You've been wanting a new job, a new career, a new "fill in the blank" for a while now. Despite your best intentions you haven't been able to start -- or you've started but what you've tried hasn't worked.

Even though you are accomplished in many other areas in your life, achieving this goal has been elusive. This circumstance is one of the key reasons why coaches exist. The right coach can make the difference between continuing to try and ultimately reaching your goal.

If you're thinking of going this route, here's what you should expect from a good coach:

Accountability: A good coach will hold your feet to the fire and not let you get away with excuses like "I've been too busy traveling", "I got the flu", "I'm in the middle of a big project", etc. An experienced coach has heard all the excuses and knows how to navigate through them so you keep making progress.

Perspective: "Oh what a gift it is to see ourselves as others see us." A good coach can provide perspective on yourself that other people in your life may not be able to. Coaches are impartial and better able to give you objective input on what's holding you back. Having coached a lot of people, they have seen issues like you're facing and have solutions to address them. They know what works and you benefit from their experience. Getting perspective is important at every level. People at the top of their game frequently use coaches to keep their competitive edge. Even Tiger Woods, as great as he is, has a coach who can give him perspective on his swing.

Brainstorming: Evaluating possibilities is part of what a coach does. Even if you think you've covered all the bases there may be some areas that you've overlooked. Brainstorming helps you look at your options more creatively and expand your vision. Using a single concept, the right coach will springboard multiple ideas and create new opportunities to help you reach your goal.

Measurement: Rarely do people, on their own, follow through on measuring their progress against their goal. Measurement is part of the overall structure the coach will put in place. This includes a plan, various milestones with timelines and the strategies necessary to achieve these. As you measure your progress along the way, you may need to make adjustments. Your coach can help you develop alternatives. Measurement takes the "guessing" out of where you are. It gives you an accurate accounting relative to where you need to be. Measuring your progress can also spur you on to redouble your efforts. When you know you're getting closer, this can turn your jog into a sprint.

Encouragement: It's hard to encourage yourself. Encouragement is the fuel that keeps you going when you might be tempted to quit. When you hit a rough patch, that's when you're most likely to become derailed. Once you're off track it's harder to get back on. Having a coach who is vested in your success will give you the encouragement you need to keep going. Sometimes we need to be reminded of how capable we are.

Contacts: Most goals involve other people and to the extent that you can be connected, the path to your goal will be accelerated. A good coach will have contacts that you can leverage. These "door openers" are very important and can either directly or indirectly lead you to the person who can help your cause.

The road to any goal -- whether it be professional or personal -- can be rocky sometimes. If there's a goal you've been thinking of and have tried to achieve without success, consider using the resources of a coach. Having your efforts directed and knowing that you are doing the right things will give you the confidence and energy to reach your goal.

Fred & Gladys
Whelan Stone
Executive Search and Coaching
Authors of GOAL! Your 30 Day Career Plan for Business & Career Success

Author's Bio: 

Gladys Stone and Fred Whelan are executive coaches and recruiters with more than 20 years of experience. Their company, Whelan Stone, was founded in 1999 and works primarily with Fortune 500 companies, recruiting high-impact talent and boosting the performance level of management. Their book, “GOAL! Your 30 Day Game Plan for Business & Career Success” delivers a practical, effective solution for reaching any business or career goal. They have been frequently quoted in the Wall Street Journal, Fortune magazine, USA Today and the Boston Globe and author a career blog on The Huffington Post and write articles for the career site Monster. Both live in San Francisco.