Tim O'Rahilly Life Coaching

Archive for February 2011

Goal Setting

Or – Tell me what you want, what you really really want.

In my blog post ‘What is Life Coaching?‘ I talked about how we live in a rapidly changing world and how it can generate a feeling of helplessness when we are not in control of our own path through the craziness!  The job of the Life Coach is to be your guide on that journey. The first thing we must establish are the goals, so that your journey has a destination.

To begin with the end in mind means to start with a clear understanding of your destination. It means to know where you are going, so that you better understand where you are now and so that the steps you take are always in the right direction.

-Steven Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People

Without Goals we cannot be in control of our own destiny and we will tend to drift from crisis to crisis on waves of uninspired intuition. Once we set some goals we have purpose, drive and we can make good choices. We can start to develop our own path towards happiness and fulfilment. These goals must not be vague or woolly. So often when we ask anyone what they want the first response we get is a list of what they DON’T want! We need to delve deeper and ask searching questions to get to ‘what you really really want!’ It is essential that your goals are challenging, achievable and measurable.

Are you in earnest, seek this very minute. Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Just begin and the mind grows heated. Continue and the task will be completed.

-Goethe, Faust.

I like to think of SMART goals as being:

SPECIFIC – This can be the most challenging part of the process, requiring deep questioning to arrive at one clear phrase or sentence which is personal and  positive so that it fires the imagination.

MEASURABLE – It makes sense that any meaningful goal must have some measurable objective, such as weight loss achieved or salary earned. Some goals may not have such a clearly defined end point, but it may help to set the goal in the present tense so that you can say that the goal is achieved “When I am …” One example for a confidence goal might be “When I am speaking to people in a much more confident and relaxed way”

If you think you can, you can. Henry Ford

AGREED – Goals should be written down. They must be congruent with your personal values and beliefs and they must be morally and legally acceptable. There should be an understanding of why your goals are important to you. Of course, just setting goals will improve nothing unless there is a commitment to action. Part of the process must be a set of actions that you need to take in order to achieve your goals.

REALISTIC – There is nothing to be gained by setting goals which are not achievable. If you are a heavy smoker, very overweight and not used to physical training, would it be realistic to set a goal to compete in next years Olympic games?

TIMED – All goals should have a start date date and a finish date in order to focus the mind and fire the imagination. It may also be useful to set specific  ‘step goals’ along the way in order to measure progress towards the end goal and fulfilment.

Going through life without goals is like trying to sail a boat without a rudder. You will be at the mercy of outside forces controlling your destiny for you.  How often have you heard the phrase ‘Fail to plan and you plan to fail’ ? Take all the time you need to set meaningful goals which have emotional power for you, then take action to achieve your dreams.

I dream my painting and then I paint my dreamVincent van Gogh

Life Long Learning

One of the most consistent themes of my life has been a profound belief in the value of life long learning. We live is a world of such rapid change across all facets of our lives that unless we make a positive decision to keep up, we can be left feeling overwhelmed by the world around us. Real learning has to be a conscious effort, since we are daily bombarded by so much information that we can easily drift along observing life at a very shallow level.

Learning can come from books or from academia but it certainly does not have to. The internet provides a wealth of learning opportunities and is without doubt the most powerful and flexible research tool which has ever existed. The Internet is also a truly universal tool in that it can be used regardless of national boundaries, social class or age.

It is my firm belief that we can gain priceless knowledge and skills from each other too. Follow those who inspire you or have earned your respect and try to learn from them. Maybe they have the wisdom of years, experience of life or, success in their chosen endeavors. Above all surround yourself with positive, purposeful, passionate people. I am still learning from people like this all the time! This last weekend I had the good fortune to attend an event in London hosted by the Entrepreneurs Business Academy (EBA). The speakers were all millionaire business men and women who have chosen to share their success with others by passing on their knowledge and considerable experience. I learned a lot by listening to these people and I look forward to working with some of them in the coming months. The most charismatic of the group was the millionaire ‘Dragon’ James Caan who shared his own remarkable story with us. Here is a man who is truly passionate about what he does and who is so much more than just a TV personality!


I could not write about Learning and not set some homework so here are your 3 tasks! First if you have enjoyed reading this add a comment or any questions you might have? Second. Google The EBA and learn more about their work and events. Lastly check out the Wikepedia entry for James Caan to see why I admire the man.
I will return to the topic of life long learning in future blogs so do check back regularly. Also please choose your path through life. Are you going to be somebody who makes things happen? Will you just stand on the sideline and watch things happen or, will you look up one day and wonder “What happened?”