Coaching and the use of SMART Goals

by Aug 25, 2020Tools + Tutorials0 comments

Coaching and SMART Goals

Goals are part of every aspect of our lives including how we conduct our relationships, how we use our time, what we want to achieve in life, and how we progress in our profession.  Without setting goals or objectives, life becomes a series of disordered events you don’t control.SMART goal setting brings structure to our goals and objectives by creating statements towards a certain objective that includes clear milestones and timeline for completion.

Set SMART Goals - alis

S.M.A.R.T stands for:   

  • Specific
  • Measurable
  • Attainable
  • Relevant
  • Timely


What exactly does the coachee want to achieve? The more specific the description of the goal, the better the chance the coachee will succeed.  S.M.A.R.T. goal setting clarifies the difference between ‘I want to lose weight and I want to lose 1 pound a week for six months.’  At this stage it is important to identify the criteria of the goal the coachee wants to achieve. 

Questions you may ask the coachee when setting goals and objectives are:

  • What exactly do you want to achieve?
  • Where?
  • How?
  • When?
  • With whom?
  • What are the conditions and limitations?
  • Why exactly do you want to reach this goal? 
  • What are possible alternative ways of achieving the same goal?


 If your coachee’s goals are specific and measurable, they will be able to establish solid criteria for measuring progress toward the attainment of each. As noted above, ‘losing weight’ is not specific.  Losing 1 pound a week is very specific.   Questions to consider include:

  • How will you know when the objective is accomplished? 
  • How will you measure progress?


Your coachee should also consider whether they have the time and resources needed to be able to accomplish the goal.   Questions you can ask are:

  • Do you have sufficient financial capacity to accomplish your goal? 
  • Do you have personnel with sufficient abilities and skills to accomplish your goal (including evaluation)? 
  • Do you have sufficient time to accomplish your goal? 
  • What other types of resources do you need to attain your goals (i.e., technology, space, equipment, etc.)?


Ultimately, your coachee’s goal should be meaningful and motivating so that they can articulate why the goal it important to them.  Is the reason personal health, enhanced relationships, career growth, or something else?  Questions you can ask include:

  • Why is the goal it important to you? 
  • Is it worth the time and effort it will take to succeed?
  • Is this the right time? 
  • Does this align with other efforts/needs in your life?


Objectives should have starting points, milestones, and ending points.  Simply saying, ‘someday I hope to have a degree,’ is not very helpful.  Focusing in on when your coachee plans to start their research, submit their registration, and complete their degree (even if there is some flexibility in the schedule) is more likely to achieve the desired results.   Question to ask may include the following:

  • When will you start to work on this goal?  
  • What are the major steps that will tell you if you are making progress?
  • By what date do you want to complete this goal?

One key point to keep in mind is that while the elements of a SMART goal have been discussed separately above, they are clearly all very interrelated.   In other words, the clarity, focus and progress on one area influences all of the others.  You might think of these as a Venn Diagram where all of the circles overlap to some degree.

Finally, as with many aspects of coaching, when people learn to set SMART goals in one area of life, they often see the value of doing so in other areas of life to achieve positive, conscious, personal change and realize their dreams.  If you want to enhance your success and the growth of your coachees, creating SMART goals is an important key that opens the door.

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