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Monday, February 7, 2011

Monday Morning Check In: Action Steps

It's Monday Morning. You know what that means: time to check in with ourselves to see if we need a course correction.

Last week many of my university students came to their lessons with a completed goal assignment I handed out the first week of the semester. I did not require my students to show me their specific goal list, but many of them volunteered to do so.

I had asked students to write out a list of goals that were long-range (5-10 years), mid-range (1-5 years), and short-range (6 months to 1 year). I looked over each list and discussed ways to re-frame many of the goal statements to be positive and in the present tense. Then the two of us looked more specifically at two aspects of the goal statements:

(1) whether the goals fit within the prescription of SMART goals, and
(2) whether the student had identified the next steps to make progress on the goal.

The prescription of SMART goals refers to my earlier post about how to set a goal in a way that would lend itself to success. You can read that post from November 14, 2010 to learn more about SMART goals.

I want to focus on the next steps or questions that follow the setting of a SMART goal, and that is the action plan. I asked my students to look over their list of goals and to determine 1-3 goals that the student wanted to focus on. Then I asked these questions:

(1) What step could you take now to move you closer to achieving your goal?
(2) What are the next steps necessary to move you closer to achieving your goal?

The student may need to do a little bit more work on paper to answer these questions and to set up the "next steps" action plan. Perhaps it would help to set up a page of paper for each goal, and just list the steps that would be involved in achieving the goal. Then the student could prioritize the steps or put them in a particular order to be completed.

This next step of preparing an action list is crucial to keep you moving in the direction of your goals. I will include a link here to an engineering paper that is very helpful for this purpose. You may write your goal in the left hand column and any other notes you might have just below the goal. Then in the subsequent columns expanding to the right, you can list the various steps that you need to take to bring you closer to achieving your goal. Then all you have to do is check off the corresponding box when you have completed that action step. With this paper you can see at a glance what action steps have been completed and what steps remain.

http://incompetech.com/graph paper/engineer/engineer.pdf

Let's prepare our action plan and action steps today.


  1. My graph paper is printed, pencil in hand. Thanks Paula for keeping us all on task! I love it!

  2. Thanks, Diane! We've been getting some of your weather down here in Texas. We actually had about 1-1.5" snow last Friday. More stuff expected in another day or two.

  3. Wish we had some of your weather - then the skiing would be better!