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Called to Coach
How to Set Strengths-Based Goals
Called to Coach

How to Set Strengths-Based Goals

Webcast Details

  • What flaw in traditional goal-setting do strengths-based goals overcome?
  • What does it mean to Choose and Infuse your goals?
  • What are some keys to actually achieving the goals you set?

Below are audio and video plus a transcript of the conversation, including time stamps.

Your strengths and your wellbeing can and should be interwoven into your goal-setting. How can you Choose goals with specific strengths in mind or Infuse goals you already have with the strengths that will help you achieve them -- and know that you have? How can the SMART goals framework help you? And what can focusing on the "Who" and the "Why" do for you as you fine-tune your goals? Join Gallup Wellbeing Lead Ryan Wolf for a discussion of this timely topic.

It's important to not take all of our goals too seriously, and have some fun with them. Remember, strengths are areas of excellence, ease and enjoyment. So we need to make sure that ... we're doing things that are enjoyable.

Ryan Wolf, 25:01

When you're making goals right now, they don't need to be annual goals. They can be goals for today; they can be goals for next week and next month and next quarter.

Ryan Wolf, 7:02

Having someone who really is going to support you and encourage you to achieve those [goals] is so important.

Ryan Wolf, 19:24

Jim Collison 0:00
I am Jim Collison, and welcome to the CliftonStrengths Podcast. On this podcast, we'll be covering topics such as wellbeing, teamwork, professional development and more. Now enjoy this episode. This episode was previously recorded on LinkedIn Live.

Meet Our Guest on This Episode

Jim Collison 0:18
I'm here with Ryan Wolf, and Ryan, let's get to know you a little bit. Could you give us maybe your Top 5, and then tell us what you do for Gallup?

Ryan Wolf 0:25
You bet. So great to be here with you, Jim. Always a great day when I can see you live on my computer screen. So, glad we're here together and certainly excited to have everyone join us. And I see some comments coming through -- some Top 5s. My Top 5 are Discipline, Achiever, Futuristic, Activator and Harmony. And I'm a Wellbeing Lead at Gallup. So I serve our, all of our associates and family members and also our clients in the public, helping them kind of integrate wellbeing into the work that they do already.

How Are Strengths-Based Goals Unique?

Jim Collison 1:04
And so at this time of year, we spend, you know, we oftentimes -- it's a common, you know, common exercise we go through: setting goals. When we talk about strengths-based goals, Ryan, give us a little bit -- How are those different than just, than just goals?

Ryan Wolf 1:20
Yeah, well, strengths-based goals really help us focus in on what we do best. So they really help us take advantage of all the things that we do with ease, excellence and enjoyment.

Jim Collison 1:37
And, and why is -- well, go, let's go back to that ease, excellence and enjoyment. Like why, what is it about that that's kind of important in the process of setting goals?

Ryan Wolf 1:48
Well, a lot of times I see -- and I am guilty of this, too, is -- I set goals, or we set goals, to kind of help mitigate maybe something that is going wrong or something that we need to fix. So this really helps us shed some positive light on what we can do in the things that we do well already. So really kind of, it kind of helps you activate the talents that really only you have. And it's kind of help, it's the way to help you unlock so much of your potential. And when you, when you kind of think about strengths-based development in general, it's really highly researched; it's highly practiced. And it really, it supports, just this awesome reality that there's something within you and, and me, Jim, that is outstanding and ready to be revealed to everyone.

Wellbeing and Goals

Jim Collison 2:48
Ryan, you and I spent some time in 2021 talking a lot about wellbeing. We put a 5-part wellbeing series together out of our book, Wellbeing at Work. Why is it important also to think about wellbeing in the context of goal-setting? What is it about that that helps us?

Ryan Wolf 3:05
Yeah, so this is a framework we've actually been practicing at Gallup for quite a while, so, so creating goals -- obviously for our career, for our work, but also for the other 4 elements that we know are so important to our lives. So there's career, social, financial, physical and community wellbeing that we've revealed through our World Poll studies that help everyone; that are so important to everyone. They're actionable, and they can help us live our most thriving life. So it's important that, that we create goals around each of them and that we see the connections, the kind of interrelatedness between those elements of wellbeing and how our goals can -- let's say, we're just creating a simple career goal. But it's good to reflect on how that goal can trickle down and also impact everything else that we know is so important in our life.


Jim Collison 4:05
Reilly is behind the scenes, and I'm gonna ask her to post the link. We have a page that we've put together. So if you're watching this, and may be a little overwhelmed with the content throughout any of our, of our time today, we've put a page together for you. And I'll ask Reilly to maybe throw that link in the chat so folks can find it there. We'll definitely post it in, when we post this to YouTube. Or later on, we'll post that there so you can get access to it. Ryan, oftentimes, when we're setting goals, we think about setting SMART goals. And can you talk a little bit about that? I know that's a framework that a lot of folks are pretty comfortable with. So I don't know if we need to dive super deep into it. But can you refresh us on that SMART setup?

Ryan Wolf 4:46
Yeah, you bet. So SMART is definitely an acronym that a lot of us have seen or heard. So Specific goals, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic or Relevant -- I've seen it both ways -- is the "R" there, and then Time-bound. So that just helps us kind of create some, some goals that are tangible and also shareable. And rather than just perhaps being, like the "BHAG" goal, if you've ever heard of that framework -- so the Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals -- which is a great framework, but it might be more visionary, versus SMART goals that are more tangible.

Jim Collison 5:28
We're getting a lot of individuals putting their Top 5 in in the chat. We love that. I'd also love to hear -- or see a few more; I've seen a few of these already, but I'd love to see your, what your 2022 goals are. And as we kind of work through this framework, Ryan, one of the two things I see get left out of goals the most are this idea of Measurable and this idea of Time. I think those are the two. We often say, like, "Oh, I'd like to lose weight." Well, OK. How much and by when? Can you talk a little bit about the importance of that idea of measuring and then this idea of time, and why they're so important?

Ryan Wolf 6:09
Yeah, absolutely. So I think it just kind of goes back to having something that's tangible and something that is trackable over time, so we can benchmark either ourselves against our own personal achievement, or maybe against someone, someone or something else. Let's say we've got Competition high in, in our Top 5, and we're really motivated to see what the top of the industry is doing. That's a, that's a smart way to utilize a goal. And that's kind of specific, or use measurement in that specific kind of example. Time-bound is also helpful. You know, speaking of time, really if you think about it, Jim, we're talking about goals a lot right now; it's January. But goal-setting doesn't need to happen just right now.

Ryan Wolf 7:02
And when you're making goals right now, they don't need to be annual goals. They can be goals for today; they can be goals for next week and next month and next quarter. So I think it's really important to keep that in mind too. And it's, it's important to look into your strengths, your Top 5 strengths, and even deeper into your 34; really understand maybe where some things like where's Futuristic for me? Where are things like Adaptability? So those are kind of some strengths where, boy, if I've got, if I've got Futuristic, I might want to set some annual goals or maybe even some decade goals. But if I've got Adaptability, boy, I might not want to set something that's too far out there; I might need some flexibility within the goals and make them a little bit shorter-term.

Jim Collison 7:51
I love this comment: Recently heard someone say "SMARTER," adding the "ER" to the end of SMART for Evaluate and Redo. I love that idea of, of, "OK, how did we do on this?" Because oftentimes, especially this time of year, we set these goals, then they get left on the piece of paper. And, you know, we get to July and we're like, Ah, we haven't done any of these, and then we quit, right, doing any of them. And so I love that, that idea, Ryan, one, of being strengths-specific, in the sense of, Hey, what do I have the best chance of actually achieving in this, when we add our own strengths to the equation? I love the idea of, when you said Adaptability, I have all these Influencing themes that want to make me a firefighter, not a farmer. And I'm just like your example -- I think you were probably thinking of me as you were saying this.

Ryan Wolf 8:41
Of course I was!

Jim Collison 8:42
In the sense that, yeah, annual goals don't mean a lot for me. I'm, I'm almost thinking about framework goals that help me month over month. How do I apply those things? And then how do I look at them in the short term? For me, Arranger-Maximizer, I can be spinning a lot of plates; I can always be doing more. So I'm, the numbers are important to me. How many of -- can I do more than I did last year? Can I do more than I did last month? Can I do more today than I did yesterday? Very short-term thinking in that, and I think, I think that's OK. We oftentimes think about this idea of it being Action-oriented versus being outcome-oriented. And when we think about the strengths lens through that, can you talk a little bit about those two orientations?

Ryan Wolf 9:29
Yeah, you bet. So I love the SMARTER idea -- Jim, I'll address your question in a second. SMARTER is great. I also, I would encourage you to kind of just explore whatever framework works best for you. So SMARTER's great. There's WHOOP out there. There's BHAG. There's, there's several of them. There's really no shortage of literature or opinion on what the best framework is. SMARTS might be a good one -- so adding Strengths at the end of SMART could be a way that, that you go about doing it. It really kind of, it really kind of all depends on what you feel like really clicks for you. And that might really depend on your talents, your strengths, and, and your Top 5.

Choose and Infuse Your Goals

Ryan Wolf 10:19
So coming back to kind of results-oriented and action-based-oriented goals, I would kind of encourage you to think about what you can Choose and Infuse in terms of your goals. So when you think about Infuse, I realize that kind of a lot of us maybe already have goals set in mind; or on paper, we're coming with goals in hand already into this session. But I'd really like you to think about, kind of look at your goals that you've already set. And think about how you can Infuse your strengths into them and kind of rewrite them, recommit to them and maybe kind of reshare with your team and, and kind of your best partners.

Ryan Wolf 11:05
When you think about Choose -- new goals and Choosing them based purely on your strengths, and specifically your Top 5. So Choosing strengths that you want to utilize, that you want to focus on, and really kind of design goals based upon those areas that kind of that you have your greatest capabilities. And so, so a couple of, let's do an example for each. So, first, for Infuse, let's say that you've got a goal to increase sales conversions by like 10%. So that's a, that's a results-oriented goal, right.

Ryan Wolf 11:46
So with Infuse, what you can do is come in and kind of create -- let's say you've got Input and Individualization in your Top 5. You can kind of rewrite that goal to say something like, "I will, I will learn and discover about potential clients. I'll spend an extra 5 minutes researching them and their industry prior to our next conversation, or the first outreach, utilizing Input and Individualization so I can kind of bring extra value to the conversations that we have. So with that Infusion, you took a results-oriented goal and created some process around it. Both are great, but it's kind of a way to tackle both.

Ryan Wolf 12:34
When you think about Choose, so Infuse and Choose -- with Choose, let's say you're, you're starting with a couple of strengths that you really want to focus on; let's say, Achiever and Woo. Everyone loves someone who's got Woo in their Top 5. They're gonna, they're going to be great at icebreaking and getting the conversation started. So because they're in your Top 5, you're Choosing to create a new goal with, with those in mind. So your goal could be something like, I'm going to use my Achiever and my Woo to create several new lists of people who I should network with, who could either become potential partners or could kind of introduce me to partners. And the results of this action is that it will help me increase my sales conversion. So a couple of different ways to think about it.

Crafting Goals That Work With Your Unique Theme Combo

Jim Collison 13:29
Yeah, that's a great walk-through, Ryan, of kind of how to get it done. Brandon asks this great question out there. He says, What if I've got both Adaptability and Futuristic in his Top 6? How would you structure your goals? And let me -- while you're thinking about that, Ryan -- let me just say, I think the most underutilized report that we have that helps with goal-setting is our Strengths Insight Guide. Those are those individualized statements for you, based on all 34, but for, but, but in a Top 5 format. And that gives you these statements to help you kind of understand -- I like to go through that Insight Guide and circle the words that just pop out to me. In other words, to give me some ideas. They're also kind of the first, some of the first work in theme dynamics for people. In other words, how do all these themes kind of come together? No theme lives in isolation; there's no one single theme.

Jim Collison 14:22
So how do they work together in this? Brandon, in this, in this particular example, Brandon's talking about both Adaptability and Futuristic in his Top 6. So Brandon, that, the, the one that is No. 6 would be factored in on that Strengths Insight Guide, available for you in Gallup Access. You can log in and look at that report, bring it up and start to do some work with it. But specifically, Ryan, in this case, when we have two themes, and, in some cases, like, think about it -- might be Adaptability and Deliberative -- where, right, the themes themselves have, are seemingly maybe contradictory. We know that's not true. We know no themes contradict each other. But give maybe Brandon a little insight on this, on this question around Adaptability and Futuristic and setting goals.

Ryan Wolf 15:06
Yeah. So Jim, you led it off perfectly. And I would just say, just to, to emphasize that even more would be to do both. So, so don't shy away from either one. And there might be some elements of your wellbeing that need more Adaptability, versus other elements that might need more Futuristic. So there's really infinite ways that you can use those top themes of yours and apply them to all those different aspects of your life. So that's what I'd do. I, yeah, I kind of, I think, I think, you know, I mentioned, I mentioned Competition a little bit. So Competition is really kind of comparing yourself to others -- really drawing inspiration compared to others, whereas Maximizer -- so, so Maximizer's slightly different; obviously, not opposite.

Ryan Wolf 16:04
But let's say you've got a physical wellbeing goal that you want to, let's say you want to improve your 5K. But, but for somebody who has high Competition, their goal might actually be, "Well, I do want to improve my 5K, but actually, I want to beat my next door neighbor in this 5K. So I'm just gonna make sure that I train well enough, and I live healthy enough, that, that I'm going to beat my neighbor." Whereas Maximizer, you might say, "Well, last year, I ran that 5K in 30 minutes. I just want to shave off a couple of minutes off of my time. And so that's going to be what I set my target to."

Jim Collison 16:45
There's some great advice coming in, by the way, in the chat on this. That'll be available afterwards here on LinkedIn. If you go back to the video, the chat will be available. One of the things, going back to that example of Futuristic -- let's see, Brandon said Futuristic and Adaptability. And I would kind of, the way I would kind of frame it, thinking about that -- I have Adaptability lower in my, in my Top 10 and very little Futuristic, but thinking ahead, right, looking out in the future, how can I create multiple options for myself to be able to achieve the same goal, right?

Jim Collison 17:22
For someone with Futuristic and Adaptability, there may be these opportunities, not to come up with one way to get it done, but how -- they're the perfect opportunist, right. Looking ahead, How can I wait for certain opportunities to come along? I think someone else had mentioned Maximizer in there, that they also had Maximizer in that. And then, How can I create these multiple ways of getting to the same -- that have the best possible outcome? Right, I think that's one of those ways to set that in place. And then to add to some, so that's how I blend my strengths in. And then I might kind of start adding in time goals, right? OK, I want to see these kinds of things happen by fill in (_____), because the Adaptability may not want to put a time on it. But the Futuristic may need that, right.

Reaching the Goals You Set

Jim Collison 18:09
So maybe start thinking through, by the end of the quarter; by the end of this quarter; by the end of this month. And then maybe put some things, because the measurement tells us how we know we got there. Because this is where I think a lot of folks drop, you know, kind of drop the ball or fumble on goals. They never know when they're actually there. Right? Let's set some things -- Ryan, you have, you've got high Discipline in yours. You spend probably a bunch of time knowing you actually got there. How important is that aspect in goal-setting? And how can we use strengths to kind of help us realize, Hey, we've got to this, this milestone?

Ryan Wolf 18:47
Yeah, definitely. So it's, you know, I think what we need to do is, when we're navigating all these frameworks and kind of deciding what, what goal, what goals we need to set, it's important to also understand, you know, who, who we're sharing these goals with, and that we're not just keeping them saved in our own personal files without anyone else realizing what they are. So I think, you know, having that, having that accountability, and not necessarily -- "accountability" sounds maybe too strict, but having someone who really is going to support you and encourage you to achieve those is, is so important.

Ryan Wolf 19:31
So rather than just nose-to-the-grindstone constantly, we're talking with partners who we know have our best interest in mind. Could be your manager; could be best friends at work; could be your spouse; could be your best friend outside of work. And that way, we can take some time to celebrate the successes and then, kind of like with that SMARTER framework, kind of evaluate and, and reset.

Jim Collison 20:01
Amy had asked a question based on the comment I made. She said, Did you say that the Strength Insight Guide factors in All 34 or Top 5, for the Top 5? And yes, it takes into account your entire 34 but, but lists them by the Top 5 in that report. So anyone who's taken CliftonStrengths and taken the Top 5 has that report available to them. It lives side by side with your, with the standard report that has the standard definitions available in Gallup Access. If you haven't logged in in a while, go to Log in and check out the reports that are available to you there as well.

What a Coach Can Do to Help You Achieve Your Goals

Jim Collison 20:36
I want to challenge you, in the 9 minutes or so that we have left, I'd love to really see some strengths-based goals show up in chat. So let's see if we can get those going. Measurable, Time-based and weaving your themes in, right. And let's get some simple, maybe get some simple ones, you know, that, so we can show them on the screen. Ryan, while they're typing those in, I want to ask you this question: What's the, what's the importance of a coach in helping people achieve these goals? What's that role? So whether I'm being coached or I am the coach, how important is a coach's role in, in goals?

Ryan Wolf 21:12
Yeah, so a coach can definitely help you figure out any of these kind of complicated, you know, combinations of, of strengths that you might have and, of course, the complicated combination and interrelatedness of wellbeing. So we know that with, with the, with the 5 elements of wellbeing, they are interdependent on each other. And if we, if we're setting our goals and they're, we don't have kind of some wholesomeness to it -- if we're just setting career goals and maybe neglecting some, some relationship goals or some financial goals or some health goals, then there's just, there's potential for discombobulation. So a coach can really help come in and kind of evaluate and give advice. And perhaps all you need to do is set just the career goals. But then the coach can help you understand how those career goals can also trickle down and impact those other elements of life that we know are so important.

Jim Collison 22:25
You've got a fan already -- someone said, "Choose and Infuse are my takeaway nuggets from today." So I think there's a great opportunity. I think the, the importance of a coach too is they put it out there in the universe somewhere, tell somebody, right. We had someone say, "Tell anyone. I told my Pilates instructor one of my goals." Put it out in the world, just not in my own head. I think having or telling a coach built, builds in some accountability to it. Right? We have some, you've, Ryan, you've coached me for the 14 years that I've been here at Gallup, and I'll, and we didn't, we didn't achieve them all. But we achieved many of them. Because we would get together on a regular basis. And you'd say, "OK, let's talk about this. How are we doing it?" You know, and it was just, it was great accountability.

Jim Collison 23:12
Another comment, "I've been aiming my Achiever" -- I love this one, by the way -- "been, I've been aiming" (and will continue to do so) "I'm Achiever-Maximizer-Strategic to accomplish the goal of earning my Ph.D. in leadership by May 2022." Right? There we go. Sounds fairly realistic and reasonable. We've got some strengths associated with it. We've got a time frame in there. And we know we've achieved it when we've gotten the Ph.D. Right? I love that. Right? It gets, it gets to the point. And it gets us there. And you want to, you want to add any comments to that?

Ryan Wolf 23:45
Yeah, I think, so that's great. This is something that you put on a sticky note or something that you can share easily. But then you can really flesh it out, you know, behind the scenes or with your coach, and, or your, or your manager or whomever is best positioned to support you with this goal. And really talk about the details about how those specific strengths will come into play and when you can use them, how you can use them and how they interact with each other.

Jim Collison 24:18
Karen makes the comment, "I aim to volunteer at least once a month" -- I like that -- "by using my Futuristic and Strategic to research opportunities and my Connectedness to pursue those opportunities that I feel called towards." I think that's a great, right, that's a great, measurable. Libby says, "Put away Christmas decorations by MLK Day." Libby, let me encourage you: What are you going to use? Like, what themes do you have? Like what's, what's gonna drive you to get that, you know, to get that goal done?

Ryan Wolf 24:52
That's good. I mean, Karen and Libby, those are, those are two great goals. And, and Jim, kudos for selecting those back to back. I think it's important to not take all of our goals too seriously, and, and have some fun with them. Remember, strengths are areas of excellence, ease and enjoyment. So we need to make sure that this is fun, and that we're doing things that, that are enjoyable. And if they're not, it's, it's unlikely that we're using our top strengths.

Jim Collison 25:30
Some great goals that are coming in now. Cara says, "By March 26th, using my Empathy and (body) Communication strengths, I will help my dog decrease her separation anxiety." Like this is going to be, we have all these pets, right, that we acquired during the pandemic. "And, and to feel safe and secure for up to 4 hours on her own." I love that, because there's some things that we can measure in that. There's some things that we can, we can point to, we can know if we're getting there, right?

The "Who" and the "Why" in Goals

Jim Collison 26:00
Serenity says, "Using my Achiever to make my next move professionally by the end of this school year," -- again, great measurement in there -- "using my Communication to find new opportunities and possibilities by networking." I think I might also add to a goal like that -- OK, so Who? The "Who" in it, like, Who do I actually need to talk to for those opport-? Where am I going to find those opportunities? Where, they, sometimes we say, "Well, I'm going to talk to some folks about it," but who are we actually going to, you know, talk about. How are we going to kind of make that goal happen? Ryan, we have just a few minutes left. Anything else you want to add in here?

Ryan Wolf 26:39
So I, yeah, I do agree with you, Jim. "Who" is, "Who" is so important. I also think coaches, and, and as we're self-evaluating, we need to really understand "Why." And we need to get at the "Why" we want to achieve these goals that we're writing down or even the visions that we haven't necessarily written down but we know we want and understand why we, we're, we desire that. And that will really help us create more granular details when we're creating these goals.

Jim Collison 27:14
Yeah, you know, the "R" in SMARTER -- if we're going to go with that for a second -- I think it's important that it could represent "Reward." I think oftentimes -- you led with this in the very beginning -- we come at goals cause we're trying to punish ourselves for things we didn't get done or didn't do last year. And so we're like, "I'm gonna, I'm gonna punish myself." I think motivation, we know -- and you alluded to this with the positivity of it -- I think the reward, that positivity piece, helps us keep going with it. Right? It helps us kind of like, Oh, wait a minute. And maybe not the reward at the, even the at the very end, but kind of building in a set of rewards --

Ryan Wolf 27:55

Jim Collison 27:56
Yeah, throughout that. And I'm talking about genuine strengths-based rewards: How can we do things for ourselves that keep us motivated, right, in that? Oftentimes, diets fail because we get too extreme with them too early, and then we just end up hungry. And nobody, like nobody wants to be hungry, right, in that setting, but, but getting rewards. Do you want to add anything else to that?

Ryan Wolf 28:20
No, I think that's beautiful. So we, we gave, we gave everyone a few different ways to think about your "R." So "R" traditionally as either Relevant or Realistic. It may be, it's, it's also Reward. So, and then you're also giving, giving yourself the opportunity to call it SMARTS, by, by adding your Strengths at the end of it and just kind of encapsulating it all. So, so that was, that was really nice, Jim. I appreciate that one.

Jim Collison 28:51
Ryan, any other tools in this, the final 30 seconds that we have? Any other tools that you'd throw out there to kind of help people set these, set these strengths-based goals?

Ryan Wolf 28:59
Yeah, we've actually got a great new webpage out there. It's called Creating Strengths-Based Goals, I believe, is the actual name of it. And, but anyway, you can, you can, we'll put that in the, in the show notes, Jim. And it's a great way to kind of walk through some of the topics that we discussed here today and to kind of take action on all these topics.

Jim Collison 29:26
Yeah, and I would, there's even a downloadable form on there that you can, you, a PDF you can get in print or do it online and help set your own goals or use in your coaching to help others set goals. Reilly, shake your head if -- Can, can you put that link in the, in the chat? Will that show up? I -- OK, she's given me the thumbs up. So hopefully that will appear out there for you as well. Well, we want to thank you for joining us today. Our goal was to get through this in 30 minutes; we're at 30 minutes and 18 seconds. I'm going to call it good. Ryan, my Positivity says I think we made it. Ryan, thanks for coming out today and being part of this.

Ryan Wolf 30:00
Yeah, great to be here. Thanks, Jim.

Jim Collison 30:03
Thank you so much for listening to today's episode of the CliftonStrengths Podcast. Make sure you like and subscribe wherever you listen, so you never miss an episode. And if you're really enjoying this podcast, please leave a review. This helps us promote strengths globally.

Ryan Wolf's Top 5 CliftonStrengths are Discipline, Achiever, Futuristic, Activator and Harmony.

Learn more about using CliftonStrengths to help yourself and others succeed:

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