Supporting Clients to Achieve Their Goals
By Brent Warman.
As each new year begins, our clients think about their goals and what they would like to achieve. They start out being optimistic and hopeful that they can achieve the success that they seek. Many of them have good intentions for getting a new job, changing careers, starting a business, improving their financial situation, volunteering more, or continuing their education, but they could give up their goals as the weeks and months progress.
Our clients look to us to support them in achieving their short-term and long-term career goals. As Career Professionals, we know from experience that planning, motivation, and follow-through contribute to our clients’ success. Clients trust that we have the knowledge and experience to help them to move forward toward manifesting their goals into reality.
Here are some ways that we can support our clients toward achieving their goals:
Assign a self-reflection homework exercise. Encourage clients to find a quiet place to contemplate their goals. Ask them to select their favourite place and dedicate some focused time to think about what they would like to achieve.
Ensure that the goals your clients make are realistic. The goals your clients make should be something that they would feel good about achieving. The goals have to be generated from the clients, and there has to be buy-in from them to achieve success. Keep in mind that these goals belong to the clients. It is not up to us, as Career Professionals, to determine whether or not clients have the ability to achieve their goals, nor to be judgmental about them.
Collaboratively work with your clients to develop a step-by-step action plan for achieving their goals along with a time frame for completion. Steps might include:
- Practicing at job interview coaching sessions to improve actual performance at an employment interview.
- Attending an information interview to learn about whether or not going into a certain profession would be a right fit or not.
- Joining a professional association to work toward a professional designation/certification to improve employment prospects.
- Going back to school to earn a certificate/diploma/degree to meet prerequisites for a particular position.
This process allows clients to see how their active participation works toward helping them achieve their goals. The plan allows clients to see on paper, in a tangible format, where you and other resources in the community support their efforts to achieve their goals.
Encourage your clients to display their goals in a visible and prominent place where they can refer to them often throughout the day as a constant reminder. For example: on the refrigerator, bulletin board, night stand, desk, or day planner.
Encourage clients to tell friends, family members, and other mentors in the community that they trust about their situation. This will provide them with moral support. Chances are the clients can use their natural support systems to keep them on track and accountable for achieving their goals.
Allow for flexibility in goal planning due to life circumstances. Sometimes clients need to take detours on the road to success when working toward their goals. Clients could have the option of resuming where they left off previously before the detour to get back on the right path if they still have an interest in pursuing their original goals.
Create milestones along the way for clients to celebrate the step-by-step successes in working toward the big goal, no matter how small the success. It can be overwhelming to wait until the end, and the milestone celebrations along the way keep clients motivated.
What if the plan to achieve their goals does not succeed?
There could be many reasons that the best of intentions did not succeed, like when “life happens” for the client.
When meeting with the client, it is important to recognize what he/she has achieved rather than what was not achieved. Encourage the client to not give up on his/her goals and dreams. The next step would be to proceed in the way that is meaningful for the client, respecting his/her decision even if it means a referral to another Career Professional or agency.
It has been my experience that when clients followed the steps outlined above that they had a better chance of success when working toward achieving their career goals. Because they generated and developed their own goals, these clients had “buy-in.” They felt empowered and supported as they worked towards making their goals a reality.
My role as a Career Professional merely allowed me to be the coach and facilitator to support clients. The opportunity to see clients succeed with achieving their career goals has provided me with great memorable moments in my own career.