”If you want to be happy, set a goal that commands your thoughts, liberates your energy and inspires your hopes.” —Andrew Carnegie
If you haven’t read Part I of this, check it out HERE.
We’ve gathered a lot of amazing information from decades of experience getting results for clients. From helping clients with fitness goals to consulting with corporations ranging from startup companies to Fortune 500 companies, we’ve distilled some best practices for you.
Now let’s get to the meat of conducting life-changing Goal Setting sessions.
Conducting Life-changing Goal Sessions
In order to change people’s lives, you need to know what needs to change and how you can help them, and then hold them accountable to doing what they said they were going to do. The harder the goal, the more the growth and the bigger the reward.
But there are challenges, and sometimes people don’t really understand their purpose, or how to set goals at all.
And this is where you come in because:
“A goal properly set is halfway reached.” —Zig Ziglar
Setting goals will help your client’s subconscious mind fixate and focus on those goals -- that in itself will make a massive difference.
The below example assumes it is someone’s FIRST goal session. The first goal session is longer as you are trying to build the relationship and tease out what their true goal might be.
STEP 1: Warm-up & Small-talk
We say ‘small talk’, but it’s all about rapport. You are working to uncover information to help build the relationship and make distinctions about the potential underlying problem. Think of the acronym F.O.R.M. - it stands for Family, Occupation, Recreation, and Message. The “Message” portion will come later when we form our messaging about how you and the services you offer will help them achieve their goals. But ask questions about their “Family.” Are you married? Have kids? Grandkids? Then transition to “Occupation.” What do you do for work? Is it stressful? Do you like their job? What are your career ambitions? Then ask about “Recreation.” What do you do for fun? What’s something you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t? What do you like to do for vacations?
Take quick notes to jog your memory. If someone tells you they are married with kids, their job is stressful, and they used to love hiking but as they’ve aged it’s become more difficult. How would you talk about how your services will help them? And how would that differ from someone who came to you who just recently got divorced and is trying to get back into dating but let themselves go? Or a single person who just moved to the area?
We had a young, single guy friend who was shopping around for gyms in his area. One gym emphasized how great their facilities were and how great their coaches were and never asked our friend what he wanted. Then he went to another gym where the owner asked, what are you looking for? And he said he just moved to the area and was looking to meet people, especially girls. The owner responded with a joke: great because this gym is basically Tinder in 3D. My friend laughed and signed up immediately. Not because he believed it was true but the person asked him what he was looking for.
Do you think a married person would respond the same way, even as a joke? We’re purposely using an extreme example because it stresses why it’s important to get to know some of the basics, so you can tailor your “Message” to them.
STEP 2: Getting to their purpose
So you’re learning and asking questions… the next step once you feel comfortable is transitioning from getting to know the person to simply simply ask, why did you seek out joining our gym? The first answer for most might be superficial, like… “Lose weight.” “Gain muscle.” Or even the more generic “get healthy.” Your next response should be simply why.
“Why are you looking to get healthy?” They might respond with something like “You know, so I can look and feel better,” or even “so I can live longer.”
But that’s still not the real reason… so keep asking why until you get to something meaningful.
For example, “Why is looking and feeling better important to you?” Eventually you’ll get to something like… “I want to be a better example for my kids,” or “I want more energy and fitness to enjoy my traveling and hobbies more.”
Sometimes it only takes 1 or 2 “Why” questions, and sometimes it can take a little more exploring. The goal is to get to something meaningful enough so on tough days they don’t give up because there is something bigger fueling them.
STEP 3: The Message (Reframing the talk into a goal)
Now it’s time to go over the classic goal formula S.M.A.R.T. (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, Time-based). Now, before you tune this part out, remember that Smart Goals are all about quantification… we need to get a handle on things. So even if you’re really familiar with this, read through because mastery of the basis leads to virtuosity.
Say your client says they want to lose weight so they can be a better example for their kids. Start with something like: “Lose 15 lbs in the next 90 days, so that I can be a better example for my kids on how to take control of your health.”
Is it specific? Yes. Measurable? Yes, we can weigh them. Attainable? Yes, it’s very realistic. In fact, some people might think that’s too long that they want to lose 15 lbs next week, and it’s your job to help them understand the long-term approach to health and fitness vs. the danger of quick fixes and the yo-yo of losing and gaining weight. Relevant? That's why the “why” is so important, it’s not a generic goal, it’s relevant to them. Time-based? Yes in 90 days.
Weight loss is an easy one, but what if someone wants to “gain strength” or simply be more “fit” that’s where Level Method can come into play in a bigger way. It allows you to have an assessment of where they are (which should be done before the goal session) to where they want to go. Like: “Increasing my strength by leveling up 2 levels in Front Squat in Deadlift categories in 90 days.” By the way, we recommend 3 goal sessions a year, generally every 90 to 120 days, so when you have your next goal session you can check in on progress and set new goals.
The Level Method platform also allows you to track their biometrics (weight, % body fat, Lean Body Mass, BMR), so you have all the information at your fingertips to help set and measure progress. This is key. Yes setting the goal is half way there, but if you never SHOW them you helped them achieve their goal, you are missing out on a crucial step of the process. (Scroll to the bottom of the page for a video about how to Set Goals in the Level Method App)
STEP 4: Accountability, Close-out and Follow-up
All you need is one simple question here. First is “What actions are you going to take to work towards achieving this goal, that we can hold you accountable for?” Now here is the beauty of this approach and the Level Method system. Because they can see their weakness areas visually, it creates an internal desire to ask you how they can improve in those areas. And this is where you can let them know about your other services such as Personal Training, Workshops, Nutrition Consulting, Challenges, etc…
Your goal here is not to be a “sales” person, but provide solutions to their problem. Let them know what the options are and let them sell themselves on this decision.
Before you let them leave, make sure to schedule the next session in 6 weeks, 90 and up 120 days out depending on the client. This is to lock in the date, and get it on the calendar so they know that you will be checking in from an accountability perspective.
We also highly recommend that you follow up with a summary of what you talked about in an email or some form within 24 hours after the meeting. On our platform, users can see in their app the summaries of the goal sessions and notes which makes this step easier, it also allows you to schedule the next goal session which will be in the app for them to see as well.
At the end of this article is a short video walkthrough of how that works, but now let’s talk about Some good and bad examples of goals, and also what not to do.
BAD: Lose weight and look better
GOOD: Lose 15 lbs in the next 90 days, so that I can be a better example for my kids on how to take control of your health.
BAD: Increase my overall strength
GOOD: Increase strength by leveling up in the objective strength category by next assessment cycle, so that I can perform better in my sports league.
BAD: Be more well rounded in health and fitness
GOOD: Decrease my body fat % by 4% in the next 120 days and achieve an Overall Level Up, so that I have more stamina to play with my kids.
We can keep going, but hopefully you can look at those and test them against the S.M.A.R.T. criteria and see how you can make a general goal more applicable.
What Not To Do
Sometimes in trying to understand what we should do, it’s better framed at things we should avoid doing. Here are some tips:
Do not start goal sessions without a big-picture plan a system for how you will logistically perform them (Discussed in Part I)
Do not have coaches perform goal sessions without first reviewing these concepts with them, and/or doing some role play practice goal sessions.
Do not only set goals once, and never follow-up with the client. This is obvious, but still needs to be said because sometimes we forget the big things.
Do not go through the motions. This is a time to build a relationship and, as corny as it sounds, “People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care." - John Maxwell