They are all about stepping stones.

Just as carefully-placed, strategically-spaced, concrete steps take you across the river safely and enjoyably to your destination; great coaching can do this with your performance and goals.

And just as part way across the stepping stones you can turn back and admire the view of how far you’ve come; so can you with a Stepping Stones approach to coaching.

So what do I mean by a Stepping Stones approach to coaching? Stepping Stones simply means breaking down your goals into small manageable chunks. Instead of making you feel like you have a mountain to climb; it feels like an achievable and realistic target that you can approach at your own pace.

You may feel that a Stepping Stones approach may take too long. That you want a quicker win.

But research and experience shows that this is not the case. If you want to move quickly through the Stepping Stones, then go for it. But there are still compelling reasons why Stepping Stones are the right approach – however fast you want to reach your goal.

You may worry that the sense of achievement may be reduced. After all, climbing a mountain is hard. Stepping Stones make life easier.

But again, this is all about perception. I’ll show you how Stepping Stones can give you a greater sense of achievement.

But most importantly, I believe, Coaching is all about the outcome. Stepping Stones, or small goals, are a route to success and if it takes three steps or twenty, over one month or one year, what matters is that you reach your destination in the timescale right for you – and that this destination means at least one of these things;

  • Improves your performance
  • Improves your self confidence
  • Empowers you with the skills to take on future challenges
  • Improves outcomes in your business
  • Improves professional relationships and reputation
  • Reduces stress, workload and improves your well-being.

Here’s my five top reasons why the Stepping Stones goal-setting approach makes Coaching more likely to succeed.

  1. It stops you procrastinating. In the mind, if we believe we have a massive challenge ahead, we’re less likely to take that leap and make a start. It’s so easy to think ‘I’ll start it tomorrow, I’ll start it next week’ and before we know it, it doesn’t happen at all. Let’s face it we’re all busy with our day to day lives and therefore cracking on with an enormous challenge is not going to get a look in. For example, you may have decided you want to launch your own business, but you’re still in a paid job. You have a fantastic idea, but you simply can’t find the time to get on with it, because there’s SO much to do. Imagine breaking this down into one mini-task per week for six months. Each week, you’ll fit it in and in six months, you could be realising your dream. Even if it takes slightly longer, it’s better than not starting at all.
  2. It helps with confidence. Remember looking back from the Stepping Stones to admire the view? That’s what goal setting does. Feeling like you’re never going to get there or see results, can be soul destroying. But looking back and saying ‘Two months ago I was still just thinking about this, but now I’m eight steps further on’ is great for your confidence. There’s lots of opportunities to feel proud of yourself, rather than just waiting for the end goal. Plus, small changes that you make may already start to yield benefits. Perhaps you have a goal to improve your public speaking, communication and confidence. Every week along the way, your Coaching will see you practicing and embedding your new techniques, improving your professional performance and image as a result.
  3. You are less likely to give up. By breaking down a large goal into smaller, achievable ones, you’re more likely to stick at it. If you have a crisis, a holiday, run out of time or simply lose a bit of motivation, it won’t be as far back to square 1. This goes for any ambition, whether it’s weight loss; a work project, personal development or a business plan.
  4. You’ll be able to evaluate, assess and test as you go. By breaking down a larger objective into smaller chunks, you’ll be more able to identify areas that you find difficult, trends in your own behaviour and attitudes that may be holding you back. Then you can take these individual aspects, and work out how to handle them. Let’s say that your goal is to grow your business, but achieve more work-life balance and reduce your stress. Along your Stepping Stones journey it may become apparent that your biggest barrier is delegation. You may struggle to trust others, or find the process of recruiting or selecting suppliers more stressful than just doing the job yourself. With coaching help, this individual challenge can be turned into a series of additional stepping stones where over a period of time you plan and execute a recruitment drive or selection process that is manageable and results in reliable staff or associates. Coaching will help you examine and change your mindset at the same time; to improve your trust in others and lead rather than micro-manage.
  5. You are more likely to succeed. Imagine deciding to run a marathon, and then the next week going to run it, just like that. Ouch! Even seasoned marathon runners will follow carefully crafted slow-building training plans to reach their goal on time; safely and sensibly. Personal and professional goals are the same in that way. Maybe you do have a short deadline; one month to lead a high level strategic meeting that you’re suffering anxiety over. Fine, that’s still four weeks of Stepping Stones to get you there.

To work the natural beauty angle one more time, Steve Jobs said “Simple can be harder than complex: You have to work hard to get your thinking clean to make it simple. But it’s worth it in the end because once you get there, you can move mountains”.

So end with mountains, but start with Stepping Stones.

Whatever your dream, good luck.

Miriam Cuddihy is a qualified Coach having completed her diplomas in Life Coaching, Small Business Coaching and Corporate & Executive Coaching along with being an NLP Master Practitioner.