We can take steps to make changes in any moment of our lives, but as a year closes and a new one begins, it can feel like the right time to take stock. What has gone well, and what would we like to change? Here is part one of my life coaching checklist so you can be your own life coach.
You might find it helpful to read this in sequence, and reflect or jot down a few thoughts at each stage before moving on to the next step.
Life Coaching Checklist:
1. What went well?
Sometimes we focus on what we don’t want straight away which can be a shame as we might miss all the positive steps made in the previous year. What went well? What can you build on? What surprised you about yourself? What would you like more of?
And what about the areas where you felt stuck or thwarted? What would you like less of? What could be converted or developed into something good?
In NLP (neuro linguistic programming) we have an expression that there is no failure, only feedback. There is value in every experience. If something didn’t go to plan, or we might feel like we failed, we can still learn from it. Building in those insights into what we do next may be of huge value.
When you take stock, do so with an honest kindness towards yourself, add in some focus and determination and you have the recipe for achieving your goals.
2. Seeing into the future
See yourself this time next year, how would you like things to be? If you are feeling exhausted and stressed after the season of goodwill you have time to create a different approach for next year. What sort of a Christmas would you like to have?
As you look at your life as a whole, see yourself in the future – your family, work, home and health. How would you like it to be? Dream, aim high for the things that really matter to you.
3. Make it real
I hope you have some ideas around what you regard as strong areas in your life, those to build, and those that you want to work with. And a fuller sense of the big picture of your life as a whole. The next step is to refine your goals to help you on your way towards creating that future.
Goals are crucial to making positive changes. Firstly they identify the destination. A bit like having a destination in mind if you go for a walk, we know where we want to go. There still needs to be flexibility, but knowing where we are heading helps.
How we actually formulate that goal can also make a huge difference in helping us achieve it. We need to make it real for our minds to work with. A bit like having a map on our walk, it can be a way of making the journey and process comprehensible and achievable. There are four easy ways to achieve more “real goals”.
We need a positive goal as the brain does not really recognise negative goals. If I tell you not to think about kangaroos, chances are we are now all picturing kangaroos bouncing around! Being less stressed, not feeling anxious, losing weight, not smoking, etc. the focus is still on what you don’t want. Think of what you would like to be in place of that – relaxed, confident, healthier and so on. Make sure your goal is a positive one expressed in positive language.
Make your goal specific – what do you want to achieve, by when and how. Be as specific as you can because this is another other way in which your journey takes shape in your mind. It also allows you to be more effective as you think and feel your way around the process.
You can also think through how you will know when you will achieved your goal and how that will feel. Try to be as specific as you can, and visualise it as if you are in a film of you and you have achieved that goal.
Which leads into the fourth point of using the five senses to make your goal really come alive in your mind. Our senses allow us to, literally, make sense of the world – our brain registers ideas more clearly if we build in how it will look, sound, feel (both touch and emotionally), taste and smell. Depending upon our goal different senses may be paramount but just looking ahead and seeing the “goal achieved” version, adding in the happy sounds, feelings and any other sensory details can greatly add to the power of your goal.
4. Check out what could get in the way
My favourite definition of coaching is helping someone get out of their own way. Often we are own greatest obstacle – in the nicest possible way! Which is good news because you are, arguably, the only person you have any control over!
Our beliefs, values, sense of who we are often find expression in our habits and behaviours, and create some of our “stuckness”. You might like to read my previous blog Breakthroughs When You’re Feeling Stuck  and also Part 2 of this Life Coaching Checklist to support you in exploring this important area.
One aspect of change always worth paying attention to is what the old behaviour or belief gives us that has been helpful. Or perhaps, a deeper positive intention that it was trying to achieve even though the actual strategy was in need of an update. These positive intentions and strategies are usually created when we are much younger, which is why the way we go about achieving them can sometimes be unhelpful or counter-productive. At the root may be a desire to be accepted, loved, feel safe, etc. and if we can find a more positive way to achieve these needs, those younger self strategies and behaviours can evolve into something that serves both you and those you love.
5. What resources have you got access to?
Write a list of all that you have to call on to help you achieve your goals. Sometimes in practice, people will look at me blankly at this point. Even if we are feeling a bit bereft or overwhelmed, most of us are lucky enough to access to inner and outer resources to enable us to move forwards in our lives.
Think about the skills you have, your qualities, and strengths. And those of all the people you know who might help and support you.
Practically what can you draw upon – what do you need to be in place to help you achieve your goals and what do you already have in place or access to that will help?
Think about other times you have achieved your goals – what helped?
If you find it hard to draw on your own experiences, think about people you admire. They might be people you know or they might be in the media, sport, business, creative world etc. You can also think around fictional characters whose qualities you admire. What is it you like about them? What is it that you imagine has helped them? Imagine what it would be like to have those qualities. If you imagine your way into the experience, using your five senses, you are sowing the seeds of possibility.
“I am enough of an artist to draw freely upon my imagination. Imagination is more important than knowledge. Knowledge is limited. Imagination encircles the world.” Albert Einstein
6. What can you make a start on now?
You have been identifying and creating real goals, working on what resources you can draw upon what might get in your way. You can now, in the words from Stephen Covey’s brilliant book The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People “begin with the end in mind” .
Working towards your goal what steps do you need to take and what can you do today? Ask yourself these simple questions daily. There may be days where it feels uphill, what matters is the trend over time. Are you moving forwards? If yes – keep going. If you are hitting brick walls, revisit your life coaching checklist and notes and see what is getting in your way and what resources you have to work through that and beyond.
To learn more, see my Life Coaching Checklist – Part 2, which I hope you may also find to be helpful.
I hope you have found this to be of interest and if you have any questions or queries about NLP and Coaching, please do contact me. You can also subscribe to the Chantry Health Newsletter for updates about my practice and details about workshops. Thank you.
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