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1.2 Case-study illustration

Do you remember Mike and Charity in the case studies from last week? Have a look at the diagram in Figure 3, which shows a possible force-field analysis of Mike’s goal of becoming a chef:

This is a force-field analysis diagram for Mike.
Figure 3 Mike’s force-field analysis

The forces for and against you achieving your goal may be already very clear in your head – in which case you can maybe draw a diagram straight away. But it is often useful to draw up a list of helping and hindering factors first, before focusing on how much influence they are each likely to have on you achieving your goal.

Figure 4 shows a list of helping and hindering factors for Charity’s goal of building her communication skills:

Charity’s list of helping and hindering factors
Figure 4 Charity’s list of helping and hindering factors

The advantage of drawing up a list like this is that you can put more detail, while the diagram only has room for a few words for each. Having both is, therefore, ideal. Now, it’s your turn. In the next activity, draw up a force-field analysis for your chosen goal.

Activity 1 Your force-field analysis

Timing: Allow about 30 minutes for this activity.
  • Following the example in Figure 4, make a list of helping and hindering factors for your chosen goal in either your action planning journal or your learning journal – whichever you chose to use.
  • Then draw a force-field analysis diagram for your goal, like Figure 3. Use different-sized arrows to show the likely impact of the things that might help and hinder you.


Your helping and hindering factors probably fall into three main categories:

  • The resources you have available – for example, having (or not having) people on your side, money, time, equipment, and so on.
  • Your current level of knowledge and skills in areas you would like to pursue.
  • Your personal qualities/attributes – for example, your level of confidence and self-belief; being brave, or how nervous you are about new challenges; being an extrovert or introvert; how healthy you are, and your resilience to cope when things are more difficult than expected.

Most plans have several factors both for and against. These all need to be thought about carefully, and you will be able to work on them further in the next stage in action planning.

This is not to dismiss a range of social factors – such as racism, sexism, ageism and other forms of prejudice and oppression – that can lead to some people having more opportunities in life than others. But for your action plan, you should concentrate on things that you have some control over.