This is part three in EMPath’s Mobility Mentoring Essentials blog series, a four-part series covering the essentials of our coaching model. New blogs will be posted every week throughout the month of September.

In part two, we covered how the Bridge to Self-Sufficiency® is used as a conversation tool to help participants visualize their lives, set priorities, and chart a path toward economic independence. The Bridge acts as a blueprint for setting goals along this path. As participants achieve goals, they move up the Bridge closer to economic self-sufficiency.

How does EMPath approach goal setting?

EMPath compares goal setting to using a GPS. Your big goal is the final destination, the address where you want to end up. Smaller goals are the stopping points along the way – maybe you want to see some sites or stop for gas.

When you take a wrong turn or misunderstand the directions, your GPS helps reroute you – that’s the role mentors play in the goal setting process.

At some point, you get to know the city you live in well enough to navigate it without a GPS. In the same way, over time participants get comfortable setting goals and solving problems without the help of their mentor. This process of internalization is critical to ensuring that participants continue to thrive after the program ends.

Who determines what goals to set?

Participants determine their own goals. This is key. Each person is the expert of their own life and has their own unique challenges and strengths.

In addition, self-efficacy and motivation are built through self-selected goals, not through being forced to work on assigned goals. We are more likely to feel motivated to accomplish (and therefore to actually accomplish) a goal we choose for ourselves rather than a goal someone else tells us to complete.

What role do mentors play in the goal setting process?

While participants determine their own goals, the process of goal setting is shared between the participant and their mentor, with the participant always driving it. Setting (and following through on) goals can be challenging, so mentors are there to facilitate this process.

Mentors support participants in prioritizing what they’d like to work on, strategizing around potential barriers and challenges, and thinking through options for additional resources and support. They offer encouragement, facilitate reflection, and help refocus if necessary.

Mentors and participants use a special worksheet developed by EMPath when setting goals. This worksheet helps break a goal down into smaller action steps, articulate why the goal is important to the participant, determine what resources can be drawn on to achieve the goal, establish a target completion date, identify any challenges that may arise, and determine how the participant will be recognized for completing the goal. It also lets mentors and participants ensure the goal is “SMART” – Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-bound.

What types of goals do participants set?

A goal can be anything, from applying to a job training program to researching childcare options to going to the gym a certain amount of times per week. Larger goals are often broken down into smaller goals.

When working on a goal in one pillar of the Bridge, it’s important to consider the other pillars as well. All pillars – the different areas of our lives – are interconnected and related to one another, so goal setting is most effective when the participant can keep the entire Bridge in mind. Planning for homeownership, for example, requires balancing savings, debts, and earnings levels. Participants may have a big goal in one pillar that requires setting smaller goals in other pillars first.

What happens if a participant doesn’t complete a goal?

There are no consequences when a participant doesn’t complete a goal by its deadline. They simply reflect with their mentor on what barriers came up and strategize about how to get around them.

When participants achieve a goal or steps along the way to a goal, they are recognized for their success in a number of ways. This brings us to the fourth (and final) essential element of Mobility Mentoring.


Read Part One: Brain Science and Coaching

Read Part Two: The Bridge to Self-Sufficiency®