Goal setting is about identifying what you want to achieve and how. A good goal motivates and energizes, it’s inspiring, challenges you and pushes you to grow. Goal setting the first step in every coaching process, in personal development and also a crucial part in business.
Setting the right goals may seem like an easy thing to do but if your clients fail to get it right the whole success of their coaching with you is jeopardized. This article shows you how to set, track and achieve goals for yourself and your coaching clients (if you’re a coach).
Why is it important to set realistic goals
Setting realistic goals will help you to manage your expectations. Having too high expectations can easily become overwhelming and give you the feeling that your goal is out of reach. This is one of the main reasons why people stop pursuing their goals. Setting realistic goals is the best way to make sure this won’t happen to you.
In order to be realistic, a goal also depends on inner and outer circumstances. If a goal is realistic for you depends on your qualities. Is it realistic to become a famous speaker when you’ve been shy and introvert your whole life and when you feel uncomfortable to talk to strangers?
External circumstances include the people around you and facts you can’t change. Is it realistic to become a famous basketball player when you’re only 5 feet tall and don’t like team sports?
Setting realistic goals is crucial to keep up your motivation. It lets you know you can accomplish it even if it might be a big challenge and take a lot of time. Choosing an unrealistic goal is the best way to give up once the first hurdles and obstacles arise.
Benefits of goal setting
Edwin Locke researched the relationship between goals and task performance in 1968 and found out that goal setting has several benefits:
- Focuses attention
- Mobilises effort in proportion to the demands of the task
- Enhances persistence
- Encourages you to develop strategies for achieving your goals
Other benefits of goal setting are:
- Avoiding or overcoming procrastination and keeping you accountable
- Increases productivity and improves time-management
- Eases up decision making
- Provides measurement to progress
- Achieve better and faster results
How to set and achieve goals – SMART goal setting as an exercise
I want to become a successful businessman or I want to live more healthy is not a goal that is measurable or tangible. In order to achieve your goals they need to be clear, structured and trackable and therefore you can use the well-known SMART goal setting method.
This goal toolkit with the best exercises, worksheets and goal planning templates is a great asset for your coaching. A SMART goal check is included. Get it here —>
What is SMART goal setting?
SMART helps you to clarify your goals and to bring them closer to reality. Instead of vague statements like the ones above SMART goal setting creates verifiable milestones, uncovers the motivation behind your goal and gives an estimation of the goal’s attainability.
SMART is an acronym and stands for:
Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-Bound
SMART goal setting: Specific
Target or define a specific area for improvement. A specific goal has a much greater chance of being accomplished than a general goal. The more specific your description the better. Use these „W“ questions to get specific: What do you want to achieve?
Why do I want to accomplish this goal?
Who is involved in the process?
Which requirements and constraints are attached?
SMART goal setting: Measurable
Quantify or at least suggest an indicator of progress. How much? How will you know you’ve accomplished your goal?
Identify exactly how you feel when you reach your goal and try to describe the single steps you’ll take as clearly as possible. Do more sports is not measurable. Going for a run twice per week and for a swim once every week is. Defining exactly what you want to do makes it much easier to reach your goal.
SMART goal setting: Attainable
Your goal should be action orientated and achievable. Weigh the effort, time and obstacles you have to take to accomplish your goal against the benefits, profits and other priorities in your life. How realistic is the goal considering all my resources, abilities and circumstances?
SMART goal setting: Relevant
Is your goal relevant to you and your personality? Starting your own business could mean that you have less time for your family, friends, and hobbies. Do you have the skills and resources it takes to reach your goal? Is now the right time to work on your goal or do you have other priorities?
SMART goal setting: Time-Bound
Specify when the goal can or should be achieved
Make an exact plan by when you want to achieve your goal. Create a deadline for each milestone. Make it realistic and stick with it as far as possible. Divide your goal into action steps and milestones for weeks and months.
SMART goal setting is a well-known and established tool to plan and achieve your goals. But like all things in life, there can always be circumstances (goals) which might not completely fit into this framework. But these questions can be a great help to transform vague wishes into specific goals.
A SMART goal setting worksheet example (coaching techniques):
A goal setting exercise and technique you can use yourself but also in your coaching could include questions like
What do I want to achieve?
Why do I want to achieve it?
How will I know it’s accomplished?
How realistic is the goal considering all my resources, abilities and circumstances?
How motivating is this goal for me?
Is it the right time to work on my goal?
By when do I want/need to accomplish my goal?
What can I do today to start?
Write down your goals – Why is it so important and powerful?
It is important to write down your goals because it takes them out of your head and puts them into existence. Your wishes and imagination become more tangible and it unlocks the power of your goals. Writing down your goals is like making a contract with yourself. Your thoughts and ideas become a declaration of intent.
Write down your goals as detailed as possible and use a life goal planner and goal setting worksheets to answer specific questions about your goal, your motivation, and intention. It also enables you to visualize your goal and to get a feeling of how it would be to accomplish your goal. Your notes allow you to step back at any moment during your process to reread and recap your goals and milestones. You’ll focus on what’s important and get a clear picture which steps you’ve already taken towards your desired outcomes.
As a Coach you can encourage your clients to write down their goals in the shared stream within CleverMemo Coaching Software. That allows you both to reread and recap goals and milestones at any time during the coaching process (Find out more)
Achieving goals: The real challenge starts here
Now you know how to set goals, how you will achieve them and how to measure your achievement but the real challenge starts now. You need to take action and that is something only you can do by yourself. Setting the right goal, breaking it down into realistic milestones, uncovering your motivation, identifying resources and potential support in your environment are certainly boosting your chances of achieving that goal.
We created a goal toolkit consisting of various goal-setting exercises, templates, and worksheets. All of them are proven coaching techniques and tools. Use them for yourself to become clear about your goals or use them as exercises with your coaching clients.