Most people are looking back on the past year with a tinge of regret. They’re wishing they’d worked a little harder and or gotten bigger results.
They’re also looking ahead, hoping to turn things around in the upcoming year. Maybe they’re hoping for a miracle that next year will magically improve.
As coaches, we need to focus on more than just hanging onto our clients. We need to focus on getting our clients to recommit to themselves, their future, and us.
The way we do this is through forward-focused reflection.
This five-step system gets your clients to look back on the past year, but not in a way that’s heavy. We don’t want them to focus on the numbers, or reflect in a way that makes them feel bad about the past year.
We want to help them see their progress and feel the momentum. They’ll realize there’s more to do and recommit.
This practical strategy takes place in one session you do with your clients at the end of each year.
You’ll cause your clients to feel five specific emotions by asking them five specific questions.
When your clients feel these emotions in the right order, they’ll know there’s more to do, and they’ll be excited to get it done next year with you.
Here are the five emotions (in order) and the questions that evoke each emotion to get your clients to recommit to you as their coach:
1. Pride and Gratitude
First, you want your client to look back on the past year and think, “Wow! I made big progress. I’m really grateful for what’s happened, and I feel good about achieving some wins!”
Question: What are your top 3 for the year?
The ‘3’ are wins, magic moments, and achievements for the year. Have them brainstorm and write them down as they tell you.
Want to do more than three? Knock yourself out! The goal is finding progress points. This should get them to feel pride in what they accomplished or gratitude for how lucky they are that things happened the way they did.
The second emotion we want them to associate the past year with is growth.
I’ve found that re-framing things can be really helpful for clients. In the past year, they’ve had some wins, but they’ve also had tough times and things that didn’t end up so great. We want to re-frame these.
Instead of calling them ‘wins vs. losses’, re-frame them as ‘wins and lessons’.
Question: What are the biggest challenges you grew through? What did you learn from these that made you a better person and business owner?
This re-frames tough times into things that are now the raw material for the next year.
These are the things they wanted to get done but didn’t finish. It tells them there’s work to be done in the coming year.
Question: What unfinished business do you have?
You’re looking for projects that didn’t get done, or didn’t get done right. These are easy wins that create a need for working together in the next year.
Aspiration is what they hope to achieve next year.
Question: What are your top 3 aspirations for next year?
By now they should be crystal clear about the top three things that happened this past year, how they grew, and what’s still unfinished. As they list out what their goals are for the coming year, we’re starting to move them toward a brighter future.
This is the last feeling we want the client to experience because it kicks people into action the quickest. The first four emotions are the foundation, and this is the kicker.
Question: How do you want your X to be different?
The ‘X’ here is the areas you help people with – marketing, sales, revenue, team, etc. Pick 4 or 5 X’s and write them down as they tell you.
You’ll see that if you ask these questions and get them feel these five emotions, they’ll look back on their year as a win. Whether they smashed it or found it challenging, they’ll look back on it as a victory.
By doing this, you create an obvious business case for working with you next year. Your clients are now in a position to recommit to themselves, their future, and to you their coach.
Stop hoping your clients will recommit next year and use this strategy instead.
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