In most cases, people seek out life coaches to gain clarity about decision-making, overcome personal obstacles, or advance to another level. If we’re honest, there are far too many reasons to count. But one thing will always remain true about why people need the help of life coaches — setting and achieving goals are the foundations for living a purposeful life.

As a life coach, you guide your clients in discovering and setting meaningful and realistic goals. This article offers tips for coaches to facilitate this process.

VIP members (free) get access to a free printable Goal Setting worksheet to use in their coaching practice.

Understand Your Client’s Objective 

Your clients’ motivations for seeking life coaching are the starting point for goal setting. It helps clients establish a strong foundation for progress and creates a successful coach-client relationship. By identifying the driving factors behind their decision to seek guidance, coaches can tailor their approach to better address clients’ unique needs and aspirations.

Here are some strategies for effectively utilizing a client’s motivation.

Have an open conversation and ask the right questions

Begin by having open and honest conversations with your clients to explore their motivations for seeking coaching. Ask probing questions to reveal deeper insights into their values, beliefs, and aspirations.

This understanding will enable you to identify the driving factors behind their desire for change.

Align your client’s goals with their values and motivations

For your client to make true change, their goals must align with their values and deep-rooted motivations. If not, your client will have a hard time making progress. 

When goals are deeply connected to what matters most to them, clients are more likely to stay committed and engaged in the process.

a person rolls a large boulder up a hill

The Power of Short-term Goals 

Learning to crawl before walking, or mastering walking before running isn’t just an ancient proverb. Every effort has levels, and you must help your clients understand this fact. When your client sets achievable goals, their journey towards change is more manageable, less intimidating, and more likely to end in success.

Short-term goals usually refer to a period less than one year. Twelve months is still a long stretch, so a more manageable time frame is 6-12 weeks. Short-term goals are typically easier than long-term goals because they require less time and effort. 

Another benefit of encouraging your clients to set shorter-term goals is that it boosts your client’s self-esteem and empowers them to continue making progress as they see results.

Helping Clients Define Success and Progress 

As a life coach, one of your primary responsibilities is to help your clients set and achieve their goals. But how do you effectively measure your clients’ progress? Here’s a simple yet powerful framework you can use to track and evaluate your clients’ development.


Progress focuses on the achievement of intermediate milestones and the completion of action steps. You and your clients can assess how effectively they work towards the goals by tracking progress.

Some examples of progress metrics include:

  • Number of action steps completed
  • Percentage of intermediate milestones achieved
  • Consistency in following the action plan

Allow your clients to use project management tools, apps, or a simple journal to measure progress in terms of percentage of milestones achieved and consistency in following the action plan. 

Regularly review and discuss progress with your clients, celebrate achievements, and address any obstacles hindering their growth.


Accountability involves clients taking responsibility for their actions and commitments. As a life coach, you can use this metric to evaluate your clients’ dedication and commitment to their goals and the coaching process.

Encourage your clients to maintain high accountability by establishing regular check-ins and updates. These check-ins allow clients to share their progress, ask for guidance, and openly discuss any challenges they face.

By fostering an environment of trust and open communication, you can ensure that clients remain accountable for their actions and committed to their goals.


Results include clients’ tangible and intangible outcomes as they work towards their goals. By evaluating results, you and your clients can determine the effectiveness of your coaching strategies and make necessary adjustments.

Examples of results metrics include:

  • Specific goal-related outcomes (e.g., weight loss, increased income, improved relationships)
  • Enhanced skills or competencies (e.g., better time management, improved communication, increased confidence)
  • Overall well-being and satisfaction (e.g., reduced stress, increased happiness, a greater sense of purpose)

To measure results, work with your clients to establish clear, measurable outcomes for their goals. Regularly review these outcomes to assess progress and determine if any adjustments to the coaching approach are needed.

Overcoming Obstacles and Challenges 

To assist clients in overcoming hurdles, life coaches can use a structured framework that promotes resilience and adaptability. The Support, Observe, Adapt, Reflect (SOAR) framework helps life coaches guide their clients through difficult moments and facilitate growth and progress. 

SOAR framework for coaching

Support (S)

Life coaches should aim to create a safe and trusting environment that encourages open communication, allowing clients to share their concerns and fears.

Strategies like active listening, showing empathy, offering encouragement, and providing resources to address challenges can effectively display your support. Clients will appreciate your willingness to remain invested in their progress. 

Observe (O)

Closely observe your clients’ progress and identify patterns and trends that may contribute to their obstacles. By understanding the underlying factors contributing to these challenges, coaches can better guide their clients in finding practical solutions.

Key observation strategies range from carefully monitoring clients’ progress or setbacks to identifying recurring themes. At this stage, you may want to leverage the insights from assessments. After gaining these key insights, you can use them to enhance your client’s strengths or offer reinforcements to compensate for their weaknesses. 

Adapt (A)

Once the obstacles and underlying factors have been identified, life coaches work with their clients to develop strategies that enable them to overcome these challenges. 

Adaptive strategies require collaborative problem-solving, developing new skills or techniques to address challenges, or revising the action plan. 

Reflect (R)

Lastly, encouraging clients to reflect on their experiences and learn from their challenges helps clients gain valuable insights into their personal growth and development. Your clients become equipped with the resilience and self-confidence needed to face future obstacles.

Discussing lessons learned from overcoming challenges and analyzing clients’ growth and progress will help them identify setbacks as optimal opportunities for growth. Life coaches can empower their clients to build resilience and develop the skills to navigate life’s challenges by offering support, observing patterns, adapting strategies, and encouraging reflection.

The Role of Visualization 

Visualization is a powerful mental technique that plays a significant role in goal-setting. It involves creating mental images of desired outcomes, experiences, or behaviors to help clients focus on their goals and develop a clear vision of what they want to achieve.

During coaching sessions, visualization helps clients clarify their goals by imagining the specifics of what they want to achieve. By creating a vivid mental image of the desired outcome, clients can quickly identify the details of their goals to make them more tangible and concrete. Visualization can also boost motivation by providing a mental preview of the rewards and benefits of achieving a goal. This mental rehearsal can generate positive emotions, such as excitement and anticipation, which can drive your clients to take action and remain committed to their goals.

Other benefits include:

  • The development of effective strategies for goal attainment.
  • Reinforcing positive behavior changes.
  • Reducing stress and anxiety associated with goal-setting.

Incorporating visualization into your practice can improve your client’s odds of achieving their goals and enhance their overall personal growth.

Life Coaches Are Goal Guides

Your clients reach out to you for help figuring out how to navigate life’s changes while still achieving their professional or personal goals. As a life coach, your strength is in asking the right questions, listening carefully, and providing helpful feedback so your clients feel empowered to tackle hurdles.

Ultimately, as a life coach, you help your clients identify and disregard limiting beliefs so they can reach their dreams and become the best version of themselves.

Free Goal Setting Worksheet

Download a handy worksheet you can use with your coaching clients to help them craft meaningful goals and plan a course of action for achieving them.

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Written by The Coach Factory Team

We're a team of coaching enthusiasts who hire and work with coaches. Members of our team run businesses in the coaching industry or provide services that support coaches, and several of us are coaches ourselves.

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