There’s only one growth strategy: work hard. (William Hague).
Often clients approach life coaches because they need help in achieving their goals. Often a client can articulate their goals and other times the client needs coaching to define their goal. Helping clients achieve their goals is the biggest role of a life coach. The life coach walks alongside the client on their journey of where they are in their life and where they want to be. As a life coach for teenagers, it is important to help teenagers create the goals that they need for positive growth. Often teenagers’ goals are very nebulous and require asking the right questions and digging into what the teenager is trying to achieve. The assisting of creating goals with teenagers takes patience, understanding, and often reshaping of the goals over a number of sessions as teenagers gain an understanding of their ability, time management, availability, and desire to work towards the goal. Teenagers have numerous athletic, academic, and social goals and trying to find the time and develop the skills to achieve each one requires dedication. A teenage life coach continuously provides encouragement and accountability, and when the teenager is frustrated the coach holds the teenagers goal, vision, and personal mission statement up for them while helping the movement forward to obtaining the goal.
The importance of goal setting in life coaching is to create accountability. A goal comes with a set of objectives that must be met in order for the client to meet their goal and move from where they are to where they want to be. Accountability is the way in which the coach holds the client responsible for carrying out actions the client stated they would perform in order to accomplish their goal.
For teenagers, goals often focus around academic success, followed by athletic and social goals. The goal may be to have a 2.6 GPA by the end of my sophomore year. This is what I call an overarching goal. It is looking at their academic success as a whole, the big picture. However, the goal remains only a dream without specific metrics and objectives written and evaluated for each subject that the teenager is taking. This requires a plan to write down and achieve the teenager’s goal, ultimately building their self-confidence, self worth and promoting intrinsic motivation.
To implement a plan to achieve the client’s goals, the life coach and client must clearly define the goal and make sure it is realistic. The system I use to define goals is the SMART goal setting system. This system has the client write a “specific, measurable, attainable, result-focused, and time sensitive goal”. By following the SMART goal system, the coach and client are able to discuss and document the goal or goals, the objectives required to meet the goal, any barriers to achieving the goal, and solutions to the barriers. As a teenage life coach I understand that some of the greatest barriers to goal achievement are having and knowing how to use the right tools.
The two most common tools that teenagers are working on developing are that of organization and time-management. Before the teenager can begin working toward achieving their goal, they need to learn time-management and where they spend their time. To start that process, I have the teenager use a composition book, a blank book, and to write down their homework assignments and to document how long they spend on each subject. I ask that they also add in where else they spend their time, with no judgement. This other time may be athletics, social events, or social media. Once the teenager can visually see where they are spending their time, it helps to move toward creating an organizational plan and realistic goals and objectives. To create organization the teenager continues to use the composition book for their academics, but adds a calendar to track bigger projects and non-academic expenditures of time. This visualization helps to create accountability for time and allows the life coach to ask specific questions that encourage the teenager to use their critical thinking skills to problem solve on finding time to achieve the goals that they want for their life.
Teenagers’ intellectual capacity is still growing, and it can not be assumed by the life coach that they understand time-management and organization. These words are easy to say, but the responsibility of the teenage life coach is to find the way for each teenager to learn these skills and to successfully implement them. Having done life coaching with teenagers, I have found that there are specific methods that help them to understand time management, and humor is often one of them. I discuss the Eisenhower matrix of time-management that many companies use, but I have twisted it to fit the teenage lifestyle and how and where they spend their time. I also discuss the rabbit hole of social media. It is easy to answer one IM from a friend who shares a link to a TikTok video, which leads to searching a video on YouTube, and down the rabbit hole the teenager has gone. All too often, I hear laughter and agreement. The 3 hours you allotted for homework is now a fun journey down the rabbit hole, but none of that works toward the goals you have set out for yourself. This lends easily to the conversation of how the teenager wants to limit their exposure to social media during their dedicated study time. Again as a teenage life coach, it is important to have the discussion and ask the challenging questions, to encourage critical thinking skills and solutions to their self-created barriers to success. Allowing the teenager to discover and decide on the solution promotes critical thinking and responsibility to follow through on their own solutions. The teenager is more likely to work at obtaining goals if they own their goals and objectives.
The life coach is then able to hold the client accountable for meeting the objectives and their goal. The coach encourages, addresses fears, helps to navigate unforeseen circumstances, and challenges the client to create the vision of success the client wants. The life coach must remember that the client owns the goal, and as the life coach it is our role to help the client to move forward and achieve their goal.