine when you can draw from a difficult life event and then be able to use that experience to your advantage during future stressful times.

You can work toward the goal of becoming more resilient by increasing your self-awareness , getting exercise, and switching up your normal routines. Getting daily exercise encourages your body to release chemicals such as dopamine, opioids, serotonin, and endorphins that not only make you feel good, but also increase your ability to learn . Also, adding some variety to your routine promotes cognitive flexibility because doing new things makes your brain have to quickly adapt to and work with new stimuli.

Here is some helpful information on the importance of having resilience in the workplace.

33. Develop Transdisciplinary Skills

This term is often used in school settings, but it also applies to your career performance . Having an understanding of your entire organization from various perspectives as well as understanding the synergy and alignment between all of the departments is becoming progressively important in businesses.

There are a few ways you can improve your transdisciplinary skills at work. One would be to schedule coffee dates with people who work in other areas of the organization where you can talk about each of your responsibilities and how you contribute to the success of the business. Or, you could spend some time shadowing a coworker who has a different job title than you do.

Knowing more about how your company works as a whole can help you understand and appreciate how your efforts fit into that puzzle.

One thing you will recognize while you’re working on this goal is the four stages of learning . There is probably a lot that goes on in your company that you’re unaware of, which also means you’re unaware that there is even so much to learn. But once you start talking with other people and getting to know how processes work in the business, you will likely uncover a huge gap in knowledge that you would have otherwise never realized you had.

Here are some good ways to learn about other areas of your organization , such as:

  • Volunteering for projects
  • Joining informal work clubs or groups (like a sports league)
  • Researching about the history of your company

34. Improve Your People Management Skills

An important component to generating innovation in your workplace is being able to collaborate with your team . Despite your assigned level of leadership within your organization, being proactive in leading by example in your willingness to be a team player and actuate progress in the people working with you is essential to the success of your team.

Therefore, being an influential employee who can manage people–even if it’s not done in an “official” manner–is a significant skill to have in today’s work environment. Effective people management skills are necessary for both current and future leaders who want to improve efficiency and communication at work. Building the skills that are required in order to effectively manage others can help you uncover your strengths as well as find areas in which you could improve.

Here are a few examples of how you can practice your people management skills, even if you aren’t their designated manager:

  • Have empathy for your coworkers during periods of conflict by imagining yourself in their shoes in order to assess how they may feel and consider what your behavior may look like if you were in their position
  • Give your colleagues positive (and constructive negative) feedback
  • Recognize your colleagues when they do work that’s beyond what is expected of them
  • Encourage an inclusive work environment by involving everyone and allowing all team members to have the time and space to share their ideas and opinions
  • Create an environment of cultural humility ( formerly known as cultural competence ) to improve communication, respect, and encourage collaboration

Here is a video that explains some more ways you can improve your people management skills.

35. Stay Informed and Teach Others About Emerging Communication Channels

Having clear channels of communication and creating a culture of welcomed feedback is a critical element of having a successful organization. Innovative apps, social media avenues, and new methods of communication are steadily surfacing in today’s workplace–and many companies have started to reduce their overhead costs by having their employees work remotely if it isn’t necessary to maintain a large office space.

The increase in physical distancing among team members on an everyday basis that was trending even prior to the COVID-19 pandemic has necessitated the use of new modes of communication, productivity apps , and video conference calls. To stay ahead of the game, it’s essential to stay informed and literate with new communication tools and be a pioneer in educating your colleagues about which new technologies can increase (or decrease) the efficiency of your unique work . Doing this will demonstrate your commitment to excellence to your employer.

Here are some actionable steps you can take to keep up with emerging channels of communication in the workplace:

  • Do some research every two to three months on new communication channels available
  • Outline the current productivity and communication tools your company uses and assess what’s working and what areas could use some improvement
  • Present new options to your team if you believe there is a tool that could increase your communication or productivity
  • Lead training sessions on any new tools that are implemented

To learn from those who are already successful in keeping up with these trends, here is how some top CIOs stay up-to-date with technology .

36. Be Confident in Your Decisions

It’s difficult to develop strong decision-making skills, but it’s essential to your performance in an organization. If you think about the thousands of decisions that you make every day , you can recognize their positive or negative consequences. Having the skills that you need to increase the positive results you achieve is a fundamental part of being productive in your job.

Developing strong decision-making skills will offer you that chance to increase positive outcomes and decrease the consequences of your mistakes. However, there is a learning curve to gaining this skill– it takes time to learn from your mistakes so you can make better decisions in the future.

There are a few things that you can do to increase the confidence in the decisions that you make, such as:

  • Limit your choices. Having too many options for any decision is overwhelming, so narrow them down as best as you can.
  • Do a cost-benefit analysis (weigh the pros and cons) before coming to your final decision. This will help you uncover any potential opportunity costs that you may incur if you decide on one thing over another.
  • Set a time limit for making a decision. This will prevent you from mulling over a decision for 10 hours that should take 10 minutes.
  • Do as much research as you can before making a decision– including talking to other people who have some more experience than you do. For example, I recently had to purchase a new dryer so I called the company in my town who fixes appliances and asked them what machines they get called on the most and the least often to work on. That narrowed down my options really fast.

Here is a video with some more information to help you improve your decision making skills.

Final Thoughts on Personal Development Goals

Your brain and thinking methods both have an impact on every aspect of your life. The personal development goals discussed in this article are all dependent on your ability to retrain your brain to think (and therefore act) in new ways.

Your brain is flexible and can quickly adapt to reaching your new goals when you use the right approach and become more goal-oriented . Take a moment to think about your personal development goals and which of the aforementioned are the most important to you.

If you have had some other goals on your mind, how can you incorporate some of these personal development goals into your own to leverage your success? Reaching one goal can easily open a door to work on another of its kind or help you recognize another area of improvement you may be able to work on in your life.

To tie things up, writing down your goals in the form of professional goal statements can help you stay focused on your purpose . For specific examples, check out these posts:

  • 8 SMART Goals Examples for Your Nursing Career
  • 9 SMART Goal Examples for Teachers
  • 7 SMART Goals Examples for Administrative Assistants
  • 15 Leadership SMART Goals Examples for Your Workplace

Finally, if you want to take your goal-setting efforts to the next level, check out this FREE printable worksheet and a step-by-step process that will help you set effective SMART goals .

individual development plan long term goals examples

Connie Mathers is a professional editor and freelance writer. She holds a Bachelor's Degree in Marketing and a Master’s Degree in Social Work. When she is not writing, Connie is either spending time with her daughter and two dogs, running, or working at her full-time job as a social worker in Richmond, VA.

examples of personal development goals | personal development plan examples professional personal development objectives for work examples

Individual development plan template + examples for leaders


Many business leaders are quickly realizing that providing professional growth opportunities to employees can increase retention rates  and satisfaction levels. And one way of helping employees achieve career goals is to use what’s called an individual development plan.

According to a McKinsey study , 41% of participants cited the reason why they quit their jobs between April 2021 and 2021 as due to a lack of opportunities for career development . Making it the top factor leading to attrition, even more so than inadequate compensation and uncaring leaders.

In this article, we’ll first explain what is an individual development plan (IDP). Then, we’ll go over the process of creating an individual development plan step-by-step. Lastly, we’ll include an individual development plan template and examples for you to adapt for your team.

employee journey map template

Table of Contents

What is an individual development plan (IDP)?

An individual development plan or “IDP” is a framework that helps individuals evaluate their strengths, weaknesses, career goals, and short-term objectives. It is often completed during performance reviews, self-appraisals , or one-on-one meetings and allows employees to self-reflect on their professional growth. 

Aside from being helpful for employees, individual development plans can be a useful tool to help company leaders with succession planning and restructuring. It is a great way to support leadership development initiatives, assess skill gaps , and embed better, more transparent communication practices between managers and direct reports . Ultimately, it can help to align individual ambitions with company growth objectives.

How to create an individual development plan

Although used for different purposes, creating an individual development plan is similar to the process of creating a performance improvement plan (PIP) . You need to create objectives and a realistic timeframe in which individuals should achieve those objectives. Here, we’ll explain every step in depth.

Set a timeframe

Like living organisms, companies are continually growing and changing. And, logically, the individuals that make up these teams have goals that are continually changing as well. While creating an Individual development plan, you’ll want to make sure that employees revisit and adapt their plans after set periods.

The first step is deciding how often you want for employees to self-assess and complete the individual development plan. Should it be on a quarterly, biannually, or yearly basis? As a general rule of thumb, it’s best to coincide IDPs with the employee’s regular performance reviews. That way, there’s less confusion and you can ensure that it’s incorporated into their evaluation routine.

Include the employee’s skillsets and performance

Next, you’ll want to create the individual plan itself. Or, if you’d prefer, simply use the individual development plan template that we’ve already created in the next section of this article. For the first portion of the plan, you should include a space in which the employee and their manager can collaboratively evaluate strengths, weaknesses, and overall performance. There should also be room for them to compare the employee’s performance with the expectations of the position. 

For this section, be sure to have past performance reviews, skills evaluations, and any other employee feedback records on hand and accessible. You’ll want managers and employees to have a complete picture and reference points to discuss employee progress.

Look at growth possibilities

The following space should be designated for the employee’s career growth interests and possibilities. Note, there might be more than one area that captures the employee’s attention. For employers, this can be advantageous because it’s more probable that employees can fill in-demand roles and skill sets through their career growth. 

On the other hand, perhaps the employee has a very clear vision of their career goals and ideal position. If that’s the case, employees should think about the skills and qualities that they need to cultivate. For example, if an employee would like to one day manage their team, perhaps they would need to develop delegation and resource management skills.

Set short and long-term goals

Next, it’s about making these ambitions concrete through short and long-term goals. Ideally, you want to clearly map out how employees get from point A to point B through measurable targets and focused areas of improvement.

Ideally, long-term goals should be set for the employee’s next 3-5 years in their position, while short-term goals can be set for the next 1-2 years (or even shorter). Keep in mind here that there’s no guarantee that a plan will go 100% unchanged. It’s not always possible to see what is coming next, and sometimes a little bit of flexibility can pay off.

While setting goals, it’s important for employees to consider factors that drive them to succeed. Do they like working on a specific set of tasks or feel especially competent with a certain skill set? If so, it might be wise to have goals that allow them to expand their knowledge of this specific area. The idea is to create goals that are cohesive with their interests and ambitions. 

Measure employee progress

After going through the process of creating an individual development plan, it’s important to measure employee progress toward completing their objectives. If you don’t already have software to keep track of employee goals, be sure to keep individual development plans stored and organized in a shared drive. Both managers and employees should be able to access this document at any time for their own use.

If you’re looking for a more efficient and streamlined alternative, the best option is to invest in OKR software to keep track of employee goals. With OKR software like Factorial, employees and managers alike can visualize progress toward goals through a user-friendly interface. More on this later. 

Individual development plan template

Creating an individual development plan template should be a simple process. Here’s an example template that you can use for your own reference:

Individual development plan example

Drive performance with okr software.

No two employees are the same and neither should be the way that you measure their individual development. With Factorial, you can customize and define OKRs and KPIs for every employee on your team. Don’t hesitate, try Factorial today .

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Individual Development Plans (IDPs) – All You Need to Know

Individual Development Plan Banner

What is an IDP?

An Individual Development Plan (IDP) is a personal strategic plan to realize job-related, career-related, and/or professional development objectives. An employee can collaborate with supervisors, managers, mentors, colleagues, family – all those people who are invested in that individual – to develop it. For supervisors, an IDP is a commitment between you and your employee to help guide their growth and professional development

NIH and IDPs At NIH, the goals of IDPs are to (1) facilitate job fulfilment through competency and connectedness, (2) increase employee morale and engagement through the opportunity to learn and develop new skills, and (3) serve as a medium for ensuring employees have the necessary competencies for future responsibilities and requirements (including succession planning). 

The IDP Process The creation of an IDP starts with an initial conversation between the supervisor and employee to identify career objectives and related growth areas (future job functions and related competencies). It’s also a prime time to agree on an IDP discussion schedule -which is separate from a conversation about performance related matters.

The IDP process consists of 5 stages:

  • Defining career objectives and related competencies
  • Identifying and assessing growth areas 
  • Strategizing best and most appropriate possibilities for enabling and spurring growth
  • Reconciling possibilities within the overall context of short- and long-term objectives, and 
  • Monitoring, assessing, and adapting the IDP as needed.

For more information about IDPs, schedule an IDP Consultation via the NIH Training Center https://hr.nih.gov/training-center/services/individual-development-plan-idp-consulting-and-workshops

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Individual Development Plan

An individual development plan (IDP) is a tool to assist employees in career and personal development. Its primary purpose is to help employees reach short and long-term career goals, as well as improve current job performance. An IDP is not  a performance evaluation tool or a one-time activity. It should be looked at like a partnership between the employee and the supervisor. It involves preparation and continuous feedback. Many agencies require IDPs for new and current employees. It is encouraged throughout many organizations. Many Federal agencies require their employees to complete an IDP, annually. All Senior Executives are required to have an Executive Development Plan (EDP) (5 CFR 412.401).

Below  are examples of agencies which have implemented IDPs, sample IDPs, and additional resources.

Solve Problems

(How can I utilize an IDP in my agency?)

Individual development planning benefits the organization by aligning employee training and development efforts with its mission, goals, and objectives. When using an IDP, supervisors develop a better understanding of their employees' professional goals, strengths, and development needs resulting in more realistic staff and development plans. Employees take personal responsibility and accountability for their career development, acquiring or enhancing the skills they need to stay current in required skills. Some of the benefits of an IDP are:

  • Provide an administrative mechanism for identifying and tracking development needs and plans
  • Assist in planning for the agency's training and development requirements
  • Align employee training and development efforts with its mission, goals, and objectives

There are no regulatory requirements mandating employees complete IDPs within the Federal Government. However, it is considered good management practice, and many agencies have developed their own IDP planning process and forms. While there is no one "correct" form for recording an employee's development plan, an effective plan should include at minimum the following key elements:

  • Employee profile - name, position title, office, grade/pay band
  • Career goals - short-term and long-term goals with estimated and actual competion dates
  • Development objectives - linked to work unit mission/goals/objectives and employee's development needs and objectives
  • Training and development opportunities - activities in which the employee will pursue with estimated and actual completion dates. These activities may include formal classroom training, web-based training, rotational assignments, shadowing assignments, on-the-job training, self-study programs, and professional conferences/seminars
  • Signatures - supevisor and employee signature and date

Federal agencies are required by law (5 U.S.C. Section 3396) to establish programs for the continuining development of Senior Executives. A key tool in this process is the Executive Development Plan (EDP). Please visit our Executive Development wiki page.

How do you go about developing an IDP?

The IDP process requires communication and interaction between the supervisor and employee. It involves five phases:

  • Pre-Planning - supervisor and employee prepare independently for meeting
  • Employee/Supervisor Meeting - discuss employee strengths, areas for improvement, interests, goals, and organizational requirements
  • Prepare IDP - employee, in consultation with supervisor, completes plan for individual development
  • Implement Plan - employee pursues training and development identified in plan
  • Evaluate Outcomes - supervisor/employee evaluate usefulness of training and development experiences

Supervisors and employees work together to complete the employee's development plan, however, employees are ultimately responsible for taking the initiative for their professional development. Below are examples of activities one may utilize for further development and incorporate into their plan:

  • Formal Training - OPM offers formal training at its Management Development Centers and Federal Executive Institute . There are also other formal training centers available to employees outside OPM
  • 360 Degree Feedback - 360 degree feedback is a widely used method and tool to assist in identifying strengths and developmental needs. OPM offers 360 degree survey services as do other organizations
  • Mentoring and Coaching - mentoring and coaching are effective tools for personal and leadership development. For more information, go to our  Mentoring-and-Coaching
  • Rotational/Detail Assignments - employees may have the option to participate in details, special/short-term assignments, projects, and other creative ways to expose employees to challenges or otherwise expand their capacity to serve

Stay Current

(How are other organizations using the IDP?)

Below is a list of agencies that have implemented an IDP program and/or template. There are also several agencies that have individual development planning and career management programs in place. Please not that OPM does not endorse any particular format. The information below is for illustrative purposes.

IDP Templates:

  • U.S. Department of Justice - LEAP
  • U.S. Deparment of Labor
  • U.S. Environmental Protection Agency
  • U.S. Department of Navy
  • U.S. Small Business Administration
  • U.S. Department of Education
  • U.S. Department of Treasury

Does your agency have an IDP template you find useful?

Find Opportunities

(Where can employees find training and development opportunities?)

Here a few agencies who provide resources and training to develop an IDP.

  • U.S. Small Business Administration, Office of Disaster Assistance, IDP Guidebook
  • Center for Disease Control Fact Sheet
  • MIT Career Development Guide
  • Smithsonian PowerPoint Presentation
  • Department of Justice IDP Briefing

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service offers a online course,  Career Planning and the IDP (http://training.fws.gov/LED/idp/index.html) .

Does your agency have IDP training?

Discover Helpful Tips and Resources

(What other tools and resources are available for me?)

  • GovLeaders.org article, Using IDPs to Leverage Strengths
  • Career Advancement - Federal Employees Career Development Center
  • Advertising
  • Applications
  • Assessments
  • Certificates
  • Announcement
  • Invitations
  • Newsletters
  • Questionnaires
  • Food & Beverages
  • Recruitment
  • Marketing Examples
  • Transportation

18+ Individual Development Plan Examples & Samples in PDF | Word | Google Docs | Pages | DOC

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Individual Development Plan

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Individual Development Plan (With Template And Example)

Summary. An individual development plan is a document created by an employer and employee that outlines the employee’s development needs to reach their career goals. Development plans should include current expectations and performance goals for them and an action plan to reach those goals.

Improving performance and growth within your career is important for employees. Not only is it beneficial for an employee, but it’s also beneficial to the employer, their colleagues and team, and the overall company.

An individual development plan is a great way for an employee to improve their job performance. In this article, we will go over what an individual development plan is, how to create one, and how to implement it with your employees.

Key Takeaways:

An individual development plan is not a punishment for an employee and should encourage them to grow and develop their career.

Be sure that you set SMART goals that are achievable with your employees.

When implementing these plans with employees, you have to be honest with them about what it is and set time aside to create the plans with each of them.

What Is an Individual Development Plan?

An individual development plan is a plan created by an employer and an employee that outlines an employee’s development needs and career goals. This document will include details about any new skills that are to be learned, what areas of their performance need to be improved, and if there is a specific time frame that it needs to be done.

An IDP is not a punishment for an employee, but it should help encourage them to grow and develop within their career. It’s also an opportunity for the employer to help identify the employee’s strengths and weaknesses, which can help the employer understand their employees better.

A development plan also benefits a company by aligning an employee’s training and development with the company’s mission and goals.

How to Write an Individual Development Plan

Employee name and the date. The first thing on the plan should be the employee’s name, job title, and current date. This helps the employee know that the plan is specifically for them. The date is important because it will allow you to know when to track progress and see any changes.

Current expectations and performance. The only way someone is able to develop and set up goals for their professional goals is to know where they are currently. Make a note of their expectations for their role and what they do to measure them currently. This step will also help you and the employee determine where to start with goal setting.

Set goals. This step should be done together with the employee and the manager. The goals that you are setting should be SMART (specific, measurable, actionable, realistic, and timely) goals. The goals can be long-term or short-term goals , whatever works best for the employee.

Strengths and talents. Be sure to list any strengths and talents that the employee has. If the employee has a previous performance review, use it to help you with this step. These should be as specific as possible because positive feedback and knowing strengths help an employee gain the confidence to face new challenges and grow.

Development opportunities. List any development opportunities that correspond to the goals that have been set in this plan. This could include learning from a mentor, taking an educational class, or attending training.

Action plans. The action plan should be achievable and tailored to each employee. This should include the actions that the employee must take to achieve their goals. For example, leading a meeting or taking on more challenging tasks for their current role are common actions that allow an employee to achieve their goals.

Individual Development Plan Template

Employee name: Date: Position or job title: Professional goals and aspirations: Talents and strengths: Development needs: Development opportunities: Action plan: Schedule or timeline: Measurement: Signatures:

Individual Development Plan Example

Employee name: Jamie Stark Date: March 27, 2023 Position or job title: Customer service representative Professional goals and aspirations: Long-term: Become a customer service manager Short term: Work on customer service skills Talents and strengths: Communication skills with coworkers Time management skills Organizational skills Development needs: Work with customer service managers to get feedback for performance. Improve skills in speaking with customers and selling products. Development opportunities: Attend service culture training for employees. Work with a senior customer service representative who will mentor and help improve customer service skills. Action plan: Work on improving communication skills with employees to be able to sell better and help them with their needs. Attend new training sessions to gain new experiences to grow and climb the ladder to becoming management. Schedule or timeline: Long-term: Within the next two years Short term: By the end of next quarter Measurement: By getting feedback from managers and mentors. Receiving scores from the different training sessions. Signatures: Jamie Stark (employee), Denise Smith (manager)

How to Implement Development Plans

Employees won’t be doing a development plan on their own, so as their employer, it’s important that you get them started on one. It can take more than just handing them a piece of paper and telling them to get started. Here is how you should implement a development plan for your employees:

Create your own plan. Your first step in implementing development plans is to create your own as an employer. It’s important to lead by example, and most employees will follow your lead. Doing the same thing as your employees is a great way to build trust with them and build better professional relationships.

Talk with employees. It’s important to keep your employees informed about the things that are going to be happening. Be sure to inform them and answer any questions that they may have about the development plans.

After that, have them fill out a questionnaire to help them identify their goals, what motivates and inspires them, what skills and talents they have, and opportunities for development. Having this information ready will help when it comes to creating plans with them.

Schedule meetings. Once you get back the questionnaires, schedule one-on-one meetings with your employees. Be sure to schedule enough time with employees so they don’t feel like they are being rushed during their meetings.

Try to let the employee lead the discussion about any goals that they have. You will also be able to answer any questions that they have. During this process, you can also provide feedback on the skills and talents that they have provided and add any if necessary.

Create plans with your employees. The last thing that needs to be done is to create the actual development plan with each employee. This is why it’s important to schedule enough time with each employee. You can use the development plan that you created for yourself as a guide for what the employee should be doing.

They should be filling out most of the plan, but you are there to help guide them in the right direction. Once they fill out the plan, review it and add any changes or offer feedback. Once you are both satisfied with the plan, both you and the employee should sign off on it. Review it frequently once the employee starts.

Individual Development Plan FAQ

What is the difference between an individual development plan and a performance review?

A performance review is a process of identifying and documenting a specific area of an employee’s job performance, while an individual development plan is a document that encourages growth and development.

Performance reviews can typically happen annually or when an employee’s permanence isn’t doing well. Development plans are given to everyone within an organization, even employees who are performing well.

What makes a good individual development plan?

Self-reflection and deciding and understanding what is most important to you are what make a good individual development plan. You should take into consideration your strengths, development opportunities, and your long-term career goals when creating an IDP.

Revisiting and reassessing your plan frequently allows you to make any changes or adjustments to make the plan better for the best success outcome.

What is personal development?

Personal development is a way for a person to assess their skills and qualities and focus on ways to better themselves.

Personal development brings self-awareness to what your full potential can be and allows you to create a plan to improve. This can result in improving your quality of life and help you advance in your career.

Is an individual development plan necessary?

Yes, individual development plans are necessary to help an employee grow professionally. When employees improve and grow professionally, it can be very beneficial for a company. Investing in your employees and their careers will also make them happier and reduce your turnover rate.

What are SMART goals?

SMART goals stand for specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, and timely. They mean:

Specific: You want to be as specific as possible when creating the goals.

Measurable: Your goals should be able to be measured. It’s important to be able to track your progress during this process.

Achievable: Don’t pick a goal that is unrealistic. Be sure to make a goal something that can be achieved in the time that you set.

Relevant: Be sure that you are choosing something that relates to what you want to improve and grow.

Timely: Create a schedule for when you want to achieve your goals. If your goals are short-term or long-term will also determine the length of your timeline.

Final Thoughts

Investing in your employees and their improvements and career developments benefits not only them but the overall company. Follow the guide above to help implement individual development plans to make sure all of your employees improve.

OPM.gov – Training and Developing Policy Wiki

Northwestern Human Resources – Individual Development Plan

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Taylor is a freelance writer from Pennsylvania. Taylor got into writing because she enjoys writing articles that help people and loves creating stories that inspire. She earned a bachelor's degree in journalism and public relations with an interest in communications media from Indiana University of Pennsylvania.

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What Is Long-Term Care?

On this page:

Who needs long-term care?

What are the different types of long-term care services, long-term care planning, paying for long-term care.

Long-term care involves a variety of services designed to meet a person’s health or personal care needs when they can no longer perform everyday activities on their own. This article provides an overview of long-term care planning, services, and costs, as well as other resources.

Many people will need long-term care at some point. However, it can be difficult to predict how much or what type of care a person might need.

The need for long-term care can arise suddenly, such as after a heart attack or stroke. More often, however, the need for long-term care develops gradually. People require more care as they get older and frailer or as a serious, ongoing illness or health condition gets worse.

Healthy habits can reduce the risk of many diseases and may help delay or prevent the need for long-term care. Good nutrition, regular physical activity, not smoking, and limited drinking of alcohol can help you stay healthy. So can an active social life , a safe home , and regular health care. Talk to your health care provider about your medical and family history and lifestyle. They may suggest actions you can take to improve your health.

Cover of Caregiver's Handbook publication

The Caregiver’s Handbook

Explore this guide to getting started with caregiving, finding support, and taking care of yourself.

Long-term care involves a wide variety of support services to help people live as independently and safely as possible. It is provided in different places by different caregivers, depending on a person’s needs.

Home-based care

In many cases, long-term care is provided at home by informal caregivers, such as family members, friends, and neighbors. Most home-based care services involve personal care — help with everyday activities, also called “activities of daily living.” These activities include bathing, dressing, eating, and taking medications, as well as supervision to make sure a person is safe.

Home-based care can also be supplemented by formal caregivers who are paid for their services. These caregivers include nurses, home health care aides, therapists, and other professionals. They can help older people with many aspects of health care, including giving medications, caring for wounds, helping with medical equipment, and providing physical therapy.

Get detailed information about in-home support services , including suggestions for arranging them, information about costs, and additional resources.

Community and residential care

Some aspects of long-term care can be provided in a person’s community, such as in an adult day care center or senior center. Care in these settings may include meals, exercise, social activities, personal care, and transportation. These services may be provided at no cost or for a fee.

Long-term care can also be given in a residential facility , such as assisted living or a nursing home. Some facilities offer only housing and housekeeping, but many also provide personal care, social and recreational activities, meals, and medical services. Some facilities offer special programs for people with Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia .

Finding long-term care services

To find out what long-term care services are available in your area, visit the Eldercare Locator or call 800-677-1116. This service connects older Americans and their caregivers with trustworthy local support resources.

Your local Area Agency on Aging , local and state offices on aging or social services, or your tribal organization can also recommend services. These organizations will be familiar with resources available in your community and may have tips for accessing them.

Health care providers and social workers may also have suggestions. If you belong to a religious community, find out whether it offers services for older adults or ask for guidance from your pastor, rabbi, or other religious leader.

The best time to think about long-term care is before you need it. Planning for the possibility of long-term care gives you and your family time to learn about services available in your community and what they cost. It also allows you to make important decisions while you are still able.

Aging in place infographic icon- click through for full text

Begin by thinking about what would happen if you became seriously ill or disabled. Talk with your family, friends, and lawyer about who would provide care if you needed help for a long time and what kind of care you would want. People with Alzheimer’s and other types of dementia should begin planning for long-term care as soon as possible. Read more about advance care planning .

Most people prefer to stay in their own home for as long as they can. Staying in your own home as you get older is called “ aging in place .” But living at home as you age requires careful consideration and planning. There may come a time when it’s no longer safe or comfortable to live alone. Be realistic and plan to revisit the decision as your needs change over time.

Talking with an older adult about residential care

Deciding whether and when an older adult should move from their home is often difficult and emotional. Some people choose to move to a long-term facility because they can’t or don’t want to manage their home any longer. Others may not want to move but find that they need more assistance and hands-on care.

To start the conversation, find out about the available housing options so you can discuss them together. Some families and caregivers find that a meeting or conference call is a good way to talk through the pros and cons of each option. The goal is to come up with a plan that works for everyone, especially the older person.

If a move becomes necessary, look for resources to help the person handle the transition. These may include counseling and support, guidance from health care professionals, and suggestions from your local senior center or Area Agency on Aging .

Long-term care can be expensive. How people pay for care depends on their financial situation, their eligibility for assistance programs, and the kinds of services they use. People often rely on a variety of payment sources, including:

  • Personal funds , including savings, a pension or other retirement fund, income from investments, or proceeds from the sale of a home.
  • Federal and state government programs , such as Medicare , Medicaid , and the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) . Visit Benefits.gov for more information about government programs for health care and financial assistance.
  • Private financing , including long-term care insurance, reverse mortgages, certain life insurance policies, annuities, and trusts.

Learn more about paying for long-term care .

You may also be interested in

  • Finding out the signs that an older person needs help
  • Reading about services for older adults living at home
  • Learning how to find long-term care for a person with Alzheimer’s

Signup for e-alerts about healthy aging

For more information about long-term care.

Eldercare Locator 800-677-1116 [email protected] https://eldercare.acl.gov

LongTermCare.gov 202-619-0724 [email protected] https://longtermcare.acl.gov/

USAging 202-872-0888 [email protected] www.usaging.org

This content is provided by the NIH National Institute on Aging (NIA). NIA scientists and other experts review this content to ensure it is accurate and up to date.

Content reviewed: October 12, 2023


An official website of the National Institutes of Health


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