A Personal Action Plan for Change

There are eight distinct steps to constructing and executing an action plan for effective and lasting change.

Item 1: Evaluate your strengths and weaknesses.

In the "Betterchange" workbook there's an exercise contributed by the late Dr. David Viscott. We've reproduced it (with permission) at the end of this article. It's a self-evaluation, and we believe that it's the best one we've seen. By completing it ? honestly ? you'll find yourself focussed on your own areas of greatest strength (based on your experience) and weakness (based on your perceptions).

You needn't complete this now. Later, at your leisure, review this outline, then list on your action plan the three, four or five areas of your greatest strength, and the areas in which you feel you're weakest. As you build and execute your plan you'll be learning how to capitalize further on your strengths and to minimize or eliminate your weak areas by changing the way you think about them and about yourself.

Item 2: List your goals and objectives - completely. Big ones, little ones, crazy ones - write down every goal you can think of, and be as complete as possible. Go into as much detail as you feel you need to make a really clear picture out of the goal idea. Take your time with this, and feel free to add to it at any time.

Item 3: List your fears about each of your goals, and jot down the limiting beliefs you hold about each goal. No action plan would be complete without at least an acknowledgement of the fears and self-imposed limits we inflict on ourselves. Getting these items out where you can see them will help you deal with them...even, perhaps, laugh at them (because most of them are pretty silly, after all).

Item 4: Write out the risks you believe you'll have to take?and prioritize them. Again, this is done so you can see them objectively. At this point in the development of your plan you should begin to feel the motivational notion that "I can do it!"

Item 5: List the actions it will take in each area to move you from where you are to where you'd like to be. You may not know every action yet, but list the ones you do know -- in roughly the order in which they must be done -- and start doing them, one at a time. If you need to break down a large-scale action into several smaller ones, do that. Be as specific as possible. As I'm sure you can see, this process is going to take you some time, so be prepared to work on it, then work on it some more.

Item 6: Create affirmations and do visualizations. It may be helpful to construct some affirmations and start using them, or to relax and visualize your outcomes in a constructive way.

The last two ingredients are?

Item 7: Track your progress -- in writing -- and

Item 8: Continually examine yourself and re-evaluate your situation. Here's a place where journaling can really help. Record your thoughts, feelings and actions. Look them over every day. See what's happening. Plan the next actions. Visualize the outcomes. Create affirmations. Then, as things develop, revise your action plan.

Analyzing Your Strengths And Weaknesses

With a bow to the late Dr. David Viscott, the noted psychiatrist and author, with whose permission we reproduce this section of his best-selling book, "Taking Care of Business", here is a series of questions for you to ponder before you start creating your Personal Action Plan. Honest answers will give you considerable insight into the depth and breadth of your personal potential.

The best way to do this exercise is simply to write...don't think ...until you've completed the whole thing. Then review what you've written. Surprise! You'll discover some things you won't even remember having written, and as you examine each section you'll be able to pick out some consistencies and patterns, some inconsistencies that will need further examination to resolve, and a rather complete picture of who you are. It's exciting. Please take the hour or so you'll need; you'll find it most worthwhile.

Success Component

Consider all your successes in the past.

What do they have in common?

What role did you play in each?

Were you a leader or a follower?

Were you closely supervised or left mostly on your own?

Was your function creative or managerial?

Did you do best in certain locations, in certain companies, professional situations or in a particular career?

Did you work as part of a group or by yourself?

Was your schedule rigid or free? How did you feel about that?

Is there a single ingredient in your success without which you would have failed?

If so, what was it?

What do your best judgements depend upon?

What attitude works best for you?

Failure Component

Is there any pattern in your failures?

What were your most critical misjudgements?

(People/situations/information/risk level/optimism vs. pessimism) Are you still that way?

When you misjudge, what gets in the way of clear thinking?

Were there any warning signs you ignored in any failure situation?

When do you find yourself most likely to get into trouble?

Vulnerability Component

When are you likely to act in ways that aren't in your best interest?

How do people flatter you?

When do you waiver from what you know is right?

(When are you frightened, closed, defensive?)

When are you most likely to lose sight of your goals?

Where is your immediate point of vulnerability?

What personal failing gets in your way?

Skills Component

If you could have any additional skill(s), which one(s) would you pursue?

What difference do you think having new skill(s) would make?

How difficult would it be to acquire what you want?

What is standing in the way of your attaining what you believe you'd like?

How important is all this to your success?

Strength Component

When are you at your best and most secure?

Why do people look up to you?

What personal quality do you value most in yourself?

Write down what you believe to be your 2 or 3 greatest strengths (in priority order!)

Copyright 2002, 2005 Optimum Performance Associates/Paul McNeese.

Paul McNeese is CEO of Optimum Performance Associates, a consulting firm specializing in transitional and transformational change for individuals and institutions through publication. His publishing company, OPA Publishing, is an advocacy for self-publishing authors of informational, instructional, inspirational and insightful nonfiction.

Email: pmcneese@opapublishing.com
Websites: http://www.opapublishing.com and http://www.opapresents.com

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