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Goal setting template

Updated Sept 14/22

What does success look like to you?

Life coaching usually starts with that question. It is then followed by the words, “In specific terms, what is it that you really want?” Or some other food-for-thought of similar sense. 

On rare occasions, though, another question is posed. The essence of the previous ones remains but is framed differently. It goes something like this:

What type of pain are you willing to experience and voluntarily seek?   

Sounds wise (and quite masochistic), right? I wished I was the one who asked it first, but unfortunately, one Mark Manson beat me to it and said something along those lines long before I did. 

Nevertheless, the message is clear. The challenge lies not in whether you want the goal or not. It is whether you are willing to subject yourself to the difficulties that come along with achieving your goal. 

Here’s a simple coaching goal setting template involving 10 simple but effective steps. Think of it as the balm to soothe the pain that you so willingly sought after.


Action speaks louder than words, right? Voicing your goal is never enough. Ultimately, what will matter is that you acted upon it and made what was a simple dream into your reality.


Do you need a goal setting template to help you set and achieve your goals? Here are 10 simple, yet effective steps to follow.


Awareness is always followed by action. Knowing what’s causing you to slack may be the first step in moving towards your goal, but it isn’t the only step. 

It would be wise to nip the source in the bud while it’s still just sprouting. 


10 steps to achieving your goals

Goal Setting Step 1: Always State Your Goals in the Positive 

Woman wearing workout clothes at the beach while pointing up the sky Use only positive language when describing your goals. For example, if you are trying to lose weight, don't talk about dieting, losing weight, or giving up unhealthy or fattening food.

Instead set your goal as your ideal weight and focus on that. Consider your goal to be healthy eating rather than focusing on what you want to lose or give up.

Moreover, be SMART about it. As in:

  • Specific: It helps to provide answers to the five W’s. (1) What do you want to accomplish? (2) Why is it important for you? (3) Who are the involved parties? (4) Which resources will you need? (5) Where do you intend to get the unavailable resources? 
  • Measurable: You need to be able to track your progress. Doing so can help you in staying focused and hitting milestones. Consider the thrill and excitement of getting nearer your goal as bonuses. These are great motivators for you to work consistently in accomplishing your goal. 
  • Attainable: It needs to be realistic. The whole process of planning can be high-inducing. But it would be best if you didn’t let yourself be blinded. Make sure your goal is still achievable, and the process towards it is doable. This statement is in no way an implication to downgrade or settle. Dream big. Shoot for the stars if you must. Just make sure that your boomerang is strong enough to propel you that far. I personally believe that there is much sorrow to be faced when people come up short or are disappointed in themselves. 
  • Relevant: How important is it to you? This question dictates how much you're willing to give to be successful in your goal. It drives you to captain your own life whichever direction you need to go. You wouldn’t want to abandon ship in the middle of it all now, would you? The relevance of your goal equates to the amount of effort you will give. 
  • Time-bound: Setting a deadline makes a goal more realistic, manageable, and downright achievable. Having a time constraint can guide you in seeing which tasks need prioritizing over others. Carefully curating a timeline of everything that you need to do can also keep you organized and on track. 

Life Coaching Goal Setting Worksheet Smart Goals Checklist

Incorporating this mnemonic when setting a goal will make the entirety of your process effective and manageable. Setting SMART goals will enable you to productively use your time, focus your efforts, and increase the probability of your success.

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Goal Setting Step 2: Visualize Your Positive Goal and Include even the Tiniest of Specific Details

Person with a box labeled as brain and idea being poured into it

Totally immerse yourself in the way your goal would feel. Use all of your senses to experience your goal as if you already have it.

Whether or not you believe in the law of attraction, focusing on your goal in this way is a powerful tool for helping you to focus on achieving it.

They do say that the mind is very powerful. Indeed, it is because your thoughts shape and even become your reality. The thoughts you entertain dictate everything that makes you a thinking, feeling, and behaving human being. 

With that said, you need to stop letting the thought of failure influence you and focus on your positive goal instead. Once you waver and think you’ve failed, it’ll be an endless cycle of feeling like a failure, acting like one, and eventually forming the false belief that you are a failure (which couldn’t be farther from the truth). 

To reiterate, your mind is powerful. Sometimes, that power is enough to convince you of things that are untrue. 

Goal Setting Step 3: Be Able to Initiate Action Yourself 

Two women studying outdoorsIt's your goal, no-one else’s, so if you want to achieve it then you need to take responsibility and take the first steps yourself.

If you don't yet have everything you need to achieve your goal—for example if more learning is required—then take action to get more training or enrol in a course.

Look at your resources.

  • What do you have already to get you started?
  • What do you need?
  • How can you get it?
  • Then act.

Action speaks louder than words, right? Voicing your goal is never enough. Ultimately, what will matter is that you acted upon it and made what was a simple dream into your reality. Self-will and discipline — these are your ammunition and shield in doing just that. 

Goal Setting Step 4: Be Aware of How Your Goal will Affect Others

Mom lying in bed with her two kidsWhen thinking about your goal, your planning should include some serious thought as to how the achievement of your goal will affect others.

We both know that going through life involves countless compromises and trade-offs. Many opportunities that come your way will help you advance towards and eventually achieve your goal. 

But…and yes, there’s always a ‘but.’ In this case, the ‘but’ is that those very same opportunities can also make you choose between two good things and trade one for the other. Deciding what to do or choose in such a situation comes down to your priorities. What are you willing to exchange or part ways with during the process of your goal?

If you embark on that new career will it mean you see less of your family? Would moving to that dream house mean that your children have to change schools? These things shouldn't stop you but they need to be considered.

Goal Setting Step 5: Take Small Steps 

Person walking up the stairs

A huge, life changing goal can be overwhelming and easy to give up on when it just seems impossible to achieve. To avoid this, you need to break your goal down into small, manageable steps and literally take one step at a time.

When imagining yourself in your goal as in step 2, look back at your path that you would have taken to achieve that goal and see each of the steps you would have taken.

  • If one step that you take doesn't go as planned then you can just rethink the next step, rather than see your whole plan as a failure.
  • You can also take great satisfaction in the achievement of each step and this will give you encouragement.

Here’s an additional friendly reminder from me to you. It would be best if you learned how to walk (in this case, by taking small steps) before even attempting to run. Besides, a leisurely walk is far better than rushing to your goal. A sense of urgency is good hence a deadline, but charging at it full speed can make you miss details and perform poorly on your micro goals. 

The tiny details make up the whole, do they not? And true enough, sacrificing the quality of those can sour your end goal. 

Slow and steady does it. This is the kind of pace you need to adapt in order to make the eventual success much more heartfelt…and sweeter. 

Goal Setting Step 6: Acknowledge What Holds You Back 

Man in a tug of warIf you have been aiming for this goal for some time and not yet achieved it then be honest with yourself about the reasons why.

  • Are you someone who procrastinates?
  • Do you get easily distracted?
  • Do you give up every time something doesn't go quite as expected?

Acknowledge these aspects of your personality and include strategies in your planning to overcome them.

It does not end in simply recognizing those, of course. You will then have to control the cause or eliminate it as a whole. Awareness is always followed by action. Knowing what’s causing you to slack may be the first step in moving towards your goal, but it isn’t the only step. 

It would be wise to nip the source in the bud while it’s still just sprouting. 

Goal Setting Step 7: Defend Against the Doubts of Others 

Man with headphones on while people gossip about him behind his backYour dreams are precious to you, this is your goal and your life plan. It is vulnerable, so protect it from doubts and criticisms of others.

People will often use their own experiences or beliefs to judge your goal, whether they mean to or not, so be very careful who you share your dreams with. If people respond negatively to your plans then this can be just the reason you need to give up, or might strengthen any fears you may have.

So protect your ideas and only share them when you need to or feel safe to do so, or when you feel confident enough that you will achieve your goal that it wouldn't matter what anyone said.

Don’t let others deter you from greatness. Let them have their opinions. Keep in mind that you have a goal to achieve that only you can accomplish. 

Goal Setting Step 8: Pause, but Don’t Stop 

"Pause, Rest, Never Lose Heart" in scrabble blocksEvery now and then, particularly in times of doubt or if you feel like you haven't gotten anywhere, or that it's just never going to happen, take a breath and pause.

Don't stop completely, you don't want to lose momentum, but just pause briefly. Take some time to pursue other interests or even just go for a walk. When you feel ready, take a look back at what you've achieved so far.

  • If you have taken the advice above and set your goals in tiny steps, then you have probably achieved a lot.
  • If it helps you then write a list and tick things off as you go along.
  • But sometimes you will need to take a break and look at how far you've come, and say 'well done' to yourself, before carrying on.

In addition, pausing once in a while can be highly beneficial in mitigating burnout. While often associated with the workplace, burnout, as it happens, can also be caused by a goal that you don’t resonate with, according to Psychology Today

Quick question, did you notice how many aspects are rooted in the relevance of your goal? 

You are looking at both mental and physical health problems if you forgo taking breaks. The goal is not to collapse before you could even taste that much-awaited success, is it? 

And you know what would be much worse? You are forced into stopping. Don’t let everything you have worked on so far to just be in vain. 

Take a break! Perhaps do it now. 

Goal Setting Step 9: Be Clear About Why You Want This

Woman holding a light bulb on one hand and pointing at her head with the otherSometimes it isn't what you think it is. You might think you want a particular thing, but when you really look at it, it's actually the lifestyle that goes with it.

You may be thinking that you want a particular highly paid job, but do you really just want the huge salary that goes with it and the things you would be able to enjoy as a result? 

Think, is it the job itself that inspires you? If so then great. But if the reality of the long hours, extra responsibility, stress, and lack of leisure time actually fill you with dread, then your goal is not the job, but the lifestyle. So find another way to achieve this lifestyle that fits more with your personality.

Remember that the relevance of your goal is a major factor in motivating you to act. If the drive in you dwindles (heaven forbid, dies out) midway, this is no better than if you didn’t take on the goal from the start. 

What’s that Ariana Grande song? Almost is never enough? Hopefully, you get the picture.

Furthermore, you can’t half-ass something that you truly want. The passion for seeing it through to the end will always be evident. 

So if you find yourself unaffected by the thought of giving little to no effort, rethink why you embarked on the journey towards that goal. Chances are, you didn’t want it with all your heart in the first place. You could’ve saved yourself all the trouble and instead, refocused your energy on something more worthwhile. 

Goal Setting Step 10: Turn Problems into Ways to Find a Solution 

Woman on a bridgeIf something hasn't worked, identify any elements of it that did work and build on them. Or treat the experience as one of several possibilities that may have worked, but this one didn't so you can cross it off the list and try the next one. Don't see failures, see learning experiences.

After all, life, in its entirety, is a series of trials and errors. How do you think our world became this advanced and progressive? People have always had the knack for going again and even further after encountering an obstacle.

A wall, an ocean, a cliff — whatever is blocking the path towards a goal? We’ll construct a bridge. We’ll dig a whole. Heck, we even managed to build an aircraft to fly. You must not be dissuaded by any problem or when things don’t initially go the way you planned. Our ancestors never did. So, what’s stopping you?

Achieve success with this life coaching goal setting worksheet. Download the PDF here.

goal setting template life coaching

And if you’re new to life coaching, you can check out this Beginner’s guide to life coaching to help you get started!

Photo Credit : Jasper Johns

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COMMENTS

  • MAN MOHAN GULATI
    September 10, 2014

    Ms Ruth Randall

    You have done a good job. I would like to add here that one must keep self pat on regular basis to keep the drive for achieving the goals.

    Have a good day.

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