Life & Business Coaches have a rare treat of making dreams come true!

Life and business coaches have the rare treat of making dreams come true agrees Linda Jordaan from The Life coaching Academy A key element of coaching is helping clients identify and achieve their goals. Clients often come to coaches confused, torn between a multitude of external influences, and sometimes unable to identify their own desires in the mélange. Coaches step in to bring clarity, helping clients identify their true passion and lay the foundation for achieving their goals. This article brings to light some techniques for helping clients set and keep goals.

Step 1: Goal Setting – Finding Passion

Identifying goals. This step can take several sessions and requires filtering the external from the internal – the wheat from the chaff. Earlier this year, Teresia LaRocque shared several tips to help clients identify their goals and align goals around their values.[1] In her post, LaRocque encourages asking questions, such as “What do you need to accomplish in order to have a life with no regrets” and “In an ideal world, how would you spend your time.” To help break these types of questions into more digestible parts, Tony Robbins divides goals into four types:

(a) Personal development goals;

(b) Career/business/economic goals;

(c) Toys/adventure goals; and

(d) Contribution goals.[2]

Working with this framework, it is the coach’s responsibility to identify the motivation for any responses to understand whether they come from a pure, internal desire or from those external influences. As the real, true self is revealed, it then becomes the responsibility of the coach to help turn those desires into actionable goals. A great framework to guide this exercise is to focus on the oft-cited S.M.A.R.T.framework – setting goals that are Specific; Measurable; Attainable; Relevant; and Time-bound.[3]

Step 2: Write it Down – Creating Accountability

Taking pen to paper is a critical step. Countless studies have shown the importance of writing down goals. For example, a recent Forbes article noted a study in 1979 where researchers asked Harvard MBA students whether they set clear, written goals for their future.[4] In the study, three percent had written goals, 13 percent had unwritten goals, and 84 percent had no set goals. The cohort was interviewed ten years later. The 13 percent of the class who had unwritten goals were earning twice as much as the 84 percent with no goals. The three percent of students who had written goals earned, on average, ten times as much as the other 97 percent of the class combined. Several companion studies have found similar results. More anecdotally, many already know of the famous Jim Carrey story where, as a struggling actor, he wrote a check to his future self for $10 million for ‘acting services rendered.’ Right before the check was set to expire, he found he was going to make $10 million filming Dumb and Dumber.[5] Lesson: WRITE IT DOWN – it makes a difference.

What to write? A list is nice, but I prefer writing the goals down with pen and paper as a ‘Dear Future Me’ letter. I like this for two reasons: (1) it forces the individual to imagine a future self that has achieved those goals and therefore creates a positive association with the process; (2) turning a list into a story/letter requires deep analytical thinking, further engraining the goals into the individual’s mind. Now Send It Off. Have the client mail the hand-written letter to his/her future self. The letter is out of their hands, they cannot destroy it, and they know they will receive it one day. I was not able to find a service that could do this, so I created one: This may not be right for everyone, but for many, they become very excited at the prospect of holding and reading that letter and having accomplished those goals. If the S.M.A.R.T. goals have varying completion times, multiple letters set for different times may be more appropriate than a single letter.

Step 3: Open the Letter – Rewarding and Reassessing at Milestones

With the goals set and the letter sent, the focus moves towards achievement and motivation. When the time comes, the client will be sent their first ‘Dear Future Me’ letter. This is a wonderful time to take stock and assess progress. If the client has achieved the goals, ensure there is a sufficient sense of pride. If goals were missed, remain positive and assess what occurred and next steps.

The task of helping clients identify and realize their true passion in life is a tremendous and rewarding undertaking. Goal setting, writing those goals down in a letter, and using milestones to review progress and motivate clients has been shown to be an extremely effective method to help clients achieve their true potential. Try it in your sessions and please, share the results.

The Life Coaching Academy offers Nationally and ICF ACTP Accredited Training programs.