Personal Development Plan for Military Leaders

In today’s post, I want to help you create your own personal development plan. This plan is designed for military leaders, but can be used by anyone.

I learned a long time ago that if we want to grow and develop as leaders, we need a game-plan to make that happen.  Sure, we will naturally learn new things as we get older and get more life experience.  But if you really want to become an extra-ordinary military leader and take your military career to the next level, you need a game-plan.  Simply put, you need a personal development plan.

You’ve probably heard that failing to plan is planning to fail.  That is some common military jargon and it is very true.  Smart leaders have a personal growth plan to develop their skills and improve themselves.  They take responsibility for their own personal development.

What I want to do in the paragraphs below is share my own personal growth plan with you.  I don’t expect you to follow this plan exactly like I do, BUT you can take pieces from it and form your own personal development plan.

I should begin by telling you that I have a daily, weekly, monthly and yearly personal growth plan.  I’ll share what I do and then explain how it works and why I do it.


  • Read for MINIMUM 20 minutes
  • Exercise for at least 30 minutes
  • Spend 10 minutes at the end of the day evaluating my day
  • Make a journal entry

I learned a long time ago to read daily.  We feed our body every day.  We should also feed our brain.  Spend at least 20-minutes per day reading something that will teach you a new skill or help you improve as a person.  I recommend non-fiction books on topics such as leadership, communication, people skills, attitude, goal setting, conflict resolution and more.

In addition, exercise is equally important.  Exercise is good for your body and mind.  It keeps you sharp and keeps you in shape.  Make a commitment to exercise for 30-minutes a day, at least four to five times per week.

Next, spend at least 10 minutes per day evaluating your day.  Before you go to bed each night, do an internal AAR and review what went right, what went wrong, and what you could have done differently the next time around.  This is a great way to learn.

Finally, make your journal entry and record everything that happened that day.  This is a great source of knowledge and it’s a great way to review your progress in the coming months and years.


  • Spend 30 minutes evaluating my week
  • Listen to one audio program or watch one video about a leadership topic, or topic that will develop my skills
  • Spend at least 15 minutes with each person I mentor, providing feedback and guidance
  • Write a thank you card to someone who has helped me

In addition to doing the basic things each day, I suggest that you have a weekly personal development plan.

To start, every Sunday night you should spend 30-minutes and evaluate your week.  Look at everything you did and objectively review your performance.  Identify areas for improvement and recognize what you did right. Also, set goals for the upcoming week.

Next, listen to at least one audio program each week.  I call this “auto-university.”  When you are driving to and from work, listen to a personal development program that will teach you new skills.  You can get books on tape or buy audio training courses about any topic you can think of.

Each week, you should also spend at least 15-minutes with each person you mentor.  Yes, this will help your mentees, but it will also help you improve.  I truly believe the teacher learns more than the students.

Finally, I like to send one thank you card or note to someone each week.  You could send a card to someone you mentor or to someone who has helped you.


  • Spend 30 minutes with one of my mentors
  • Spend 30 minutes with each of my protégés
  • Read at least one non-fiction book on different topics to develop my skills
  • Expand my mastermind or network by at least one person

In addition to your daily and weekly personal development plan, you should also have your monthly plan.

Each month, I like to spend thirty minutes of time with one of my mentors.  When possible, we meet face-to-face for lunch.  If that doesn’t work we meet up on SKYPE or do a quick phone call.  This is a good time to review your performance and get answers and guidance to any questions you might have.

Furthermore, I like to spend 30-minutes with my own protégés each month.  Once again, you learn the most when you teach, so mentoring people grows you and helps them at the same time.

Since you are reading 20-minutes every day, you should read at least one non-fiction book per month.  My goal is to read one book a week, but one a month is the minimum to shoot for.

Finally, I like to expand my mastermind, inner circle or network by one at least one new person every single month.  This is when you meet someone that you admire and respect and want to learn from them.  You should ALWAYS try to expand your network and find new mentors. 


  • Attend one or two personal development workshops or one leadership school
  • Take at least one college class or military course to learn a new skill
  • Find one new protégé to mentor
  • Read at least 12 books
  • Review my goals and progress for the current year
  • Set personal and professional goals for the upcoming year
  • Add 12 new members to my network or mastermind
  • Identify ONE skill I really want to improve and develop a plan to do it

Everyone should attend at least one or two workshops or seminars each year to learn new leadership skills.  This can be military or civilian related workshops.  Not only will you learn new skills, but you will also meet other movers and shakers that you can add to your network.

I’m also a big fan of life-long learning.  Even if you already have a college degree, I suggest you take at least one class at your local community college every year.  Pick a topic that interests you so you can learn more about it.

You should also find one new protégé every year.  This can be someone you work with, or someone else.  Find someone that you can help and volunteer to be their mentor.

Next, make it a point to read at least twelve books a year.  If you are reading 20-minutes per day, this won’t be a problem.  If you read 12 books per year for your entire 20 year military career that would be 240 books.  Think about how much you could learn from that.

Furthermore, you want to review your goals for the year.  On the last day of the year, spend the day and review your entire year. Evaluate everything.  Look at your accomplishments.  Identify areas for improvement and set goals for the upcoming year.

Next, you should try to add 12 people to your network or mastermind each year.  If you are following my advice and finding one new person each month, it shouldn’t be a problem.

Each year you should have ONE skill you are really focusing on and trying to improve.  Spend the entire year developing that skill.  Work on it a little bit each day.

My Secret

My real secret to my personal development is simply to get a little bit better every single day.  I believe in the Law of Incremental Growth.  I learned this concept from Brian Tracy.  He states that if we can get just 1/10th of 1% better every single day, we can get 100% better every three years.  And if we can do that over a period of our entire career, we would be amazed at how much we would improve.  I agree.

Final Thoughts

The bottom line is that personal development WILL NOT happen by accident.  You need a game plan to work on your own personal development so you can develop your potential and be a better leader.  Follow the advice mentioned above and you will be well on your way.

What are your thoughts?  Leave a comment below to let me know what you think.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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8 thoughts on “Personal Development Plan for Military Leaders”

  1. Theresa Williams

    This is a great plan for personal development. It would also be helpful to list these things somewhere you can see them multiple times daily, as reminders are extremely helpful. For example, on our fridge we have a list of “family values”, things we strive to do daily, how we treat each other, and basics for short and long term goals we have as a family (i.e. Control our finances so they don’t control us; Exercise our bodies, minds, and souls daily).

      1. This is a great blueprint for personal development. One thing I must state is that everyone is a little different. What works for Chuck may not work for you. You should probably use his basic idea, and develop your own personal development schedule. It is important to set the proper times of day to do these. If you are a morning person, exercise may be a great thing to start with, and vice versa if you are more of a later day person.

        Chuck provided a great blueprint, it is now up to you to fill the spaces.

        Great post Chuck!

  2. It’s key to emphasize the importance of setting short, mid, and long term goals when creating a personal development plan. In the post, you share examples of daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals and how they interconnect to become a well thought out, organized development plan. You can’t only set short term goals, you’ll never get anywhere. You can’t only set long term goals, either, because you won’t have the necessary scaffolding under you to help you reach those higher goals.

  3. I think that this outlines a plan that anyone could easily follow given a genuine want to do so. What stood out to me was that personal development will not occur by accident – it takes real dedication and perseverance, as well as a genuine want to grow, in order to achieve this. But, there are ways, and by following this, it’s certainly possible. Sometimes, just a few minutes to reflect are all it takes.

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