“COACHING TURNS PROBLEMS INTO CHALLENGES, CHALLENGES INTO OPPORTUNITIES AND OPPORTUNITIES INTO GIFTS" - MILTON ERIKSON
Life Coaching is an extremely broad term, and you might wonder what does it really mean, what does it involve, and how can it help me create change?
The underlying principle of life coaching is to purposefully think about what you want from your life, what would be good for you, what experiences do you want to have, what kinds of people do you want in your life, and what kind of person do you want to be. The key is to then make the changes that get you from where you are now to where you want to be. More importantly, for me it’s not so much about setting a destination where you’ll arrive and the journey ends. It is about enjoying the journey itself and so what I wish for my clients is to live a life of purpose, meaning and physical and mental wellbeing. One of the original masters of NLP puts it perfectly in saying “You can’t get happiness directly. You have to find what experiences make you happy and seek those out – and the result is happiness” Steve Andreas.
Life coaching is very much about taking action. Many people feel that life is something that just happens, or something that just carries them along. Most people go through life doing the same things they have always done, and continue to get the same results. In life coaching we know that to get new results we need new strategies, mindsets and new behaviours. That’s how we create change and prevent your tomorrows from looking exactly like all of your yesterdays.
How do we get started?
Well this depends on where you are in your life at the moment and what it is you want.
If you’re suffering with depression or anxiety, then the priority is bringing some immediate relief to you through small, easy to make changes in the areas of your lifestyle and wellbeing that you can control. Then we begin to look at underlying causes and making rapid changes to the thoughts and feelings that keep you in a state of depression or anxiety. On my longer term coaching programs, we take a look at your personal values, the things that are important to you, setting goals and developing a plan so you can create a life in which your emotional needs are met, preventing recurrence of depression or anxiety.
If you feel like you’re existing rather than living, or you lack direction and purpose, then the process starts by getting clear on what kind of life you want, what kind of life would be good for you, what goals would serve you well, providing you with purpose and meaning, and what lifestyle changes can support you in being at your best as you move forwards. I then help you to becoming the kind of person who can and will achieve your goals, fulfilling your true potential.
Recently I had a session with one of my clients who was struggling with anxiety, and having worked through a number of areas of her life, we needed to tackle a particular problem that would arise when she was at work. She worked in the hospitality / corporate entertainment industry and found herself breaking down sometimes during shifts, particularly if things were quiet and she was not earning what she had hoped. This typically resulted in her heading to a toilet where she would cry, before giving up for the evening and heading home early.
So how did I unpick what was going on and help my client make a transformational change?
First, we talked through what was different about the nights when she would breakdown versus the nights when she wouldn’t. She talked about how it was usually much quieter it was on those nights, which we couldn’t do anything about, but eventually we identified something we could work on. As part of her role she was expected to consume alcohol, and it seemed that alcohol played as large part in causing her breakdowns. We talked through how to manage her alcohol use throughout a shift, agreeing goals for maximum number of drinks, when to drink and when not to drink, and a strategy for sticking to this with the support of colleagues. My client had a goal and a strategy, so she just needed to go away and put it into practice.
Next, I asked my client what else was happening just before she would have a breakdown. Were there any recurring thoughts at that time or anything else that always seemed to happen immediately before? We discovered there was. Just before breaking down, my client’s internal dialogue would tell her she was a failure, and that there was no point in continuing, also comparing her to some of her colleagues whom she perceived as being more successful as her. So how did we tackle this? I talked my client through an NLP technique for dealing with negative self-talk in which she changed the internal voice so effectively that by the end of the session whenever she put herself back in that situation, she found the old internal dialogue was no longer there, and instead it was replaced with something amusing and empowering!
Lastly, during the session my client told me when she started feeling like giving up, she felt like she needed an energy boost, or a quick way of feeling more confident and motivated. I knew exactly how to help the client get this, so I asked her to tell me about three memories or experiences in which she felt amazing, three “wow moments” in which she felt full of all the emotions and feelings she wanted to experience instead of wanting to give up. Using a combination of relaxation and guided visualization, I had my client associate back into those experiences, like stepping back into a movie with all the sights, sounds and feelings as bright and intense as if she was reliving them. We brought back the positive emotions and feelings, making them stronger and more intense before installing an anchor which she could use to trigger those feelings whenever she needed.
At the end of this single 90-minute coaching session, my client had a strategy for limiting her alcohol intake which would help change the likelihood of negative emotions and anxiety arising during a work shift. She had also completely changed a recurring pattern of internal dialogue and created an empowering voice to keep her strong when she needed to be. Not only that, but she now had a technique she could use, which in her works made her feel “strong, confident, positive and motivated” whenever she wanted or needed to feel that way.
This was an amazing session and demonstrates the power of coaching, and the ability all of us have to change our lives through creating our own empowering thoughts, feelings and emotions. This changes our behaviour which help us achieve the goals we never thought were possible!