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UK Coaching Team
Organising and Planning

The Goal-Setting Process

Explanation of the impact that goal setting can have on coaching, developed in partnership with Trish Jackman and Matthew Bird

Goal setting is frequently used in coaching. Why? Because it assists in creating an achievable action plan, keeping participants motivated, and preventing distractions from getting in the way.

This series unpicks:

  • why goal setting is important
  • the underlying principles
  • how you can help participants to set effective goals.

Goal setting, the process through which participants and coaches identify their purpose and current priorities and decide on their course of action, has received a lot of attention from coaches and researchers.

That’s not a surprise: it’s been shown that having goals improves performance.

According to the goal-setting theory (Locke and Latham 2013), there are four ways that setting goals enhances performance:

  1. Having a goal can help a participant focus their attention on actions to achieve the task.
  2. Goals embolden participants to invest effort into their pursuit of them.
  3. Goals influence persistence and the amount of energy invested over time.
  4. Goals encourage the development of new strategies that can help with goal achievement.

Goal setting, however, doesn’t just involve coming up with a goal. (For more on this, read our guide, The Art of Goal Setting.

There are a number of additional factors to consider when setting goals, including;

  • goal difficulty (easy goals vs difficult goals)
  • goal specificity (specific goals vs non-specific goals)
  • goal proximity (short-term goals vs long-term goals)
  • goal source (self-set goals vs assigned goals)
  • goal type (process, performance, and outcome goals).

Remember: when looking to achieve any set goals, there are several factors that can have an impact on progress, including ability, commitment, feedback, task complexity, and available resources.

To set goals effectively, there are several stages in the process to follow:

  • the preparation stage
  • the goal-setting stage
  • the planning stage
  • the follow-up stage.

More on Goal Setting

This is the first resource in a series of four on goal setting. Check out the other three resources for more information on goal setting, and how you can help the people you coach set great goals for your sessions


Related Resources

  • Understanding Effective Goal Setting

  • The Art of Goal Setting

  • Understanding the Impact of Goals on Motivation


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UK Coaching Team