A client approaches you with the following question: “My visions and goals are great but they aren’t real. How can I start living them now?” Master Coach Zahava Starak answers this dilemma…

Wow! A dilemma of a question! How can one start living something that isn’t real? More likely the client in this case has goals and a vision that are very real – but perhaps not realistic or attainable in their view.

Or perhaps they feel that other people in their life might not appreciate their goal or that they are silly to have any aspirations. As a coach it is therefore a good idea to discuss with your client what is happening in their life at the present and what they want to see happening – and then whether there is any synchronicity between the two.

To this end you could follow the WDEP acronym.  Each letter of this acronym refers to a cluster of strategies that can be implemented by the coach to promote change and assist the client in living the life they want.

In this acronym the letter W stands for Wants and Needs.

The coach asks a number of questions that encourage their client to discover what their needs are. Clients are given the opportunity to explore every aspect of their life and determine what they want from family, work, friends and so on. 

Typical questions include: “What do you want that you don’t seem to be getting?” or “What would you be doing if you were living how you wanted to?” By answering such questions that client is painting a picture of their “quality world”.

Next, the coach addresses the letter D which stands for Direction and Doing

The coach now discusses with their client the overall direction of their life, including where they are going and where their behaviour is taking them. Once again, through questioning, the focus is on the client’s present reality.

Questions to be asked at this stage include: “What are you doing about this?” and “What did you actually do this past week?” As it is evident, these questions examine the behaviours of the client to determine whether they are helping them attain their quality world.

This then brings us to the letter E which stands for Evaluation. The coach now asks such questions as: “Is what you are doing helping you or hurting you?” or “Does your present behaviour have a reasonable chance of getting you what you want now?” These questions help the client evaluate their behaviour and to honestly look at the consequences of their actions. With this realistic appraisal the client is now ready to make effective choices that may lead to change and goal attainment.

So they can now address the letter P which stands for Planning and Commitment. Clients can now explore the behaviours which can satisfy their wants and help them live their vision. Questions to assist the client at this stage include: “What plans could you make that would result in a more satisfying life?” or “Are there any other ways you achieve this goal?”

By following this acronym the client is empowered to start making their goals real and attainable thereby enabling them to live the life they want. Let’s now see how this acronym works in a real situation.

Case Example

Our client in this case is Linda. She describes her life as one that should be ‘satisfying’. She is happily married to an accountant and enjoys looking after her two children aged 5 and 7. Her husband earns enough money so that the family has all their basic needs met without Linda having to work.

Before the birth of her second child Linda worked in the hospitality industry and enjoyed the interaction with people. It is only recently that she began questioning her ‘quality world’ and talking about goals and visions. Linda wants to expand her world and says that she is probably ‘silly’ and that she should abandon her ‘grand plans’ and take up a hobby instead.

Linda is basically saying that her goals and vision aren’t real – but asking – how can I start living them now.

Based on our model the first step is to determine what Linda’s wants and needs are, and so we can ask Linda “What do you want with your life that you don’t seem to be getting?” We can further this exploration by asking Lind to describe the world that she would like to wake up to if, while sleeping, a miracle happened and her needs were met (the Miracle question).

Linda does know what she wants and she explains that she would like to see the children off to school each morning and then work on her catering and special events business that she has dreamt of for the last two years. With enthusiasm she explains in detail her business concept and who she would have helping her run it. Her wants and needs would be met by the challenge of the business and by the social interaction it would offer.

Next we can ask Linda what she is doing to get her wants. More specifically we ask, “What did you actually do this past week to take steps to start your business?” and “What do you see for yourself now and in the future?”

Linda’s enthusiasm wanes and she indicates that all she has been doing is talking about her dream to both perspective employees and supporters. She has only briefly mentioned it to her husband. She owns up that she feels foolish to have such aspirations and so until now has chosen to dream but not to act.

This statement leads us into an evaluation and we ask Linda “Is what you want realistic?” and although Linda hesitates and stumbles in the discussion of her vision, it becomes evident that her dream is possible. She has the skills, the contacts, the finances and the passion – and so we now ask her “Does your present behaviour have a reasonable chance of getting you what you want now, and will it take you in the direction you want to go?”

Linda, as expected, answers ‘no’ but there is a smile on her face as she now realises that she can actually start doing something to make this goal come true. And we can now enter the Planning and Commitment Stage of the Model. Goals can be more specifically addressed using the SMART format and a vision can be described in more detail.

We can ask Linda to indicate how committed she is to attaining her goal and she answers that on a scale between 1and 10 where 1 is not committed and 10 is fully committed – she is a 10. We are now ready to formulate an action plan and initiate the first steps towards establishing Linda’s goal and having her live the life she wants. 

Your vision will become clear only when you look into your heart. Who looks outside, dreams. Who looks inside, awakens. ~ Carl Jung