The Must-Ask Question For ALL Goals! With Questions To Explore Your Client's Goal Motivation

Client pondering goals question

Setting goals—there's a whole science behind it! But if there was one question to ask at every goal-setting discussion what would it be?

The Must-Ask Question For ALL Goals

Top of my list is this question:

"If you could have your goal now, would you take it?"

If your client doesn't answer yes pretty quickly and convincingly, then it's time to ask some questions and dig a little deeper...

Here's a 4 step process to uncover what might be getting in the way

If the client is still not 100% convinced they want their goal, try the series of questions below to explore their goal motivation.

Note: These questions are easier to ask than to explain.

  1. What concerns do you have? What's holding you back?
  2. What would you rather have instead of [concern/s mentioned in question 1]?
  3. If you could have the outcome you want AND [insert answer/s to question 2 here], would you take it?
  4. Then keep cycling around these questions until you get a definite "Yes"

The questions explained

These questions get you to the core of whether your client wants the goal (and it's just some obstacles/fears getting in the way) OR perhaps they don't want the goal at all...

Essentially these questions establish

  1. Their concerns i.e. what's getting in the way,
  2. What they'd like to happen instead of those concerns and then
  3. Asks if they could have their goal AND their concerns dealt with, would they NOW want their goal?

Because if you eliminate all their concerns, they should now want their goal. And if not, well, it's time to dig a little deeper into why they have this goal in the first place...

If you liked this article about Goal Motivation you may also like:

Love goal setting? Get your Complete Guide to SMART Goals (with Special .PDF Report!) here >>

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 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 for coaches, plus 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 Client pondering goal questions by stockfour via Shutterstock


  1. Sirli

    Hi Emma-Louise! Thank you for this article! I really love this question: “If you could have your goal now, would you take it?” However those questions that follow to prove deeper, can also reveal that the client wants his or her goal because of the wrong reasons and that is why there is not 100% convincing "yes".

  2. Colin

    Thanks for the post - this was helpful. I have never taken this approach however as you are obviously highlighting clients may not always be ready for the goal or even ant it ... if so then why? Well done. Could have used this for a conversation today.

    • Emma-Louise

      Hi Colin, thanks for taking the time to comment! And glad you like the article. It's something I've seen with a few clients - they THINK they want it, but when it comes down to it they're not really ready to commit/do what it takes. Especially as life is so busy these days. You have to REALLY want something to make time for it... Warmly, Emma-Louise

  3. KeAndra Macklin

    Emma-Louise, you are AMAZING! I heard you for the first time last weekend at the Berry Fowler Global Coaching Conference. You were super! I truly enjoyed your presentation and your personality. The funny thing (but meant to be) was that, I happen to be searching for tools on the internet and your site came up and I said...OMG, I know her! lol These tools and questions are so helpful and very descriptive. I am very excited to start using them. Thank you so much, Emma-Louise for making my day, and for being a light to so many that you don't even know. May your business and your family be blessed!

    I am starting out in my coaching career. I do not have a website at this moment, but I received my first client TODAY! So this was right on time!

    • Emma-Louise

      Dear KeAndra, what a lovely comment!!! Thank-you for your kind words. And CONGRATS on your first client 🙂 Best of luck, warmly, Emma-Louise

  4. Christian Montalvo

    Thank you very much for this tool. This is the best way to get your client to perform at higher levels.


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