Over the last few weeks, this series has been focusing on what works against us when we try to set and achieve goals.  I’ve been discussing some helpful information found in Ken Blanchard’s book, Know Can Do!.  Previously, I’ve discussed the negative effects of information overload and negative filtering.

This week, I’m taking a look at the concept of “lack of follow-up.”  Most people, after being exposed to new information or new material don’t have any kind of follow up plan.  Because of that, many of us revert back to our old routines.  Sound familiar? We need to put our newly learned knowledge or ideas or know-how into action.  We have to have a follow up plan. In goal setting, just as in learning and applying newly learned material, we need structure, support, and accountability.

Lack of Follow Up

Without immediate follow up after learning something new or deciding to implement a new behavior within our daily schedule, we will typically revert back to our old ways and habits.  The quicker we pull the trigger on using this new knowledge or implementing this new behavior, the greater the chance that we’ll be successful in our attempts to create sustainability.  Sometimes, we need help in getting the desired results in our lives.  Here’s where a coaching relationship can help provide you with structure, support, and accountability where goal setting and achievement is concerned.

Structure:  Working with a coach will help a client focus on a limited number of areas where changes/improvements are desired.  With the assistance of a coach, the client defines a specific goal(s) and then maps out an effective strategy to move from where he/she currently is to where he/she wants to be in relation to that specific goal.

Support: A coach will encourage a client to think differently about situations, opportunities and perceived obstacles. Additionally, a coach will guide a client in reframing an existing approach to reaching a goal in order to achieve the goal faster and easier.

Accountability:  If you are committed to the coaching process, a coach can help you stay focused on your goal and why it’s important to you.  The coaching relationship helps you maintain the motivation and commitment you need to achieve your goals. Studies show that when you tell someone else about your goal and have a regularly scheduled time to meet with an “accountability partner,” you have a greatly increased chance of completing the goal successfully.  In fact, The American Society of Training and Development conducted a research project into the probability of completing a goal based on the actions a person takes related to that goal.  Information from that research suggests that the probability of completing a goal jumps to 95% if we have a specific accountability appointment with another person related to the implementation of our action plan to reach our goal.

Getting the Results We Want

For many people it is far more successful to have a professional coach, rather than a friend or family member, help them through the process of goal setting and accountability.  A professional coach is trained to walk a client through a structured type of questioning to help that person understand why the goal has priority his/her life.  Sometimes, when that first piece of the pie is examined, a goal can be restructured or thrown out entirely.  Because a coach has only the success of the client in mind, there are no hidden agendas. As much as we love friends and family, we cannot say the same of them.

While our friends and family members may outwardly claim to want only the best for us, they may unintentionally hinder us from desired achievement due to their own negative filtering.  There are also other reasons this happens with people close to us.  In his book, Emotions Revealed, author Paul Ekman discusses the concept of emotional triggers being universal and individual.  Individual emotional triggers may be affected by the activity of each person’s own “auto-appraisers.”  He suggests that we have built in “appraising” mechanisms that are continually scanning the world around us in order to detect when something important to our survival or welfare is happening.  The auto appraisers to which he refers are our senses, simply put.  The conflict arises because everyone’s senses may react differently to the same situation. What one person’s auto-appraisers may tell him/her is scary, another’s may acknowledge differently.

Because a coach doesn’t give “advice” or try to sway a client one way or another in choices, the client makes the decisions about which directions to ultimately take or avoid.  The very nature of coaching acknowledges that the answers are already within the client, but that the coach is needed to ask the right questions.  A great coach will be able to ask unbiased questions that provoke true and open responses from a client.  A close family member or friend might have a much tougher time handling biases from their own emotions, which in turn, would affect the truthfulness and openness of the responses from the same person (client).

When I look back through my early life, my parents always attempted to provide structure and accountability.  The amount of support I received, however, was in direct correlation to whether the course of my action (whatever that was) met with their personal approval. That approval/disproval was most likely influenced by their personal auto-appraisers. But whichever of those was offered to me, be assured that it peppered my own experience with one of two things: either additional confidence to move forward, or doubt about my chance for success.

Later, as an adult, I can list more than one occasion where one parent’s fear regarding my suggested courses of actions could easily have kept me from taking necessary steps towards personal and professional achievement.  Although that parent’s love for me is unquestionable, fear drove the motivation for said parent. Although I understood where the fear originated, I refused to personally embrace it and ultimately allow it to stall my personal/professional growth. Had I allowed the influence of fear to stop me in that situation, I would not have met my husband.  What a shame that would have been!

The follow up of implementing newly learned material or desired changes in behavior needs to be driven through structure, support, and accountability.  If you are someone who routinely has trouble reaching your goals or someone who feels stuck, realize that what you’ve been doing isn’t working.  First, examine whether the proper structure, support, and accountability exists for you on any level. Secondly, if it does exist, you may need to make changes relating to where you find it.  In other words, who influences your follow through and follow up?

Next Week:  Thinking through our goals.