You don’t need to have it all together to be a great coach. After all, life isn’t designed for us to only sail through smooth waters. To coach effectively, you simply have to know how to navigate. Think of your own life as a laboratory - the place where you practice your piloting skills. Whether your seas are currently rough or smooth, as a life coach you’ve already got the tools to course correct and maintain the connection to your intended destination.
Your clients don’t expect perfection. At least not ones that you’re going to want to work with! What they do need is evidence that you can walk the talk. Where better to prove this out than through your everyday choices, both personally and professionally?
Living with intention requires a measure of self awareness. If you’re getting caught up in the grind, could be that it’s time to step back and take stock. Consider the following strategies as a jumping off point for cultivating and maintaining your internal alignment.
Identify Your Values
As a coach, it’s your job to help clients articulate their core values as a solid foundation for goal setting and decision making. From there, you support them in taking actions that track with those underlying values. But when’s the last time you checked in with your values to see how they stack up against your daily To-Do List?
Coaches are no different than any other entrepreneur. You’ve got a lot to accomplish, and often there aren’t enough hours in the day. When you get caught up in the cycle of “Doing”, it’s easy to lose track of how you want to “Be” within it. Coaching is all about cultivating an intentional approach to both life and work. Think of this as an essential aspect of your brand: To live from your values so you can help others live from theirs.
Action: Schedule a quarterly “CEO Date” with yourself to connect with your core values and how they relate to your business. If you’re pulling off track, re-calibrate.
Set Goals That Reflect What Really Matters
What aspects of your life do you consider absolutely core? Most of us would name a cluster that might include: Career, Relationships, Health, Hobbies, Family, Friendship, Spirituality, Community, or Service. If you were to draw a pie with six slices, which of these (or other) elements would you choose as your “Essential 6” - the components you’d most want to build your priorities around? Do you have a method for directing a portion of your intention and energy into each of those areas regularly?
Living with intention comes down to knowing our values, and putting them into practice through the goals we set and choices we make. As our days speed by, we can lose track of what’s important in the rush to address what’s right in front of us. If you value family, but suddenly realize you haven’t spoken to your favorite Aunt in nine months… it may be time to recenter this aspect of your life. Instead of thinking vaguely about the people you want to connect with, the new exercise program you want to start, or that art class you’d like to take, decide what’s most important and then set some concrete goals.
Action: From the 6 core areas of your life you’ve identified, choose 2 that feel the most neglected. Now create one goal for each that you’d like to work toward over the next month (or two!) Keep it simple, and break things down even further into weekly actions steps if it helps.
Maintain Healthy Habits
While modern life may be all about the hustle and grind, it’s undeniable that chronic stress takes a toll on our body and mind. Your goal of building a thriving coaching practice is important, but if you don’t acknowledge the reality of burnout, you might end up too exhausted to serve yourself or your clients well.
We know what we eat, how often we move our bodies, the status of our close relationships, and the amount of media we consume can all contribute to our health… or undermine it. How well is your own machinery functioning? Are you topping off your tank regularly, or running on empty?
If you haven’t already, it’s time to educate yourself about the true impact of burnout and stress and how it can affect your health. By knowing the symptoms, you can recognize when it’s time to pause and give yourself some space to breathe. You can also more easily spot it in your clients, and offer guidance to support them to find balance as well.
Action: Adequate rest is the foundation upon which all our other healthy habits are built. The average adult requires 7-9 hours of sleep each night. What’s optimal for you? Over the coming week, evaluate your sleep patterns. Determine the amount of hours you need to be at your best, then schedule it. For 7 days, build your daily schedule around sleep. Be rigorous about it! At the end of the week, notice how you feel.
Cultivate Present Moment Awareness
Mindfulness is more than a trend. It’s a 2,500 year old practice that’s deeply rooted in Buddhist psychology. Regardless of your background or beliefs, you don’t need to identify as a spiritual person to derive the benefits of being more fully present.
Technology has introduced so many conveniences and possibilities into our lives. Alongside those advances, we’re also contending with a torrent of information and distractions that can easily divert us away from ourselves and our true priorities. If you never feel like you have “enough time”, consider cultivating a mindfulness practice to bring greater stability and focus to your mind. This takes patience and persistence, but it’s worth doing.
When you begin noting and acknowledging what distracts or distresses you, you’ll also become aware of what’s actually happening in this moment. When we’re aware of the stories our brains are spinning, or the way we’re habitually reacting to certain forms of stimulus, we are positioned to make different choices.
Action: If this is a new area for you, try exploring an introduction to mindfulness practices. Resources to consider include Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, or meditation apps such as Ten Percent Happier, Insight Timer, or Headspace. For those with PTSD who find traditional meditation triggering, there are trauma-informed practices available to support developing an approach that is right for you.
Connect to Your Purpose and Use it to Propel You Forward
So much intentional effort goes into the decision to become a coach. If you're currently a practicing coach, how often have you returned back to your original source of inspiration? And if you're just starting down this path, have you clearly identified what specifically calls you toward the life coaching profession?
As the years pass and your practice grows, stay firmly rooted in your WHY. It’s the fuel that will keep you going when life’s inevitable challenges arise. Your vision and purpose serve as a compass. It’s what got you on this road to begin with, and can be a useful reference point to continue navigating by. As you weigh decisions in your business and life, your purpose can help you to make your choices from a place of clarity and intention.
Action: Check out JRNI CEO Noelle Cordeaux’s reflections on her own path as a coach. Now consider writing your own “origin story”!