It has to excite you
If your next level isn’t exciting, you’ll likely lack the motivation to do it. Duuhh.
A good question to check back: How crazy are you about this particular thing on a scale from 1 to 10? Sure, some cultures are more inflationary than others when it comes to giving 10s, maybe for YOUR particular counsellee a 6 is already heaven. Yet, we recommend to not settle for less than a 7.5
You should be somewhat able to recognise that you reached it
If your next level is to feel fully blissful, you might struggle to recognise WHEN that state has actually manifested. For starting counsellors this is a free ticket to a potentially frustrating and endless coaching process (if your counsellee doesn’t know when the objective is reached, you won’t know either).
A good check up question is: How blissful on a scale from 1 to 10 do you wanna be? What does it mean to be at (for instance) an 8? How will your life have changed concretely? What would serve you as evidence that you are at an 8 versus just a 7?
It should be contextualised
Often times we think only about our section of direction when we counsel. Yet, there might be other sections that are highly important to reach your next level.
Just to make sure you are working on the right section: Which other sections are important to reach your next level? What preconditions need to be met so that you can really crack on? Are you maybe already too busy? What other important goals and objectives dominate your to-do lists? Are you ready to make your next level the next priority or is there something even bigger that needs to be dealt with?
It’s not an easy task to finish this criterium as it will potentially open the box of pandora where all the stuff that also should be dealt with comes up. Busy people have busy lives. BUT you need to make sure that – as a counsellor – you don’t have one big fat topic that will always lurk from behind.
It should avoid negations
I don’t wanna cheat on my partner anymore. Nice statement but not a good next level. By saying that we know what you DON’T want, but we haven’t learned anything about what you DO want. Do you want to be happier in your relationship? Or would you like to quit and be with someone else?
A good question if someone comes with a next level that includes some sort of “no”, “don’t” or “never”: How would you phrase this in a positive/affirmative way? How would it sound if we cut the “no” out of your next level?
It should be in your control
Let’s assume your counsellee wants to win elections or win over a harsh disease. If you are faced with a next level that is largely out of control (and we’ll count to your judgement here), it is good to shift our attention from “output” to “input”. For instance: A better next level to “winning elections” or “winning over a disease” might be “to candidate for elections” or to “find the best expert in the country to heal X”. This might save you and your counsellee from bad surprises.