Written by: Marina Jankovic, Executive Contributor
Executive Contributors at Brainz Magazine are handpicked and invited to contribute because of their knowledge and valuable insight within their area of expertise.
Not too long ago, coaching was mainly performance-focused – a conversation about the past performance gap, actions to reduce that gap and build capabilities in client's current role. Coaching was sometimes even used as a way for companies to outsource difficult conversations.
When I started my coaching work in a corporate environment, my first coaching assignments focused on employee performance management. I worked with clients to identify their issues, look at the ideal outcome, set a goal, look at the gap, break it down into a step-by-step action plan, and wrap up a session with a client's commitment to action. Over the first two years of my coaching work, I've noticed that clients would report some progress but soon fall into their old patterns of behaviour, or they would start actioning their plan with enthusiasm but then give up halfway.
I started questioning this traditional way of goal setting, focused on a client's problem at a ‘transactional level’ - surfacing the issue, then exploring options by asking questions that I hoped would lead to a client's breakthrough. But sustainable change can't happen when we pick one area of life, focus on a problem to be solved, with ignoring the fact that all life aspects are interconnected. Yes, we may get a temporary sense of progression, but not a lasting positive outcome.
Coaching is most effective when we clarify who we want to become and look at all interconnected life aspects before setting meaningful goals.
With a holistic approach to coaching that acknowledges all interconnected life aspects, clients gain a new perspective and different solutions that lead to long-term behavioural change.
By coaching a whole person, instead of focusing on their problem in a vacuum, I can see my clients achieving extraordinary results and turning new insights into personal transformation. A new level of motivation is activated when they can recognise their dysfunctional patterns and what they need to do to change them.
How to create sustainable change and set goals that you will actually achieve?
1. Look deeper into your WHY.
WHY you want to make the most out of this area of your life will determine whether you achieve your goals. When your reason is strong, you'll do whatever it takes to overcome any obstacle in the process toward achieving the desired outcome.
Start with answering these questions:
• What empowers you to take action?
• What motivates you to achieve your ideal state?
• What you'll gain when you achieve it? What you'll lose if you don't?
2. Acknowledge that every area of your life is interconnected.
By taking a more holistic approach to goal setting, you have more power to achieve lasting fulfilment and unlock your potential.
For example, you can't be fulfilled by a promotion while your health is falling apart; or having great relationships when being broke. We all set goals, but when we develop a goal in isolation, we fail to understand interconnectivity and human motivation principles.
When you know your WHY, and also get a deeper awareness of how improving one life aspect can lift other areas of your life, you will:
Orientate your decision-making to create a broader impact
Stay motivated to stick to the things that show up as your highest priority while exercising self-control and self-reliance
Focus your time and energy towards the tasks and projects that bring your vision to reality and rarely get trapped in other people's agenda
Measure your progress over time and see the benefits of consistency
Finally, set goals that you will achieve and create a lasting change.
3. Act out of your desired identity.
If you don't clarify your desired identity first, making you act with your WHY in mind, you will most likely fall into a goal-setting trap. You will set a new goal, but if you haven't changed who you are, you will not change your behaviour in the long run - therefore, you will fail to achieve your goal (which then becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy).
For example, anyone can convince themselves to go to a networking event, write a blog, go to the gym once or twice, but if you don't shift your belief about who you are, it is hard to achieve a sustainable change. When your positive actions confirm your new identity, your brain will not resist change – your purposeful habits will increase your confidence to handle ambiguity and obstacles.
4. Focus on incremental gains.
Start with small steps that don't seem too challenging, and with conscious and consistent actions, you will see positive results and become more self-motivated to overcome any obstacle. Find the simplest way of implementing what works for you, as you will most likely work on improving more than one life area simultaneously.
This approach will help you build identity habits that give you a sense of success every day – you will enjoy the process instead of seeing success as an end goal. Most importantly, it will help you achieve sustainable change, even when friction is high.
Marina Jankovic, Executive Contributor Brainz Magazine
Marina Jankovic is a Master Coach and DE&I Leader with 17 years of international experience in Business Management, Learning & Development and Executive Education. She has managed a Global Talent and Diversity & Inclusion for a company operating in 180 markets and directly contributed to building a more diverse talent pipeline and inclusive culture.
Marina brings psychological depth and a multi-system perspective to her clients and has partnered with numerous private and public sector organisations, both in-house and as a consultant, helping them design and implement experiential learning programs and coaching culture.
Drawing from her own business and talent development experience, along with 3000+ executive coaching hours and hundreds of clients' stories, Marina identifies stepping stones towards creating a more significant impact in business and life.
She is the author of a best-selling book Your Time To Shine, a pearl of practical wisdom for women - and men - to create the lives they want, by choosing courage, leading authentically, and contributing to a better world for the generations to come.