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The power of a growth mindset: how to write a personal development plan

Blog posted by: Stephanie Hill, Head of GCS Curriculum, 2 February 2022.

It’s easy to think you’re too busy to write your personal development plan (PDP).

Writing it is more about how you will feel and what you will achieve after you learn new things, than about the number of continuing development plan points you’re going to get. It’s about how you will improve yourself and your team. How will your learning impact your work?

Our learning resources data show us that government communicators are looking to improve their skills. We have had over 145,000 unique visits to our learning content since the launch of our curriculum for communicators last April. 

Shift to a positive mindset

It can be hard to write a personal development plan because it forces you to think about yourself and what you want. It makes you think about the skills you need and about your future. It is never an easy question to answer. 

So what do you want to achieve in the next quarter? This takes some thinking. Some of your objectives can align with the corporate objectives of your organisation. But you must also think about how you want to grow and what you want to learn.

You need to start your self-discovery journey. Ask yourself: why? Why do you want to learn this or that? You might need to shift to a growth mindset. Review your thinking and daily tasks. This will help you accomplish more in less time. Here is an example.

Your excel skills allow you to gather the data you need. But you want to become better at using the insight of the data. Learn about insight and evaluation, to improve your marketing campaigns. 

Watch Carol Dweck’s video. She explains that with the growth mindset, you have the chance to get smarter.

How to create a personal development plan

After you found your ‘why’, get familiar with the learning offer, discuss it with your manager. It is likely that they have been on a training course they could recommend or help you to choose the next learning.

Once you know what to focus on, get started:

  • download the PDP template
  • write down and schedule learning activities for the next 3 months. 
  • If there are existing resources, add a link and block time in your calendar right away
  • If that’s not possible yet, describe what action you will take

We are developing the curriculum and we plan to review and add to it regularly. Invest in yourself and explore our curriculum

Networking and mentoring

These 2 activities are essentials. 

By networking, you’ll meet like-minded people in your field. You will learn from them, peer-learning is fantastic. A great way to connect is using your department’s internal groups and networks, or social media. 

By mentoring, you will feel great to help a colleague reflect and grow in their role. We have a guide on mentor mentee relationships and we encourage you to find your own mentor or mentee.

Reading and writing

Reading can sound like a big task, and a difficult one, depending on the way you like to learn – like you might prefer to listen to a podcast – but there are plenty to choose from.

Start with our reading lists, guidance and blog posts. Sign up for industry newsletters and keep up to date with what’s going on in your field. Try also the apps Blinkist, which offers a summary version of books or full books with Audiobooks.

Doing a presentation also counts towards your development.

Sharing is learning

Once you have learned something, it is essential to share that new knowledge, because when you teach, you learn twice. So take action today and improve yourself and your team. 

Louise Harris, Creative and Channels Team Leader at Government Digital Service, is empowering her team to take advantage of our curriculum:

We’ve done 2 team presentations on the curriculum here at GDS and that “working on my PDP” has been a regular item in our stand ups this week.

I’m currently a G7 so my curriculum already covers the grade above. But I’ve committed in my PDP to doing the mandatory learning (of course!) but also all of the curriculum content for my grade – even things not in my core area. I think it’s important (and exciting) to expand my knowledge of different disciplines.

I’m also going to be encouraging my line reports to stretch themselves by looking at the curriculum for the grade above. I think it will help expand their awareness of what’s expected at different grades (alongside the success profiles and behaviours), help them to up-skill to get there and demonstrate their ambition.

Good communication improves teams, inspires high performance and enhances the workplace culture. 

I want to end with an inspiring quote. American author, Anthony J. D’Angelo said:

“Develop a passion for learning. If you do, you will never cease to grow.”


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