In September 2013, I had a speaking engagement on career development with a section of Nestle Nigeria staff in Abuja. This was organized by a good friend of mine Akingbade Akintounde who wanted me so badly to talk to about my career growth & development to some of his colleagues during their career week.

It was an honour to take up this challenge & knowing how passionate I am about this, my line-manager at work gave me the time & space to put some slides together & to attend the event.

I am grateful to God almighty for his blessings upon me as regards my career, it has been Him all the way. I could not have done it by my wisdom or strength ( Check my post on the gratitude challenge – Day 2).

Below is a part of what I shared with them during the session.

WHAT is personal development planning?

This is defined as ‘a structured and supported process undertaken by an individual to reflect upon their own learning, performance and/or achievement and to plan for their personal, educational and career development

There are 4 keys that forms a cycle which ensures regular development & they align with the iterative 4-step management tool used to carry out change,control & continuous improvement & development. Its the PDCA ( Plan, Do, Check & Act) tool.


1. SET GOALS: This involves identifying a destination, where do you want to be, what do you want to achieve in terms of learning,development or status. Do you want to get professional certification, another educational qualification or just to move up the corporate ladder? The first key is goals setting & this action tends to be easy or difficult depending on individuals.

It’s the start of the new year & some would have completed their new year resolution, looking at what they will start to do or stop doing in 2015, while for others it’s still a challenge.

Whoever fails to plan, has already started a journey to fail, but no matter where we are at the moment, it’s not too late to arrest the situation & get things back on track.

An acronym SMART is regularly used when we talk about setting of goals & we will just dive into that briefly.

SMART stands for Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant & Time-bound.

Specific: Your goals must be very specific & clear. There must be no ambiguity. State exactly what you want to accomplish (Who,What,Where & Why). I can’t say I am setting a goal to be certified in 2015, that is too vague & general. In specific terms I can set a goal to be PMP certified as it will boost my profile as a project manager.

Measurable: You must be able to track & measure your progress along the path towards achieving your goals. The critical question to ask is To what extent have you achieved the goal?

Achievable: A lot of people get undone in this aspect as they set goals there are not achievable or realistic. In this life, I have observed that big & lasting things start small. That big oak tree that has been standing for decades started as just a seed. You need to realistically look at your ability & the situation around you to set goals that you can achieve.

It doesn’t make sense for me to set a goal of running a marathon this year when I don’t even have the stamina to go up a flight of stairs & I  use the elevator all time.

You get encouraged when you have little or small victories & that can spur you on to bigger things, remember Rome wasn’t built in a day & a journey of a 1000 miles starts with 1 step.

Relevance: This aspect of goal setting is also very important. Does the goal fit into your key responsibility at work, in your family or in life in general? How will this goal benefit you as an individual? Is the goal aligned with your objectives?

From a career perspective, setting of goals to get professional certification or educational qualification is beneficial, while deciding to start coming late to work or not being a team player is not beneficial & not relevant.

Time-bound: Life is said to be a race against time, without time we step into the realm of eternity in which God dwells. As long as we are on earth, we dwell in a time-bound capsule. So it applies to your goals, you must set one or more target dates to guide your goals to a successful & timely completion.

This should include deadlines, dates & frequency. For example, the goal of getting PMP certified because it will boost my profile as a project manager must be done by Q2 (June) 2015 or latest August ending.

So that is SMART in a nut-shell. Now let’s look at the second key.

2. TAKE ACTION:  Goal setting tends to be easy for a lot of people including myself, but things get a bit difficult when it comes to the second key of taking actions. There is an acronym coined for this situation & its called NATO ( No Action, Talk Only), its so nice & easy just to talk about our goals & intentions, but quite difficult to take the required actions.

If setting of goals answers the questions WHERE,WHEN & WHY? Taking actions answers the question HOW? You must take practical actions in alignment with your intentions.

For example, if one of your goals is to get PMP certification by Q2 2015, the necessary action to take is to either enrol in a PMP boot-camp or get all the study materials & read in preparation for the exams. You cant just be talking about it & not take action & I have seen a lot of people who are stuck at this stage & they end up procrastinating over & again.

If you know you are a NATO kind of person, then get someone ( a mentor) that you can be accountable to in this regard & let them track your progress accordingly or get a friend that can nag you regularly.

3. ANALYSE: This third key is very essential as it serves as your tracker & recorder. You need to track your thoughts, ideas & experiences along the way. The destination( your goal) is very important, but the journey is equally as important if not more. The analysis key helps you to check your input against your output & tracks your progress to see if things are going as planned or there is a need to adjust.

4. REFLECT: using keys 1-3 above gets you on the road or in the air as the case may be,but key 3 will just be an open system. An open system has just input & output, this is fine in itself but its dangerous without control.

Imagine a plane that has taken off from location A going to B. One of the first things the pilot does is to chart a course on a map which clearly shows how he will fly from A to B. The pilot will check the altitude, speed, weather reports, etc to ensure that the flight is going smoothly as planned & that the expected time of arrival will be met.

Now if something unexpected occurs, the pilot needs to be able to either change speed, altitude or flight path to bypass the occurrence & ensure normalcy is restored.

The reflection key is a feedback/control key, this involves reviewing & evaluating experiences as well as the results to ensure that everything is on track as expected.


In my observation, I see 2 laws in play, one is the law of diminishing productivity & the other is the law of constant increasing success.

Just like we have the law of diminishing returns in Economics, we have the same when it comes to people’s productivity. A lot of the times, I have seen people fly out of the blocks at the start of a new job or beginning of a career & after a couple of years they settle down to the routine & their productivity declines.

This should not be so, with the 4 keys shared above, we ought to function under another law which guarantees constant, increasing development, productivity & ultimately success. I am not saying it is easy to do, but success takes hard-work to achieve. Take a sample of anyone that has been successful for a long period of time in any field – Sports,Business,Ministry,Leadership, etc & you will see a hard-working & highly disciplined person. 

Denzel Wasington says ” dreams without goals are just dreams, goals can’t be achieved without discipline & consistency”.

In the next post I will be looking at WHY personal development planning is important. I will love to hear from you regarding this topic, please feel free to share your comments accordingly. 

 This is my snippet, I am SHALOMESQ



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