Feeling stuck? In a rut? Life coaching helps you identify and change those areas of your life which you find unfulfilling or unsatisfactory.
Coaching has been around a long time, but usually in the areas of business or sport: A business might call in a consultant to review its operations, or a tennis player might employ a tennis coach to improve his game. In these situations, coaches and consultants generally are experts in their own fields.
Not so with life coaching. The life coach is not normally an expert in, say, finance, even if the matters the client wants to discuss are financial. They will work with lawyers, builders, musicians, clergy and so on, but cannot claim expertise in any of these areas.
The life coach’s job is not to directly advise you. He or she will help you explore the balance of your life in several major areas, identify where you might wish to make changes, set desirable, realistic and achievable goals in these areas, and then assist in and encourage the change process.
So how would your ideal life look to you? What brought you here to where you are now? Was it a living dream in which your problems would disappear?
And how is it now? If you are really happy with all of it and things look perfect, you don’t need a life coach. Unfortunately for many of us, this is not the case, and life coaching may be the way to put things back on track.
In a first life coaching session, clients often are asked to look at their idea of a perfect life – and it may be that in many areas, this has been achieved.
Commonly, life coaches will want you to examine several critical life areas, such as health, work and career, relationships, spirituality, and financial status, and evaluate how you feel about them. Once the low-scoring areas—the ones that need attention—have been identified, coaches examine the client’s goals, strengths and weaknesses, and any blocks or challenges that might be in the way of achieving change. Then they can set goals which identify the client’s desired outcomes, and identify strategies to achieve them.
Setting goals correctly is vastly important. People who set good goals usually achieve them.
What constitutes a good goal? It must be:
- in line with your values (which may change over time)
- stated in positive terms
Developing a strategy for change can be extremely challenging. It often requires you to re-evaluate your position in relation to your family and friends, maybe your career, or maybe the way you organize your life. It’s challenging precisely because we do not often sit down to appraise ourselves.
That’s what this phase of the life coaching process is all about. It means exploring, and facing up to one’s self, warts and all. Very often, people find out things about themselves that are pleasing and positive, but they are sometimes confronted by the specters of unpleasant or ineffective attitudes or behaviors.
So, you want to quit the job, leave the wife and 2.4 kids, run off to Bali and spend the next 6 years smoking dope. Fine, if that’s what you really want. However, when one looks at the likely (and some of the inevitable) results of this course of action, it may be that the goal has to be re-evaluated. What you choose to do affects not only yourself, but also your friends, family, employer, and health. It is wise to ensure that the long-term impact of implementing your goals is something you can live with.
Next, you need to look at your assets and resources and decide if they are sufficient for you to achieve what you want to. If they are not – and this is frequently the case – what can you do to make them adequate? It might mean saving more, taking a course, getting fitter, learning new skills – in other words, investing in yourself in order to make your future what you want it to be.
The life coach can be of great help at this stage. Very often, simply through experience, he or she will be able to offer suggestions that can help to open up new opportunities.
Even after the client has started to implement his strategies and work toward his goals, the life coach’s job is not over. He or she needs to be there to help the client monitor his progress and adjust his strategies when this is necessary. A lot of encouragement (and sometimes a little firmness) can be required when early results are not forthcoming. But if clear and well-thought-out goals have been set, and good strategies have been put in place to implement them, it is very rarely that someone fails to reach his or her potential once he or she has put their mind to it. With good planning, adequate resources, determination and effort, you too can change your future to be the way you want.
Norman Munro is a registered psychotherapist and a partner in a busy counseling, psychotherapy and life coaching practice. Find out more at www.lifechangeonline.co.uk