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Everyone wants to get ahead in life and to do this everyone wants to develop. Here are a few aspirations I have commonly come across in my work as an executive coach and facilitator:

  • “I would like to become more competent in my work”
  • “I would like to spend more time with my family”
  • “I would like to develop a more congenial atmosphere at work”
  • “I would like to make it to the top in my organisation”

Others may want to retire at 45, start their own business venture or simply have a “better quality of life”.

This said, I am often asked how to actually bring about improvements in their professional/personal lives. The fact that they should improve is undisputed. The question is “How?”.

There can, of course, be no magic formula but I would like to share- what I call – my 7 Steps To Achieving Progress:

  • Know What You Want: It is tempting to ask for the moon. The first step is based on Analysis – think think through your current circumstance, list your strengths and interests, identify improvement areas and gaps. Prioritze and take one step at a time. Don’t try to improve your salsa dancing, parenting, financial analysis and marketing knowledge all at the same time.
  • Set a Goal: Based on your own understanding of where you are and where you want to go, set a definite goal. Make sure your goal is specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time bound.
  • Commit it to a Written Plan: Many goals remain well intentioned wishes. The follow through towards goal achievement is best done by committing the goal to writing. Do this by means of a well crafted Action Plan. What you will achieve, by when and how are questions addressed in this plan.
  • Take purposeful action: Don’t just talk about it, do it. Strange as it may seem, for many this is the weakest link. They may do the steps before this but not get down to implementing it. One of the biggest reasons for failure is the tendency to put things off- to procrastinate. ” Why not start next month?” or ” Let’s do this after this project is over” are commonly heard in the course of not doing anything about improvement.
  • Get Feedback: Know how you are doing by getting feedback apart from self- reflection. You know yourself what you have done with respect to what you set out to achieve. You can reflect on the progress- or the lack of it. Friends, family, colleagues and coaches are others who can provide unbiased valuable feedback on your progress. Be willing to accept feedback without becoming angry, defensive or disillusioned.
  • Make changes: Based on your own observations and the feedback you have obtained, make changess to your plan. Is there an aspect that has not got adequate attention? Have you gone overboard in chaning just aspect of your behaaviour? This is a dynamic process and improvements take place only through shepherding change into your life.
  • Celebrate your success: When you have achieved your goal- celebrate. You deserve it more than any one else. And oh yes, do remember to thank all those who helped you in this journey.

Don’t rest on your laurels. To keep change firmly in place, avoid slipping back to the old routines and habits which you have just overcome.

Achieving progress is not the exclusive privilege of a few. You can do it too- in anything you want, provided you go about it with enthusiasm and in a methodical way.

Let me know how these 7 Steps To Achieving Progress worked for you.

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This is Post No: 224  of the “A Step A Day” series : To provide perspective and provoke thought to facilitate self-development across a wide spectrum of issues- big and small- crucial for executive success.