on trackThis entry is part of a week-long series on powerful coaching questions.

This question– “How will you stay on track?”– is one that I often ask after a person has established their goal and put their action plan in place. It’s particularly helpful when the goal is something that’s going to be challenging– a difficult situation or a new skill they’re trying to learn. They’re going to need some kind of plan to help them stick with it.

Sometimes I frame this question as, “Who can help you stay on track?” Interestingly, 90% they don’t say me as the coach. They name someone else. They may say, “I’m part of an accountability group,” or “I have this friend.” The idea is to help them think about the constellation of people already in their lives who can help, encourage, and come alongside them. Those people are usually far more happy to help that we realize.

In the few cases where the people say me, I respond, “Sure, I’m happy to do that. And who else could help you?” Most clients intuitively know that they need people who are a regular part of their lives, not just a once-a-month coach. That one person isn’t going to be enough to help them stay on track.

The question, “How will you stay on track?” goes beyond just people too. I’ve had clients come up with all kinds of ways to stay on track. One client set aside time at a Starbucks every Monday morning to do his planning for the week. Another client set an alarm on her phone to remind her to do certain tasks she had committed to. Some people tape notes to the mirror or set aside time to journal about what they’re going to do.

One client has a goal of reminding himself that what he is doing is ministry, not just work. Together we came up with the idea of setting an alarm for 3:17 (pm not am!), which reminds him of Colossians 3:17: “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus.”

Asking “How will you stay on track?” prompts people to come up with ways to stay aligned with their goals between coaching session.