Here’s a simple and insightful way to think about achieving your career and life goals. Let’s jump in and play with this right now. Pull out a sheet of paper and write down one career or life goal at the top of the page.

Force Field Analysis is a change management tool to help identify forces that either support or oppose a desired change. Applying this tool to your own career (and life) goals can provide you a fresh perspective.

Draw a line down the middle of your sheet of paper underneath your goal statement. Label the left-hand column as “Helpers” and the right-hand column as “Hindrances.”

Include Both the “What” and the “How”

As you can see from the above diagram, the focus of this exercise is primarily on internal forces. Of course, there are lots of external forces at play too, but I prefer to focus on the forces that I have control over.

It will be helpful to include a few subsections (draw a line across the middle of the page) to categorize the forces affecting the life or career goal you have chosen. I like having a subsection for the “What” (think technical / functional) and a subsection for the “How” (think behavioral). Some of you might be more comfortable with subsections like Knowledge, Skills, and Attributes.

You can choose to create another subsection for external forces too if that serves you. Trust your gut and don’t overcomplicate this.

Helps You Think About Hindrances

One of the things I love about this approach is that it requires you to think about the forces working against you. It circles us back to one of my favorite questions, which is “Where do you get in your own way?”

To achieve our goals, we not only want to leverage and maximize the supportive forces. We also benefit from minimizing those forces working against us.

A Simple Example

Let’s look at a simple example. Let’s say I tend to frequently interrupt others. This is what I call “a self-limiting behavior,” which is essentially a “force” that opposes me in my desire to get promoted, or become a great collaborator or whatever career/personal goal I have in mind. Using Force Field Analysis, I can jot this (”frequently interrupt others”) down in the right column as a “Hindrance” to achieving my specific career goal.

On the other hand, developing my listening skills would be a supportive force that helps me achieve my goals. I can jot this down (“great listening skills”) in the left column as a “Helper.”

The Double Whammy (In a Good Way)

So, if over time I reduce my tendency to interrupt others AND develop my listening skills, I get a double bonus. First, I’m weakening that particular “Hindrance,” and thereby reducing the power of an opposing force. Secondly, I’m strengthening the supportive force of “listening” that is helping to propel me forward.

The result: a stronger positive force and reduced resistance. Bang!

The next time you are pondering your career goals and status, consider taking the time to do a high-level Force Field Analysis. You might be surprised to find that you have some “double whammy” opportunities to propel you along your path.