Part # 5: The Anatomy of Effective Action
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Finally, we get to creating action steps. Action is where all the insights and perspective shifts become tangible.
Helping your clients design effective and sustainable action steps is a crucial part of coaching.
And if you’re interested in learning more about coach training, the next best step is to speak with a Success Coach to explore launching a coaching career.
A well-designed action is a single, clearly defined step that will most likely lead to a client’s desired outcome. It is not a guarantee of reaching the desired outcome, but it is the action determined to most likely be useful. A well-designed action has four criteria:
- Stated in the positive. A well-designed action is something that the client wants to place her or his focus on, and focusing on something positive is a great mental habit.
- Gives control to the client. Getting started and following through with the well-designed action, as well as the success (or failure) of the desired outcome, depends entirely on the client. The examples provided illustrate the difference between a goal, which involves a portion outside of a client’s control, versus a well-designed action which emphasizes what is totally within the client’s control.
- Just the right size. Usually goals are huge… Get the promotion. Run a marathon. Get all A’s. Those are great goals to have, but they are long-term goals that are too big to be an effective well-designed action. The desired outcome of a larger goal, like running a marathon, can be broken down into many smaller, more manageable steps. Each of those steps become a well-designed action. Two weeks to complete or work on an action is usually a great action-to-time ratio.
- Measurable and specific. When a well-designed action is measurable, it is usually specific as well. Helping a client clearly define what constitutes success and how they will know they are successful is an important part of coaching and establishing a well-designed action.
Examples of Converting Goals to Well-Designed Actions
Goal: To get A’s in all of my classes.
Well-Designed Action: To study for all of my tests for one hour or more TWO days before the test date.
Goal: To get in shape.
Well-Designed Action: Go for a 2 mile run on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays before work
Goal: To not procrastinate on tasks for my side business
Well-Designed Action: To set aside time on Saturdays to write eight email newsletter articles and schedule them out for the next 4 months
Why Do Well-Designed Actions Work?
Creating well-designed actions works for a number of reasons. At the top of the list is the fact that it puts the control back in the hands of the client. So much of life is left up to chance, and the greatest virtue of a well-designed action is that it empowers the person who created it with full control over the success or failure of the action.
Well-designed actions also break up the bigger picture or goal and allow the client to focus on small victories. Not only does this make each individual action easier to handle, but it also increases the opportunity for success throughout the process. This can help maintain your client’s focus and keep him or her motivated and invested in the process as a whole.
Ask someone if you can practice a life coaching exercise with them and explain the concept of well-designed actions to her or him.
Use lots of examples. It can be helpful to brainstorm some ideas from your own life ahead of time, or use the ones from this lesson.
Brainstorm a list of goals and things that your practice client wants to have happen in her or his life. All of these goals can be converted into a series of well-designed actions.
Have them choose just one of those goals to break down into a series of well-designed actions.
Break the goal down into as many well-designed actions as possible. The smaller the action and time frame, the higher the chance of success.
Make sure the well-designed actions are specific, measurable, and stated in the positive.
Discuss what success will look like for your practice client.
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