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Questions and AnswersHere are just a few common questions asked by clients - click on the question to see some ideas on the topic. (Note that only YOU know your own answer, and a coach can help you discover it).
How is a coach different from a therapist or psychiatrist?
Is a midlife crisis inevitable?
How is positive psychology used in life coaching?
How do I get home from work at a reasonable hour?
How do you sharpen your intuition?
What is a good book on happiness?
How to overcome fear so you can follow your dreams?
How to recognize your disempowering buttons?
How to overcome complacency and move forward with your goals?
How to snap out of a bad mood and take action anyway?
How do I know if I'm ready for Life Coaching?
How do I get the most benefit from Life Coaching?
How does one spend more time pursuing pleasure and less time being afraid of pain?
How can I stop blaming others and start taking responsibility for my life?
I have a tendency to destroy good things in my life. I don't know why. How can I stop?
What is something I can do to renew myself?
What are some tips to maintaining a healthy work life balance?
Less stress and more success: HOW?
How do I get started to be all that I can be?
How do I make change for the better?
I don't know if I need a coach. What can a coach do for my life?
There is a dramatic difference between a coach and a therapist (or psychiatrist).
The therapist is an expert, who views you as broken and in need of a cure. The coach views you as OK, and as having all the resources within you to achieve whatever goal you wish.
A therapist focuses on the problem, and may explore your past to find the source of the problem. The coach invites you to focus on your future goal and as you move towards it, deal with any limiting beliefs as they arise in the present. (You may be carrying some 'gremlin' from the past, but where it comes from doesn't matter; the coach helps you analyze how this is affecting your life now).
The therapist evaluates and judges you. The coach does not evaluate or judge, but invites you to evaluate your own ideas.
The therapist suggests solutions. The coach uses powerful questions and guided exercises to help you find your own solutions.
In a coaching relationship, you are the expert in your own life and you are in a position of power as you create your future. There are certainly times when therapy is needed. However, I'm sure a therapist would agree that a person needs to get back to a position of self-empowerment as soon as possible.
I have coached clients who were also in therapy at some point, and they have reported that the coaching helps them to become more emotionally self-sufficient. One of my clients, who was previously in counseling, said, "I have accomplished more in a few coaching sessions and have acquired more tools in a few hours with Jane than I did in months of counseling." For her, the coaching helped her to discover her own potential. As she says, "The greatest realization of all: I can be anything I want to be. Absolutely anything."
In therapy, there is a high risk of dependency, but coaching can help you to overcome that risk because in a coaching relationship, you take charge of your own life.
The coaching process involves:
As you can see from this process, the focus is not on the problem, but on a specific action-oriented plan towards a goal. Keep in mind... you tend to get more of whatever you focus on!
The coaching goal can be concrete (like changing careers) or subtle (like becoming more confident). If your goal is subtle, you will need to specify how you will measure your success. For example, "I will be confident enough to give a presentation to my colleagues".
A coaching agreement has a clearly specified goal and end-point, while therapy is less clearly delineated. When the coaching client achieves their stated goal, it signals the end of the coaching sessions.
The power of coaching is in the clarity of the goal and the ongoing focus on that goal - a goal and plan entirely formulated by the client.
Many people experience what Wayne Dyer calls a "shift" around midlife, when we stop struggling for success and start to search for a sense of meaning and purpose in our lives. This is consistent with Abraham Maslow's hierarchy of needs - i.e. when we have fulfilled our needs for safety and security, we move on to higher needs.
This shift may not happen to everyone, but it is probably very common and it can happen anywhere between 30 and 70, depending on our circumstances. Most people feel it as a deep need for "something more" in their life. The question is whether this shift turns into a "crisis", and the research suggests that it depends on how the individual deals with change.
If you have initiated significant changes throughout your life, you may embrace the idea of change and find this period of your life exciting. I have changed career many times in my life, so when I entered semi-retirement and switched to a new career, it was much easier for me because this was 'just another career change'. And I knew, from experience, that I would be much happier for having made the change.
However, if you have experienced little change in your life, you may find this period of time very stressful, since it usually draws you towards change, and change may arouse fear.
So, how will you be able to deal well with this kind of "shift"?
The "Life Mastery" method of coaching I use with my clients helps you to realize that you are always in a position of choice. You can choose whether to undergo a change or not; You can choose to take a change slowly; You can even choose how to respond if a change has been imposed upon you.
The process involves the following steps:
By taking conscious responsibility for your choices, you will move from a victim position to a mastery position. You will be able to see this phase of your life as an opportunity to transform your life in a way that YOU wish - a way that will bring you a sense of fulfillment and joy.
A number of my clients have changed careers at this stage in their life, and they have done it in a step-by-step way that allowed them time to integrate the change without stress.
Many aspects of your life may be affected in this phase. I have seen some people end a relationship that was not working, and I have seen others undergo a renewal and transformation of their existing relationship.
You never know where the "shift" might take you, but one thing is certain... when you listen to your heart and examine your options with an open mind, you will be able to find a more fulfilling and joyful life.
There are a number of situations in which positive psychology is used in a coaching.
If a client states their goal in the negative (e.g. "I want to get out of this awful job"), a coach will ask "What is it that you DO want?". The reframe might be "I want to find a job I love". Notice how much more emotionally compelling a positively framed goal is.
In a situation where a client is worrying about an upcoming meeting or presentation, and picturing all the things that might go wrong, the coach will invite the client to visualize in detail, a scenario where the event is played out in the best possible way. When the client has worked out responses to all possible challenges, and has started to feel positive about the event, it will play out with ease in reality as well.
Positive psyschology is also used to find the opportunity in seemingly negative situations. A client of mine who had lost her job discovered that this was a great opportunity to start her own business.
In some cases where clients say they have made a huge blunder, a coach might ask "What is the learning opportunity here?"
Positive psychology is so important in life.
A coach asks questions that will draw the client into a positive mindset, and I have found that it doesn't take long before clients develop the habit of moving into a positive mindset.
Positive psychology is also evident in the fundamental belief that the client has all the resources to find his/her own solution.
This is tremendously powerful. When I am asking questions and taking clients through visualizations, I KNOW that they know how to get to their goal, and I KNOW that they can get there. Whether they choose to or not is up to them, and I respect whatever they choose to do.
But having a coach who knows that you CAN accomplish whatever you wish, helps clients begin to realize that they have all the resources to achieve their goals. As one of my clients said, "The greatest realization of all: I can be anything I want to be. Absolutely anything."
One of my clients who was struggling with exactly this problem had a breakthrough realization. He realized that it was not only his right, but it was his responsibility to take care of himself.
He said, "You know, like they say in the airplane to put your oxygen mask on first before helping someone else. Well, it's the same thing. I have to take care of myself before I can perform at full capacity in my job. And that means not stressig out, working healthy hours and enjoying my time at home without thinking about work!"
YOU are the one who chooses where to place self-care on your list of priorities, and if you put yourself at the bottom of the list, your health will suffer, your work will suffer and your home life will suffer. You have to come first, so that you CAN support everyone else.
You may believe that your boss will think you're not dedicated if you don't work the extra hours. But the truth is that if your respect yourself, others will too.
How does it feel to say...
When you can say that without any guilt or resistance coming up - without feeling defiant - but feeling calm - when this statement is obvious, then you will be ready to do some time-management and it will be easy.
The fundamental key to time-management is to not take on more than can be done comfortably in regular working hours. If another project is added, collaborate with your boss to decide what is to be dropped or postponed. Allocating resources fairly and reasonably is the responsibilty of all managers and you need to make it clear to your boss that this is what needs to be done.
If a schedule slips, re-do the time plan - not your hours! Ninety-nine percent of deadlines are arbitrary. Always question and challenge deadlines.
If meetings get in your way, decline all but the essential ones.
Other techniques are:
Get creative about getting the essential work done in the time permitted.
And don't forget to schedule lots of pleasurable outside activities to lure you home!
The key to sharpening your intuition is a "silent mind". Let me explain why and how...
Most people's minds are occupied with a constant monologue about past events and future plans. A thought comes and they follow it. There is not one moment of mental stillness.
This activity is housed in the left hemisphere and is characterised by logic and language.
The source of intuition, on the other hand, is the right hemisphere, which is characterised by wholistic thinking and a sense of oneness with all. The intuitive voice is much more subtle because it has no language; instead, it communicates using feelings and symbols.
In order to perceive the more subtle voice of intuition, you must slow the constant chatter of the left hemisphere and listen with a silent mind.
Imagine stepping outside of your mind and observing your thoughts without following them. Simply observe each thought and let it go. Continue observing. If you find yourself following a thought, catch yourself as soon as you can and get back into observer position.
After some practice, you will find that fewer thoughts will come and your mind becomes more still.
And when you are less distracted by thoughts, you will be able to pay attention to feelings and images that arise from your intuitive side.
There are many other exercises and practices that help us to tap our intuitive side - spontaneous drawing, keeping a dream journal, some coaching exercises.
One exercise I have used with my clients is the Three-Chairs Brainstorming.
There are other coaching techniques that draw on the intuition as well.
Let me know if you'd like more information about these. (email@example.com)
My favorite book on this topic is "Joy: The Happiness that Comes from Within" by OSHO.
Osho talks about "Joy" as something beyond happiness or pleasure. Joy is a state of being that has nothing to do with external situations.
He says that it is our basic nature to be joyful, and we can experience that state when we:
Happiness and pleasure are transitory because they are based on external situations. Joy and bliss are constant because they depend only on our inner state of being.
You can learn to experience that state being through meditation, when you simply sit in silence and do two things: (1) observe your thoughts and (2) let them go. Eventally, the thoughts will slow down and your mind will become still. Then you will experience the state of joy and bliss.
When you have practiced meditation regularly for a while, you will be able to return to that state of stillness during the day in the midst of other activities, and this is when you will start to realize that joy is not dependent of external situations but on your inner stillness.
From that place of stillness, you will face any seemingly negative situation with curiosity and interest. You will automatically ask, "What can I learn from this? What can I create from this?"
You will embrace everything that presents itself, experience it fully, and discover its gift.
In times of emotional sadness, I used to write poetry or music and I found myself enjoying the experience even though I was crying.
So, in order to experience joy in your life, you may want to:
Aside from situations where you are in some real and immediate threat, fear is usually about some possible future outcome. And the outcome that most people fear is a loss of love and/or security. But the problem is that many people seek love and security from external sources, which puts them on very shaky ground!
How did this start? Well, when you were a very young child, you depended on your parents to provide you with food and shelter (real needs) and to ensure this, you had to maintain their love. So, any time you were about to do something that they might disapprove of, you would become afraid of the consequences and you would refrain from doing it.
Now, as an adult, you no longer depend on others for food and shelter, but you still feel the same fears. So, in most cases, fear is a remnant of a past behavior that is no longer needed, but that you are still falling into, and it keeps you from living your life your way and fulfilling your dreams.
But you can get over this through awareness and understading.
Let's say for example, you want to take an art class, but you are afraid that your spouse will feel neglected and not love you any more. You are assuming that you could not live without his or her love. That was true when you were a toddler, but it's not true now.
Similarly, if you are afraid to change from a secure job that you find soul-destroying to a less secure job that you love, you are assuming that this secure job is your only source of security (just as your parents were). Again, that was true when you were a child, but it's not true now.
As an adult, love and security are something you hold inside of yourself, and you don't have to depend on external sources for these things.
So, fear is usually based on the assumption that you need love and security from an external source. It's a memory of the child you used to be. Picture this inner child and imagine taking it in your arms and reassuring it that you will give it all the love and security it needs.
Become the parent of your inner child, soothe away all its fears and learn to love and protect yourself.
So, how can you recognize your 'disempowering buttons' in the moment, so you will be able to reclaim your power before giving it away mindlessly?
You can learn to do this in stages.
Whenever you want a change in your life, there are two voices in your head. One wants the change and the other is cautious. Complacency is a tactic that the cautious part plays. In fact, if you don't address its concerns, it will sabotage your efforts towards change in many creative ways. But it's trying to protect you!
In order to move forward with change, you need to address the concerns of the cautious part of yourself.
One method that I've found useful is to write down all the objections and all the risks. Then, write down how you will protect yourself against the risks.
Do this frequently as you move towards your goal.
If you do a good job of this, it will allay the fears of the cautious part and it will stop its self-sabotaging behavior.
Bad moods need attention. Imagine it's a sub-personality that's sitting just behind you. Imagine reaching around and pulling it forward and asking it what it's upset about. Ask with deep concern. This is a part of you that's hurt or angry and needs attention.
It needs to be heard, understood and consoled; and only then will you know what action is really needed.
It may be that you have been catering to everyone else's needs but you've denied your own needs. It may be that you've been living up to other people's expectations and denied what you really want in life.
Whatever that 'bad mood' part of you is feeling, you need to hear it.
You may decide that you have to compromise - perhaps between what others need and what you need. But it is important that you have a true heart-to-heart conversation with this sub-personality.
It's a part of you that you have denied and without it, you are not whole.
I suggest you read the book "The Dark Side of the Light Chasers" by Debbie Ford. I have gone through all of the exercises in this book twice an have done this work for years. I have also helped my coaching clients through this type of self-discovery, so I know from personal and professional experience that it is very powerful and extremely helpful.
Bad moods are telling you that you are missing something important in your life. Find out what it is and care enough about yourself to do something about it.
For each of the following statements, rate your level of agreement on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 1 being the lowest agreement and 10 bring the highest)
I am ready to set aside a specific time slot for a coaching sessions to dedicate to myself and my goal.
I am willing to do the work to find my own answers.
I am willing to change self-defeating behaviors which limit my success.
I am ready to explore limiting beliefs and new ways of being.
I will follow through on action items that I have commited to at each of the coaching sessions.
I see coaching as an expression of commitment to my goal and a worthwhile investment in my life.
If your responses add up to less than 35, you are probably not ready for coaching right now.
In order to gain from the coaching process, you need to have a "deep commitment to change". You don't have to know exactly what change you want. Coaching will help you clarify your goal. But you need to want change.
You also must be ready to "do the work needed", both in the coaching session and in between sessions. If you are at a level 5 on these points, your motivation will most likely increase as you clarify your goal and as you discover the benefits of achieving that goal.
The willingness to "explore limiting beliefs and new ways of being" is also important. Changing your external circumstances often also means changing your perception, attitudes and mindset. I have seen clients move from a place of fear and insecurity to optimism, joy and confidence. And this attitude supported the change they wanted in their lives.
You may find it useful to go through an introductory session with a coach to discuss your situation and find out if coaching would be useful for you. There is a form that you might be interested in completing to request a free introducatory session
Your Life Coach will help you set an Overall Goal for the contract period, and will help you set specific action items in each session.
However, in order to gain the most benefit from your coaching, you need to remain commited to your goal and carry out the action items you have set for yourself in each session.
One of my clients often forgot her action items by the next session, so I now use a Pre-Coaching Form which my clients complete before each session. That form contains:
This helps my clients stay accountable to the commitments they have made to themselves. It also helps us make sure that we are tracking towards their Overall Goal.
Other ways to stay focused on your goals are:
Try them out an see what works for you.
What is the underlying assumption you are making?
You may be discovering a great truth here... i.e. If you rely on external pleasures to bring you happiness, you will experience ups and downs in your life.
I'm not going to suggest that you end the cycle of pleasure and pain by becoming an ascetic. Personally, I'm all for pleasure, but I also accept that pain is a part of life and I make the best I can of that too.
"Make the best of pain?!" you ask?
Well, I didn't say enjoy it, but accept it, go with it, learn from it.
In my younger days, whenever I lost a boyfriend, I used to write poetry, play music, paint. And so I created beauty within the painful experience.
And if you find yourself gaining too much weight because of the delicious food you have been eating, learn from the experience, and get creative about perhaps, finding foods that you love but that do not have the negative consequences.
Once you realize that there is something to gain from every painful experience, you will stop living in fear.
Whether you acknowledge it or not, you are always responsible for your life. It's a matter of becoming conscious of that fact.
If you blame others for your situation, you have chosen to create your life as they see it. It is YOU who chooses to follow that path.
It takes courage to follow your own path. It often takes courage to even imagine a path that is different from others' expectations.
When a client blames their life on someone else, I ask him or her to explore alternative paths.
Suspend judgment and just brainstorm all the possibilities.
It's ok to come up with totally ridiculous and impossible ideas.
You can do this even in simple situations. For example,
I could get Angry / Defensive / Laugh uproariously / Start taking courses / Decide it's not important because I'm kind and empathetic...
Here's another example:
I could be devastated / Panic / Relieved / Figure out what skills I need to improve / Change careers / Change countries / Go live with my parents / Enjoy some time off...
The simple act of brainstorming moves you into 'choice' mode, and that helps you realize that you are responsible for your path. Then you can make a conscious choice.
There are many different ways that people destroy good things in their lives, but it usually starts with your thoughts. For example, you might get a fabulous job, and then you start to think "This is too good to be true; I just know I'm going to blow it!". With thoughts like this, you will be too insecure to ask questions so you will not learn; you will be too anxious and tense to develop a good rapport with your colleagues; and you wil project an image of incompetence to your boss. And so, you will sabotage your chances of success.
Imagine if instead, you had thoughts like "Wow, this is a great opportunity. I may not know everything about this job yet, but I know I can learn quickly, and I know I'll do well!". Now you will be happy and relaxed with your colleagues, you will be willing to ask questions, and your boss will see a person who is optimistic and constantly learning. With an attitude like this, your success will be easy.
This clearly illustrates the power of your thoughts.
You may say that your thoughts tend to be negative, but thoughts are just habits and habits can be changed. Here is the technique that my clients have used to change habits of thought...
Start by watching your thoughts - catch them as they zoom by - and for each thought, ask yourself "Is this thought destructive or is it positively moving me forward?" If it's destructive, re-formulate it and repeat the new version a couple of times.
Eventually you will become adept at formulating positive thoughts quickly and you will notice that positive thoughts will start to come up automatically. And when your habitual thoughts change, so will your life!
Renewal starts with a vision, and there are many tools and exercises that one can use to develop your personal vision. An exercise that I have used very effectively with my clients is described below. (This exercise has been adapted from one developed by Peter Barr-Thomson and Josephine Thomson, called the Core Coaching Essence)
Draw three large circles on a sheet of paper.
In the circle labeled "Potential", write at least 7 of your positive traits and skills that you have or are moving towards having.
In the circle labeled "Passion", write all the things that you love to do (things you are passionate about). Take your time and write as many as you can think of.
In the circle labeled "Purpose", write things that bring meaning and purpose to your life. Again, allow lots of time to think of as many things as you can.
Then, look at all of the things you have written, find links between things in each of the areas, and find the underlying thread.
Then, complete the following sentence in the box at the bottom of the page, incorporating elements from each of the areas.
"I live my unique personal life purpose when I…"
Once you have completed this exercise, you will have some idea of what motivates and inspires you. And when you add activities to your life that incorporate some of these elements, it will provide you with a true sense of fulfillment and joy.
What are some tips to maintaining a healthy work life balance?
I think the great secret is to find a career that you love. When you are in a job you love, it is no longer draining your energy. You are feeling positive and energized at work. It is an important part of your life. You no longer distinguish "work" and "life" - the two flow together natually and easily.
I have seen clients transition to a career they loved, and the work life balance issue ceased to be a battle. When they come home from work, they are feeling so positive and energized that they seem to automatically attract a social network that matches their interests. And they express such joy when they are with their spouse and children. Everything seems to just flow.
When I myself was in a job I loved, I never thought about work life balance. I was always doing what I loved. So I think the secret is "Find work that is not work!"
Less stress and more success: HOW?
Focus on the success that you already have and feel proud of that success. Then build on that with joy.
Stress usually comes about because we're focusing on where we want to be rather than were we are. If you focus on now and successfully manage this moment in the best way possible, you can gain that feeling of success.
It's all about being in the present and being your best - now.
How do I get started to be all that I can be?
This isn't about who you CAN BE, but about who you ARE.
Find what you love to do, and do more of it in every aspect of your life - now. It is often possible to find something you love to do in your current everyday life and in your job. And as you do more of what you love to do, you will see more opportunities and be ready to move into them.
One of my clients who loved to write started to find opportunities to write in her job. She would volunteer to write reports for working groups that she was a part of, produce ads for company events and suggest changes to the company web page. Before long, her talents were noticed and she was offered a position as a copy writer in the company's communications group. And her day job became a joy for her!
You have a special gift and if you don't know what it is, a coach can help to discover it and find ways to express that gift in creative ways in every aspect of your life - starting now.
How do I make change for the better?
If I was coaching a person who asked this question, I would ask them to define "better". And then, I would ask them to define "even better", and then to define "awesome". Once you start to envision a life that is beyond your wildest dreams, the change is already starting to take place.
Every thought and every feeling actually creates your reality. A vision that is exciting and compelling draws you to it. Synchronicities start to happen and doors start to open.
So, the key to 'change for the better' is the vision.
When I work with clients, they do formulate a plan, overcome obstacles and commit to actions every week, but we continually return to the vision in order to keep the motivation high. The vision is the wind beneath your wings as you soar to your highest dream, and the joy is not so much in the destination but in the journey!
I don't know if I need a coach. What can a coach do for my life?
If you are at a point in your life where you truly want a change (in any area), you can almost certainly benefit from the services of a coach. A coach invites you to explore beyond your wildest dreams, to a truly inspiring vision. The coach will then help you to develop a path to that vision, overcome challenges and will help you stay focused in order to make that dream a reality.
Many people fail to make this jouirney on their own. A coach wil help you to keep your vision alive, to stay motivated and to soar to your greatest heights with energy and joy. The coaching process keeps you accountable to YOU and your goals.
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