Herding Fish

coaching for artists and makers


30 July 2021

The idea of ‘goals’ is central to the coaching process. But what does it mean when a coach asks their client what their goal is, or what they want to ‘achieve’? This is language that we tend to associate with external ‘success’ criteria and hitting targets. That’s not the world we operate in as artists + makers and it can sometimes feel a bit uncomfortable, like the coach expects you to be chasing after something grand.

A ‘goal’ is really just an anchor for the conversation. It’s a stepping-off point that says: this thing is bothering me, and I think I could do something about it. The focus of coaching is to take that thing – whatever it might be – explore your options for how you could change it and then decide how you will change it.

Unlike counselling, where the focus might be to dive into the back-story and create change from there, coaching starts in the present moment and looks forward. It takes the view that things are as they are and that you’re perfectly able to manage the process of moving forward from here. Of course there are times when deeper emotional issues are at play that might require a therapeutic approach – you wouldn’t expect a massage to fix a broken arm, but it probably would be helpful if your shoulders are routinely scrunched up round your ears.

So you might come to a session knowing that something (like a deadline) is creating anxiety, that you’d like to feel more resilient so you can keep yourself on track. Addressing that anxiety could be emotional – coaching doesn’t happen in a vacuum – but the focus would stay on the goal of building resilience, rather than diving into the experience of being stressed.

As creatives, we all have ideas far faster than our hands can express them. And when our hands are busy our brains start firing off even more ideas – then we have websites to update, images to file, and at least a million other things that we ought not to think about on a Sunday evening. We literally can’t do all of it, and coaching is a great way to sift through the options and get clear about what’s really worth your focus at this point in time and clarify what’s right for you right now.