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After Action Assessments or Revisiting Resolutions

by Neil Phillips on January 18, 2010

Since January is half gone, I was curious how the resolutions were going.  Most of us have accidentally or deliberately shelved at least one resolution.  Without constant vigilance, new habits are hard to create and maintain.

To maintain movement towards a goal, one of the best tools I’ve found comes from the Marshall Goldsmith Coach Training.   Frank Wagner and Chris Coffey were the master trainers for my initial immersion in the Goldsmith behavioral coaching method.  While I have used various approaches from the training with most clients, there is one key piece that I use with virtually all of my coaching clients.  The After Action Assessment is designed to allow a detailed reflective assessment of goal oriented activities.  It is a great tool to periodically use to help assess progress, get past mental blocks, and refine future activities. There are four steps:

1. What did you set out to do?  While this should be a quick restatement of the action oriented SMART goal, for some people there is a big WAKE-UP moment when they restate their goal.  I have had clients discover that their original planning:

  • Was too general
  • Was not what they really wanted
  • Was not the right set of activities for the goal.

2. What happened?  This is best done at a rapid pace.  Focus is on the activities and initial results.  Objectivity is a key.

3.  Why did it happen?  This is the biggie.  Tease out the underlying reasons—the cause and effect.  Just keep asking “why did that happen?” until there are no more answers.  Above all, take your time to coax out more than an off-the-cuff answer for yourself.

4.  What will you do next time?  Here is your opportunity to articulate your changes?  Are you happy with your progress?  What can you change to achieve your resolution quicker, cheaper, or better?  Don’t settle for the cheap, “now that I know I won’t do that again.”  What will you do differently?

The After Action Assessment is a great tool to use on your resolutions.  Set an appointment with yourself to use the tool regularly and you will find your resolution is more than a New Year’s wish.

What do you do to keep your resolutions whole?  We’d love to have you share your methods.

About the Author: Neil Phillips is a founding partner of Team Connections and Director of the DSWA Coach Excellence program.  Get more from Neil on his Direct Selling Notebook , the DSWA Coaching Center and Twitter.

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