May 3, 2022 - “Forget” the Goal, Focus on the Person!

Life Coaching: “Forget” the Goal, Focus on the Person!

So, we have a specific goal we want to achieve, but we don’t know how to.

We know that we want to identify our own steps to move forward, so that they are adapted to our own circumstances, values, strengths, and not simply based on others’ perspectives and opinions.

We know enough about the differences between life coaching, mentoring, counselling, therapy, and consulting to decide that life coaching is the best way to move forward with our goal.

But is life coaching really about just helping us identify steps to reach our specific goal?

Let’s go back to what life coaching is:

  • The ICF’s definition: “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential”.
  • Life coaching considers that clients are already Creative, Resourceful and Whole – that, as clients, we already have solutions that are aligned with who we are… somewhere in us, even if we haven’t yet discovered them, even if it means researching, training, speaking to others…
  • The overall end goal of life coaching is to:
    • Gain a fresh perspective on our challenges and opportunities;
    • Remind us of who we are, deep down;
    • Close the gap between who we are now and who we really want to be;
    • Improve our satisfaction with life, reaching for our personal / professional goals;
    • Tap into our inner resources;
    • Support us in leading our life at its full potential.

Now, let’s briefly look at the most meaningful facets in our life:

Frequently mentioned facets include: family, social life, love, work, finances, health, physical environment (home/workplace), entertainment, personal development, spirituality, personal time – however, we each have our own meaningful facets, which can be very different to other people, and which can vary throughout our life.

Without going into details, we all know that these different facets are inter-related, that is:

  • “Working” on one facet will affect several, if not all, the other facets;
  • Having a “problem” with one facet is likely also caused by “problems” with other facets.

What happens if we only focus on the goal?

If we only focus on the goal we want to achieve:

  • We’ll concentrate on the few facets that are most directly affected by the goal;
  • We’ll identify different steps we can take to start moving toward that goal;
  • We’ll identify a few steps to concentrate on;
  • We’ll identify the skills we already have and the skills we need to learn;
  • We’ll identify the people we already know who could help us, one way or another, and the people we should find a way to network with.

But what about:

  • Understanding what’s behind us wanting to achieve that specific goal, our real motivation, our “Why”?
  • Checking with ourselves that our goal is aligned with our values?
  • Reflecting on what’s stopping us from moving forward with that goal on our own, such as limiting beliefs, unfounded assumptions or negative perspectives?
  • Reflecting on how that specific goal fits with, and will impact, the other important facets of our life?
  • Reflecting on how far outside our comfort zone we’re willing to go for that goal?

All of the above questions take us within ourselves, within who we really are as unique individuals. For many of us, this can be an uncomfortable exercise taking us to “look” into our emotions rather than “sticking” to facts. This can also be a time consuming exercise which we could consider as “time lost” in moving forward with our goal.

But by focusing on ourselves rather than just on the goal, life coaching can support us in discovering how to transform our overall attitude toward our goal to unlock ways to move forward that are aligned with ourselves, or maybe to adjust our goal to be better suited to who we want to be.

Yes, focusing on ourselves is a deeper and more time consuming process than simply focusing on the goal, but the results are more impactful: reflecting on our motivations, values, perceived limitations and impact on the other facets of our life allows us to make sure the goal we’re targeting is our own, and that the steps we decide to take to move forward are aligned with ourselves.

On the other hand, if we only focus on the goal, we’re at risk of deciding on steps that can be disconnected to who we are as a whole person, not just as one facet of our life… and that “disconnection” makes it more difficult for us to achieve our goal, and could even lead to negative thoughts if we can’t see ourselves progressing toward our goal because of that difficulty…

So let’s focus on the person instead!

This is what I like about life coaching: it’s about transforming our mindset so that we can move forward in a way that is uniquely adapted to who really are and who we really want to become…

“Transformation happens when people find internal solutions, not just change their circumstances. Internal changes in a person’s way of being, perspective, and mindset develop the person. The result is far-reaching change that goes beyond just the immediate problem to increasing the capacity of the person.”