You might be considering personal or professional development coaching for any number of reasons and whether it is right for you, at this particular time. Maybe you have goals that you want to move towards. It could be that there are a number of life circumstances from which you want to move away. You might be at a crossroads or just have a vague feeling that things could be better. The bottom line is that you approach a coach because you want to live a better life. So, how do you know whether coaching will help you find the solutions you need?
Too many questions already? Pause for a moment and take a few long slow deep breaths. Now continue.
Are you ready, willing and able to make the changes to meet your goals?
Common to these reasons is the idea of change. That’s what coaching is about. Change in attitudes, this includes changes in feelings, thoughts and actions. Before making any changes it’s important to consider the age-old trinity of ‘ready, willing and able’. In my book Unlock Your Confidence, I devote a section to this triad and use a technique known as a scaling question to help bring a sharper focus. I then offer a series of follow-up questions.
By rating each of these dimensions on a scale from zero to ten, it can help to see where the resistance lies.
It could be that you do not the resources or feel that the actions required to make changes are not within your ability. Sometimes it’s just a matter of getting things clear in your head. Often the problem is stress (anxiety). It tends to have the effect of causing you to underestimate your skills and strengths or to view solutions in black and white. There’s often great value in exploring the grey areas.
Stress can cause you to think in terms of survival and override your creativity. Because the coach bears some of the burden of helping you to organize your thoughts, this makes it easier to access your creativity. Gaining freedom over stress will help you to shift from survive to thrive. The reason I emphasize deeper breathing techniques is that they are the quickest way to short-circuit the stress response.
Once you have pondered the scores for each of the scaling questions, a few follow-up questions can offer further clarification:
- What tells you that you are at this state of readiness / willingness / ability ?
- What have you done to get this far? What’s already working for you, no matter how small?
- If you’ve scored a zero on any of the scales, what has to happen for the first green shoots to show?
- What number on the scale would you consider ‘good enough’ to be ready / willing / able to make changes?
- What do you imagine would be happening a half point along the scale?
Coaching is all about goals – better life goals. It’s often said that if there ain’t goals then it ain’t coaching. Different coaches approach goal setting in different ways. Some favour a formulaic approach using acronyms (such as SMART and GROW), others use more approaches that are more conversational or ones that get you to use your imagination. Having trained in a number of coaching models (performance coaching, cognitive-behavioural coaching and solution-focused coaching) we can work to find an approach that best suits you. (If you’re not sure, we can try out different approaches).
Is there ever a perfect time to embrace change?
Most of the decisions we make in life are based on imperfect information. That’s why in coaching I often ask ‘what would be good enough?’
Perfectionism is part of a black and white view of the world that can be paralyzing. Part of that involves the thought ‘what if coaching doesn’t work?’ ‘What if I’m not ready and waste this opportunity?’ Sometimes it’s nice to options in reserve – like a lifeboat. Again, it doesn’t have to be all-or-nothing. Many coaches offer a free consultancy ( I do). It allows you to ask questions and get an idea if and how a particular coaching approach would work for you. On the last working day of each month, I offer free speed-coaching sessions. A mini-coaching session (20 minutes) for you to see how it works.
Is the coach right for you?
Making a decision from a perspective of stress is not ideal (except if you’re in imminent danger). When stressed we tend to view the world in black and white. It also leaves us susceptible the lure of the nearest ‘life-saver’, rather than the ultimate one. So, before making an important decision, take a few deep breaths again, then make some notes of the kind of questions you want to be answered before contacting a coach. Here’s a link to my earlier post that might help: How to Find a Life Coach and the Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring One.
If you find the coach’s answers acceptable then you might want to proceed. It doesn’t have to be a full course of coaching. You might just want to try out a single session then decide whether to continue with a course. One session might be all that it takes to help you to move forward.
Alternatives to hiring a life coach
The most obvious alternative to hiring a life coaching, apart from doing nothing at all, is reading a personal or professional development book. The advantages of this are that books are more economical and flexible – you can dip in and out, as and when you wish. The downside is that there’s less of an imperative to make life changes – there’s less commitment. Often we use books to help us to think about things in different ways but stop short of taking action. With personal and professional development it’s not just the thought that counts! It’s how we put those thoughts into action. Reluctance to take action is the biggest barrier to change (back again to ‘ready, willing and able). One-to-one coaching means you are more likely to act on new insights. Each coaching session generates ideas for actions between sessions. These are crucial in building momentum and making progress.
In another earlier post, I offer a blueprint for reading self-help books. To sum it up, the best approach is to suspend your disbelief, read it from cover to cover, do all the exercises and then assess the impact. Doing this will help to spark a perceptual shift as you get to view your current situation from a slightly different angle.
The aim of this post is to help you to decide whether or not life coaching is right for you, whether you feel it will help you to live a better life and whether you are ready for coaching at this particular time in life. You might decide to dig in and go it alone with renewed vigour. You might decide to buy a book. You might decide to try the ‘two heads are better than one’ approach of working on goals with a friend. Finally, you might decide that the best way forward is to engage the services of a professional coach. With all three options, if you desire to make changes the important things are to: get fresh insights, take ownership and commit to take action.
Post updated: 11 November 2019.
If you enjoyed this post and/or found it useful then please use the ‘like’ and share ‘buttons’. Your comments are also welcome. If you wish to ask any questions about this post or coaching in general or wish to book a free consultation, please use the form below.
- Are You ‘Fit and Ready’ for Goal Setting?
- Video: Two Minute Stress Buster
- How to Find a Life Coach and the Questions You Should Ask Before Hiring One.
- 3 top tips: How to Get the Most from a Self-Help Book
- Self Help, Personal Growth and the Reluctance to Take Action
About Gary Wood
Dr Gary Wood is a chartered psychologist, life coach and broadcaster specializing in applied social psychology, personal development and life coaching. He is the author of Unlock Your Confidence: Find the Keys to Lasting Change Through The Confidence-Karma Method (Buy: Amazon UK / Buy: Amazon USA ) Gary is based in Birmingham and Edinburgh where he runs his coaching and training practice and research consultancy.
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