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What separates achievement from desire?
What separates excellence from mediocrity?

Action planning is the key to success. If you don’t formulate and implement carefully thought out action plans for personal development, I am afraid, the desire to improve will remain- a desire.

Many of us have dreams of what we want to achieve, what we want to be. However, not everyone achieves these dreams. The failure to achieve our fullest potential can be traced back to a lack of action to fulfill those dreams.

Saying “I want to be a more effective manager” or “I want to improve my leadership capability” is not enough. These are broad statements of intent. To improve your chances of success, your action plans should satisfy the mnemonic SMART.

S-Specific
M-Measurable
A-Achievable
R-Realistic
T-Time bound

Here’s a process I suggest:

1.    Refresh yourself on what you want to achieve.
2.    Draw up a short –list of possible actions.
3.    Run each of the possible actions against the criteria of “Criticality” and “Immediacy”. Those actions which score high on both these dimensions should feature in your final list.
4.    Formulate your action plan keeping SMART in mind.
5.    Begin with an action verb.

Examples:

•    Prepare Mr. Bala to take up the higher responsibilities of Program Lead for Project xyz by March 2008
•    Reduce costs on item 4 by 10 % with reference to same period for last year
•    Complete certification program of abc conducted by xyz with grade pqr by March 2008.

And yes, don’t try to implement too many actions at one time. Choose no more than 3-5 actions. Choose these well.

Choose those which will have the biggest impact on your overall performance.

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