Creating your action plan, and getting started
The last stage of GROW is identifying the Way Forward. This really falls out from the previous steps, as you select the sequences and combination of options that will achieve the goal. The Way Forward steps should be specific and dated and you should be clear on how they will take you towards your Goal.
Sometimes you may need to explore a bit before making your final choice. Other times, you will set out on your way forward, only to hit an immediate snag, like Ian did when he got put through to the HR departments. Use the GROW model to overcome this new obstacle and refine your plan.
When the plan is complete it will become a network of intermediate goals or steps to be achieved, where each is achievable from the previous step.
The Way Forward steps should be specific and dated and you should be clear on how they will take you towards your Goal.
Developing an Effective Way Forward Statement
What is the first action step I need to take?
It is important to convert the Options into actions. Actions should be completed in one to three weeks. If you cannot create an action that can be completed in that time span try to sub divide them so that some actions can be completed sooner
How can I work forward from my first action to the next step I must take?
The first action step will often indicate the next one
Do I need to: Make a contact? / Acquire a new skill? / Gain knowledge? / Take an action to change a pattern? / Take an action to remind myself of my goal and process? / Do something physical? / Complete something? / Monitor something? / Ask for something? / Offer something?
These points provides a checklist for actions you may want to undertake
What is the last action step I must take? How can I work backwards from the last action to the first step I must take?
If you know the last step to complete your Goal it is sometimes possible to work backwards to the first step
Are my Way Forward action steps realistic?
If you do not feel your actions are realistic it will be difficult to be committed to them
Have I considered all the options that might be useful?
It is important to ensure you have at least considered all your Options
What would be a bold or adventurous action for me?
A bold action can often move you forward a lot faster than what you might ‘normally’ do
What would be a creative action?
Finding a creative action can often break entrenched patterns
How could I take action on my biggest challenge?
Moving forward with a difficult Options first generates a lot of energy
Have I built in ways to stay motivated?
Loosing motivation is often the reason people fail at Goals. So plan how you are going to stay motivated
Who might be willing to support me? How and when am I going to get that support?
Support or the lack of it is a key factor in achieving goals. Make sure you plan to have as much as possible.
Where is the first place I would think of looking for support?
Where is the last place I would think of looking for support?
Sometimes the people we would not normally ask can offer great support
Who will be most affected by my Way Forward action steps? Do I need to inform them?
Thinking through the consequences of your action steps can increase the chances of success
How am I going to celebrate my achievement?
Celebration is very powerful as a motivator!
Am I satisfied that the Way Forward action steps will enable me to achieve my overall goal?
This question reminds you where the actions are supposed to lead
Are my Way Forward action steps in a SMART format? (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, Time Phased)
As with the Goal itself SMART is a useful check on the action steps
By what date do I want to have achieved each Way Forward action step?
All good Way Forward actions should have a date attached
Do I have any considerations about my ability to carry out the action steps? If yes, how can I get around them?
This is a check for any last issues that could derail your efforts and what you will do about them
(On a scale of 1 - 10, with 10 being totally confident) how confident am I that I will carry out all my Way Forward actions? (If less than 10) Do I need to adjust the tasks or time-scale to have more certainty?
Being honest with yourself about your determination to carry out the actions gives you the option of planning to boost your commitment level
How will I cope with any adverse reactions from other people?
Knowing what you will do if you do have an adverse reaction increases confidence
Examples of Way Forward Steps
'I will ask Mark for time off'
‘To speak to Mark by Tuesday and ask him to give me 5 days unpaid leave’
'Go to the gym'
‘To go to the gym 3 times a week and follow my exercise programme for 30 minutes from next week’
'Get some support'
‘Ask Jane to come round and spend 2 hours helping me sort out my paperwork by next week and check in with me each week that I have kept it tidy’
'Learn more French'
‘Enrol in a evening class on Tuesday that will enable me to get to conversational standard in 3 months’
'Call some contacts and ask for help'
‘Call Edward, James and Jean next week and ask if they would be willing to introduce me to the Sales Director’
'Talk to Jim about a promotion'
‘Interview Jim next week about the skills he thinks are necessary to get a promotion and ask for his advice on how to get the experience I need’
Ian rang a man called Brian M on the 4th Wednesday. Brian said he didn’t take on trainees, but he knew a company that might be interested. What was Ian’s phone number and he would ring back directly!
After what seemed like an age Brian M rang back. Yes, they were interested, when could Ian come for interview? The next Wednesday afternoon, Ian was interviewed and offered his dream job, which he naturally accepted. On the 9th Wednesday afternoon after setting himself the goal of changing careers, Ian was at his new desk in his new job!
Later he discovered that although the directors had talked very briefly of recruiting a trainee, “if thing got busier” no decision had been made and no timetable set other than a throwaway remark of “perhaps next year”. In short, the Directors had created the vacancy for Ian.