COACHd – 5 March 2021 – working with goals

In last weeks COACHd, we explored the need for onboarding our clients effectively. This week, we will move on exploring the need for goal setting (or not!).

According to, 92% of people don’t achieve their goals? So if this is the case, why bother wasting time thinking about what we want to achieve? Rescuetime suggests that 40-50% of what we tend to do in the day is dictated by habit. They go on to suggest that setting and achieving your goals is a life long process, and suggests that you should spend time daily on your goal accountability. So, in a time when we are time poor, it is suggested that we spend more time doing yet another process.


Working with Goals

We were introduced to SMART goals in the 1980s by George Doran. Since then a number of variations have cropped up, including one that I like that includes an additional ER for Exciting and Risky but ultimately the selection of a goal (or more accurately an objective), is the key. Perhaps the 92% failure rate was due to goals that were not appropriate or relevant to the individual?

We are in a period of massive change where our vision may have changed. Who would have imagined that we are rapidly approaching the year anniversary of lockdown v1.0? With that comes a reimagining perhaps. Expectations and realignment to new ways of working will have had an impact on sales, and relationships. Clients that we once met for coffee is now contained in a ‘zoom’ window. How has this impacted your vision?

Some questions about working with goals

I ask some of these questions when working with a client, when working with goals. Some of these then inevitably lead to further discussion and flexibility or agility when thinking about goals.

  • If you worked with a personal goal, what are you hoping/wishing for?
  • Are your goals still all relevant to deliver against your vision?
  • How are you going to be motivated to achieve the goal?
  • What needs to happen to make this goal even more aligned to your life purpose?
  • How does this goal sit with other goals that you may be working toward?
  • How are you going to feel when you have achieved this goal?
  • What is going to happen for you when you have achieved this goal?
  • What can you do to align this goal with a personal ‘value’ that you hold? (Do they align?)
  • What are the steps that you need to achieve (think objectives here) to achieve this goal?
  • If you were going to stretch this goal, what would that stretch be like? (more reference in this HBR article – The Stretch Goal Paradox)
  • How are you going to know that you have achieved the right outcomes?
  • Who else do you need to be involving to help move this forward?
  • If you were going to set one goal today that could change your tomorrow when you achieved it, what would that be?
  • What else is going on around you that can enhance, distract or stop you from achieving the desired outcome (think systemic coaching here)?

What do you then do with the goal?

A Harvard Business Study found that the 3% of graduates from their MBA who had their goals written down, ended up earning ten times as much as the other 97% put together, just ten years after graduation (Source: Forbes). Additionally, there is some evidence that telling others about your goals and plans (friends, family, accountability buddies… ) can cement a psychological contract that increases the success of achieving that goal.

Additionally, there is some evidence that telling others about your goals and plans (friends, family, accountability buddies… ) can cement a psychological contract that increases the success of achieving that goal.

Step ONE – write the goal down that is being committed to
Step TWO – commit to the goal with another person
Step THREE – revisit and review the goal, challenging yourself as to its ongoing validity (and not from an excuse perspective). Realign, reset and recommit if needed​.

Your homework?

It is understood that greater goal achievement can be attained by aligning your values and goals. Ask yourself

  1. How do you spend your energy?
  2. What are you passionate about?
  3. What do you need to do more of?
  4. What should you cut back on?
  5. What is missing?

When you have asked yourself these five questions, write down what you would like to happen in the format of a goal. What is the first step that you need to take to achieve this?

If you have anything that you want to share, please let me know – fully attributed of course.

Please take care and keep socially distanced.

Stay safe!