The first stage of the coaching process is to determine what outcome the client wants from coaching.

Outcome is possibly the most important part of the coaching conversation during which we identify the client’s goal for coaching, so we use this phase to gather information, build rapport, and create an action plan.

As coaches, we use open language, being curious to find out how the client thinks and feels. For effective goal setting approaches, the following contains information about how to create goals using solution-focused questions and techniques.


Set the goal

Knowing the goal is vitally important. The goal needs to be realistic and achievable to ensure that the person will be capable of succeeding.

A well-formed goal needs to be SMART and healthy goal.

Without a goal, it is easy to divert the client to whatever you think the agenda should be. For the client a well formed goal is a touch stone for staying focused during the subsequent sessions.

A SMART goal is one that is Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic and Timely.

A healthy goal is flexible and consistent with reality.

When I first starting working in the field of coaching and clients came to see me to ‘be happy’, I found myself unusually stressed and pressured.

Something didn’t seem quite right to me, until one day I realised that we were working towards a goal that neither they, nor I, had any control over.

‘Being happy’ is neither a SMART nor a healthy goal, since it is so broad and subjective that until you explore what ‘being happy’ means to that client, you will be chasing rainbows instead of working SMART.

In general terms happiness is a state of mind when one is in alignment with their true self.

It is a balanced state of mental, spiritual, emotional and physical wellbeing.

What this actually means to each induvial will be an entirely unique experience with multiple options to achieve the goal.

In order to understand what this actually means to your client, you need to ask them a series of questions.

These questions are designed to help form a mental picture for both you and your client as to what ‘being happy’ looks and feels like.

This information is an essential part of the goal for coaching and will contain all the information you need about how to coach the way forward.


Solution-focused approach

If ‘being happy’ is not a suitable goal for coaching, what is?

How can we manage the client’s expectations that by seeing you and investing in their own self-discovery, they can find happiness within themselves?

We know the unconscious mind needs a clear message about what we want.

The more detailed and specific the message is, the more easily the change can happen.

A solution-focused approach is an effective way to convert abstract goals such as I want to be happy’ into measurable concrete goals, like ‘when I am happy I will be walking my dog more’, ‘I will be engaging with my colleges more’, or ‘I will going to a gym class twice a week’

Identifying these specific, measurable changes allows the client to tune in and appreciate the small changes they are making that will contribute to their long-term happiness.

Using a solution-focused approach in coaching allows you to ascertain the steps needed to reach the goal, measure the progress and recognise when the goal has been achieved.

Quite often the client has come to you with the sole purpose of having you help them find the happiness that is evading them. It is your job as the coach to create their goal in a SMART and healthy way, helping them recognise that their pursuit of ‘being happy’ might be worth breaking down into smaller bite sized, achievable, measurable and intentional goals.

It is important, therefore, to separate the big picture intention from the bite-sized goals that can be worked towards and the results measured.

Helping the client see that by achieving smaller bite-sized goals which induced feelings of joy, gratitude, appreciation and meaning can lead to a more sustained level of happiness long-term, rather than booking a holiday, indulging in alcohol, shopping or seeking an instant gratification that leads to short-term, temporary happiness.

The SMART format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant and Time Specific) is one of the most widely-used goal-setting tools. Walking through it as you set goals helps maintain the discipline of developing clear, specific, times and realistic objectives.

Here are some ideas of the questions to ask your clients in order to establish SMART goals for them:


S – Specific – A clear statement on where you are going

What exactly do you want to accomplish?

What will it look it when you reach your goal? Be specific describe in detail what you will be doing differently than you are now?


M – Measurable – How will you track and measure your progress?

You said you wanted to ‘be more happy’ can you define what you mean by more?

On a scale of 0-10, how happy are you now? And how happy do you want to be? If you were to increase your happiness level by 1, what would you need to do or change in your life to achieve this?


A – Attainable or Achievable  – Is it within your capabilities and depends on you only?

Is this goal within your capabilities? Is it really possible?

Does this goal depend on anyone else? If so how can we reframe the goal so it depends on only you?


R – Relevant or Realistic – You can honestly see this goal as realistic and achievable?

Why is this important to you?

On a scale of 1-10, how motivated are you to achieve this goal?


T – Time Specific – It has a deadline

By when will you reach this goal?

When will you start?


Ready to use a tried and tested coaching model to get better results, quicker? Take the Soul Awakening Method training and be given a step by step coaching process to help your clients achieve life changing results, here.

For more information about SMART goals, check out my short video:




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