With just the click of a button, you’ll find a wealth of knowledge and resources available to life coaches online. From assessment tools to positive psychology exercises and goal setting techniques, there’s so much to play with... and potentially incorporate into your coaching practice!
So how do you decide which life coaching tools to use?
Assembling your go-to coaching toolkit is part of what makes this work dynamic and fun! The choices you make in this regard are best guided by the coaching niche you practice in, your observations of a client’s needs, and your own personal preferences and coaching philosophy.
Case in point: what might be a really effective coaching tool for a life coach might not meet a client's needs in an executive coaching session. Whatever your specialty, you'll likely test drive several coaching tools before landing on the ones that feel right for you.
With that said... after training thousands of students, we’ve found that some life coaching tools pack a bigger punch than others! If you’re looking for a place to start, we’ve asked JRNI instructors and life coaches to share some of their favorites for this article.
In this resource guide, we’ll cover:
- Assessment Tools
- Coaching Session Frameworks
- Coaching Exercises for Clients
- Coaching Interventions
- Coaching Business Management Tools
- Resources & Continuing Professional Education
Before jumping right into a visioning process or life goal attainment strategies, it can be useful to discover more about the specific human you are working with! Most often conducted at the start of a new client relationship, assessments can be an efficient tool for gaining insight right from the start of the coaching journey. They offer both coach and client data and information about the client’s personal and professional strengths, preferences, values, and style.
Certain types of assessment tools, such as 360° feedback, provide a baseline you can return to throughout the coaching engagement to retest and measure growth or change. Others, like personality tests, will offer a more static view of an individual’s preferences, strengths, and temperament.
Often, a client will offer up insights they’ve gained about themselves based upon tools they use already, or an assessment they’ve done in another setting. As a life coach, you’re not expected to be familiar with every tool under the sun! When it comes to assessments, it’s most effective to develop some depth with one or two key tools for your practice, rather than attempting to understand every survey your clients have ever taken.
Positive psychology research shows that consistently using our top 5 character strengths in a realistic manner leads to the experience of flow states along with the development of deep authenticity connection and contentment in life. Leaning into character strengths allows coaching clients to discover and access the virtues that make them tick.
If you’re going to use just one assessment tool, this is the one we recommend in JRNI’s life coach training program.
The DiSC acronym stands for the four main personality profiles of the DiSC model: (D)ominance, (I)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness. Most commonly applied in business team settings, the DiSC tool provides a framework to help people better understand themselves and those they interact with. Application of this knowledge at both the individual and team levels can be helpful in reducing workplace conflict and enhancing interpersonal working relationships.
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that offers insight into how people see the world and manage their emotions. It grapples with the fundamental questions: “Who am I, and how did I come to be this way?” Understanding your Enneagram type can be useful to the process of identifying core beliefs about how the world works, and your place within it.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been in use for decades, and is often a go-to in business settings. It can be a useful one to know because many clients may be familiar with it already, and well versed in their MBTI "type". Rooted in Jungian theory, the Myers-Briggs is designed to help people understand themselves on a deeper level. It offers insights into a person’s personality makeup, preferences, and decision-making style.
This simple quiz to examines thought patterns to uncover how your thoughts may be leading to self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors. It can be a helpful jumping off point to support clients in exploring unconscious limiting beliefs.
ACEs stands for “Adverse Childhood Experiences”, and it is a short assessment that provides insight into how a client’s stress responses in the present may be influenced by early life experiences. This can be a particularly useful tool for providing trauma-informed coaching insights and support.
We highly recommend that a practitioner possess appropriate professional training in trauma before introducing the ACES assessment and attendant themes with a coaching client. If past experiences are clearly impacting present day wellness and functioning, make referrals to mental health providers as needed.
LIFE COACHING SESSION FRAMEWORKS
Coaching frameworks help us understand the coaching relationship from a process perspective, and address the need for “structure” in the interaction with our clients. Although frameworks offer a system within which coach and client work together, the goal attainment process is different for each person.
As coaches, our approach need not be prescriptive or rigid! Rather, we recommend holding a general process framework in your head while dancing with your client in the moment, honoring them where they're at.
You'll encounter a wide variety of frameworks from the coaching literature and in various coaching programs, and in our experience all roads lead generally to the same place. Most frameworks share common themes relative to the coaching process, which include:
- Establishing a relationship or partnership that is built on trust, honest communication, and confidentiality.
- Once goals have been clearly defined, all frameworks include a phase in which insight development and/or action learning occurs.
- In general, most frameworks strive to foster accountability and commitment toward self-initiated change and continued growth.
In this guide, we're highlighting the 3 coaching frameworks that students learn in JRNI's life coach training program.
One of the most simple and effective coaching techniques for guiding a session, this one involves moving through these three questions with your client:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What’s getting in the way?
5-Step Coaching Process
This framework is slightly more complex than the last, and can be used to support a client with visioning and planning toward goal attainment:
- Set the Session Contract: What do you want to get out of our time today?
- Future Visioning: Build positive motivation
- Strategize: Come up with action steps
- Clear the Way: Identify potential roadblocks, and how the client might overcome them
- ReCap: Go back over future vision, the plan, and agreed-upon action items for accountability
This is a more complex model, and one that might span an entire coaching engagement rather than be "completed" in a single coaching session - though it can work in both contexts! Drawn from the field of Appreciative Inquiry, the 5-D Framework is a conversation model for helping your client develop a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve, along with how to get there.
Here’s how it works:
- Define: What do you want to create?
- Discover: What strengths and experiences do you have that can help make it happen?
- Dream: What will it look like?
- Design: How will you get there?
- Destiny: Experiment, learn, and evolve the plan.
EFFECTIVE EXERCISES FOR LIFE COACHES
The Wheel of Life helps a client clarify where they are feeling most satisfied, while also highlighting areas that may need more attention at this time. This is a quick exercise that provides a snapshot of where a client perceives themselves to be across 8 important areas of life, which could include:
- Money & Finances
- Career & Work
- Health & Fitness
- Fun & Recreation
- Environment (home/work)
- Family & Friends
- Partner & Love
- Personal Growth & Learning
Drawn from the work of Rob Dial, this process is similar to the Wheel of Life. It can be used by life coaches to help the client take a quick “life satisfaction inventory” across 6 areas relevant to goal attainment: Career, Relationship, Intellectual, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual.
Reflection is defined as “the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences; learning is the creation of meaning from past or current events that serves as a guide for future behavior.” (Daudelin, 1996)
Intentional doodling and journaling by hand not only helps to clarify our thinking… it’s also an effective coaching technique that can help rewire the brain!
Identifying and naming our top values can be a useful exercise for both individual and business clients. There’s a variety of tools for leading clients through this process. Some popular ones include:
- Brene Brown’s Values List
- Printable values card-sort
- Online personal values assessment & report
- The One Thing - Core Value Card Deck
- The Leadership Challenge Values Card Deck
SMART Goal Setting Technique
When it comes to goal attainment, people often fall short of the mark because they lack a clearly defined plan, outcomes, or timeline for completion. The acronym SMART can be used to help clients remember to set goals that are:
- Time sensitive
For more positive psychology exercises than you can shake a stick at, check out the resources available for life coaches at www.positivepsychology.com!
Reflecting is a technique in which the coach tries to really understand what the client is thinking/feeling/saying. There are many ways to mirror and reflect, and one of our go-to approaches is:
“Here’s what I heard you say… did I capture it?”
The experience of hearing another person say what’s been rattling around inside their head can help a client feel heard and understood, which itself often leads to new insights!
Moving beyond simply reflecting what a client is saying, reframing offers an opportunity for your client to consider another perspective on a situation or belief. A good reframe can help a client disrupt patterns, or get out of a “story” they are telling themselves. As life coaches we respect, honor, acknowledge, and validate the client’s perspective… AND we also ask if they are open to another point of view.
A couple ways to do this might include:
- I heard you describe what you’re seeing, and I’m seeing something in addition to that.
- Are you open to another perspective on it?
- What else is true about this, in addition to what you’ve shared with me?
- What strengths do you know you have that will help you overcome this challenge?
Mindfulness Coaching has become a niche within the wellness space, and it's important for coaches to distinguish the difference between practicing mindfulness ourselves and offering mindfulness as an additional modality of healing to our clients. If you'd like to teach mindfulness to others, we recommend specialized training. Some resources for exploring mindfulness for both ourselves as life coaches, as well as for client referrals, include:
- Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction
- Mindful: resources on mindfulness and meditation
- Mindfulness for Coaches: An Experiential Guide
- How Mindfulness Improves Executive Coaching
- APPS: HeadSpace, Calm, Insight Timer
It's often what's inside our heads that will prove to be the bigger obstacle to goal attainment than any external challenges or roadblocks that we may face. In these instances, the first step in overcoming internal barriers may simply be to befriend ourselves, exactly as we are. Not always as easy as it sounds, right?!
According to Dr. Kristen Neff, self-compassion “involves acting the same way towards yourself when you are having a difficult time, fail, or notice something you don’t like about yourself as you would with a friend. Instead of just ignoring your pain with a 'stiff upper lip' mentality, you stop to tell yourself: This is really difficult right now, how can I comfort and care for myself in this moment?”
Exercises coaches can use with a client to enhance their capacity for self-compassion include:
- How would you treat a friend?
- Taking a self compassion break
- Changing your critical self talk
- Podcast: Self Compassion is a Coaching Superpower
We all carry beliefs about ourselves that are false and limiting. The role of a life coach is to help lift these subconscious patterns and beliefs up to the surface where our clients can see them more clearly. Here's two effective techniques we recommend for helping clients identify and disrupt unhelpful internal thoughts:
- Inner Critic: Gremlins (And How to Quash Them)
- Limiting Beliefs: Coaching Clients Through Fear and Doubt
Based upon the work of Gay Hendricks, this is a process of helping clients identify the hidden barriers that are holding them back from goal attainment or the full expression of their gifts and talents.
As a life coach, our inner capacities around emotional intelligence and self regulation are paramount to our ability to successfully connect with and relate to our clients. A few tools you can draw upon to further build these muscles for yourself and with your clients include:
- Brene Brown on Empathy vs. Sympathy
- How A Coach Works With Emotional Intelligence
- ESCI: Emotional & Social Competency Inventory
COACHING BUSINESS TOOLS
Whether you already have a successful life coaching business or you’re still in the process of building one, there's a dizzying array of tools out there to help you work smarter. From organizing projects, scheduling calls, to marketing services that better connect with your ideal client, odds are there's a product or service that can handle it for you. The trick is in researching which are best for your situation, and selecting your Must-Haves.
For a rundown of our favorites, check out: Tools of the Trade: Resources To Jump Start Your Coaching Practice.
In that blog, we cover:
- Scheduling systems
- Payment processors
- Client management software
- Website design & hosting
- Social media tools
- Content & project management
- Video calls & webinars
- Brand & marketing resources
- E-learning platforms
- Email systems
- Blogs & podcasts
- Professional training & certification
RESOURCES & CONTINUING EDUCATION FOR COACHES
Careers in Life Coaching: Options & Opportunities (includes a list of who's hiring coaches!)
READY FOR LIFTOFF?
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our life coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and become a coach, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.