Are you looking for a new approach to your coaching sessions?

Do you want a simple, concise method to help you guide your clients through their journeys of personal growth and success?

If so, the GROW model may be a good option for you to consider!

The GROW Model comes from the United Kingdom, where it was used extensively by business coaching during the 1980s and 1990s. The term GROW stands for:

  • Goal—Where is it that your client wants to be? Once you have the end goal in mind, it’s much easier to break things down into the steps that need to be taken to reach that objective.
  • Reality—Where is your client at now? How far are they from their goal? What do they need to change to meet that goal?
  • Obstacles—What is stopping your client from reaching their goal? What can they do to overcome and deal with those challenges? How can they make progress despite the obstacles?
  • Way Forward—What specific steps can be taken today to start working toward those goals? What steps need to be taken tomorrow, the next week, or the next month? How are they going to find their way forward?

This simple 4-step approach to problem-solving and goal-setting can help you to formulate a plan for your clients. It’s a great way to deal with the issues that you are tackling in your coaching course, and it can be modified to meet just about any need or suit any problem.

Let’s take a closer look at the four steps of the GROW Model for Coaches:

G is for Goal

grow model coaching

The first step in any change or achievement is knowing what you want. Your client will have to have a specific outcome in mind before they can start working toward it!

It’s easy to say, “I want to lose weight” or “I want to be more successful”, but that’s just too vague! Setting a goal goes far beyond just knowing what you want, but it extends to the specifics of EXACTLY what you are trying to achieve.

To this end, use the SMART model to set effective goals:

Specific — The more specific, the better! If your client wants to lose weight, HOW MUCH weight do they want to lose? Do they want to lose weight, burn body fat, or have a better balance of lean weight to fat weight? You’d be surprised by how to steps to reaching your goal change, according to the exactly goal you are trying to achieve. Setting specific goals will help you avoid unnecessary time-wasters, helping you to keep your efforts focused entirely on the exact goal you are trying to achieve.

Measurable — Saying “I want to lose weight” is not at all efficient, simply because the term “lose weight” is just too vague. Instead, the smart way is to say, “I want to lose 30 pounds”. That’s a measurable goal, one that you can break down into smaller steps. If your goal is to “be successful”, why not break it down into something measure like “Earn $100,000 a year”? When you can measure your goals, you can have an idea of what it means to achieve it!

Attainable — Are your goals truly attainable? Are you prepared to make the changes needed to attain your goal? Are you prepared to handle the results of your efforts? Do you have the right mindset, physical, or emotional condition for whatever you’re working toward? For a goal to be attainable, it has to be something that you can see yourself attaining. YOU have to believe that you can do it in order to actually do it!

Realistic — Back to the weight loss goal: can you really lose 30 pounds in a week? How about going from a $25,000 per year salary to a $100,000 per year salary in just one year? How realistic are your goals? Do you have a realistic timeframe to reach that goal, or are you hoping for the impossible? The more realistic the goals, the easier it will be to reach them! You should set goals that can actually be achieved, so be realistic with your expectations.

Time-bound — If there is no urgency, what will keep you going when the going gets tough? If you’re trying to lose 30 pounds but there’s no timeframe, that weight loss can happen over the course of years or decades. How efficient a goal is that? Truly efficient, effective goals are time-bound, meaning you have a certain amount of time to achieve whatever your objective is. This will keep you pushing and working hard, as you have a time frame with which to work.

The Goal is the first step of your GROW Model, but it’s the most important step. Once you have your goals, it’s time to move on to…

R is for Reality


What is your life like now? Is it possible for you to reach your goal? The reality of life is that NOT everyone is positioned in the right place or situation to reach their goals…

Let’s take it back to the weight loss goal…

Your client wants to lose 30 pounds, and you’ve set the goal of dropping all that weight over the course of 6 months. That seems like a pretty realistic and achievable goal, right?

Time to face reality: your client spends 10 to 12 hours sitting at a desk all day long, they cannot afford to eat quality food, and they don’t have time to work out at a gym. The reality is that they are NOT in a position to lose weight, so they are unable to reach their goals.

This is, of course, a highly extreme example, but it gives you an understanding of what you need to evaluate for the R in the GROW Model. The reality stands for the issues and challenges they face in their life, and how far they have to go.

Here are a few more examples:

  • Your client’s goal is to earn $100,000 per year. The reality is that they have no skills that could earn them that money, their business is in an industry that has low salaries and incomes, and they are currently earning $25,000 per year.
  • Your client’s goal is to take 30 minutes per day for themselves. However, the reality is that he/she is a day trader, so they have no time for a break. Worse still, they have a boss who refuses to give them the time they want/need.
  • Your client’s goal is to get along better with people at work. The reality, sadly, is that they are working at the desk next to their ex-spouse, with whom they have a terrible relationship. They are also the office pariah, and both their bosses, coworkers, and employees all hate them.

All of these examples are a bit drastic, but they can give you an idea of how reality can often make it a bit more challenging to reach your goals!

Once you have your goal in mind, it’s time to sit down and take a cold, hard look at reality. Are your goals realistic given your current situation? Are you going to able to make the physical, mental, and emotional changes needed to reach your goals? Are you capable of “covering enough ground” in the time you have set for yourself?

Part of SMART goal-setting is being realistic, so it’s time for your clients to examine their reality!

Moving on, it’s time to look at…

O is for Obstacles and Options

grow coaching model

No matter what you are trying to do, there will always be something that will stop you from doing it, hinder your progress, or force you to work twice as hard. If there is one thing you can always count on in life, it’s obstacles! If there were no obstacles, they would have already achieved their goal.

If you go into the coaching session understanding this, you’ll have a much easier time figuring out how to overcome the obstacles.

It’s time for you and your client to sit down and take a cold, hard look at the obstacles in their life:

  • Time — Time, or a lack thereof, is one of the primary obstacles in just about everything. If your goal is to lose weight, how much time do you have to dedicate to eating well and working out? If your goal is to earn $100,000 per year, how much time do you have to dedicate to a second job, studying to obtain the required skills, or hunt for a new job?
  • Money — Can you afford to do it? That’s a tough question to answer, and, sadly, few of us can answer with a “Yes”. You may not have the money needed to lose weight, earn more money, improve your quality of life, or achieve whatever other goals you’ve set for yourself. This is one of the hardest obstacles to overcome!
  • Environment — Are you striving to be happier and work but hate your job? Are you trying to eat healthier but are surrounded by people who snack and make poor diet choices? Are you trying to take more time to relax but have kids at home? Your environment may conspire against you, making it harder to reach your goals easily.
  • Skills — Once again, it may be your LACK of skills that stop you from reaching your goals. You may not be fit enough to get in that fat-blasting workout to lose weight. You may not have the skills needed to pull in a $100k-per year salary. You may not know how to meditate or be mindful properly. Your lack of skills can be one of your largest obstacles to achieving your goal.

But you know what’s great about all of these obstacles? They can be quantified and listed! Once you understand what your obstacles are, that’s when you can start to look at your options for dealing with and overcoming them.

How can you deal with the lack of time? Maybe get up earlier in the morning, or go to sleep later in the evening? Could you fit something in before work, at your lunch break, or organize your schedule better?

How can you deal with the lack of money? Maybe trim your expenses in other areas of your life, or consider dipping into your savings. You’ll find that there are a lot of ways to tighten your belt and make your money work better for you.

How can you deal with an unhealthy environment? Maybe you can remove yourself from that environment, or find ways to ignore or tune it out. You don’t have to be swayed or affected by those around you!

How can you deal with a lack of skills? Maybe it’s time to study to obtain those skills, or find a path to your goals that are attainable with the set of skills you currently have.

Understanding your goals is the key to overcoming them!

And finally, we move on to…

W is for Way Forward


Now that you understand what you are trying to achieve, taken a hard look at your reality, and discovered the obstacles that stand in your way, what next? What can you do to start making progress and moving forward?

This is the “action” part of the GROW Model for Coaches and their clients.

This is where your client will need to commit to taking some sort of action in order to overcome the obstacles, change their reality, and reach their goals.

For example:

  • To deal with a lack of time, make a commitment to change their schedule or manage their time better.
  • To deal with a lack of money, make a commitment to manage their finances or trim their expenses.
  • To deal with an unhealthy environment, make a commitment to quit their job, work from home, or find new friends.
  • To deal with a lack of skills, make a commitment to start studying and obtaining the skills needed to reach the goals.

This is the hardest part, but it’s where your clients will “put feet to their goals”.

Remember: the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step!


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Ajit Nawalkha

Ajit Nawalkha is the Co-founder of Evercoach. He is passionate about disrupting industries and creating positive change. Ajit is a business coach himself. His clients include Crazy Egg, Divine Living and Get Altitude.

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