A vast majority of people--probably all of us at some point--deal with a similar problem in life when it comes to their goals. Most people know what they want and even how to get it, but when it comes to moving forward, they have a tough time sticking with it. Or they make any kind of excuse to not get started or justify why they quit trying. If you are one of those people, you might consider getting a Life Coach.
Contrary to some myths that Life Coaching is simply someone telling you what to do, a skilled Life Coach listens and asks questions. In fact, the International Coach Federation (ICF), the largest coaching organization in the world, clearly states that the solutions should be elicited from the client (not the coach). Professional Life Coaches operate in an advice-free zone. A good Coach will bring out the best in you and help you focus on your goals, not boss you around or psychoanalyze you.
Here are five ways a Life Coach can help you get unstuck and get you back on the path toward your goals!
1. Listening for Structure
Many methods of listening are focused on the content of what the client is saying, like a reporter listening for who, what, when, and where. Coaches listen beyond the content and also on the structural components of what is being said, like language patterns (language that limits your power), hints at the bigger picture (suggests stumbling blocks), and how the client is thinking versus what they are thinking about. A Coach listening for these connections can help a client begin to think in different patterns, find new ways to organize the content, and create new solutions.
2. New Levels of Thinking
Albert Einstein is often quoted as saying, "You can't solve your problems with the same thinking that created them." A Coach is not limited by the same thinking the client may be stuck in. Coaches ask questions at different levels of thinking inspire a client to create new awareness. You cannot change what you are not aware of. For example, drawing the client's attention to different levels of abstraction (such as big picture to small details, from their actions to his self image), asking questions that offer different perspectives, or asking questions that filter different thinking styles (such as taking a critic's view of the situation) can inspire the client to grow outside of the thinking that created the problem.
3. Challenging Questions
One of the core competencies of a Coach (defined by the ICF) is direct communication. Part of this is asking questions that challenge a person's model of the world. For example, when a person makes a statement about how things are, such as a limiting statement about capabilities ("I'm not good at XXX"), the Coach can ask evocative questions that challenge the client to really examine whether their assumption is true and explore other possibilities ("When is a time you were good at XXX?"). Through these challenging questions, a client's limiting beliefs about their environment, actions, capabilities, choices, what is truly important, their self-identity, and what is possible in the world can be addressed, clearing the way for committed action.
4. Outside Viewpoint
In most cases a Coach is like a neutral third party that is not involved in the client's day-to-day life. The Coach operates from an outside position, is responsible for facilitating a conversation, and is not affected by or invested in the choices the client makes. As a neutral observer, the Coach respects the client as highly creative, capable, resilient, and powerful. Sometimes the major limiting factors for a person are the people closest to them. Out of a sense of trying to protect a person from failure, these people can be critical and create resistance, doubt, and a loss of motivation. Sometimes, this happens entirely inside a client's own mind--have you ever talked yourself out of trying something because you thought you would fail? A Coach lifts up the client by believing in him or her, and this belief comes through in the positive, possibility-oriented, future-focused questions that are asked.
5. Independent Accountability
There is a common misconception that one of a Coach's major roles is as accountability partner--a taskmaster to hold your feet to the fire until you get stuff done. The client sets goal and action plan, and then the Coach holds them accountable. This method is problematic because after the coaching relationship ends (many Coaches work with a client for three to six months), the client is left without a supportive accountability structure. A masterful helps a client create structures of self-accountability and positive accountability from supportive people. A Coach invites the client to find positive (not punitive) structures of accountability. (For punitive accountability, if the client doesn't follow through there is a punishment, and these only work while the threat of punishment is real.) Because the coaching relationship isn't meant to last forever,
A highly skilled Coach is a catalyst that helps activate a client start taking action, get back into action, and change and grow.