Throw Out the Annual Goals, Wellness Coach

If you’re a Wellness Coach, it’s likely you saw the title of this post and immediately thought “HERESY!” Throw out the annual goals?  Are you kidding? Isn’t wellness coaching all about setting goals and then going after them? Throw out the goals?!? How can you suggest such a horrible thing? Without goals we have nothing. No direction. No roadmap. Nothing which we can pursue and conquer (or something like that).

Are goals working for you and your clients?  Excellent – then stay the course. However, before you do, take a look back and think through what actually created the successful outcome. Was it the goal itself or the establishment of a successful process? The goal allowed you to know that you have arrived at your destination, and goals often must be utilized for billing purposes in a clinical setting (ie, setting STG and LTG for short and long term goals). But just for a moment, think through the impact the goals truly had…

For the super-motivated client with all sorts of energy out of the gate, did they set HUGE down-the-road goals to help create motivation out of the gate? How did their outcome compare with those originally established goals? Did they change them? Adjust them? Pick a completely different path?

Or how about for the hesitant client who doesn’t want to disappoint you or others – were the goals set low so they were sure to reach them?

Are the goals for your client? or for you as the wellness coach?

Think about your own annual goals with your business or your fitness or some other area.  Last year you said you were going to increase your business by 200%. Great goal. What actually happened? Did the establishment of that goal impact your daily/weekly/monthly actions? Maybe – but in most cases they’re just a shot in the dark, a poster drawn up in the midst of limited knowledge about the future or where that next step along the way might take you.

What if – instead of establishing an annual goal, you went into the year with a blank page and a compass. The blank page is full of opportunity and the compass is a commitment to movement. Then you start your journey – holding true to your blank page and compass. Each morning, you wake up and add something to that blank page about the processes you’re going to put in place to become your own best self in whatever area you’re pursuing. Maybe you even extend this to a weekly view.

How do you know where you’re heading? That’s the key – the focus is on who – not where or what. Who are you becoming? And how does your situation today stack up to that (not perfect, but better version of) you? The where and what (and how) then serve to produce movement toward the who, instead of the other way around. However, the actions involved have a short enough time horizon that they take into account the realities – and opportunities – of your CURRENT life, rather than some made up life you thought up on a weekend retreat.

Too theoretical? Let’s make it practical with a specific example…

You have a client who would like to eliminate all of his debt. So the classic “big hairy audacious goal” would be to say “I will be debt-free except for my mortgage within the next 24 months.”  Great. Fantastic.  Congratulations.  But seriously? What does that timeframe have to do with real life?  What if:

  • He ends up with a big bonus he never expected and/or
  • His refrigerator and washing machine require costly repairs out of the blue and/or
  • He gets a promotion that includes a significant pay increase and/or
  • His car breaks down and burns up much of his emergency fund and/or
  • He has an investment that doubles in value over an 8 month period
  • His kids get sick and the insurance only covers a portion of the treatment

You get the idea.  Becoming debt-free is an outstanding goal. It clearly fits the description of “becoming our best selves” for almost anyone. Taking steps toward that vision is wise, and you, as the wellness coach, can help him move in that direction. However, rather than setting a 12 or 24 month (almost random) goal, why not put the focus on the processes to be pursued THAT day, week or possibly even month? Who will you help him to become? Then identify what gaps exist in that person he’s becoming (ie, a propensity to throw money away with too many meals out or toys he rarely uses more than once), which will then result in a debt-free life as fast as realistically possible – in light of the realities of what life throws at him.

How much more effective would that strategy be than setting long term goals in a vacuum??  At the very least, back up the STG/LTG to a daily/monthly time frame rather than the standard annual targets.

You’ll likely be impressed by the outcomes, and your clients will value your wellness coaching skills at an even higher level.



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