How to Set Goals with The Goal-Setting Toolkit! (Step by Step Guide)

Set Goals: Businesswoman ready to start race

This article about our goal-setting toolkit was created to answer questions asking for more information on our goal-setting toolkit and how to use it more effectively. This article is also helpful if you're looking for a coaching process to follow, want to create a Coaching Program or workshop or perhaps simply want some new coaching tool ideas for your toolkit!

In this article we describe each of the 10 tools in this goal-setting toolkit, its purpose, how and when to use it, give additional tips AND identify which tools work in coaching sessions, as homework, in workshops or webinars and group coaching!

NOTE: This is a long article, jam-packed with information about the tools in the Goal-Setting Toolkit. AND it's also neatly structured with lots of headings so it's easy to scan too.

The 10 Tools in this Goal-Setting Toolkit cover 5 Core Areas

Section 1 | Your Client's Life Vision

Identify a Whole Life Vision that maps onto a 10 year vision and then maps onto 3 month vision.

Section 2 | Brainstorm & Choose Goals to Move Forwards with

Brainstorm their vision and goal ideas. Select meaningful goals that add real value to our lives.

Section 3 | Get Motivated

Explore WHY they want their goals, and why NOW to gain maximum commitment.

Section 4 | Make the Goals Clear & Effective

Help your clients ensure their goals are effective by setting SMART goals, identifying obstacles and asking all the right questions.

Section 5 | Setting Annual Goals

Prepare for Annual Goal-Setting by reviewing the past year's successes and challenges, and previewing anticipated challenges and ideas for the next year's goals.

The process of setting 3 specific Annual Goals - from starting out right through to choosing an action to take tomorrow!

Note: For business coaches and small business clients, see the goal-setting tools, and mission and vision sections in this article 30 Business Coaching Tools: What, How and When To Use Them!

Here are the 10 Tools in this Goal-Setting Toolkit

Below we outline how and when to use the tools and give tips and an overarching  suggested sequence for using this goal-setting toolkit. But remember, you don't have to use all the tools with each client!

Section 1 | Your Client's Life Vision

When people have a vision for their lives, it makes everything easier from goal-setting, prioritising actions and day-to-day activities, to making tough decisions. In addition, when clients' goals align with the vision they have for their life - and what's most important to them - they're more motivated.

Client looking to the future with a telescope for Life Vision Exercises

It's a rewarding process to take your clients' overarching vision and then chunk that vision down into smaller, more meaningful goals for your client to move forwards with.

Note: Sometimes a client will be resistant to visioning. Perhaps they want to take action right away, or they find drawing out a life vision deep and/or challenging. If so, don't push or rush people: take your time and do the vision work in the background. And a great way to do this is to give these worksheets and exercises as homework.

Especially Good for: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: Most people have a vision for their lives inside them – whether they're consciously aware of it or not. Help your clients explore the vision they have for themselves, giving them the context they need to get inspired and move forwards. The 3 Visioning exercises (with questions to consider and guide your clients) are:

  1. Rocking Chair Life Vision Exercise: Imagine you're 90 years old looking back over your life.
  2. Retirement Party Exercise: Imagine your retirement (or a big birthday) party.
  3. Newspaper Article Writing Exercise: Imagine a milestone you've achieved.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. Pick the life visioning exercise/s you think will best suit your client. Then read the description and consider the questions that set the scene for whichever visioning exercise you have chosen.
  2. Ask your client to write out what they imagine in as much detail as possible.
  3. Finally, coach them around the results. What was the experience like for them? How did it feel? What surprised them? What did they notice or learn about themselves?

When: This coaching tool is the first in a sequence of 3 life Visioning Tools - followed by the Get Perspective Exercise, then the 3 Month Vision Tool.

Use This Tool:

  • In Session  (Choose whether to give your client the form or read it out to them)
  • Homework
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Group Coaching

Tips: With teens/retirees adjust the timescales or skip straight to the "Get Perspective" and "3 Month Vision" Tools. For teens, use the "newspaper article" or "retirement party" exercise and make it a big birthday like 25 or 30. For retirees, adjust the timescales to be closer eg. 10-20 years from now. For clients who have come for executive and career coaching clients, the newspaper article and retirement party exercise work best.

Especially Good For: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: When setting goals it's important to know how our shorter term goals fit into the bigger perspective of our lives. This visioning exercise (as you might expect) is about helping your clients get perspective, understand their bigger picture and work backwards so they can prioritise what they need to start doing now to achieve their 10 year goals.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. Review the instructions at the top of the form.
  2. Ask your client to complete the form, specifically answering the questions in the order presented. If they feel like it, your client can write more on a separate sheet in answer to a particular question/s.
  3. Finally, coach them around the results. What was the experience like for them? How did it feel? What surprised them? What did they notice? What have they learned about their goals?

When: This coaching tool fits neatly after the Rocking Chair + 2 Other Life Visioning Exercises and sets the client up to complete the 3 Month Vision next.

Use This Tool:

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Group Coaching

Tips: Working backwards in time like this helps us see what needs to be done NOW to get where we want to be. Use this tool as a learning point that there is no time like the present when it comes to working towards bigger goals!

Especially Good For: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: This simple visioning tool helps your clients identify balanced and meaningful short-term goals. If this tool is used after the Rocking Chair and get Perspective Exercises, then this 3 month vision will help set goals that clearly map onto the bigger picture a client envisions for their life.

Your client is asked to consider how they want their lives to be in 3 months time across different key life-areas. Once your client has completed this coaching exercise, it'll be easy to drive out and set goals for the next 3 months using the notes they've made.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. Review the instructions at the top of the form.
  2. Ask your client to complete the form. Remind them that the more specific they can be  answering the questions, the more useful it will be. Again, if they feel like it, your client can write more on a separate sheet in answer to a particular question/s.
  3. Finally, coach them around the results. How was it? Does it feel like they have a balanced vision/potential set of goals? What's missing? What is different to what they expected? What have they learned about themselves?

When: This coaching tool is the last in a sequence of 3 life Visioning Tools - after the Rocking Chair Visioning Exercises and the Get Perspective Exercise.

Use This Tool:

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Group Coaching

Tips: Now use the results of this coaching exercise to help drive out and set goals for the next 3 months. In addition, the "Theme" they identified for the next 3 months can be very useful to return to during coaching to focus your clients.

Section 2 | Brainstorm & Choose Goals

Everyone knows how important it is to have goals, but sometimes our clients have no idea where to start or they may have goals, but their goals are dull, uninspiring or don't have real meaning for them.

So in this goal-setting toolkit, a key part of the coaching process is to help our clients choose goals that are exciting or have meaning for them.

Client brainstorming ideas at desk with laptop and notebook

Especially Good For: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: The perfect goal brainstorming tool! Use this goal brainstorming worksheet to help your clients discover more exciting and/or meaningful goals, and consider which goals to move forwards with. There are 3 distinct steps to this tool - each on a separate page.

  • Page 1 - Goal Brainstorming (from the "wacky" to the "wild")
  • Page 2 - Goal Scoring each potential goal according to the value it TRULY adds to their life (great for prioritising which goals to move forwards with).
  • Page 3 - Identify and explore up to 10 possible focus areas that could be turned into goals.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. Complete Page 1: Goal brainstorming. Get your client to brainstorm as many potential goals as possible from boring to wacky to wild and everything in between. Great homework!
  2. Complete Page 2: Your client scores each goal according to the value it TRULY adds to their life.
  3. Now coach them around their responses (once they have completed page 2). Help them review and explore their goal scores - which scored highest and least? What surprised them? Why do they think that is? What did they learn about themselves? What does it mean?
  4. Complete Page 3: Your client picks 10 goals and briefly explores why it's important to them.
  5. Now you have a list of 10 meaningful goals for your clients to potentially work with.
  6. Next steps include asking the clients to select goals from this list they WILL move forwards with. And if you've used the visioning tools already, you could ask them to cross-check and see which goals support their vision (whether it's their life, 10 year or 3 month vision!)

When: This coaching tool works well with the goal visioning series as another way to brainstorm meaningful goals to move forwards with. It can also be used standalone to simply brainstorm and narrow down potential goals, or identify goals with more excitement for the client.

Use This Tool:

  • In Session   (best completed in stages - one page at a time)
  • Homework  (best given in stages - one page at a time)
  • Workshops*
  • Webinars*
  • Group Coaching

* This is an ideal goal-setting tool to base a workshop or webinar around. Great for potential "Aha!" moments when attendees realise for themselves that "being a good dad" or "eating more healthily" wipes the floor with having a Porsche or buying the perfect pair of shoes. Then simply add your coaching offer at the end of the workshop - to help them achieve those meaningful goals they've just identified!

Section 3 | Get Motivated!

In Section 3 of this goal-setting toolkit we ask: What's the point of our goals? Because until we understand WHY we want our goals, it's difficult to go the extra mile. Once we understand WHY we want something (and really CONNECT with that reason) we have a lot more energy to put into achieving our goals.

Coach and Client high-fiving in office

Note: This tool is included in the Goal-Setting Toolkit for convenience and is available as one of our many Free Coaching Tools here >>

Especially Good For: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: In coaching we usually avoid asking "Why?" as it can damage rapport, seem judgemental or adversarial. BUT when it comes to goals, we MUST ask "Why?" to help our clients understand what's driving them and fully commit to their goals - so they'll do whatever is necessary to achieve them.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. Review the instructions at the top of the form.
  2. Ask your client to complete the form, picking their top 3 goals and answering the questions by following the arrows.
  3. Coach them around their results. What surprises were there? How do they feel about their goals now? What 'feelings' does each goal give them? Are there any common themes?

When: This goal-setting tool works well just before your client has planned out their actions. This tool can also be used when trying to decide between 3 goals!

Use This Tool:

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Group Coaching

Tip: Remind them to NOT think too much about their answers, but instead to write down whatever 'pops' into their mind for the best results.

Especially Good For: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: Until we understand WHY we want our goals, it's difficult for us to go the extra mile. This coaching tool works especially well on big or challenging goals - to increase energy, focus, motivation and commitment by connecting the client to the "hidden treasure" of not only WHY they want their goal, but why NOW?

This Coaching Exercise looks at one particular goal, why they want it, specifically why NOW, and how it will help them feel. Then to wrap-up, it asks your clients to reflect on what they will do differently about their goal with the knowledge they've gained from completing this tool.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. First, ask your client to think of a goal they'd like to work with.
  2. Review the instructions at the top of the worksheet and ask your client to complete the form and answering the questions by following the arrows.
  3. Coach them around their results. What did they learn? What surprises were there? How do they feel differently about their goal now?
  4. Finally, discuss what will they do differently going forwards - and what that means for them.

When: Use this tool on your client's key goals before action-planning. Also, use this exercise as a motivational tool when your client has a goal they SAY is important, but they're just not taking action.

Use This Tool:

  • In Session*
  • Homework
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Group Coaching

* This tool is great to use with potential clients – to demonstrate the power of coaching and help them make the decision to sign-up with you! You may also find this article helpful: Get Potential Clients to Choose YOU with this Hidden Treasure Concept!

Tip: Remind them to NOT think too much about their answers, but instead to write down whatever 'pops' into their mind for the best results.

Section 4 | Make Goals Clear & Effective

In Section 4 of this goal-setting toolkit we help our clients ensure their goals are as effective as possible by setting SMART goals, identifying obstacles and asking all the right questions!

Coach peers round laptop saying SMART Goals

Especially Good For: All clients! Use for important and long-term goals, career goals and big or challenging goals.

Description and Purpose of Tool: Help your clients understand what a SMART Goal is and create their own SMART Goal!

Steps and How to Use:

  1. First, ask your client to think of a goal they'd like to work with—and complete the first line on the worksheet.
    • TIP: it's helpful to review the example SMART Goal (in the green box) on page 2 to give your clients a feel for the process they're about to follow.
  2. Now turn back to page 1 and follow the steps to learn about SMART Goals one letter at a time!
  3. Once page 1 is complete, turn over to page 2 and review the text in the beige box with your client.
  4. Now ask your client to write out their finished SMART Goal and identify 3 actions to get started.
  5. Wrap-up by asking your client to review their finished SMART goal. What did they learn from this process?

When: Use once your client has chosen a goal to work with.

Use This Tool:

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops *
  • Webinars *
  • Group Coaching

* This is a great goal-setting tool to base a short workshop or webinar around! For extra impact, combine with the "Find Your Hidden Treasure!" coaching exercise.

Note: This tool is included in the Goal-Setting Toolkit for convenience and is available as one of our many Free Coaching Tools here >>

Especially Good For: All clients!

Description and Purpose of Tool: These goal-setting questions are great for clients who need some extra help goal-setting. Perhaps they're a bit stuck or maybe they keep setting goals and then give up or change their minds.

These coaching questions are great for you to ask your clients, or give as homework to help your clients "Set Extraordinary Goals".

Steps and How to Use:

  1. Either use these goal-setting questions with your client in a coaching session or workshop.
  2. Or give this goal-setting questions list to your clients as homework.
    1. Ask your client to set aside some quiet time to journal around these coaching questions.
    2. Let your clients know they can answer all the questions in order! Or give them one section of questions to complete.
    3. Be sure to coach your clients around their answers to the questions at your next coaching session. Ask questions like:
      • What did they learn?
      • What has changed?
      • What new goal ideas do they have?

When: Any time! You can use with a client just starting out on the goal-setting process, when a client is struggling to choose a goal, has chosen a goal to work with and wants to go deeper or when a client isn't sticking to their goals...

Use This Tool:

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops
  • Webinars
  • Group Coaching

Section 5 | Annual Goal-Setting

Goal-Setting for the year is something many people like the idea of, but few people actually do! So we've included 2 tools in this goal-setting toolkit to make setting annual goals more fun! Early in the year is a great time to refocus the mind and think about what would make a successful year ahead.

Client Setting Goals at desk for Why Set Goals article

Tool 9) Set Your Compass Celebrate 2022 & Prepare for 2023! (Seasonal)

Especially Good For: All clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: This fun 4 page worksheet helps your clients prepare for Annual Goal-Setting by reviewing the past year's successes and challenges, and previewing anticipated challenges and ideas for the next year's goals.

Steps and How to Use: 

NOTE: Exercise instructions for the client are found on page 4 of this tool.
IMPORTANT: This tool needs to be updated annually to reflect the appropriate years!

  1. Page 1: First, use the questions in the boxes to review your clients' successes and challenges of the previous year.
    • Try to get the full 5 answers (at least 3!) for each question, if necessary circle back later to questions your clients haven't fully answered.
  2. Page 2: Next, your clients consider what they'd like to achieve in the coming year. What do they want, what might their obstacles be? etc.
    • As before, aim for at least 3 answers for each question, and circle back to a question as needed.
  3. Wrap-up each page by asking your clients to sum up the year as if it was a newspaper headline.
    • Tip: Be sure to give people time to reflect and come up with something suitable!

When: This coaching tool works standalone and obviously works best towards the end or beginning of a new year. And it's the perfect tool to do immediately before specific goal-setting, whether you use the Annual Goal-Setting Workbook, or some other tool or process.

Use This Tool:

This worksheet can be used in a one-on-one session. But I believe it works better where the client has more reflection time eg. when given as homework or in a longer workshop/webinar.

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops *
  • Webinars *
  • Group Coaching

* This goal setting worksheet is great to use in an annual goal-setting workshop or webinar—or to be given as pre-work to be completed before coming to the workshop/webinar.

Especially Good For: All types of clients.

Description and Purpose of Tool: This fun 5 page annual goal setting worksheet is fun – and easy to complete. It helps your clients set 3 powerful and meaningful goals for the year ahead by answering a series of questions in bite-sized chunks box to get clear and focused on what they want from the year ahead. Includes a summary sheet to firm up commitment and it's great for workshops and webinars too.

Steps and How to Use:

  1. First, your clients brainstorm what they'd like to achieve in the next 1-5 years and then pick 5 goals to move forwards with.
  2. Next, your clients refine their goal ideas by considering how exciting the goal is and what it will do for them. Then they pick and set 3 goals for the upcoming year including the outcomes they're looking for, dates to achieve it by and how they'll know they've succeeded.
  3. Now help your clients prepare for success by delving deeper into how they might get in their own way, what advice they would give themselves, what support they need and who they need to be to make sure they achieve their goals! Also, review your clients' actions - one action for each goal PLUS one action for tomorrow!
  4. Finally, ask your clients to complete the "Powerful Summary Sheet" to cut out and stick up to remind them to stay on track. Includes space to put your logo, website and a little about you so you'll always be visible!

When: This coaching tool works standalone and can be used any time. It obviously works best towards the end or beginning of a new year. But as no specific dates are mentioned, this tool can be used to simply set "1 year" goals eg. starting in September to align with the school year.

Use This Tool:

Whilst this worksheet could be used in a one-on-one session, I believe this works better where the client has more reflection time eg. when given as homework or in a workshop/webinar. What works well in session is to review page 3 with the client, delving deeper into obstacles and taking action.

  • In Session
  • Homework
  • Workshops*
  • Webinars*
  • Group Coaching

* This goal setting tool can be used as the basis for an extremely practical and uplifting annual goal-setting workshop or seminar. For a shorter seminar use page 4 (the summary sheet) as follow-up 'homework' for people to take home—helping them stay in a coaching frame of mind.

Wrap-up

And there you have it—the goal-setting toolkit explained! We'd love to hear which goal coaching activities, tools and exercises you use most—or find most useful—in your coaching practice?

Grab Your Vision & Goal-Setting Toolkit!

Inspired to help your clients set their best goals ever? Get these 10 awesome Coaching Tools PLUS Detailed User Guide and help your clients envision, set exciting and meaningful goals, commit and take action!

What are your favourite goal-setting tools? Share in the comments below!

You may also find these articles helpful

And these tools helpful

  • *Free* Wheel of Life Template What goals can be found in the areas which score the lowest, or matter most?
  • Personal SWOT Analysis Worksheet Take a look at your clients' personal strengths and weaknesses, opportunities and threats. Where could they make huge strides forward? What goals can be identified in the opportunities section?
  • Boost Your Strengths Exercise Taking your clients 3 favourite strengths, how could your client use these to be EVEN more successful?
  • Weakness Zapper Use this tool's 5 weakness-zapping strategies to drive out pragmatic solutions and next steps to reduce the impact of your client's weaknesses. What goals can be identified in the action section of this exercise?
  • The Life Map is helpful to quickly get an overview of your clients' background and histories - and insight into what most challenges and excites your client.  But did you know you could also use this tool to project forward and identify potential future goals?
  • Coaching Goals Worksheet. As a coach you MUST ask the client not only to set goals, but to set goals for working with you. It's essential to do this at the start of the coaching relationship - and this tool is therefore included in the Coaching Welcome Packet. When both of you are clear on what the client wants to achieve from coaching, you have a clear focus for the sessions to keep returning to. That doesn't mean the client's coaching goals are fixed – they may well get added to or change over time, but it gives you both an essential baseline to work from.

Get 30+ Free Coaching Tools & Exercises!

If you love coaching activities and tools, be sure to check out our Free Coaching Tools & Resources Page. With over 30 tools, templates and forms to add to your coaching toolbox! You'll find:

  • Wheel of Life (Balance Wheel)
  • A Blank Wheel of Life (to customise for any situation)
  • Understand the Why of Your Goals!
  • 25 Questions to Identify Strengths
  • Client Action Recording Sheet & Template
  • Coaching Intake Session Checklist
  • And many more!

We know how hard it is to build a coaching business so we give away these tools free. They're also brandable and editable—enjoy!

Emma-Louise Elsey Headshot

Contributing Author:

Emma-Louise Elsey has been coaching since 2003 and is the Founder of The Coaching Tools Company and Fierce Kindness.com. She's passionate about coaching and personal development. Originally a project and relationship manager for Fortune 500 companies she combined her love of coaching, creativity and systems to create over 100 brandable coaching tools, forms and exercises including 30+ completely free coaching tools. She now serves coaches and the coaching world through her exclusive newsletter for coaches, Coaches Helping Coaches Facebook Group and many other great tools, resources and ideas for your coaching toolbox. The Coaching Tools Company is an official ICF Business Solutions Partner.

Learn more about Emma-Louise & see all their articles here >>

Image of Clients Ready to Set Goals and Run Race by Sergey Nivens via Shutterstock

2 Comments

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear TL, Thank-you! It's a great idea to use the tools on yourself first. Plus you get the benefit of all that goal-setting and motivation 😉 Warmly, Emma-Louise

      Reply

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