Why should you create a personal learning plan? Do you have some new ideas regarding your career orientation? Are you, maybe, at a point at work, where you no longer feel as engaged or motivated as in the beginning? These could be signs that your skills and passion might need a boost. And this is the best time to organize this. The time, we all – consciously or not – do the present year’s evaluation and the New Year’s daydreaming. So why stay at the daydreaming stage and not set clear goals?

If you think about it, people’s success often depends mostly on finding the inner strength to strategize their own reskilling and upskilling. And many famous people are the living proof of that. Did you know that Stephen King, before becoming a world known legendary novels author, was a janitor and Giorgio Armani, before catching the worldwide attention with his haute couture creations, was a doctor?


  1. Take the time to reflect and plan

Whether you want to prepare for your next promotion, find your new calling or just live a life of enhanced work ease and content, first, gift yourself with the time-slot of one hour devoted only to this end. Then follow bellow steps to best prepare yourself to create your personal learning plan. Preparation is 90% of success after all.

  1. Envision yourself

Where do I want to be in the future and what do I want to achieve? Make a list of everything that excites you in your new goal, starting by writing down your passions. Don’t leave out practical facts you may find self-explanatory, like the needs you will satisfy when achieving your goal, e.g. wage increase, personal satisfaction or work-life balance. These will keep you motivated in moments when you lose faith and tend to deviate from your route. Are you ready?

Some tips to help you create your vision:

  • It is important to write all your thoughts down – “scripta manent, verba volant”. Make sure you create an action plan, which includes at the very least concrete actions, deadlines and people involved (boss, colleagues, etc.)
  • Prepare the best case scenario of yourself.In this stage don’t let self-doubt creep in and stop you from getting started on your journey. Be realistic, of course, but not self-limiting. While doing that recall the rush you felt the last time you achieved anything outside your comfort zone and the adrenaline rising feeling.
  • Make sure that the vision you create for yourself aligns with your life’s vision and mission. Picture your 80th birthday party and think that everybody you have influenced in some way, is there. As they stand up to toast you, what would you like them to say about you? That’s what you want your life to stand for.

Life is a game of chess and to win you have to make a move. However, to make any move you have to make good use of where you stand and where others stand. So this is the step you assess your current situation.  How can you do that?

  1. Elaborate on your self-awareness
  • Dig out any psychometric test you have taken in the near past, check your results again and assess them in view of your goal. Don’t focus only on the areas for improvement. Become aware of your strong points and own effective strategies and include them in your plan how you can best leverage them.
  • Read again your last performance appraisals and elaborate on your points for improvement and again strong points as a well.
  • Ask people you trust for feedback.
  • Listen to your self-talk. What traits do you admire most in other people, which you would like adopt?
  • Find one person – or more – who mirrors the kind of person you want to become. Do some research into how they got where they are. If they’re famous, you can probably find information online. Alternatively, you could track and follow several “role models” that fit your criteria on social media. You could even contact them to ask them for their pragmatic insights – they might be interested in mentoring someone that looks up to them.
  1. Set concrete learning goals

A goal without a concrete plan, is just a wish, so make sure you set smart goals. You can use the classic SMART model or make it even SMARTER.

  • So, be Specific with your goals, yet simple enough for a kid to read and understand them and ensure they’re Measurable, using realistic metrics.
  • Make them Achievable, Relevant and Time-specific, so you have specific deadlines to meet and outcomes to measure.
  • Moreover, keep them handy, somewhere you –and maybe others -can see them. Making your goals known to others will enhance your feeling of commitment to them and you might receive a variation of responses you may use to fuel your desire to succeed.
  • Finally, Evaluate them periodically, e.g. every week – it is important not to ignore this all important step, so you might think of adding it in your calendar.
  • And Readjust them, if needed. This means trying different approaches until you find yourself getting closer and closer to your goals. That’s why constant evaluation on a periodical basis is so important. If you don’t evaluate them you can’t measure your progress.
  1. Find your right resources fit

What style of learning fits you best? And which new practices can you make good use of? For example, you can use your running time in the gym to listen to webinars and podcasts. This may boost your commitment on both activities and give you the extra knowledge you aim. Some activities to consider adding in your learning plan:

  • Books, journals, industry magazines,
  • TED-Talks, webinars or Youtube
  • Mentors, coaches and one-to-one trainers
  • Seminars, conferences and formal training programmes
  • Committees or special work teams


At this point you should be ready to create your personal learning plan and keep in mind that you have to resiliently stick to it, as the most common step to success will usually first be failure. See these failures as the opportunity to start again, skip the excuses and try even smarter. Before Walt Disney was finally established as the man who redefined childhood worldwide, he was fired from the newspaper Kansas City Star, because his editor felt he “lacked imagination and had no good ideas”​. But as he said on never giving up: “the only way to get started is quit talking and begin doing!”.

By Anna Papadopoulou, Training Consultant