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How to Set Goals like a Professional Life Coach


Spring is here - a time to refresh and restart - and for many, it's time to ponder new objectives or even dust off new year resolutions. From lists to charts, from talking to journaling, creating systems, you might have tried a few things to make sure you achieve your dreams. But did you try setting goals like a professional life coach? We'll guide you through it.

If you’ve attended the Introduction to Life Coaching webinar, if you’re training with The Coaching Academy or even if you’ve been following us for a while – you have probably heard of the GROW model. 

What makes the GROW model so famous? After all, there are other coaching models in use. The beauty of the Coaching model of Excellence, the GROW model, lies in its simplicity, and the flexibility to use it in any situation – be it private or workplace coaching. 

There are many skills that coaches learn through their training and the first client all students coach is actually themselves. 

So how can you set goals like a professional life coach? Let us guide you through it. 

GROW is an acronym and this is what the initials represent:

  • G represents GOALS – What do you want to happen? 
  • R represents REALITY – What is happening now? 
  • O represents OPTIONS – What could you do? 
  • W represents your WILL – What will you commit to doing? 

When planning, your first instinct might be to write down some SMART goals and break them down into a few steps that you need to accomplish. 

But let’s take it a bit further and let’s dive deep into that goal.

Think about one particular issue or challenge you are facing at the moment. What outcome are you seeking? If you can make a note of this for yourself, now is the time to put it on paper. 

G is for Goal 

First, we break down the goal into manageable steps. The key to a successful coaching session is a clear goal and a deeper understanding of the motivation behind it. In ‘G’, clients are able to pin the ‘what’ so the session can move forward with clarity.

Through these goals and with the right questions coaches can empower their clients to take control of their future.   

Questions for you to reflect on:

  • What’s the most important thing to focus on first?
  • What is important to you about this goal?
  • How will you know that you have achieved this goal?
  • When do you want to be in this position?
  • What’s going to be the best thing that’s going to happen when you achieve this goal?

R is for Reality

Having determined the goal, Reality is all about exploring what is the current situation. This step of the GROW model helps coaching clients raise their awareness as coaches work to find the root of the problem.

With the right questions, this stage can also highlight the support systems and resources currently available to coaching clients.

Questions for you to reflect on:

  • Where are you now with your goal?
  • What have you done so far towards achieving your goal?
  • What has stopped you from doing more?
  • Think about a time when you have done something similar. What did you learn?
  • What resources do you have to help you with your goal?

O is for Options

This is one of the most fun parts of goal setting! The ‘Options’ stage is where clients are supported to think creatively and encouraged to dig deep and explore the ‘how’ of achieving their goals. Great options questions inspire clients to plan and problem-solve in a new way.

If you would be working with a coach right now, they would encourage you to touch on all possible and impossible options, trying not to limit yourself. You might get a different idea off the back of the initial ‘impossible’ one, or on further thinking, it might not even be as impossible as you initially thought.

Keep in mind, you’re not committing yourself to any of the options for now so just keep writing until you’re blank, and then try to write a few more.

Questions for you to reflect on:

  • What could you do to move you one step closer to the goal?
  • What else?
  • If you had all the time/energy/power in the world, what would you do?
  • What advice would your role model give you?
  • What’s missing?

W is for Will and Way Forward

The ‘Will’ or action section helps clarify the way forward. This part of the GROW model is concerned with helping the client the way forward, agreeing on a plan to put their chosen goal into action. It gives the client a plan and actions to move forward with.

The best questions get specific and help propel the clients into step by step actions to achieve their dreams.

Questions for you to reflect on:

  • What will you do? List or underline the actions you must go through to complete this goal you have chosen.
  • When are you going to take these actions?
  • How long do you think this list of actions will take you?
  • What obstacle or barrier might stop you from doing these actions?
  • How will you overcome this obstacle?

When identifying your goal, you stated when you would have achieved it. You also identified a time scale as to when you would begin your first step. Put the two together – when will you actually start in terms of date? Be as specific as you can – with a date, time and place, even context.

If you have worked through all these questions, you would have established your goal, explored the current reality, identified and explored various options available to you and chosen your options to move forward towards achieving the first step.

Well done and congratulations! You have just set your goal as a professional life coach.

Of course, a professional life coach would dedicate more time to work with you, ask you more relevant questions, and most importantly, they’d challenge you, asking you questions that hit the bullseye to raise self-awareness.

Looking to learn more about setting goals and life coaching?

If after trying it, you feel the need to share this exercise with friends, family and colleagues, you might have it in you to become a professional coach yourself. Come along to our free 2-hour Introduction to Life Coaching webinar and find out!

They are interactive, informative and designed to help you understand if training to be a life coach is for you. Take positive action, project forward and plan for a year to remember for all the right reasons. Choose from available dates here.