Tips For The Life Coach on Setting Goals with Clients  By Jodi Nicholson

Here are a few tips on setting goals that offer some assistance when working with an individual coaching client. In the coaching process you may choose to encourage, practice and teach the following concepts with clients.LIFE COACH CERTIFICATION

Write Goals Down:  A written goal is one of the most important of all the tips on setting goals. Talking and thinking goals is what many people do and although it sounds obvious, most people do not write them down. They simply people walk around with the thought of something in their head without the support needed to make it concrete. It’s so loosely defined in their head that they never hit it, and feel like a failure or unaccomplished when too much time goes by and nothing was reached. A goal must be written down by hand on paper – simply put, pen it on paper. It makes it more real, helps a person focus in on it from all angles, and becomes a reminder so a person can not forget it was made by them in the first place. A goal is a dream with a deadline so think it and ink it! If you ignore any or all of the other tips on setting goals, remember this one:  Writing goals down will increase a persons ability to achieve them.

Choose Goals Aligned With An Ideal Vision and Life Priorities:  Goals should flow naturally from a person’s ideal life vision and priorities.  Before you even begin setting and writing goals, identify the life vision or life priorities. Additionally, you can help clients list highest values and the character traits desired, identify where they really want to be, or simply identify the most important roles they play in life and the qualities of the role.

Do Not Rush Goal Setting:  Many people rush into setting goals simply to have a goal … lose weight, save money, spend more time with family, find a new job, etc., and they really aren’t thinking it through. Later they may discover that these “rushed goals” aren’t at all what they really wanted, and by shooting for them (or not) the “rushed goal” ends up pulling them away from their highest priorities or highest vision.  Goals drive behavior, action and habits. For example, if your client wants to “save money” they may end up cutting corners in the wrong areas, such as buying overly processed foods based on price that compromises its nutritional value. In this case the client may end up violating one of their highest priorities … to be in excellent health and wellness. Help clients choose goals wisely because they drive behavior.

Be S.M.A.R.T and R.I.G.H.T.:  The SMART method of goal setting meets the criteria of being Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Relevant, and Time bound challenged with the RIGHT questions of being Realistic, Inspiring, using our Gifts, Harmonious, and in Truth.  Following this system turns the abstract into the concrete. To learn about this goal setting method, enroll in SCI’s Coach Certification course.

Get Lasered-In On Goal Essence:  When you identify goals aligned with an ideal vision and highest priorities, focus as much as possible and laser in on the outcome and actions. Although initially setting 1-3 goals in each area of life may occur, it’s important to re-visit the goals and look for the commonalities and ESSENCE of the goals. From that perspective a solid 3-4 goals may surface which is very doable, SMART and RIGHT. Three or four goals are good for annual planning and you can laser in on the empowering habits and action steps to see them through. It is the essence of the overall picture that will up-level the client and create the momentum and success all are looking to gain. Help client avoid the feeling of having too much to do, feeling overwhelmed or that it’s too much work or too hard and even the thought of being scattered and all over the place by simply pinpointing the essence of what they are looking to attain. This will maximize your time and resources to help them yield optimal results over time.

Use Simple Precision:  Meaning, be detailed enough not to be burdensome. This is another feature where RIGHT questioning is very useful to tighten up a goal without making it complicated. Seek to design goals that are SMART enough to be useful and RIGHT enough to create the quantum leap needed towards the destination. Simple precision is a craft and an art. A person should be able to assess quickly and evaluate the goal without having to consider too many moving parts. Simplify it as necessary to remove excessive detail that may hinder accomplishment and re-work it for precision matched to the desired outcome.

Identify Personal Strengths and Weaknesses:  Using a S.W.O.T. ANALYSIS is a great tool to use to identify strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats and is provided in the TOOLS section of this course. People can tend to gravitate towards their inabilities or weaknesses while goal setting rather than focusing on their strengths and positive attributes. Using the Circle of Life form can help the coach identify trends in identifying positive contributing qualities with higher numbered areas, and then take those strengths and conviction and encourage application into lowered number areas. The same can occur with goal setting and using the client’s strengths can yield better performance and encourage growth with confidence, polish and finesse. It is also very positive to compliment the client’s strengths, show them how to be versatile with it and then encourage them to apply that strength to their goals.

Visualization:  Once a goal is set, identify as clearly as possible what success looks like. There is an entire process dedicated to this technique in the course manual. In summary here, help the client imagine as many details as possible on the day of achievement and let them picture-feel-hear success.  The client needs to see it in their mind and immerse in it … Feel it. Taste it and so on. The more clearly a person can “see” the realization of the goal, the more likely they are to actually achieve it.

Help Clients Set Goals To Bring Improvement and Betterment By The Achievement of The Goal:  Meaning this … goals should be intrinsically good in and of themselves, and by attaining the goal it should bring out the best in the person as they work towards achieving it.  For example, by reaching the goal to weigh 150 pounds and they attain it, great! But it’s bigger than that as explained in other sections of this course because on the journey, the client has learned and achieved so much more in the process such as: dedication, discipline, hard work, control, perseverance, optimal health habits and a greater sense of self-awareness and self-esteem. This is confirmed by RIGHT questioning as previously instructed and by bringing improvement through the achievement, the client can stand in truth when it’s attained.

Review Goals Often:  Writing a goal and then not visiting the goal does little to no good. This is a huge benefit in coaching … to help clients visit their goals often, encourage goal activity and action. When goals are set annually, have clients do a quarterly review and measure progress, determine how far away completion is, what actions need to happen in the next 3 months and so on. This review will help determine weekly and daily planning, construct the D.A.S.H. activities and stay steadfast and on target for goal achievement. Encourage clients to read their written goals aloud monthly, weekly and to be the most effective, daily. When goal setting is done right it should not take more than a minute or two for the daily review to occur.

KISS the Goal … Keep It Super Simple:  Yes, KISS them! These tips on goal setting are all very important yet it’s important to understand that goals are simply a tool that drives a change in behavior. Although a person can use a coach, attend a seminar, or buy fancy apps and software to set goals, all a person really needs is a pen, some paper, and a little creativity. Remind clients to set an intention (think it), write it down (ink it), and return to it frequently to act on it, measure progress and attain it (do it).

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  1. Great post! May I suggest that the client not only visualize the goal, but actually feel as if it is in the hear and now, with all of the senses, in the visualization. Experiencing our ‘end desire’ in the now is the most, under-used, powerful way to ‘magnetize’ that potential reality to us. A second observation is that a result is magnified (hundreds fold) when a real ‘decision’ to achieve that end has been made (and it’s not just a ‘wish’ or a hope’). I love that you include that a goal should bring out the best in someone. How refreshing, as I hardly ever come across that simple, yet profound wisdom. I saw a quote recently that said ”The definition you’ve placed on yourself – or have allowed others to place on you – is precisely why you have what you have, do what you do, are what you are and act how you act’. (Source:, a coaching/mentoring site). How true! Unless we align our goals with our beliefs, we have erected an invisible wall. Great practical tools for your readers. Love your insight!!

    • Thanks for the comments – actually VISUALIZATION is a technique we use and train in our coaching certification program along with Backwards Planning and Timeline. Thanks for sharing – appreciate your input!!

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