Coaching Around the Focus of Awareness: WHAT You Want

Coaching Around the Focus of Awareness: WHAT You Want

“Everyone should carefully observe which way his heart draws him, and then choose that way with all his strength.” ~ Hasidic Saying


As clients gain greater awareness of themselves and their world, expand their choices for effective action, and develop their self trust so that they move forward on their intention; they start to take more effective actions that lead them towards their goals p 12 In this September series of blog posts, we are focusing on Coaching around the Focus for Awareness: Who, What, Where, What Works.

Last week, we focused on Coaching Awareness of WHO you are: Strengths, Values, Purpose. This week, we will focus on Coaching Awareness of WHAT you want: Setting meaningful goals

Coaching Awareness of WHAT you want: Setting meaningful goals

Coaching is about facilitating a Client’s movement towards their desired results. But what kinds of results do Clients come to coaching for? What do they want?

Performance Goals

Performance goals are focused on doing and taking action. They describe a single external accomplishment.

Examples of performance goals:

  • Increase sales by 20% before end of next year
  • Finish the report on time
  • Create a personal development plan
  • Increase my income by 30%
  • Sell my business and retire to my cottage by a certain date

Performance goals may or may not require any change in capability on the part of the performer.

Learning Goals

Learning goals represent changes in capability. Each learning goal has the potential to contribute to the achievement of many future performance goals. Hence, learning goals are high leverage goals.

Examples of learning goals:

  • Overcome fear or rejection
  • Enhance my listening skills
  • Develop empathy
  • Become a more patient parent
  • Arrange my life to be more in alignment with my priorities

Because learning happens in the individual, it is not easy to observe the accomplishment of learning goals until the results start showing up in the world of performance. This means that progress with learning goals has to be measured differently than the progress with performance goals. Learning goals can only be set relative to what you already know about what you want to learn. Be as clear as possible about what you want to learn and why. Then be prepared to follow your interest and be open to the unexpected.

Enjoyment and Fulfillment Goals

Fulfillment goals take us beyond performance and learning, even beyond enjoyment, to expression of our essential selves in our work and life. While much of coaching is focused on doing and learning, fulfillment coaching has an element that is not about doing or learning but simply about being. While much of coaching is geared towards supporting clients in stepping out of their comfort zone, fulfillment coaching can be about simply appreciating ourselves more. Coaching on values falls into the domain of fulfillment- it is being coaching. And yet, when clients look at the domains of performance and learning though the lens of their values, their perspectives and choices may be impacted quite profoundly.

Examples of enjoyment and fulfillment goals:

  • Discover more enjoyable ways to accomplish what we want and need to accomplish
  • Discover our vision, values, purpose
  • Clarifying our personal essence
  • Experiencing a sense of inner harmony in our lives

A coaching process would typically include coaching around performance and learning, as well as around enjoyment and fulfillment – being coaching. The ratios would differ in different relationships and also change over time with a client.

An important note on coaching around goals: Working on desired results and meaningful goals will create successes that need to be celebrated. There is also the chance for failure. And the more ambitious and daring the desired results and goals, the more likely that there will be disappointment and failures on the path. Acknowledging the Client for their courage and commitment, as well as helping them deal with the disappointment and loss, are all part of the Coach’s work. Be open to the wisdom of changing goals, sometimes even abandoning them completely. The game is not about reaching the goal no matter what. It is about moving the client towards a more desirable state.

Helping Clients to Clarify their Desired Results and Set Meaningful Goals

The basic coaching question to elicit desired results and goals is quite simple: What do you want? Helping clients get really clear on the results they want can, however, be surprisingly challenging. Clients are often at a loss to answer this question in specific terms. Part of the initial task of the coaching can be to help them get clarity on this.

Four suggestions to support you in coaching clients on the WHAT:

  1. When working with clients to clarify their desired results and set meaningful goals for coaching, take into account all three of the ‘result areas’ outlined above: performance, learning, fulfillment.
  2. Pay special attention to results in the areas of enjoyment and fulfillment. They are not only inherently worthy goals, but they may also have a big impact on performance and learning.
  3. Keep in mind that the goal clients initially present for coaching may not be the goal they really need to focus on. Help them discover the higher leverage goal. For example, for a performance goal, ask: What is the learning goal that will move them forward towards the performance goal. Or: What needs to be different/ change for you to make that happen?
  4. Stay committed to the client and unattached to the client’s goals. Stay out of the trap of identifying yourself and your coaching with the accomplishment of these goals. Otherwise, your coaching will be driven by your need for the client to accomplish these goals so you can feel successful, instead of being in service of the client’s agenda.

Reflective Questions: What types of powerful questions can you as coach ask the client that would shift the focus from ‘doing’ to ‘being’ goals? How do you as coach encourage the client to see the deeper want beyond the stated want? How do you work with your client to determine successes in fulfillment goals?

Stay tuned for next week’s  focus on Coaching Awareness of WHERE you are: Current Reality relative to Goal; and Awareness of WHAT WORKS and what doesn’t work: Supports and Interference from our Coaching around the Focus for Awareness: Who, What, Where, What Works series.

Have Questions or Want to Learn More? Contact us today! 

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