Goals are among the most important factors that distinguish coaching from any kind of causal chatter. As comforting as the latter may be, it just goes freely all over the place without necessarily focusing on one particular topic. And if it does, it doesn’t lead to an action plan with clear, precise and measurable objectives that the concerned person is held accountable for.
Goals really are magic. They show us the way, get us focused, activate our creativity and give us the extra burst of energy we need to move faster toward our dreams.
Tony Robbins says, “Setting goals is the first step in turning the invisible into the visible.”
A study by Latham and Locke showed that setting goals increases performance and productivity by 11 to 25 percent. Another survey conducted by USA Today in February 2003 showed that by writing down their yearly resolutions, people increase the likelihood of achieving their goals by 1100%.
So what kind of goals to set during a coaching session?
The coaching session’s goal depends on both the coach’s and client’s preferences. Generally speaking, every coach has a specific “niche”, a chosen area of life he prefers to work upon. It can be relationships, family, business, career, health or whatever he has chosen to focus on. The chosen goal to work upon needs to be within that niche although coaches may find themselves following their clients lead toward other different areas outside their wheelhouse. And that’s why coaches are commonly known as “Life Coaches” whatever their respective niches are. They care more about the person than the story.
How to set a goal during a coaching session?
This can be achieved by asking questions like “What goals would you like to achieve today?”, “What would be an ideal outcome for this session”, or “What is your desired outcome?”
As simple as it may seem, this could be challenging for two reasons:
First, the client may come to the session feeling bad about something he is not even aware of. He is just willing to vent. Second, not all the goals are easily measureable.
So how to deal with that?
We keep asking powerful questions to raise our client’s self-awareness and get him or her to be more precise and clearer about their needs…Questions like:
“How would you know whether or not we achieved our goal at the end of the session?”
Scaling is another powerful technique coaches may make use of in such situations. If the client is just showing up to vent and get relief from some bad feelings such sadness, fear or guilt, the coach may ask him to score himself on that feeling on a scale of 0 to 10, where 0 is low and 10 is high, and then to set the score he’d like to achieve by the end of the session.
This powerful technique helps to measure the unmeasurable, determining the gap between what the client set out for and what he really achieved and to explore the reasons behind that.