From Goals to Tools - International Coaching Federation
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From Goals to Tools

Posted by Svetoslava Stoyanova, ACC | April 8, 2021 | Comments (0)

An accomplished goal is seen as true measure of success. Setting a clear and smart goal for the coaching process and for each session is one of the core coaching competences. It’s natural for people to visualize success as an upright, vertical effort in which we identify an opportunity, set a goal, find the most efficient route to achieve it and celebratthe triumph (or summarize the lessons we’ve learned)There is however one big disadvantage in that perspective: itakes the shape of steep climb. And while the view from the top may be worth itthe anxiety of the expected endurance often stops us (and our clients) from even considering “the journey. Redefining the vertical effort into a horizontal process is key for a flatter yet more effective approach toward accomplishment.   


There are two types of goals: those we put in place just for the sake of setting and achieving goals, and those “other” goals that genuinely move a person forward 

Evoking awareness is another core coaching competency that supports client’s insight and learning about themselves and their goals. The following questions may be of help in mapping out the awareness avenue when distilling the goal:   

  • What are the core values of your client?  
  • How will a goal they identify for themselves empower them to feel connected to their values? 
  • How will the goal impact others around them?  
  • How will the goal empower them to become the leader and human they want to be?  


Clients come to sessions talking about goals, but what they are often expressing are actual desires, or perhaps even problems they would like to get rid of. The coach can then help formulate the actual goals. Therefore, having a strong and clear agreement in a coaching session is often half of the work in achieving a satisfying outcome for both  client and coach.  

For example, a client’s opening “I want to be more confident can be an indicator of sensitive inner world or negative self-talk. How can a coach uncover the layers?   


Let’s use the game of darts as an example 

Invite your client to a metaphorical journey.  Dividing a wish or desire figuratively into the sections and point values of a dart board is helpful in painting a clear and simple picture of what is around and inside your goal. With the example of “I want to become more confident,” you can support the client in helping them to see the full image 

In the periphery 

Around the outside of the board and inside the one and two point sections are where the client’s desire to be more confident reside. 

On the way 

The three to five point sections are the spaces  where the client more clearly defines the situations or aspect of their life where the extra confidence would be welcomed.    

Getting in the zone 

Six to eight point sections  provide clarity on what this confidence will give them when developed, how will it feel, how will it impact their environment and people around them and how it is aligned with their core values and purpose.   

Now we talk goals  

Nine and 10 point sections correlate with  the stages in which the client knows how and when they will reach the desired state. This is the action plan, the execution and the first step forward.  

Beyond the goal 

Beyond the bounds of the 10-point section in the center of the board lives the goal’s sustainability after the coaching process is closed. The client lives their newly transformed life with a new mindsetGetting to this stage in a way is a powerful evidence of the effectiveness of the coaching process.  

Questions to reflect on at that time: 

  • How has the initial striving for confidence become the basis for new desires and achievements for this person?  
  • What has become possible for the client now that they can take a stand on a different level and make new quality choices?  

Once the client can see the horizontal opportunity instead of the steep climb and vertical effort toward a goal, they can set off on the “From Goals to Tools” journey as I call itIn my practice, I invite my clients to do a reverse engineering of a past goal they have accomplished. We converse on how yesterday’s goals have become today’s tools From here, they envision how a present goal will become a tool or means to achieve the next big thing tomorrow.  


I invite you to test the From Goals to Tools” approach with a client’s goal and observe how this moves their energy and determination to make it happen. It may well serve you too, as a simple way of thinking about accomplishments – more as a bridge to cross, rather than a ladder to climb.  

© Svetoslava Stoyanova 

Headshot of Coaching World contributor Svetoslava Stoyanova, ACC.

Svetoslava Stoyanova, ACC

Svetoslava Stoyanova, ACC is a personal growth cultivator, career coach and speaker. She accompanies business founders and corporate professionals in their unique journeys to fulfillment. A true believer in the power of entrepreneurial mindset, she knows that the most precious value nowadays is self-awareness, and that this is the prerequisite of growth. Connect on her website: Connect on her LinkedIn:

The views and opinions expressed in guest posts featured on this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the opinions and views of the International Coach Federation (ICF). The publication of a guest post on the ICF Blog does not equate to an ICF endorsement or guarantee of the products or services provided by the author.

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