Conversations with a Life Coach: Goal Setting

From mentors, to professional women in our lives, to great thought-leaders, there are many role models to turn to for examples of where we want to go. How we get there is another question. For the next few weeks, we aim to unlock that with help of Coach Colene of Be More Consulting. Every Wednesday, we’ll be bringing you another topic to take your career to the next level. Today, we’re talking goal setting. But first, let’s take a minute to meet our expert:

Colene has been coaching for almost five years, with a background in HR. She ran a leadership development program for high potential individuals that were interested in management and leadership positions. With skills like, mediation, communication, and professional development, she was first approached by a friend to work with her one-on-one and has turned it into her business: Be More Consulting. When asked about what attracted her to coaching, she tells us, “I always said I wanted to be the next Oprah. I never knew exactly what I meant by that, but once I started coaching, I realized what I really loved about Oprah was she inspired people to live their best lives. I get to do that with every client, and that’s my goal with everything I do.”

– Tell us about the women who can benefit from coaching?

My clients are mostly successful women who are looking for something more. Meaning, they already have success, but feel like something’s missing. I’ve coached clients through career changes, starting and growing an idea into a business, writing a book, and so many other exciting things. I think what I really do is allow women the opportunity to give themselves permission to dream.

So many times, women are sold on putting themselves on the back-burner, and they forget their own desires.  For the women who I work in a professional setting, I work with them on stepping into their own leadership skills. When I ask women what their biggest professional challenge is, they often say something along the lines of, “I want to communicate without sounding like a bitch”. It’s funny because I don’t know any men who worry about that, but sad, because it’s truly something that they feel like is holding them back. I was tired of seeing leadership models that are built on masculine leadership traits, and the message became, act like a man, and you’ll be successful. I’m not a man, nor do I want to act like one, and you shouldn’t have to to find success in leadership. So it became part of my mission to help women lead authentically in all areas of their lives.

Goal Setting with Colene

– Tell us a bit about how you approach goal setting?

First, can we stop with New Year’s Resolutions? You don’t need to wait for a random date to decide it’s time to make any change in your life, you can change with a second thought. My approach starts with feelings, then moves into actions. So, let’s say one of your desired feelings was “joy”… you then can make decisions based on if it will bring you joy.

But, for something that’s a bit more concrete, I work in a 90-day window. I have no clue what I will be interested in a year from now or five years from now, so I don’t need to overwhelm myself with worrying about it. Instead, I ask myself what do I want to accomplish in the next 90 days. I reverse-engineer (work backwards) to see what steps I need to do to achieve the goal. I also give myself a lot of grace in working towards my goals. I’m not productive if I’m beating myself up because I didn’t do everything on my to-do list.

– How can goal setting help you in the workplace?

Goal setting regardless of the environment gives you clear priorities, but most importantly it gives you direction. In the workplace, it’s helpful to set goals so that you can have clear objectives about where you’re going. I’ve seen too many people, especially women stay stagnate in their careers because they didn’t set clear priorities and goals. In the workplace, goals can help you get ahead in your current position or know when it’s time to leave. I remember having a full-circle moment in one of my jobs, and it was a clear sign it was time to go.

– What are the differences between setting long-term and short-term goals?

I think both are important, but I tend to focus more on short-term goals. For me, long-term goals are more about aspirations, where short-term goals are far more tangible and manageable. I see women get way too overwhelmed with long-term goals that it stops them from making progress on what’s right in front of them. I always say, know a general direction of where you’re going (long-term goals), but be a little more flexible in how you get there (short-term goals).

– Talk to us about how women can approach aligning goals with higher-ups?

It depends on what your objectives are. If you want to just maintain the status quo (sometimes there’s no problem with that) then you should just do what’s on their performance plan. That’s the most generic form of goal setting. What I suggest is that women be clear on what their objectives are within an organization. Is this a learning position, or is this the dream position?  If you want to get a promotion, what projects can you take on to position yourself for that role? Talk to your higher-ups about what their goals are for the year are and ask how you can be a part of helping them achieve them. Make their goals your goals. Don’t guess, set up a conversation and ask. Make it very clear to them that you are here for them. People don’t like it when I say this, but your role is to make your higher-up’s life easier. The easier you make it for them to achieve their goals, the easier it is for them to see you as a valuable asset.

– Is it all or nothing? How do you define success when your goal is “completed” or the time is up?

Oh, yes! I love this question… Listen, there will be times that you won’t 100% nail your goal, you might just like 80% it! And, that’s TOTALLY okay! I don’t want you to beat yourself up because you weren’t perfect. Over the past few years, my goal has been progress over perfection. Focus on the progress you’re making, not the final outcome. Nothing burns my biscuits (sorry, I’m from the South), more than someone who won’t acknowledge their progress. The end result is not as important as who you become along the way. Give yourself a little grace, sister. You’re doing your best!

– Are there any other secrets to successful goal-setting we need to know?

The biggest secret is accountability. Not just because I’m a coach, but because the research backs it up. Gretchen Rubin’s new book, The Four Tendencies is full of information that supports the fact that external accountability is necessary for the majority of the population. Most people are great at meeting external obligations, and struggle to meet internal obligations. Meaning if you know someone else is depending on you, you’ll show up for them, but if it’s just you… you struggle to show up for yourself. Having an outside layer of accountability where you’re invested (emotionally, physically, or financially) gives you the buy-in needed to make it happen. I’m one of those people too, that’s why I have a coach as well. It’s not a matter of lack of determination, or willpower, it’s truly how some people are wired. No shame. No fault. It doesn’t mean you don’t love yourself. Just know what you’re working with and set yourself up for success.

Invaluable advice, Colene! Check back to the blog next week for our continued conversations with our life coach on topics like time management and networking. 

For more Colene follow her on Instagram, Facebook, and check out her website.