An iPEC Student’s Perspective: Working with a Coach for Effective Goal Setting


An iPEC Students Perspective on Goal Setting with a CoachShreyas is an iPEC student attending our virtual coach training program. He has been sharing his experiences during different points throughout the program as he progresses through it. Read on for more insights gleaned during his time in training around working with a coach for impactful, effective goal setting practices.

Whether you’re a coach who helps your clients work toward achieving their goals, or you’re someone who’s working with a coach to reach a milestone you’ve set for yourself, you probably already know it takes more than just deciding you want something and snapping your fingers in order to achieve it. 

Think for a second: when you set out to accomplish something—whether it’s earning a promotion, receiving a raise, learning a hobby, making a physical move, or even switching careers—are you someone who springs right into action? Or are you more of a list-maker who  takes time to consider all of the steps involved (and maybe even feels overwhelmed by them all)?

No matter which style sounds more like you, it is prudent to take some time to get clear on what you really want, and why it matters to you. Sometimes when we take a good hard look at what we THINK we want, we find valuable information about what we really NEED.

Only you know the answers to these deeper questions, though working with a coach can be a great way to find clarity around what really matters to you and how you want to create those things for yourself!

 The answers to all questions lie within. Every one of us is greater and wiser than we appear to be.” Bruce D Schneider

Going from Dreaming to Doing

Once you’re clear on what you want to achieve and why, the next step is to develop a plan

While your coach is there to support you along the way, their job isn’t to tell you what to do or to develop the plan for you. Instead, you’ll work together to create a plan that sets you up for success. That plan can be for personal or professional development, as well as attaining or achieving a particular objective like running a marathon or building a new habit.

With a coach along for the journey, you have a defined desired outcome along with a roadmap to get you there. The coach will have tools to utilize to assist you in decision-making. Best of all, they can be your accountability partner. But ultimately, you’ll be the one who has to commit and do the work.

Goal Setting Theory

Based on research from Dr Edwin Locke and Dr Gary Latham, goal-setting theory draws on the concept that our conscious ideas guide our actions (Locke, 1968). And what better time than the present to let conscious action guide our lives and move us closer to the things we truly want?

Whether you’ve got no clue what you want or you have a mile-long bucket list, these five objectives should help get you started.

1. Set Realistic Goals

Try to keep things in perspective both when designing your goals and as you work toward them. Research indicates that the best goals are challenging, yet achievable (Locke & Latham, 2002).

“If you want to live a happy life, tie it to a goal, not to people or things.” —Albert Einstein

2. Have Healthy and Acceptable Goals  

Rather than setting negative, avoidance goals that have us working away from certain harmful, averse, or unpleasant outcomes, give yourself positive targets. Keep in mind, too, that the more intrinsic or inward-focused your goals are the more likely they are to bring you enjoyment or a deeper sense of fulfillment (Coats et al., 1996).

“You are never too old to set a new goal or to dream a new dream.” —C. S. Lewis

3. Prepare for Failure, and Don’t Let It Stop You! 

Resilience is the capacity to persevere in spite of setbacks, and the truth is, obstacles are inevitable in some form or another. So in addition to accepting this inevitability first up, building resilience is a useful skill to develop throughout your journey. How do you plan to overcome obstacles? Can you brainstorm some alternative pathways?

“What would you attempt to do if you knew you could not fail?” —Robert Schuller

4. Engage With Your Community

Don’t underestimate the power of leaning on your people! Engaging with family and friends can be invaluable. Not only do they help us generate ideas, but they are social resources that we can reach out to for support along the way.

“The important thing isn’t where you’ve been, or where you are, but where you want to go.” —Dean Bokhari

5. Break Your Final Goal Into Manageable Steps, and Celebrate Your Progress

When we break down our big objectives into smaller mini-milestones, it becomes easier to notice our progress towards a larger life goal. Whether that celebration takes place on a monthly, weekly, or even daily basis will depend on your unique aims and the pathway you choose to follow. Nonetheless, research shows that celebration is critical for momentum and motivation (Amabile & Kramer, 2011).

“It doesn’t matter where you came from. All that matters is where you are going.” —Brian Tracy

Ready to do some meaningful goal setting? Here are 6 books to get you started:

  1. Creating Your Best Life: The Ultimate Life List Guide by Caroline Adams Miller and Dr. Michael Frisch 
  2. Think Small: The Surprisingly Simple Ways to Reach Big Goals by Owain Service and Rory Gallagher 
  3. Goals!: How to Get Everything You Want – Faster Than You Ever Thought Possible by Brian Tracy 
  4. A Theory of Goal Setting & Task Performance by Edwin Locke, Gary Latham, Ken Smith, and Robert Wood 
  5. New Developments in Goal Setting and Task Performance by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham 
  6. Goal Setting: A Motivational Technique That Works! by Edwin Locke and Gary Latham 

Final Thoughts

It is important to understand that some goals require more effort than others, but patience and perseverance will help you succeed and achieve your dreams. Commitment to your intentions precedes motivation. And remember to stay curious.

Showcase your creativity and use your imagination to get out of your comfort zone and add an element of fun to your journey.

Wishing you success in all your future endeavors!

This article contains interpretations of the concepts taught by the Institute for Professional Excellence in Coaching (iPEC).

What difference would you see in your life if you got a jumpstart on your coach training, today

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