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Where is the year Going?

I looked at my diary and couldn’t believe that we were already very nearly into May – where is the year going?!

So much has happened, work has been a whorl, I’ve delivered loads of “things”, and missed a few as well, I’ve had good days, great days and days it’s best not to mention!

I’m sure this is probably true for you as well… but what about those things you decided were the key things you wanted to do at the start of the year? Call them what you will; new years resolutions, goals for the year or company (or personal) targets etcetera etcetera the question is

Are you still on track or have you; run out of steam, lost focus or not even started?

Most of us, at the beginning of a new year, when plans are formed, goals are set full of optimism and enthusiasm to get stuck in.

But these “new starts” have to contend with what can prove a difficult first month – the splurges and overindulgences of Christmas still lurk, and the cold, dark January nights sap energy – so it’s perhaps not surprising that even the best laid plans falter just a few weeks after they were set.

Also, when the results fail to materialise as quickly as we want, people often throw in the towel and forget the whole project, plan or good intention altogether. Pessimists in particular become disheartened, focusing only on the negatives or perceived failures, overlooking completely any progression or success – however small.

Understanding how you work and what propels you towards a goal can be the difference between a resolution succeeding and crumbling. Once you’re aware of your drivers, you can build strategies that enhance positive elements and reduce the effects of negative ones. It’s also crucial to bring a dash of realism to your project or goal, to look at the bigger picture; you’re less likely to focus on any failings if they’re viewed in retrospect.

Forcefield Analysis

A tool I have found really useful in assessing where I am in achieving the goals I set myself is Kurt Lewin’s Forcefield Analysis (FA). It’s a great tool that can be effective within teams, but works just as well for individuals, whether personally implemented, or with the help of a coach.

To start off using the Forcefield analysis tool you need to remind yourself of the goal you set for yourself. Not the what you were going to “do” but in a full-on “Well Defined Goal” style what you were going to “achieve”.  All those lovely benefits of achieving the thing you wanted to have. Once you have reminded yourself of this you are ready to get stuck into the FA process.

The FA process

  1. Take a large sheet of paper or whiteboard and divide it into two columns.
  2. Label the left-hand side ‘Driving Forces’ and add the header ‘Restraining Forces’ to the right-hand column.
  3. List as many influences, forces or factors impacting on you in achieving your goal as you can, placing each in the most appropriate column. A ‘restraining force’ is one that impacts negatively on achieving the goal. For example, a lack of time, focus and/or support could massively influence its success. Driving forces are the polar opposites; examples could include personal motivation, positive feedback and/or additional support.
  • Now draw an arrow under each of the forces you have identified. The size of the arrow you draw should reflect how much impact you think the force has on helping or hindering progress towards the goal. The larger the arrow, the more influence you feel this element has. Restraining force arrows point back towards the left-hand side of your page (because they are holding you where you are). Driving force arrows point towards the right hand, goal side, of your page (because they are the ones helping you towards the goal)
  • Once complete, the chart should show the overall picture of your project, (like the one in the diagram) the factors at play, and the strength of each one. You can then realistically assess the position of your project.

For example, if you have a whole load of “Restraining Forces” with massive arrows and virtually nothing on the “Driving Force” side there is nothing wrong in deciding that now is not the right time for this project and to stop beating yourself up about not doing it.

Normally you will find that you will have a balance of Driving and Restraining forces and the you can them plan to work on both sides to the model:

  • Building on, enhancing, and strengthening the driving forces
  • Reducing, diluting or dissipating the restraining forces.

By breaking down the lack of progress in this way it

  • Gives you more options to consider
  • Helps you identify the real blockers
  • Can help you get more from the strengths you have
  • Can give you a realistic picture of what is stalling progress
  • Helps you identify where your efforts will be best placed  to make progress

I have found this a really good tool to use with teams and for my own personal change and development. I hope you find it as useful as I do.

If you’d like help to implement effective change within your life, career, or in your organisation, contact Emerge on 01329 820580, or email us at info@emergeuk.com.

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