The only way to get a client to make any change whatsoever is to control their focus. Give them too much and you’ll lose them. But give them too little, and they may not get anywhere.
So the bottom line is that goals need to be realistic, based on where they’re at and what they’re willing to do. The ultimate goal is to support them in taking more action than they think they can.
How does an end goal get broken down into manageable “Process Steps”?
- An end goal is worthless without actionable steps. To really help clients get there, we have to break down what they need to do into specific confidence-building experiences.
- Outlining strategic action steps help clients understand the cause and effect of their daily choices, and is the very best way to get them to change their behavior.
- We have to learn to adjust the sails, depending upon how motivated, willing, and able a client becomes to take action.
First things first: Where are we at?
When beginning work with a client, getting their baseline measurements is critical in helping the client understand what their next steps are and why. (And yes, sometimes that means taking your client out of their comfort zone.)
If we’re not helping a client take stock of their true starting point and face reality through the numbers, we’re really not helping them at all. It’s like leaving the blinds closed. Using information to ‘let in the light of their reality’ helps the client become conscious and can motivate get them to take informed action.
(This infographic speaks to the importance of getting the baseline and using the info to coach from the starting point)
It’s common for a client to have a knee-jerk reaction and roll their eyes about getting their body composition numbers measured and recorded. But helping them gain meaningful insight changes the way the client thinks… that’s how you make progress. I’ve had some clients literally say, “The facts scared me straight.” And sometimes that’s what it takes to get people to take action.
Where do we ultimately want to be and when could we get there?
Technology makes it easy to predict when someone could reach his/her goal. Looking at things objectively helps a client understand their mission based on facts alone, and that takes the emotion out of the situation and enables the client to see the Big Picture.
Ultimately, where does the client want to be? There are plenty of people who don’t shoot for enough weight loss. Even worse are those who think they need to lose more than what’s considered healthy. Make sure the goal is realistic as well as healthy. That’s when you can truly start to use their information to help them understand the truth and talk them off the cliff.
“When am I going to reach my goal?”
Well, that’s a loaded question, but a very common one. Setting a goal date of when they’ll finally have their “new body” can have a tremendous effect on allowing the client to see the light at the end of the tunnel.
If you allow the client to bite off more than they can chew and shoot for the stars, they often get too overexcited at first and can’t sustain that enthusiasm for the long haul. When that happens, they may get discouraged halfway through and wind up shutting down. That isn’t going to be good for them, or your training business. So instead, it’s more helpful to tell clients, “OK, let’s bottle up some of that energy up and sip on it over the length of time that this is really going to take.”
“What strategic steps can I take now?”
We all hear that it’s ideal to lose one to two pounds a week. But what does that really mean? And how do you break that down for the client and into actions need to take place in order to guarantee that happens?
Simple daily tasks empower a client. Keep them focused on the behavior change that they’ll need to lose that very first pound. This will help them focus on the “here and now,” and when they do lose the first pound, and then another, followed by another, the momentum they need will be established and motivating, and they will be on their way to building a real habit.
Building Client Confidence
It’s our job to help build their confidence so they can start owning this life change. This is where you’ve got to map it out into daily actionable tasks they can accomplish and feel great about.
Breaking action into simple, bite-sized pieces works best. Try not to use the term “small steps.” (‘Small’ insinuates that your clients are children, and have to take baby steps. And that angle doesn’t do much to help build a client’s confidence!) Instead, using the term “strategic steps” or “doable steps” is best. Agree on what the first of those steps is.
- So what kind of steps should those be? Some common examples that are strategic and doable are:
- Eat something for breakfast
- Start setting a bedtime to get more sleep
- Go for a 15-minute walk
- Get to your training appointment.
Change one habit at a time. Let’s say you ask a client who isn’t on a routine, “How many days can you commit to going for a walk and for how long?” They answer by saying, “Four days a week for 45 minutes.” My immediate response is then, “OK, let’s do three days a week for 20 minutes for this first week.” By setting their expectation so low initially, their reaction is “Oh, wow. Yeah, I can totally do that.” That builds their confidence and empowers them to take the first step in the direction they want to head. This will build upon itself.
Control their focus. If you’ve got their attention focused on the things they know they can definitely do, they become far more empowered and more likely to take action.
Pushing the bus forward
E-mails, voicemails, and encouraging words from you get the bus moving. Once that’s happened, it will take less attention on your part to keep them going.
Weekly weigh-ins are a great way to keep them focused. Science proves that when someone weighs in regularly in the company of someone else, they adhere much better to their food intake and exercise plan.
Change the way your clients think
Altering a client’s mentality is crucial to success with them. You’ve got to help them understand the difference between “Needs” and “Wants.” Most people identify primarily with wants, which are highly connected with emotion. Wants are laced with thoughts, opinions and drama. Needs are physiological, and based in reality. Helping clients understand that there’s a difference will enable them to close in on their goal. Next thing you know, their wants start to align with their needs, which is the ideal scenario.
Remember to stay on them, and to hold them accountable as they grow used to their new way of thinking. Again, keep them focused on success in very specific steps, and when enough of those steps have been made consistently, it’s time to take their measurements and run the numbers again. Once they see their own progress, that’s when the magic happens. They begin to see the fruits of their labors, and understand that they can control their own destiny.