The anatomy of a Desired Outcome

by | Mar 7, 2023

There is more to how our clients tell us what they want: let’s look at the anatomy of the Desired Outcome.

Maybe you’ve noticed how sometimes clients start a session by saying:

‘I want to get confident’

while other times, it’s more like:

‘I want to start to feel into the possibility of maybe one day connecting with the start of feeling something like confidence’

The way that the Desired Outcome gets phrased tells us a lot about how the client currently relates to the Desired Outcome, and there are clues in that first phrasing that tell us about what the process of unfolding might be like.

(Thank you James Lawley, who first pointed me to this! I love how a client’s system can’t help but show us its structures of organisation and meaning making.)

You could say that the closer the ‘I‘ is to the word that stands for what the client wants, the closer they are at this very moment to spiritually, physically, mentally, emotionally being able to create that outcome for themselves.

Of course, part of our aim in a coaching session is to bridge the metaphorical gap between where the ‘I‘ is at the start of a session, and what it is that they want to call in.


How do you proceed, having noticed some of that anatomy of the Desired Outcome?

When you start to explore this with your client, start by exploring their true desire, the ‘confidence’ in these examples.

What kind of confidence is that? Anything else about it? Where is it? If you are able to, develop this into a metaphor.

Then go for the process that they identified:

‘What kind of get, is that get, when you want to get confident?’ – bring that into metaphor – or better yet, a process, a sequence expressed in embodied metaphor. This is the fastest way to help people create that inner shift in the session, and lay the foundation for that shift to last.

Or, in the second instance:
‘And what kind of ‘start to feel into the possibility of maybe one day connecting with the start of feeling something like confidence’ is that? – this will make the client reconsider and hone in on what’s actually most important right now.

In short:

Often, you start by exploring the thing furthest away from the ‘I’ in the DO statement, especially when there is a lot of filler words between the I and the actual desire.

The closer that desire is to the ‘I’, the less space the client gives themselves to hide away from what is tricky about this particular Desired Outcome.


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Image credit: Kiss With Ekg Line Coming Out Of It by Marija Vukovic from


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Love that you are here! It’s a pleasure to share what I’ve learned in 25 yrs of coaching and teaching coaches since 2006. At the Academy for Soul-based Coaching, the team and me have reached 1000s of coaches, therapists and healers, helping them have phenomenal, embodied results.

On a personal note, I’m a bi-sexual, perimenopausal (read sleep-deprived) self-anointed Priestess who craves the spiritual as much as I do the practical, connecting seeming opposites in true Gemini style – and that is about all I know about astrology.

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