How to create a personal development plan and stick to it

The first step towards a successful Rising Star Award application is considering a personal development plan which acts as a guide to reach your career goals. We’ve put together steps to create an effective plan to help unlock your full potential.


Identifying your values, passions, and long-term aspirations provides a solid foundation for constructing your personal development plan. Arrange to sit down with a line manager, mentor, or a trusted senior person within your organisation and work out the first steps.

“The conversation before the application is crucial. The company needs to understand that the award is for developing and retaining an individual in the industry, to understand the aspirations of their employees, and to map a journey for them, if practicable.” says Susan Graham, Managing Director of FLB Group and 2022 and 2023 Rising Star Awards judge.

Set clear goals

Whether it’s professional success, personal growth, or skill enhancement, having clear goals allows you to track your progress and stay motivated. It also helps you to clearly show on a Rising Star application how and why the training you’re applying for will help you get to where you what to be. Two-time RSA judge, Emma Fells, VP, Client Engagement at HH Global agrees, “Think about where you want to go. How is this award going to help you in ways that you could not achieve without it? Is this your only option?” Breaking down each goal into manageable tasks makes the journey more achievable and less overwhelming.

Identify areas for improvement

Pinpoint the skills and areas of knowledge that you need to develop to achieve your goals. This could include personal skills, leadership and management training, training from professional bodies, core skills, or a combination of these. “As an applicant, prove that you know the next step in your journey and where the gaps are. Your application should clearly demonstrate how the award will bridge some or all of that development gap” advises Susan.

Seek learning opportunities

Actively pursue opportunities for learning and growth. This could involve formal education, workshops, online courses, or self-directed study. Kelly O’Sullivan, Chief Operating Officer at Webmart, worked together with their colleague Darryl to find the right opportunity for him. “Darryl had a clear interest in advancing his career in management, so we collaborated to find a course that would enhance his professional development.”

Stay curious and treat all interactions as a chance to network – you’ll be surprised what insights and opportunities can come from chance encounters.

Monitor progress

Regularly assess your progress against the milestones you’ve set. Celebrate your achievements, no matter how small, and use setbacks as opportunities to learn and adjust your approach. Regular reflection ensures that your personal development plan remains dynamic and adaptable to changing circumstances. Gabby Solarek, Trainee Account Manager at Eight Days A Week Print Solutions and 2023 Rising Star Award winner agrees: “It’s not just a work thing, it has a positive impact all round. It’s boosted my confidence, visibility and profile at work and helped in my personal life and performance too.”

Accountability and support

Share your goals with trusted friends, colleagues or mentors who can provide support and hold you accountable. Having a support system encourages motivation and helps you stay focused on your journey of personal development, something 2023 winner Darryl values: ” I appreciate the support and recognition that have come from this experience, and I look forward to using these new skills to contribute to the ongoing success of our team and projects.”

2024 Rising Star Award applications are now closed.

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