action planKnowledge is power, it is often said. It's also true that when it comes to making meaningful progress, the right kind of knowledge can be an unparalleled motivator, and an essential component of any worthwhile plan. After all, how can you evaluate your improvement if you don't know what baseline you are comparing with? How can you efficiently allocate time and resources if you don't fully know the scope of the project? Trackers are winners, in all walks of life. Whether we're talking about athletes or business people or dental practice leaders, the ones who make the most reliable strides forward are the one who are intensely focused on tracking and comparing. When it comes to forming an action plan, knowledge is power.

So as we continue with our year-end countdown of the principles of mindset mindfulness, let's take a look at this not-so-secret secret that almost all high-achievers swear by:

Your Action Plan: Know Your Gap

I'm fairly sure that most people easily see the value in having a deep understanding of the drivers of their success, and the importance of planning and tracking. So why isn't this everyone's action plan? I think in many cases, the people who don't want to lay this groundwork avoid doing so because they think it will be a disheartening exercise. They are concerned that putting hard numbers to the discrepancies between reality and ideal would be unsettling.

In a way, they are right—it probably would be unsettling. But it should be unsettling in a good way. When you see your gap laid bare in concrete terms, it should arouse some feelings of anxiousness. But those are exactly the feelings that stimulate action and that keep you motivated to stay committed to your action plan.

If want to be able to spend more time out of the office, for instance, you're much more likely to achieve that goal if you define it in a way that clarifies your intent of the action plan. How many days did you work last year? If it was 180 and you set a mark of 160 as your desired target, you have now put it in terms you can work with. The questions logically follow—how much production would you have to make up to cover those 20 days? What strategies can you employ to make up that difference? Then it's a matter of executing, of breaking down the larger goal into smaller pieces, monitoring progress and checking off the milestones.

So take some time to figure out exactly what you want to see from yourself and the practice in 2015. What kind of mix of cases? What would be your ideal average case value? How many large cases a month? How much time away from the practice for yourself and for professional development? Then do an honest appraisal of where you are in all these areas right now.

That difference is your gap. Own it. Embrace it.

If you find topics like this helpful, check out Imtiaz Manji's practice management courses available to you through our
Course Library. Not yet a member of Digital Suite? Click here to learn more.