Creating an Action Plan that Works

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, January 2020

During our first coaching session, Eric described the “agonizing” process of trying to decide what he needed to do each week and how to get started. He had recently enrolled in a part-time IT certification program. His parents told him that be also needed to find a part-time job, to earn money for his basic expenses. Although he had classes just three days per week, Eric couldn’t seem to find time to begin a job search.

When I asked for more details about how he planned his week, I discovered that Eric excelled at creating daily “to do” lists. However, entries were very broad, such as “look for a job,” and “study.” They did not provide the structure he needed.

I gave Eric a simple template for planning Weekly Goals & Action Items. After establishing priorities, we determined the specific steps Eric would take, and the day(s) and time(s) he would take them.

We made sure that the plan was reasonable and one that Eric could follow through on. For example, he set aside 1 hour per day, from 10:00 11:00am, Monday through Friday, to look for a part-time job. We noted job boards that he would visit, and the search terms that he would use. Additionally, Eric blocked out 2 hours per day, from 1:00 – 3:00pm, to study and complete assignments from the IT certification program.

Eric kept an updated planning template near his computer, where he would see it each day. By providing structure to his week, Eric was able to follow through on action items. He also recognized the need to be flexible. When he was invited for an interview art 2:00pm on a Thursday, he moved his certification study time to 5:00 to 7:00pm.

Flexibility allows a person to adapt to unforeseen circumstances that are beyond their control. It does not mean giving oneself permission not to follow through on a plan. After 3 weeks of using the planning template successfully, Eric decided to be “flexible” and skip some tasks in order to spend more time playing video games. He quickly fell behind in priorities.

If you would like a copy of the Weekly Goals & Action Items template, send an email to me at Barbara@ForwardMotion.info.

Copyright 2020, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching