Supporting Clients in Achieving Their Goals
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 of getting a new job, changing careers, starting a business, improving their financial situation, volunteering more, or continuing their education, but as the weeks and months progress many will abandon their goals.
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’ successes. Clients trust that we have the knowledge and experience to help them move forward toward manifesting their goals into reality.
Here are some ways to support our clients in 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 clients set are realistic. The goals that our clients identify should be things that they would feel good about achieving. There has to be buy-in from them to achieve success, so the goals must come from our clients. Keep in mind that these goals “belong” to our 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.
Work collaboratively with clients to develop a step-by-step action plan for achieving their goals, along with a time frame for completion. Steps might include:
- Conducting job interview coaching sessions to improve actual performance at an employment interview.
- Attending an informational interview to help determine whether or not a certain profession would be a good fit.
- 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 and how their career professional, along with other community resources, are supporting their efforts to achieve their goals.
Suggest to your clients that they display their goals in a visible and prominent place. For example: on the refrigerator, bulletin board, night stand, desk, or in a day planner. They can refer to them often throughout the day for motivation and inspiration.
Encourage clients to tell trusted friends, family members, and mentors about their situation. This will provide them with moral support. Chances are good that 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, clients sometimes need to take detours when working toward their goals. The option always exists for resuming where they left off before the detour, assuming that they are still interested and able to do so. As career professionals, we can draw on our tool kits to support them as they get back on the road to success
Create milestones along the way to celebrate steps toward success, no matter how small. Working toward big goals can seem overwhelming. To maintain energy and motivation, be sure to recognize and celebrate milestone achievements along the way.
What if the plan to achieve goals doesn’t succeed?
Even with the very best of intentions, there are many reasons why clients may not succeed in reaching their goals. Sometimes “life happens” and throws up insurmountable roadblocks for them.
When meeting with a client whose goal has not been attained, it is important to recognize what was achieved rather than what was not. Encourage the client to not give up on their goals and dreams. The next step is to proceed in a way that is directed by and meaningful for the client, showing respect for their decision, even if it means a referral to another career professional or agency.
However, it has been my experience that when clients follow the steps outlined above, they have a strong chance of success. Because they generate and develop their own goals, they have “buy-in.” With my assistance, they feel empowered and supported as they work toward making their goals a reality.
My role as a career development professional allows me the privilege of being a coach and facilitator in support of my clients. The opportunity of seeing clients succeed in reaching their career goals provides me with many wonderfully heartwarming and memorable moments in my own career.
With 2020 finally behind us, it’s very possible that our clients will need our help now more than ever. If you provide clients with advice related to wellness, life-skills, and career management, consider validating your expertise by registering for the new Certified Work-Life Strategist (CWS) credential.
Brent Warman is a proud member of Career Professionals of Canada. He has extensive experience providing career coaching and employment services in the not-for-profit sector, at a post-secondary institution, and in private practice, serving clients from diverse backgrounds and all walks of life. Brent is a Certified Career Strategist (CCS) and a Certified Résumé Strategist (CRS).