How to use the GROW model to map out a plan to reach your goals


After much trial and error and trying to find systems to streamline my work processes, I now have a comprehensive toolbox that has made a world of difference in my productivity and my mindset!

There is one such system that I use all the time: SMARTER goals (more about it here and here). Using the SMARTER framework allows you to reach your goal much more quickly and more efficiently. You waste less time and energy in the process. The secret of SMARTER goals is that they force you to both acknowledge the constraints you have to work with, and find a way to not let that hold you back.

I use another similar tool frequently: the GROW model. Whereas SMARTER goals are concerned with concrete action steps and dates in your diary, I find that the GROW model works best if you find yourself getting stuck with frustration or over-excited about achieving a goal.


GROW stands for




What am I going to do?


Taking one letter in the acronym after the other, you would state your goal, acknowledge the realities and constraints you have to take into account, but also look for opportunities around you that you might not have noticed.

Next, you consider a solution for each obstacle or constraint in isolation; what can you do to avail of opportunities?

If you were to apply the GROW model to a job search, your goal might be to “Find (specific position) in (specific industry) with a salary of (ballpark amount)”

Your realities might be:

  • you haven’t held that position before, even though you know you would love it and be perfect for it
  • the industry that you have in sight isn’t awash with job opportunities at the moment
  • there’s one specific qualification you would need for that job, that you don’t have yet

Your opportunities might be:

  • you know somebody who holds the type of position you are after and they would be willing to share their experience with you
  • while there aren’t a lot of opportunities advertised, you could speak to a recruitment agency, network within your contacts and spend an hour per day combing the internet for lesser known vacancies
  • you have heard of a government-funded business agency that might offer you a grant to enrol for the qualification you need

So, what are you going to do?

  • rewrite your CV to highlight the elements in your work history that match the position you are after
  • get in touch with the person who has the position you want and ask them for an hour of their time, and to review your CV. Offer to buy them lunch in return
  • put an hour per day into the diary which will be dedicated solely to focus on your existing connections to bring you closer to that dream job
  • contact the state agency to know under which conditions you could benefit from the grant

This framework can be iterated over and over again to approach an issue with a proactive mindset.


How to use the GROW model in conjunction with a to-do list app like Trello


Now it might sound like such a brainstorm will yield more actionable items than you can keep up with. So you need a system to capture those action steps and make sure that you are tackling them. You might have a preferred productivity app, but in case you don’t, why not try the free, web-based Trello?


You can synchronise this simple app across your devices and it allows you to create “to-do” boards, where you can see at a glance where you are at in a project. You create a “card” for each action item and place the card in the “To Do” column. Then, when you’re working on that item, you move it into the “Doing” column. And finally, instead of just checking it off, you move the completed task into the “Done” column.

You can create as many cards as you want to reflect all your tasks; you can keep the title of the card very short, and then add more information, like documentation, checklists or comments or a due date by opening up the card. You can create as many boards as you have projects. It works very well for visual and kinesthetic people, as you can see at a glance which tasks are in progress and which ones remain to be tackled. There is also such a feeling of achievement that comes from moving a task card from “to do” to “done”.

Trello has revolutionised many of my daily practises, so try it out and experience the benefits for yourself!

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