Thursday, September 22, 2016

Expert Series: Positive Psychology is Good for Coaching. Part 4 of 4

Positive Psychology is Good for Coaching

Part 4 of 4: The Goals Doctor is In!

As a coach, I call myself a “goals doctor.”  People seek out coaching for different reasons.

Some come when they need help making progress toward their goals because they are stuck, overwhelmed or unsure about what they want to do. A client may be someone who can’t find a new job, might be looking for the “wrong” job or taking the “wrong” approach, and will not be able to make progress without making changes. The answer: a goals doctor!

Other clients come to us when they are energized and motivated to move forward fast, and need help creating action plans to accelerate growth. The new director who wants to build a team to launch a new initiative by the end of the quarter has no time to waste on the wrong goals. This is where the goals doctoring begins!

“All goals are not created equal” is the mantra of my colleague and friend, Caroline Adams Miller  (her book, “Creating Your Best Life” is my goals-setting bible, and “The How of Happiness” by Sonja Lyubomirsky is my goals-setting Torah). The “right” goals are the ones that clients want to do! They energize and engage them and create “flow” when they are just right. Backed by the science of goal setting, we know that “good” goals have specific characteristics.

They are:

  • Intrinsic, not extrinsic. They are meaningful to you, and never start with “should.”
  • Challenging, not easy. They push you out of your comfort zone and into your stretch zone.
  • Flexible, not rigid. When you set out to run five miles and only run three, you reassess to goal and decide how to prepare/plan better for five, or adjust the goal.
  • Approach oriented, not avoidant. They move you toward a positive outcome, not away from a negative one. Improve diet to improve health vs. lose weight to avoid diabetes.
  • Non-conflictual. They work together and do not conflict. Prioritizing work, school, exercise and family time might mean cutting out nights with friends twice a week!

And we all know that goals need to be specific — very, very specific — and have many measurable and time-lined sub goals. They also use your strengths (take the VIA strength finder to learn yours at You don’t just wake up one morning and eat better. You have to research meal plans, create menus, make time to shop, cook and do dishes, and adjust your schedule accordingly. If one of your VIA strengths is love of learning, searching the web for the latest classes will be your thing. If your strength is relationships, you will ask your friends what they have tried. If your strength is leadership, you might organize a group of friends to work on this together.

So, when a client “fails” to complete a task, the question is, “what was wrong with their goal?” not, “what is wrong with the client”?   This “goals mindset” helps clients develop a “growth mindset” (read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck to learn more) where they learn from mistakes and make adjustments so their progress is not derailed.

Workout 4: Let’s get fancy!

For your final workout, take time to establish FANCI goals with clients — Flexible, Approach, Non-conflictual, Challenging, Intrinsic — (I swear I just made this up!) at the start of every coaching relationship and at the start of each session. This approach is the heart of my coaching practice and has made a huge difference in my work. Try it out.

Finally, my very last assignment is to learn more about Positive Psychology! Read a book, find a blog, take my Positive Psychology Coaching this fall and contact me for more resources and a complimentary session. Coaching is good for Positive Psychology and Positive Psychology is good for coaching. And that’s the truth.

About the Author:

Deb is a coach, consultant, and educator with over 20 years’ experience helping individuals, parents and businesses thrive. Deb applies Positive Psychology methods in her successful practice, Coaching Is Good. She helps her clients set challenging goals, take risks and capitalize on strategies that energize and breed success. To  more  go to Impact Coaching Academy’s Positive Psychology Coach Training Course

The Expert Series is brought to you by choice Magazine as part of our ongoing efforts to bring opportunities for learning and growth to the coaching community. Delivered in four parts every two weeks, each series covers useful topics for business development and coaching insights, serving the needs of leaders in all areas and walks of life. Archived copies of the previous series can be found here.