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Article: Does your Career Self-Coaching Suck?

Some people get so caught up in looking for the perfect goal setting technique that it really does suck!

While I was a student career coach with the International Coaching Academy, I came across an interesting goal setting model that lends itself well to self-coaching. It is called the GROW model and was popularized by the UK executive Coach, Sir John Whitmore, in his wonderful book, "Coaching For Performance". This article reviews how the GROW model can move you beyond technique and into action.

One of the restrictions around following a goal setting technique is that it can overshadow even the actual goal itself! And what is worse is that techniques such as SMART goals are designed, logically enough, to use the here and now as a reference point for assessing the validity of the goal -- but that tends to severely limit your imagination in thinking beyond your current reality.


G is for goal in the GROW model -- for the very reason described above. First choose the goal, unhampered as far as possible by the mechanics and limitations of any particular technique of achievement. One of the great joys of being human it is that we are endowed with an urge to create in our lives. Honor that facet of your existence by letting your imagination soar.


One question that often comes up about setting goals first, is that the approach is not realistic. Not grounded in everyday practicality. Yes, that's absolutely right! The big goals are supposed to be on the very edge of what you think is possible. What gives the goal creative energy is when you really start to become aware of the reality of your current situation as objectively and fairly as you can. Sometimes you have to just tell it like it is.


Typically what happens when a structured conversation about goals fuses with your current reality is that you will begin to see options. Both attractive and repulsive. I think this comes about because your mind is feeling (in a constructive sense) the mental equivalent of a tensile strain between current reality and desired goal. Which is great -- because you then can look for opportunities to increase the amount of time and energy spent on ways to move your goal forward.


Actually, there is likely to be a series of "W" questions here -- when, where, and why. In its purest form this equates to a call to action. Just exactly what are you going to do to move forward on your goal and by when do you plan on doing it? And with whom? And where? It is at this point that a goal setting technique such as SMART goals is most relevant. Not up at the visionary level of creating the goal but down in the engine room were the real work gets done to move your ship forward on its chosen course.

The GROW model is a coaching model for performance improvement. And a flexible one at that - you can use it very effectively to coach yourself. Though some coaches do use it in a linear G-R-O-W format, its application by an experienced goal setter is much more fluid and feedback driven.

The GROW Self-Coaching Model

So the answer to the question posed in the article title is "no, your technique probably doesn't suck". But take a look at whether the captain of your goal setting ship is on the bridge, or asleep in private quarters! Because down in the engine room of achievement the goal setting engineers are doing their best to move you somewhere out there in the big blue yonder.

Question is, do you know where you are headed?