I am a fan of Jack Canfield’s work, many years ago reading his book Chicken Soup for the Soul (he has since published many more ‘Chicken Soup’ books). I receive regular Jack Canfield blog posts and articles, some of them useful for my personal use and others directly relevant and attributable to mentoring.

Here is an exercise taken from Jack’s recent book The Success Principles, which he calls “Transforming your excuses into action”. I used this exercise to determine why I wasn’t completing tasks that would take me closer to realising my business goals. You could use this same exercise for your personal use or it makes for a great activity to incorporate in your mentoring conversations; for example, prompting your mentee to complete the exercise and use some meeting time to it talk through.

Here are the 4 steps Jack encourages people to take. He advises creating a table of columns:

Step 1:  List the top five things you would like to change in your life into Column 1.

Step 2:  For each item, list the excuses that you have used in the past to justify why you haven’t created the change you want to see. Write these in Column 2.

Step 3:  Consider what role you have played in causing this lack of action and making those desired changes. What actions or inactions have you taken to prevent this? (NOT what you think other people have done to prevent the realisation of the change/s you want to make). This is your Column 3.

Step 4:  Brainstorm a list of actions that you can take to change this lack of traction and action on achieving what you want and list these in Column 4.

I think we could add two further steps in this model: Column 5 involves identifying how (and when) you are going to implement the actions that will move you forward and Column 6 identifies what and who can support you in this.