Kate Stevens

Kate Stevens, Life Coach

How to Set Goals in Life and Achieve them – the Right Way!

woman walking in autumnal countryside with compass on ground, she is finding her way

Setting and achieving goals is an essential aspect of personal and professional growth.
In this blog post I’m not talking about corporate goals that focus on profit. I’m talking about how to set goals in life and achieve them, the right way – in a way that has meaning TO YOU. Goals and intentions that make sense and ring true to who we are and what we want to achieve – our authentic self.

Achieving success and fulfilment often hinges on setting goals, but the approach is equally, if not more, crucial.

Setting goals is especially good for:

  • When you feeling stuck, you’re procrastinating, you feel like you’re not getting anywhere/not progressing. Having something to work towards gives hope and a sense of direction.
  • Your wellbeing – a sense of achievement, progress, reward
  • Working towards ‘something’ – and it can still be a good thing even when it feels quite vague.

This blog may help you to define the specifics in setting goals that are meaningful to you, and achieving them.

Here is a step by step approach that I’ve reflected on in my work as a Life Coach.

1. The Foundation: set your intention

Before diving into the specifics of goal setting, it’s crucial to get clear on your motivations and intentions.

During the summer, I experienced my first ever reiki session, which was amazing! The practitioner invited me to set an intention, which surprised me. Yet I realised that this made perfect sense in terms of focusing and tuning my energy in that moment, which is what reiki is all about. By setting an intention, you get clear about what you intend to accomplish.

The deep-rooted reasons behind your goals offer an emotional and spiritual foundation that will keep you motivated on your journey. If you’re clear on your intention, it will serve as a reminder as to why you’re doing it.

2.    Make Meaningful Goals

Meaningful goals align with your values (what’s important to you in life), and your passions. I like to think of values as a personal compass – a tool to help you navigate your direction and choices in life.

Goals that are in line with your personal values and interests are more likely to be engaging and inspire greater effort, according to the self-concordance theory (Sheldon & Elliot, 1998). An individual will put more effort into achieving goals they have created, and so are more likely to achieve them. This makes it easier to overcome challenges and setbacks.


I had a goal last year to swim outdoors all year round in the cold water, in my swimsuit. To do it, I needed to understand why I wanted to do it, the risks involved, borrow some kit from a friend (before buying it myself) and get on and do it. And keep doing it.

That goal ticked:

  • My values (take a guess?!)
  • My interests

It did a few other things for me:

  • It engaged me – once I was in the water, I had not choice but to focus on my breath and ease in
  • I put in effort and my valuable time – over and over
  • I loved it – mostly! But importantly, not always as there was a certain amount of stretch which took me out of my comfort zone – see next point.



Get clear and specific on what you’re going to achieve by writing it down. And put it somewhere you can see. People who write down or visualise their goals are more likely to a) remember them, and b) achieve them.


2 columns showing distinction between goals and intentions

3.    Stretch yourself – move out of your comfort zone (and your own way)

Any goal must have the right amount of challenge, or stretch. Too much or too little – there won’t be enough motivation to sustain the effort, nor provide a sense of achievement.
Recognise that you’ll move out of your comfort zone, away from that place of familiarity and predictability and into your ‘stretch zone’ of learning and growth. Your mindset can adapt and take on a growth mindset approach, open to possibility. Your stretch zone may feel new and awkward at first – this is normal. You may feel frustrated as you begin to learn something new, and yet, you will learn. You’ll recognise over time that you’ve a). done this before and b). you’re moving closer to achieving your goal. Momentum! Keep doing it, and you’ll keep moving into your new stretch zone.

I wrote a while back about growth mindset, read more here.

4.    Check-in and review progress – feedback

Regularly assess your progress, acknowledge your achievements, and be willing to adjust your course where necessary. This is a golden opportunity for you to constructively feedback on the work you’re doing, to yourself. In a coaching session, I often ‘check-in’ with the person I’m working with to ensure we’re on track with the specific goal or intention we’ve set at the start of the session. This check-in allows for adjustment and keeps the focus – invaluable feedback to both of us. So I invite you to do something similar: check in with yourself regularly and review the situation.

Some coaching questions you might ask yourself as part of this check-in and feedback process:

  • Am I on track (with X)?
  • Where am I at right now?
  • Am I heading in the right direction?
  • Do I need to correct this course?
  • What – however small it may seem, do I need to acknowledge as progress?
  • And this is particularly good to ask yourself especially when it might feel challenging.

Seeking feedback from a trusted external source is another useful approach; a mentor, friend or colleague or even an app. Could external feedback help keep you on track and accountable to your goal? I use an app to plan and track my exercise – measuring key milestones, keeping me engaged and motivated and providing a chance to see how far I’ve actually come. Feedback resources can offer valuable insights, point out blind spots, and suggest improvements.
Consider how you might conduct your own check-in. How can constructive feedback keep you on track with your goal?

5. Know and use your strengths to achieve your goal

We all possess unique strengths and talents. Identifying and leveraging your strengths (those things you excel at/your untapped potential/those activities that you really enjoy), can significantly enhance your chances of achieving your goals. Are you naturally curious, with a love of learning (strengths of Wisdom and Learning)? Or perhaps you’re socially intelligent and kind (strengths of Humanity)?

Reflect on your natural abilities, and make a list of possible strengths.

A key initiative of the Positive Psychology movement was to create universal ‘character strengths’: some are mentioned above. Research and data was compiled from participants in different cultures and countries. Results I believe, still contribute to findings today. Find your character strengths here.

A path in a green, leafy forest, with the quote; 'there are no shortcuts to any place worth going'.
Goal setting can involve preparation, but getting clear and having focus pays off


These character strengths are universal strengths. To identify your own strengths effectively, get personal and specific.

Some coaching questions to ask yourself on helping identify your strengths:

  • When have I felt most energised so far this week?
  • What specifically was I doing at that time? How did I feel when I was doing it?
  • What do I get complimented on by people? What strengths might lie in those compliments?
  • What do I like about myself?
  • When am in flow?

I love the drilling down element in a coaching conversation, allowing the person to listen to what they’re saying out loud, noticing what could be important. It’s often a real eye-opener and of course, we’re mostly walking and talking so it comes quite naturally.

I’ll write more another time about unlocking strengths!

Whether it’s your creativity, leadership abilities, analytical skills, or empathy, find ways to incorporate your strengths into your goal pursuit. Play to your strengths. By doing so, you’ll work more efficiently, stay motivated and engaged.


In conclusion, setting goals the ‘right way’, is your way; find it and play with it. The process of setting and achieving goals is a journey, not a destination, to use a cliche! Be patient with yourself, be flexible with your approach, and celebrate your progress along the way. With a clear vision, determination, and the right strategies, you can achieve your goal.

So go ahead: set your intentions, seek feedback, choose meaningful goals with a certain amount of stretch, and use your strengths to pave your way to success and fulfilment.

My post on finding purpose might also resonate – click here to read about purpose and the concept of Ikigai.

Client agreement - ground rules.

1. Bring my whole self to this process; professionally and personally.

You cannot separate your professional and personal ‘lives’.

2. Be present in the moment and connected.

… to the coaching; what you’re thinking, feeling, experiencing. And…to nature if and where we are outdoors. If we’re on headphones, I’ll invite you to be descriptive of your environment too.

3. Bring the agenda to each session and keep your overall objective alive.

You can do this in several ways:

  • Be goal and action orientated – bring what you want to discuss and achieve to the session; OR
  • Talk and see what lands – exploratory and intentional.

I will bring the process, tools, ideas, resources and best practice to best support you towards your goal/intention/objective. More in your pre-coaching questionnaire. 

4. Give feedback and be responsive.

Coaching is collaborative. Neither of us should guess where we stand. I ask you to give me feedback and respond – you can rely on me to give and do the same.

I aim to get back to you within 24 hours of you emailing me, even if it’s just to say ‘I received your message’ before I respond properly. If it’s over the weekend or holiday, this may take longer.

5. Do the work in the session and in between sessions.

…so that you get the best value, even when it’s challenging. I might suggest a piece of work based on what you brought to the session. Mainly you will decide your course of action.

Whichever way, I’ll invite you to:

  • Reflect more; through walking, writing and whatever else fires you up, to help you achieve your objective.
  • Explore more; be curious and follow those trails of thought, intentionally
    Practice more; habits? Actions? Keep trying/tweaking.
  • Note what’s coming up that’s important or interesting to you in the session. I may share a few bullet points with you after, via Google Docs.

6. Session duration and timescale.

Generally a session is an hour but happy to shorten or increase session lengths, as and when we both can, that day. Where either of us thinks it appropriate, let’s say in the session. Timescale – let’s keep to the timescale agreed in the contract.

Additional information...

  • Coaching is a relationship designed to facilitate the development of personal or professional goals and develop a plan/strategy for achieving those goals.
  • It is comprehensive; it may involve other areas of your life beyond what you may have originally intended. It is your responsibility to choose and decide how to handle this, or even whether to.
  • It can be challenging; digging deep, creating better habits, becoming more self-aware, changing unhelpful beliefs you hold about yourself to something more helpful. There will be ups and downs. You will gain new insights, learnings and perspectives to help you achieve your goal.
  • You – the Client, are solely responsible for creating and implementing your own physical, mental and emotional well-being, decisions, choices, actions and results arising out of or resulting from the coaching relationship and your coaching calls and interactions with me – the Coach. As such, you agree that the Coach is not and will not be liable or responsible for any actions or inaction, or for any direct or indirect result of any services provided by me – the Coach. 
  • You – the Client, understand that in order to enhance the coaching relationship, you agree to communicate honestly, be open to feedback and assistance and to create the time and energy to participate fully in the program. I will do the same.
  • Coaching is not a substitute for counselling, mental health care or substance abuse treatment.  If you are in any kind of therapy, please tell me.  Tell your practitioner (medical or therapeutic) of you working with me.
  • I ask you to agree to commit to the coaching sessions to facilitate the required change.
  • I will treat you as the expert regarding the subject matter, which is…YOU.
  • I will allow time and space for you to explore your thoughts and think for yourself, no interruptions. There may be long pauses or silence sometimes to elicit more.
  • What goes on in your sessions is confidential. I do not discuss it with anyone. There may be occasion when it is my duty to break confidentiality:
    > If I feel you or I are at risk of harm.
    > Criminal / illegal activity.
    > A safeguarding concern or something else so serious that warrants concern.
  • I may talk to my coach or supervisor about issues arising in our sessions without ever naming or giving away you as the client. This is to ensure I am following professional and ethical guidelines and delivering my best. I subscribe to these by the ICF; https://coachfederation.org/code-of-ethics
  • Qualifications and CPD; I am an accredited coach. This means I have trained, practiced and qualified with Animas Centre for Coaching (Nov 2020). I hold a ‘Diploma in Transformational Coaching’. This is accredited by the International Coaching Federation (ICF).
    > I have my own coach and group supervision
    > My CPD includes –  Outdoor Intelligence for Online Coaching (Oct 2020) -Positive Psychology (Feb 2021

My accreditations


My story

I’d been trying to work out ‘what else’ I could do with my career and life.

After 20 years in HR and with the children getting older, I wanted to change careers, but into ‘what?’ And ‘how’ was that even possible? And…’who would take on a mid-40’s apprentice?’!

I took small steps to boost my confidence and mindset; a regular ‘walk and whinge’ with friends to offload, short courses to up-skill, more running, more netball.
I asked my workplace ‘what else’ they needed that I could help with – ‘job crafting’. 

I was trying to make changes but it wasn’t really working. I was still frustrated and now, more miserable. I needed a different approach to find a way forward and release the building pressure I felt.

Hiring an accredited coach with whom I knew I could work with, enabled me to take a good look at myself – at times, uncomfortably.

To be listened to without any interruption, or judgement was empowering and I started to recognise what made me, me – my personality, strengths, what energised me and made me happy. What if these things amounted to a job I would…love…?

I followed my curiosity and dabbled with ideas about potential jobs, tasks and environments that would suit me, with a new, growth mindset.

I started to shift perspective. When I finally realised the ‘what’, I felt an energy and sense of knowing that was powerful. And I laughed, because it had been right in front of me!

Coaching undoubtedly helped me get to know myself, to see my potential and what was possible. I wholeheartedly decided through those sessions, on what and how I wanted things to be.

It had taken me two years of feeling stuck and miserable and a number of hours to be liberated.

This is what I now do with my clients. I help them rediscover themselves so that they can play to their strengths and thrive.