Life coaches are fantastic investments. Spending money on yourself to further your personal development is one of the greatest signs to the Universe that you value your well-being, happiness, and success. While some people lack the inner discipline needed to create a plan and follow through with it on their own, some people find they can serve as their own life coach with just a little bit of direction.
To invest in your future with the currency of time and focus over money, start by carving out a chunk of uninterrupted time (between 1 to 3 hours) to dig into the following life coaching process. Respond to these prompts in a notebook or journal of your choice to bring clarity to your desires and your pathways to success.
What’s Your Starting Point?
As Maya Angelou famously said, “You can't really know where you are going until you know where you have been.” With your journal and pen in hand, get clear about where you are, with the understanding that your present state is a result of the choices you have made in the past. It is empowering to recognize that the choices you make from this point forward have the capacity to create the life you’ve always wanted.
Consider these questions as you reflect on the present:
- What would my life look like right now to someone on the outside looking in?
- Looking at the eight basic areas of my life (e.g., career, family/relationships, health, money, spirituality, personal development, recreation, and physical environment), how would I rank my satisfaction on a scale from 1-10?
- What are the main challenges I am facing right now?
- If I could wave a magic wand and change one thing about my life, what would that be?
- What’s missing in my life right now?
- What is motivating this process of self-inquiry?
- Am I willing, in this moment, to do the work that is necessary to create a better life for myself? Why?
Where Do You Want to Go?
Now that you’ve written about the current state of affairs, it’s time to identify where you’d like to improve. Looking over your notes so far, circle or highlight areas where you are settling, selling yourself short, or are limiting your growth. This process helps to identify the “gap” between where you are and where you want to be.
You can recognize the gaps by focusing on either side of them—identifying what you know you want to be, do, or have, or by identifying what’s not working and creating a plan to either make a change or make peace with the situation as it is.
Ask yourself the following questions as you begin to clarify for yourself how you’d like to see your future:
- In each of the eight life areas, what would my ideal life be like? What are some dreams I have for each area? For example:
- What would my ideal relationship feel like?
- What would my ideal job look like?
- What would my dream living situation be?
- What are some changes I know I would like to make in the short term (in the next 1-6 months)? What about the long term, the bigger picture?
- What would my ideal day look like? How could I manage my time better?
- What smaller changes could I make to free up some time and energy to tackle the bigger changes in my life?
Brainstorm Your Options
Once you’ve identified where there is room for improvement and how you would like to see yourself improve, a life coach will likely get you brainstorming all the ways you could bring about change. So, before you commit to anything, the next step is to consider the different ways you could proceed. Ask yourself:
- What could I do to move toward the completion of my goals?
For example, if you have clarified that you’d like to lose weight and feel healthier in your body, you might start a brainstorming list that includes all the strategies you can think of for how you might approach this goal. You might list:
- Joining a gym
- Joining Weight Watchers
- Going on a diet
- Getting a running buddy
- Getting liposuction
Again, you’re not committing to anything yet, you are just taking a good look at all of your options, so don’t hold back!
Make a Plan
Now, take a good look at your brainstorming list, and ask yourself:
- Which of these do I want to do?
- Which of these am I willing to do?
- Which of these will I do?
Cross out the ideas you don’t want to do. Cross out the ideas you aren’t willing to do. Look at what’s left. Make a decision about which strategy you will employ to move toward your vision, and then write it down clearly.
Get Specific and SMART
Next, you’ll want to create a list of action steps and by-whens. In other words:
- Exactly what will I do and by when?
You’ve probably heard of the acronym SMART for strong goal setting. As you look over your work, be sure that your goals are:
- S = Specific
- M= Measurable
- A = Achievable
- R = Relevant
- T = Time-Oriented
A good example of a well-phrased goal is, “I will lose 10 pounds by January 15th, by going to the gym three times a week for 30 minutes each, and eliminating bread from my diet.”
So, you’ve got a strong goal written down, now it’s time to use your strategic creativity to anticipate the challenges you’ll face on the journey. Ask yourself:
- What obstacles can I foresee getting in the way of this plan?
- What makes this plan difficult to achieve?
- What are my self-sabotaging tendencies, and how might I handle them?
- How might I anticipate these obstacles and overcome them with grace and grit?
By brainstorming some ways that you can cut your obstacles off at the pass, you increase your chance of success dramatically. Some examples of things you might write in this section might be:
- I will set out my workout clothes the night before so I literally trip over them when I get out of bed in the morning.
- When I’m at a party that is serving alcohol, I will drink sparkling water with lime instead.
- If I press snooze, I know I’m less likely to actually get up and meditate, so I will move my alarm clock to the other side of the room.
The last step (before actually following through on your plan) is to figure out how you will hold yourself accountable to the tasks on your life list. Ask yourself:
- What kind of accountability will help keep me on track?
- How will I remember to do the things I have every intention of doing?
- What kind of reward system could I place on myself for succeeding?
- Who might be an effective accountability partner for this task? What do I need from this person?
On a fresh sheet of paper, rewrite your goals. Identify your action steps, and for each one, clarify in writing:
- What will I do?
- When will I do it?
- How will I hold myself accountable?
Display your goals somewhere you will encounter them often (either in a common area like on your fridge, or in a private area, as in your journal). Every time you see the goals, check in with your progress. Give yourself credit where credit is due, and get real when you know you could do better.
Now, all that’s left to do, is to do it. Get out there, make it happen, and make your coach proud!