Three Simple, Powerful Questions to Help You Plan a Successful 2017

Clean Set Up

If you're reflecting on the year that's gone and looking at the year ahead, why not try a simple technique to set out your year and get your plan in place? The Clean Set Up process is based on three simple questions. It is an essential tool used for setting clear and positive outcomes for yourself and assisting others to do the same.

This approach helps you to think about what you need to be at your best. It can be used for any situation like setting up a coaching session, planning a meeting, planning a holiday, setting annual objectives …to establishing your intentions for a whole year.

You can use the Clean Set Up on your own or with someone else to create a joint plan or if you'd like a motivated collaborative team who are clear about what they want to have happen and know how they can support one another, then you can use it with a whole group. Download this pdf and have a go for yourself. (We’ve added a bit of background information so you can share it with your friends and colleagues too.)

The Three Main Questions

1 For this year to go exactly as you'd like - it will be like what?

2 For it to go like that - you'd like to be like what?

3 What support or resources do you need?

The questions are simple – and very powerful. To delve a bit deeper, you can use clean or cleanish questions to expand on each of the three responses. Doing this will help you get to the root of what you want to have happen. 

I first came across this Clean Set Up activity when I was taking my ILM Level 5 qualification in 2015 and at the start of 2016 I used it to map out what I wanted my year to be like. Thinking back over that year, it went very much according to the plan I made then. So I am doing the same exercise again this year. Here I share a couple of my responses and the additional questions I asked myself:

Question 1 - For this year to go exactly as I would like - it will be like what?

My response: It will be nicely paced and I will be setting free my creative and healthy soul

What do I really mean by ‘nicely paced’ and ‘setting free my creative and healthy soul’?  That sounds lovely but what I do I really mean? Here’s where a couple of clean questions can come in handy…

And is there anything else about nicely paced?

Calm and not rushed.

And what kind of setting free is that?

Reconnecting with my love of art and combining it with my obsession with technology

Exploring and getting more creative with healthy food and healthy living

I can continue with this kind of question for as long as I wish, asking myself questions of the words I am using, but you probably get the gist. So let's move to the second question:

Clean Set Up Question 2 - For it to go like that, I’d like to be like what?

My response: I’ll be like a scientist, experimenting and embracing failure as a gift I can learn from. And I’ll be monitoring my speed and knowing that I can use my brakes if the pace gets too much

As above, I can ask myself questions to explore these ideas further:

And then what happens when I am a scientist? 

I’ll be practical rather than theoretical – doing things rather than reading about them. I’ll be testing and experimenting.

And is there anything else about monitoring my speed?

I will make clever use of time management to fit with the family and everything I want to have happen. It’s about making choices that err on the side of good pace. And it’s not procrastinating.

The final question explores what support or resources I need in order for me to achieve my outcomes and manage my behaviour in the year to come:

Clean Set Up Question 3 - For it to be nicely paced and for me to be like a scientist, what support or resources do I need?

My response: To be nicely paced, I need a pace check each week and time with my husband. Checking our diaries and what is going on - readjusting if pace feels like it is going to be too much. To be like a scientist, I need my laptop, a good internet connection, my cookery books, the kitchen and its many gadgets, organised time and opportunity and patience and determination.

As it happens, I have most of the support and resources I need. There is one new action I need to take and that is to share this with my husband and see if it fits with him and to explore when we will share our diaries and also get some agreement on what we consider to be nicely paced.

This process has also enabled me to identify some inner resources that I will need during 2017. I have explored these resources in detail over the last few months through Clean Language coaching and I now have some very tangible metaphors that I can physically embody to help me get in the right frame of mind for this stuff. For example, I have a metaphor of ‘Scruffy Duck’. When I am in Scruffy Duck mode, I feel energy inside and am very defiant, determined and self-assured. I can be very creative in Scruffy mode and my response to criticism or failure really is like water off a duck’s back!

We use the Clean Set Up model extensively in our own work and we train others to use this and other clean approaches. If you’d like to know more, you can join a free webinar, anIntroduction to Clean Languageor our Clean for Teams workshop. Any of these will give you insights into what is possible with Clean Language tools and the workshops will equip you to use these tools with others.


Tags: clean language, clean questions, systemic modelling, training, ilm, coaching, clean set up, metaphor

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About the author

Louise Hockaday

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Louise joined Clean Learning in 2016 to help with marketing the business. She has over 20 years' experience in the Defence and Aerospace industry and has held a number of senior positions delivering large marketing, communications and change management projects. She has a Master's Degree in Marketing, is a member of the Chartered Institute of Marketing and is also a Chartered Marketer. Louise started training in Clean Language in 2015 and is working toward becoming a Clean Facilitator. She has a keen interest in the application and use of Clean Language and Coaching in business environments to improve business development and change.

Three Simple, Powerful Questions to Help You Plan a Successful 2017

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