July 16, 2021 by Coach Training EDU
A Review Summary Part 1
by John Andrew Williams and Britt Fulmer
Citation: Nowak, K. (2017). Facilitating successful behavior change: Beyond goal setting to goal flourishing. Consulting Psychology Journal: Practice and Research, 69(3), 153-171. http://dx.doi.org/10.1037/cpb0000088
A coach’s ultimate purpose is to watch their clients achieve the goals they’ve set for themselves. But goals themselves aren’t quite as simple as setting an intention and watching them manifest before your eyes. Research suggests that there are vast differences in how individuals sustain their motivation around behavior change and risk-taking. The good news for coaching clients is that social support and emotion regulation, two core components of the coaching process, are at the center of successful habit change.
In his paper, Nowak (2017) highlights the difference between goal setting and goal striving. According to Nowak, goal setting is made of two simple components: behavior movement, such as when to start or stop the behavior, and behavior frequency. Goal striving involves setting intentional goals, aligning them with intentional actions and behaviors, and tracking and reevaluating these goals throughout the process. It also requires self-management, or the ability to handle both challenges and positive outcomes as they arise during the process. Both goal setting and goal striving are needed to successfully adopt the behavior change necessary to achieve the goal, a concept known as goal flourishing.
Nowak discusses the answers to six key questions surrounding the importance of goals. Each one addresses the three previously mentioned components of goals: goal setting, goal striving, and goal flourishing. Part one of our summary addresses all of the nuances of the first key question.
“What are the key characteristics of goals?”
Difficulty. Previous research called for a balance of difficulty when setting goals. Too difficult, and the goal became too overwhelming and was often abandoned. Too easy, and the goal no longer felt important. SMART goals were developed from this research, suggesting that clients create Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, and Timely goals to optimize their chances of goal achievement. However, some research indicates that BHAGs (Big, Hairy, Audacious Goals) tend to elicit higher levels of mental acuity. Because these goals involve a more extensive behavior overhaul, individuals tend to dedicate more focus and effort to the endeavor, which drives them to persist through challenges.
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