Goal Definition Strategies
Goal definition strategies are about helping your client make upfront decisions when they are rested and thinking rationally. This helps them avoid negotiating with themselves down the road, "I said I wouldn't eat sugar, but it's my birthday."
Questions That Prompt Pre-decisions
One of the top categories of questions is in helping the client reach a pre-decision (great background on this in the book Thinking Fast and Slow).
With a pre-decision, the client time shifts their decision to a moment when they are lucid and able to think rationally. Imagine the difference between you telling your trainer that you’ll eat healthier and you rushing to the airport trying to find lunch before boarding a flight. The first decision is lucid and rational. The second decision is rushed and often made subconsciously.
Having a pre-decision (at the airport, my go-to meal is salad from the healthy food kiosk) results in less negotiation and fewer mistakes.
A question as simple as, “What days are you going to run this week?” is an example of leading your client to a predecision.
Goal Statement Exercise
At the advanced end of pre-planning, you can ask your client to go through a goal statement exercise. In this exercise your client makes a crystal clear statement about what’s allowed and what’s not allowed, so that they aren’t constantly negotiating ambiguities.
I like to start each goal with a goal statement. A good statement will answer what, why, and how.
What exactly will you do? How often? For how many days? How strictly? Why? What benefit will you get out of it? What’s the goal above the goal?How? How will you achieve this?
<Give example goal statement for this goal>
What would your goal statement be?”
Here’s a statement for Eating Pescetarian.
I will eat Pescetarian for every meal of every day, meaning vegetables, fruits, seafood, dairy, eggs and grains, making exceptions only for family holidays. I’m doing this in order to cut out my worst eating habits and to focus more on healthy, sustainable foods that help me maintain my weight and feel energetic. I’ll do this by pre-planning food orders through Instacart, by ordering lunches from Sprig, and by ordering vegetarian burritos when I eat Mexican.