- It’s unethical to hold people to goals that they have set, because much of what happens after you set a goal is unpredictable.
- Watch out for when goals turn counter-productive. Like prescription drugs, they can have unwanted side-effects.
- It’s important to give yourself permission not to stick to goals when circumstances change and you need your wits about you to deal with uncertainty.
- Perhaps if goals are modest and short-term, they will not be so delusional.
- A deadline by which you have to produce a piece of work can be very productive. I write here as a trained journalist.
- If you work with others, instead of setting goals ask them what they would like to achieve. Then when you meet again, ask them what progress they have made.
Here are 6 thoughts about goals:
In many forms of coaching and therapy, the practitioner has a plan. The course of the conversation depends relatively little on what the client wants. That makes it predictable and thus easy for the coach. But is the comfort of the coach or the therapist (rather than the client) the goal of the session?
In SF coaching sessions, we start by asking what the client wants. That’s the plan, and that’s as far as the plan goes. The rest depends upon the answer you get and whatever is needed to get a more detailed description of what’s wanted, descriptions of resources and descriptions of progress.
And the value of that? These questions will produce change. And they will keep you as the coach in the moment and on your toes.
Another is to start with highlights from the past - proud achievements, better periods in their life or their work - to get a sense of what’s important to them, their talents and their experiences.
Then, when the time is right, you can have a more informed conversation about what’s wanted in the future.
A participant on a recent webinar cited a study he’d heard about, saying that visualising a goal can be counter-productive to one’s motivation. Apparently, there’s a danger of feeling that you’ve already accomplished your objective, so you put less effort into doing it ‘again’ for real.
One of the most important ideas in Solutions Focus is that the problem is not necessarily related to the solution. And this notion seems odd to many people. They wonder how can you get to a solution if you don't start with a problem.
A first step may be to imagine various issues where there is no problem.