Many people think about becoming a life coach, but the truth of the matter is that only a fraction of them will actually do it. Let’s take a closer look at why that is, and what you can do to turn your dreams into reality.
Our orientation towards work, making choices, and attending to the myriad of things that call for our attention ultimately comes down to value. Or more specifically, the value that we assign to whatever it is we hope to accomplish - in the moment that we are considering taking action.
This phenomenon even has a fancy name that hails from the field of economics: The Subjective Theory of Value.
When we put things off, it’s often a result of our having made a subjective valuation. If our mental process were expressed mathematically, it might look something like this:
What this means in everyday terms is that when we procrastinate, we’ve decided that the value of doing something else outweighs the task in front of us that will lead to some future value.
One way to get out from underneath the pressure of the "now" versus the payoff of the future is to spend time reviewing and assessing the value judgments you are assigning in the moment.
Likewise, if you have a long term goal that you want to achieve which will require numerous action steps and some heavy lifting along the way, you might take some time to build motivation first. Explore what kind of value you can add in this moment to bolster your ambition versus the comfort of inaction or stalling out.
It’s simple, really. The further off a reward for our action is perceived to be, the less likely we are to take that action. Case in point: most folks would rather accept roughly $80 dollars now than wait 3 months to get $100!
You probably won’t be surprised to learn that scientists have coined a term for this as well: Delay Discounting. As a species, we start to devalue our time and money based on immediate reward.
Suffice it to say, this is a very real factor in why we procrastinate! Getting something done is a delayed reward, so its value in the present is reduced. The further away the deadline is, the less attractive it seems to work on something right now.
One simple way to increase the value of completing a task is to make the finish line seem closer. For example, vividly imagining a future reward will actually help to reduce delay discounting.
Coaching Tip: Future visioning and vision board exercises are great for this, and are further supported by the science of priming. Want to learn more about how to do it? Check out our blog on Crafting A Future Vision.
Now let’s bring this back around to career decisions, and how we know when it’s “the right time" to become a coach. Let's start with a question:
On average, our students think about joining the JRNI life coach training program somewhere between one month and one year. That’s a pretty big spread!
While all roads eventually lead to the same place, the distinction here is that the folks who dive in right away experience the immediate reward of having taken action in life. Those people begin building their practice a whole year ahead of those who circle our front door, waiting for a sign to get started.
We know from coaching theory that one of the quickest ways to alleviate the anxiety that comes from putting things off is to take a concrete action step towards your goal. There are many immediate unanticipated rewards that come from making the decision to get trained as a life coach. Here’s just a few:
Once a student joins coach training, new possibilities begin firing right away. They begin to think about the kind of business they want to launch, start to see job opportunities they had never considered before, and get excited about building new partnerships and experiences.
Time is linear and will pass.
Whether you are considering a change in career, relationship, or a move, the weight of a dream deferred eases with action. When nothing changes - we experience decay. When we force change by assigning future value to the NOW, we engender growth and vitality.
These resources can help:
Launch your coaching practice right with JRNI Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff as an entrepreneur, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a collective force for good.
“The phrase “toxic positivity” refers to the concept that keeping positive, and keeping positive only, is the right way to live your life. It means only focusing on positive things and rejecting anything that may trigger negative emotions.” - Psychology Today
According to the Washington Post, the exact origins of the term “toxic positivity” are murky, but the idea is firmly rooted in American culture, which values bright-side, glass half full thinking. This notion of putting our troubles aside in favor of adopting a rosy affect is not uniquely American, however, nor is it particularly recent.
You’ve likely encountered the phrase “Keep Calm and Carry On,” a saying that was originated by the British government in 1939 as part of the effort to boost morale leading up to the second World War. Another slogan in the series that hasn’t gained as much modern attention is also worth recalling: “Your Courage, Your Cheerfulness, Your Resolution will Bring Us Victory.”
The purpose of the British Ministry of Information’s war propaganda was simple: to encourage people to remain calm in the face of adversity. No emotions, please. Just Stay Calm, everyone!
Fast forward to 71 years later, when two bookshop owners rediscovered an original “Keep Calm” poster in an old box and hung it up in their store. It attracted so much attention that they began producing and selling posters of their own.
The whole “Keep Calm” frenzy that started with those posters is driven in no small part by capitalism. Everything from books to “Don’t Worry, Be Happy” t-shirts. Other companies created similar products, and today such sentiments have become not just a commercial gravy train, but a requisite for human behavior.
According to Verywell Mind, other examples of “toxic positivity” include:
During the past year, we’ve seen increasing pushback against these ideas and behaviors, particularly on social media. Set against a backdrop of a global pandemic and brutal social injustices, sentiments like “Keep Calm and Carry On” are coming across for many people as tone deaf at best. For some, it can feel like gaslighting - a minimization or denial of the emotional reality of our traumatic experiences.
But the term “toxic positivity,” alongside woke memes and cancel culture, has itself taken on an ugly tone that is meant to bully and silence others without understanding. A declaration of toxic positivity also shuts down discourse, and masks the nuance required for the hard and messy conversations that need to be had by all of us.
In this world, there are people who do wish to “keep calm and carry on.” There are also those who believe what's best is to burn it all down. Finding middle ground, it seems, is a necessary component for those of us who are committed to the preservation of our environment, our communities, a future for ourselves and our children, and ultimately, peace and contentment through radical liberation and joy.
Our real work requires collective reckoning, and this necessitates finding ways to meet and love each other through good times and bad so that we may join in facing our real enemies.
Listen in as JRNI Coaching co founders John and Noelle grapple with the nuances in this episode of The Everything Life Coaching podcast.
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our 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 as 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.
In positive psychology, we talk a lot about helping people “flourish.” But what does this mean in practical, everyday terms? Let’s explore the science of happiness, and a simple three point framework for achieving it.
In order to understand how we actually achieve and sustain a state of satisfaction in life, let’s start by exploring a common misunderstanding about where “happiness” comes from.
In everyday terms, this is our tendency to overestimate the initial impact and/or duration of an emotional event. We often link “happiness” to future events, like buying a new car or house, getting married, or passing an exam. We believe that when we finally achieve that thing we’re after, that we’ll “uplevel” to a new state of joy, contentment, or satisfaction.
Here's what the science has to say about that: it just ain’t so!
The reason for this is that we quickly adapt to new situations. In the scientific literature, this is called “hedonic adaptation.”
It is also worth noting that the majority of things that people believe will make them happy are either:
Know what happens when we strive after achievements and work to check off those boxes? In the pursuit of external goals, we often end up neglecting how we actually feel as we’re living our life right now.
Instead of savoring the nectar of our present moment experience (the place where contentment actually resides), we get caught in our pursuit of the conditions that we think represent “the good life.”
In other words, we get stuck on a hamster wheel… chasing happiness but never quite arriving. As soon as the “high” of one achievement wears off, we replace it with yet another goal.
“I used to think that the topic of positive psychology was happiness, that the gold standard for measuring happiness was life satisfaction, and that the goal of positive psychology was to increase life satisfaction. I now think that the topic of positive psychology is well-being, that the gold standard for measuring well-being is flourishing, and that the goal of positive psychology is to increase flourishing.” - Martin Seligman
Flourishing is a state of existence in which we are thriving - on our own unique terms. This is a state of being that goes beyond the momentary. It doesn’t require us to chase happiness, or achievement a goal in order to feel it.
Renowned positive psychology researcher Kate Hefferon offers a very simple and elegant framework to evaluate and cultivate a life based on flourishing - one that is both sustained and sustainable.
What Heffernon proposes is that we recalibrate our sense of what happiness entails, and strike an equal balance between these 3 elements:
In western (specifically American) society, most of us spend the majority of our lives chasing achievement. When we put all of our eggs in just this one basket, we fall out of balance.
What do you think would happen if you spent all of your time ONLY chasing contentment or ONLY chasing pleasure? And yet, so many of us are taught to chase the holy grail of “achievement.”
It’s worth noting that contentment often gets left out of the conversation because achievement and pleasure are attention grabbing. And as much as we may like the sound of pleasure, it can get a bad rap thanks to our society’s deeply puritanical roots. Many of us unconsciously both covet AND fear pleasure, which means even when we “have” it… we don’t!
Achievement, contentment, and pleasure look and feel different for everyone.
When we coach using this framework, the first thing to know is that we’ll be contending with diverse, familial and cultural value systems around each of these categories. Our clients may need to undo a maladaptive relationship with the way they see achievement, contentment, or pleasure.
When it comes to the category of achievement, we certainly want to be setting goals and employing grit in order to achieve them. With that said, it’s impossible to apply even 80% of our capacity to more than one of these categories at a time. The purpose of this model is to find a more sustainable flow between all three.
As a coach, you can use this model to help a client take the temperature of their daily life.
The purpose of introducing this model is not to strive toward an idealized state of balance between these areas. Rather, the intention is to weave some aspect of all 3 into everyday life. The purpose of bringing mindful attention to all three is to invoke a state of thriving that can serve or facilitate different goal states - like marriage or passing an exam - while also accounting for the full expression of a life well lived.
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our 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 as 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.
While you certainly CAN step into a life coaching session with a client and “just see what happens,” if you're hoping to make a meaningful impact during that time can't in good conscience recommend that approach!
Coaching is a deliberate process, and it's the role of a life coach to make sure your client achieves their desired outcomes by the end of the coaching session. But how do we do this exactly?
Good frameworks help us understand the coaching relationship from a process perspective, while also addressing the need for structure in the session.
Now just because there’s a process running behind the scenes doesn’t mean we need to be rigid or uptight about it! YES, frameworks offer a system within which a life coach and client work together, but how this unfolds is both contextual and client driven.
If you were to observe two different coaches using the same process, it will likely look and feel quite different! Each life coach has their own set of "powerful questions," along with an intuition around when and how to introduce various coaching techniques.
What this also means is that even if YOU were to use the exact same coaching framework to guide every single one of your coaching sessions, the conversations will play out differently with each of your clients.
For these reasons, we recommend holding a general process flow and session framework lightly in your head, while dancing with your client in the moment. This allows us to be nimble, holding space in whatever way best serves the client.
You'll encounter a wide variety of coaching frameworks in the coaching industry literature and across life coach training programs. And while there's an abundance to choose from, all roads lead generally to the same place.
At the start of your coaching session, it's important to have a clear understanding between the coach and client around the objectives for your time together. Everything else, including which framework you might want to use, flows from there.
In this guide, we've highlighted the 4 coaching frameworks that students learn in JRNI's life coach training program. They are:
One of the most simple and effective coaching techniques for guiding a session, this one involves moving through just three questions with your client:
Similar to the Hallway Conversation, this framework adds in a tactical element. In it, the coach guides the client in coming up with potential solutions to draw from when faced with an anticipated obstacle.
Want to help really make it stick? Invite your client to keep the plan simple, and to repeat it to you three times out loud. Why is this important? In the absence of a plan, we are mostly likely to revert to our default behavior (old habits, mental blocks - in other words, the very things that have been keeping your client stuck!)
This framework is slightly more complex than the last, and can be used to support a client in defining their goal or objective, and then making a plan to achieve it.
Drawn from the field of Appreciative Inquiry, the 5-D Framework is a conversation model that helps your client develop a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve, along with the specifics of how to get there. A more complex model than the previous examples, this is one that could potentially span multiple sessions. For big dreams or goals, you could easily spend an entire session on just one of these steps.
Now let’s take a more detailed look at each of these steps.
During an individual coaching session, this is where you nail down what you’re going to work on today. For a longer contract that will span multiple sessions, this is the point where you'd discuss the entire scope of work for the coaching engagement.
Take time with this to make sure as a coach you know the real issue. Sometimes this single question can take up most of a coaching conversation, and that’s OK!
In this stage, you help the client explore where they have been strong in both the past and present, and how they can use those experiences to drive their vision forward. Some coaching questions to stimulate creative thinking about this include:
This is where we help our life coaching clients dream BIGGER. Dreaming begins with a thought: “What could be…”
When a person creates a really strong vision for their future, their subconscious responds to that dominant thought. It then begins to see possibilities and make connections that help bring that vision to fruition.
Here’s a coaching prompt to help get those juices flowing:
“Imagine that it’s 2 years from now, and everything you want to happen has happened. You’re calling me to update me on what’s going on for you right now. Tell me all about it!”
This is where we work backwards from the future vision and help our client identify the steps necessary to achieve it.
As life coaches, this is often the point where we need to let go and let the client drive. Our role isn’t to advise or come up with suggestions, but to hold space and ask questions that help our client figure out what they want to do next. Some questions to ask might include:
This is the “rinse and repeat” element of coaching. As the client works their vision and action plan, they circle back in subsequent sessions to share what’s working… and what’s not.
Ways you as a coach can support your client's forward momentum include:
Whenever possible, try out new coaching frameworks and other interventions on yourself before introducing them to a client. To give a conversation framework a test-drive, just choose a specific issue from your life. Think of something where you really could use a dash of clarity! Then use the questions from these models as journal prompts, and work your way through the process.
Check out our resource guide Top Life Coaching Tools You Need for Your Practice. In it, we cover assessment tools, coaching exercises, positive psychology interventions, and more!
A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you're ready to learn more about how to become a life coach, check out JRNI Life Coach Training program. Grounded in science, our International Coach Federation accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.
"Limiting beliefs" is a bit of a buzz-phrase these days. But what exactly are they, how did we get them, and, more importantly, how do we get rid of 'em?
As coaches, we use a variety of tools to support our clients in transcending their limiting beliefs. In this blog, I’m sharing my go-to method - one of the most effective tools I use with my coaching clients!
We create our initial belief system in childhood when we are super impressionable and unable to fully access our prefrontal cortex - the part of the brain responsible for higher level thinking, including the ability to take other people's perspectives. This stage of development is sometimes referred to as egocentrism, meaning we think that everything happens because of us.
Imagine that I come home all frustrated and pissed off. I push open the door and am greeted by my happy, wiggley, lil dog. I proceed to push him out of the way, yelling at him to Leave Me Alone!
Unfortunately, my dog does not think, "Oh geez, she must have had a bad day. I'm gonna make her a cocktail and draw her a bath."
No, my dog thinks, "Oh man, I did something wrong. She hates me. I'm a terrible dog. Oh no, now I'm peeing about it. Now she really hates me. I suck. I better go be quiet and cower in the corner."
When mom, dad, teachers, friends, etc., have something going on in their world that causes them to lash out, instead of thinking, "Sheesh, project much, mom!?" we internalize the projected pain and make it our own. Then we reason that there must be something wrong with us and our behavior, and that's why this person is so upset.
As such, we must keep ourselves in their good graces. When we perceive that we've upset our life-line (a.k.a. our caregiver) we will modify our behavior in any way we deem necessary to maintain our survival.
Here’s what often happens next: we begin to believe we need to be small, quiet, perfect, helpful, loud, an overachiever, pleasing, aggressive, meek, etc., in order to be worthy of love and belonging. Regardless of whether the perceived necessary behavior is in alignment with our authentic self or not, we will perform our little hearts out in order to receive the attention, affection, and recognition we desire.
These fear-based beliefs and behaviors are always accompanied by a second, rationalizing belief such as, "Clearly my true, authentic self isn't good enough, worthy enough, or important enough to get my needs met. I'm obviously a piece of shit and I'm terrified that people will discover this shameful truth about me."
These false and limiting beliefs get stored in our subconscious mind as truth. We slowly lose conscious awareness of them over the years and go about trying to be exactly what we think everyone else wants us to be, thus, betraying our authentic self over and over again. The result? Breaking trust within our most important relationship - the relationship we have with ourselves.
So now we're in a highly dysfunctional relationship with ourselves, and this can manifest as depression, anxiety, insecurities, narcissism, and more.
No matter how hard we consciously try to create positivity and abundance in our lives, if our subconscious beliefs aren't in alignment with our conscious desires, we will rarely be able to move ourselves forward towards our goals and dreams. This can be wicked frustrating and cause us to feel defeated, which only serves to reinforce our limiting beliefs.
This can be a tricky endeavor since the subconscious mind is difficult to access. First things first, we need to uncover our limiting beliefs as we are often completely unaware they even exist. There are three ways in which I've found to do this:
For our purposes here today, I’m going to use emotional overreactions as a jumping off point.
When you are emotionally charged or triggered by a present day event and have a bit of an emotional overreaction, this is a sign that there is an old emotional wound involved. The reason for the overreaction is because the current day event bumped up against an old wound and so you are reacting to the pain of the old wound and not just the pain of the current day event.
This gift allows you the opportunity to heal the old emotional wound and release its accompanying limiting beliefs. The method I use to heal and release is often referred to as inner-child work. And, it goes a little something like this…
When you are having an emotional overreaction, sit in the feeling of the emotion. Be present with the physical sensations of the emotion. You can even do this after the fact, if you can’t do it in the moment. If it’s after the fact, then just close your eyes, recall the incident that led to the overreaction, and pull up the emotions.
Once you are sitting in the emotion and fully feeling it, ask yourself (or your client), “How old do I feel right now?”
There is no right or wrong answer, just go with the first thing that comes to mind. Once you have an age in mind, ask yourself (or your client), “What was going on at that age that is reminiscent of this emotional feeling, and what was the story or meaning I gave this event? What did I think this event meant about me?”
You may or may not be able to find the “originating event,” either way it’s fine.
Next, ask yourself (or your client), “What did my younger self need to hear at that time? What does my younger self need to hear now in order to change the narrative?”
Most likely it's along the lines of:
We are no longer back in the hurtful time; we are here now. Now is the time to process the emotions, change the narrative to something empowering and true, and move forward with more freedom to choose aligned responses and behaviors.
Now, close your eyes (or have your client close their eyes) and bring up an image of yourself at the age you’re currently working with. Imagine your sweet, innocent, curious, loving, joyful, creative, adorable, younger self sitting next to you.
Open your heart space and cover your younger self with all the love you can. Begin to tell your younger self all the things they needed to hear at that time, tell them the truth. Oftentimes, our younger self really responds to being held and rocked while telling them all they need to hear.
When you are done speaking lovingly with your younger self, invite them to come home with you. When you were younger and created the limiting belief, you were most likely ashamed of yourself and your perceived transgression. When we feel ashamed of ourselves, we often banish or exile that part of ourselves. This is why it is so important to bring this part of yourself back home to yourself.
Then integrate the energetic body of your younger self into your current energetic body. Take a deep breath and open your eyes. You did it!
Inner-child work is hands down the most effective tool I have found for both myself and my clients for transcending limiting beliefs. If you would like to learn more, I am offering a workshop on how to use inner-child work in your coaching practice. I would love for you to join me! Click here to learn more and register.
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Kristina 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 you’d like some partners in the process, 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.
Naikan therapy is a structured method of self-reflection that was developed in Japan in the 1940s by Ishin Yoshimoto, a Buddhist minister. The word naikan translates as “looking within” or “ seeing oneself with the mind’s eye.” It was developed as a secular, contemplative practice that could be used by anyone, regardless of religious belief.
As a coaching intervention, Naikan can help clients step back and take a broader view of their life circumstances. By increasing awareness of the extent to which they give and receive each day, the practice supports developing a greater sense of gratitude and the desire to give and serve others.
The adaptation of this exercise that we've used for this podcast focuses on relationships, and has been adapted from Greg Krech’s Naikan reflection exercise by Lucinda Poole and Hugo Alberts (Ph.D.)
The following Naikan exercise can be applied to a client’s relationship(s). Here’s how it works in a nutshell:
During the process of doing this exercise, be aware that a client may experience feelings of regret and/or shame if they feel that they have taken more than they have given in a relationship. If this occurs, you can help the client adopt a growth mindset by exploring what they could do differently moving forward to ‘restore the balance.’
During this process, you or your client are invited to reflect on:
You can choose to reflect on these three themes as they relate to one particular person in your life, or it can apply to everyone you may have encountered during the past day.
Spend at least 10 minutes on the exercise to come up with as many items as you can.
Consider everything that you have received in the past 24 hours. How have you been cared for and supported by others?
Write down anything and everything that you received today.
Now consider everything that you have given to another person, or the world, in the past 24 hours. Examples may include:
Reflect on your entire day and write down anything and everything that you gave.
Now take a moment to consider what troubles or difficulties you may have caused another person or the world. Examples include:
Make note of the incidents and occurances where harm may have been caused.
"The act of reflecting on the degree to which we have taken from versus given back to others can give us new insight on how ‘indebted’ we are to the world in a way that can be useful." - Noelle Cordeaux
Reflecting on these three themes within the context of interpersonal relationships helps cultivate feelings of gratitude and appreciation. It also expands awareness of our moral relationships with others in terms of giving, receiving, and hurting. Holding mindful attention on these questions can foster a desire to give and serve others, and instill a greater sense of realistic humility.
When using Naikan with coaching clients, additional support can be provided by the positive psychology literature, which offers data and interventions in the art of practicing gratitude, acting kindly, and developing resilience.
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our 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 as 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.
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!
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.
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.
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.
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:
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:
This framework is slightly more complex than the last, and can be used to support a client with visioning and planning toward goal attainment:
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.
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:
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
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?”
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:
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:
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.
Careers in Life Coaching: Options & Opportunities (includes a list of who's hiring coaches!)
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.
I stopped journaling after my college boyfriend read my diary. It was filled with the darkest secrets imaginable to my teenage brain. I was so mortified, I didn’t pick up a pen to write again for nearly a decade.
As the years passed, I missed the feel of the pen scratching away on paper and the way my thoughts would flow as I fell into the rhythm of writing.
Gradually, I allowed myself to dabble with journal keeping again. I started small. The pages contained lists or superficial notes. I was scared to be too vulnerable lest anyone stumble upon my writing again. Eventually, I began to relax. My lists turned into paragraphs. Then questions. Then dreams.
Today, Creative Journaling is an essential part of my coaching practice and the number one tool I recommend to coaches and clients alike.
Gone is the era of the cliched “Dear Diary.” Creative journaling goes beyond chronicling the day’s events. Rather, it helps you tap into your inner wisdom through a combination of drawing and writing.
When you draw before you write, doodling becomes the magic elixir. It reduces anxiety and makes you more receptive to the coaching process. While countless researchers have studied the benefits of drawing or writing separately, rarely are they mentioned in tandem. I have found that combining the two processes yields incredibly therapeutic effects.
Drawing or doodling have health benefits similar to meditation. When you draw, your breathing slows and your heart rate decreases. The combination of observing your work and the physical practice of your hand moving across the page becomes an exercise in mindfulness. In this relaxed flow state, your levels of stress hormones decrease.
The best part is that the health benefits apply regardless of whether or not you consider yourself a “good” artist. Just the process of doodling is enough.
Drawing increases blood flow to the brain and has been shown to give you a little shot of happiness in the form of dopamine. This mood boost allows you to more readily embrace future visioning work. When your mood is elevated, you can really “see” yourself in a better place. From there, you’re more likely to take meaningful steps toward change.
Writing allows you to become like a fly on the wall--an observer to your own life. Through writing, you are able to take a step back and see your current situation from a new perspective. In turn, drawing helps improve your brain’s neuroplasticity. As your thoughts jump between the right and left hemispheres, new neural pathways are formed.
Journaling provides a form of self-coaching that’s accessible to anyone. Sure, you can get fancy art supplies and a leather bound journal to make your Creative Journaling process an indulgent, multi-sensory experience. But for under $6, you could acquire all the basics you need to get started.
I grew up journaling in a floral diary with a tiny key that I carefully hid away from my little brother. Because of that, it was easy to embrace the practice. Not everyone is ready to make the leap and it can feel especially daunting if you're a novice journaler as an adult. Here are a few tips to get you started:
For more inspiration, I welcome you to join me in the Creative Journaling Community: a monthly coaching membership where we focus on journaling for personal growth.
A lot of talented people dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches like Nicole, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you’d like to learn more about how to become a life coach, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training program!
“Analysis paralysis describes the process that an individual or group engages in when overanalyzing or overthinking a situation. This often causes forward motion in decision-making to become "paralyzed", meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon.” - Wikipedia
In psychological terms, analysis paralysis is considered an anxiety response. It is helpful to recognize these feelings as anxiety and name them: worry, fear, and rumination. Naming our feelings lets the prefrontal cortex wake up and disrupt a spinning brain! If you're finding it tough to stop overthinking, a therapist or coach can also help you identify underlying causes or triggers.
When caught in the grip of analysis paralysis, it often helps to understand why you’re having trouble making choices. Consider:
If you find yourself replaying a memory, you might have trouble trusting yourself to make a different choice moving forward.
Many of us worry about other people judging us for making a certain choice. It's common to think that the “wrong” decision will affect your future or relationships with loved ones. Not only that, it can feel particularly tough to make a decision that affects other people.
In these cases, it helps to normalize and validate how you (or your coaching client) is feeling. Most people find making a decision or completing a task challenging on occasion!
Life is active. To fully live one cannot just “think”. One must DO. - Noelle Cordeaux, JRNI Coaching CEO
Set a decision deadline... with a default course of action
It can be helpful to establish a deadline for research, thinking, investigating, mind mapping, brainstorming or anything else you feel is important. When the deadline passes, stick with the default decision you chose in advance - unless you really got somewhere and changed the deadline based on real information or new outcomes.
Just start. This involves making yourself engage in the task for a certain amount of time, before you can go back to research. This works well when you want to explore options, but can’t really learn more about them without actually trying something out.
Pro Tip: Working with a coach is a great way to bust through the "thought-to-action" barrier!
The above strategies work on a principle of removing the rational objection to getting started. In the first, you’ve indulged in a reasonable amount of research time, so you can’t justify that you didn’t have time to think about it. In the second, you give yourself the option to back out, so you can’t complain that the decision is too weighty. In the third, you get started on the stuff that would be the same for either option, so you can’t use research as a reason to procrastinate.
Pro Tip: Taking action always feels better. Most things are not set in stone. There is value in pushing forward with a choice just to see what happens.
Scott H. Young: How to Push Past Your Analysis Paralysis
A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. Don't get paralyzed in indecision! At JRNI, we train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. So what are you waitin’ for? Come check out the JRNI Life Coach Training program.
When I first left my full-time design job and started my business, I had no problem getting work. But that’s not the same as getting clients.
Right off the bat, I was able to secure several retainer contracts with companies who would send me small design projects daily or weekly. The money was great. The work... eh, not so much.
I spent my first six-plus months in business designing PowerPoint slides, white papers, and report graphics. Now don't get me wrong—I'm grateful that I had work at all. Starting a business is scary AF and it was nice to have reliable income.
But when I decided to integrate life coaching into my creative business, I had NO idea how to sell my services to potential clients.
IF I could even get someone on the phone with me to begin with, I fumbled through the call with white knuckles and desperation. And I'm still not sure why those clients agreed to work with me (but thank goodness they did!)
I believe that there's a lesson to be found in every experience, and ooof... did I learn some hard lessons over the following year. Here are a few of the biggies:
They weren't born with some super power that other humans don't have.
They aren't even using a proprietary method of selling.
They simply understand that there are a few critical elements that are required to be able to sell effectively, authentically, and in sustainable ways.
What are they? I gotchu.
It starts with making sure your heart is in the right place. A sales conversation can’t just be about… the sale. If you're not deeply committed to helping people, they will be able to feel that and will take their business to someone who is.
Next, you must understand what your client is experiencing in order to offer them a solution for their problem. If you took your car to a mechanic and they told you that you needed thousands of dollars worth of work done, but they hadn't even looked under the hood of your car, that would be bananas right?!
We can't sell solutions to problems our clients don't have. This means understanding how their main problem is causing pain in other areas of their life — financial, physical, relationships, etc. In order to have a clear offer, which leads to a successful sales conversation, it’s critical to research your audience and understand where they’re stuck and how that’s affecting their ability to be whole and happy.
The most successful life coaches create a minimal amount of offers and pack a ton of value into each one. Instead of offering the client whatever they ask for, bending over backwards to accommodate, offer one to three things (services, packages, programs, courses, etc.) and let them choose from those and only those.
Being clear about your coaching offers makes the decision easy for a potential client—they’re either in or out, no wishy washy business.
The initial/informational call—that’s a sales call, whether you call it that or not. And there's a script for it! For real.
You can customize it so it doesn't feel scripted, but there are legit phases of the call and psychological evidence that those phases actually work. It's a non-salesy, non-pushy, compassionate and empathetic method of selling to people who are a good fit for you. Being clear and confident helps you command your worth as a successful coach, and makes it much less likely that potential clients will try to take advantage of you.
I promise it's not. And ANYONE—including you—can learn and implement these tools and strategies.
Here’s how you can start creating your own authentic sales process today:
1) Write down your WHY. It’s easy to embrace an attitude of service when we have a clear understanding of why we’re doing the thing we’re doing. Fill in this value statement: To [insert your contribution / service] so that [insert your impact / the benefit to clients].
2) Do your homework. Conduct some market research on your audience. Who are they? Where are they? What are their current struggles? Where are they stuck? Where do they want to be? What’s stopping them from getting there? In other words, what does that ideal client want? You may also look into other service providers who have the same audience and take note of any strategies or tools they’re using to connect with this audience that you might be able to integrate into your sales and marketing plans.
3) Create your offer(s). Write out and price each individual offer (up to three). What’s included? How long does it take to complete? How is it different from other offers in the market? Any bonuses or perks? How much does it cost? How can new clients sign up?
4) Craft your sales script. Write out what you will say on your sales calls. How will you empathize with your potential clients to validate their feelings and show them you understand where they’re stuck? How will you get them to where they want to be? How will you take their first payment? What are the next steps after a client commits? Or, how will you respond if they say no?
Organizing the elements of your sales process, and keeping them authentic to you and those that you serve, will create a sense of alignment that will boost your confidence on your initial calls with potential clients.
If you’d like more support implementing these strategies in your own coaching business, I cover all this and more, including the exact script for your sales calls, in Soul Centric Selling, an online course for service providers who want to learn a new system to sell more confidently and consistently, in a way that feels heart-centered and authentic.
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Meredith 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 you’d like some partners in the process, 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 in the life coaching industry.
Often when we think about grief, we associate it with the specific loss that occurs when someone dies. However, grief is complex and arises in response to many forms of loss. This can often include the loss of the person you used to be, or a hoped-for future that is unlikely to come to pass.
One of the most arduous and universal trials of human life is enduring our grief. The deep pain and suffering that characterizes grief can be life-changing. When faced with grief, we carry a heavy burden of sorrow with us as we attempt to make sense of life again.
While the inevitability and permanence of loss connects us all, the time it takes to accept loss is unique to every individual. Nevertheless, research suggests three common personal rituals that can help us adapt to loss: letting go, self-transformation, and honoring.
Honoring a person’s memory plays a significant role in developing emotional acceptance. A helpful approach to coping with grief is to not minimize our experience, but to instead cultivate and remember the good things related to the loss when possible.
Rather than dwelling on stories of loss and despair, honoring and reflection offers a meaningful and tangible route to transiting through a hard chapter through the preservation of memories.
Recovery after bereavement takes time, and for some, the grieving process may take much longer than others. There is no set schedule for grieving, and there should be no pressure to ‘move on.” Grief work is not about getting over the loss. Quite the opposite, in fact. While caught in the grip of grief, it’s unlikely that one can even begin to imagine "accepting the loss."
If acute grief is interfering with a client’s ability to function, it’s appropriate to refer out for support from a therapist. This doesn’t mean, however, that working with grief is necessarily beyond the scope of your role as a coach. Coaching is an ideal space for addressing personal transformation, acceptance, and the ritualistic aspects of moving through loss.
Let's explore 2 exercises you can use with coaching clients to support them in processing through grief.
This exercise can be an effective tool for helping a client renegotiate their relationship with grief so that they can remember and solidify an enduring connection with what they have lost. This exercise is also extremely personal. While the sharing of stories can help give meaning to loss and remind the bereaved that they are not alone, clients do not have to share completed works with you or others if they choose not to or are not ready to do so.
If, at any point, a client becomes overwhelmed by this exercise, they should be encouraged to take a break and return to the activity when they feel ready to do so with no rush or time constraints. It is important that the questions are worked through without unnecessary pressure.
This could be the loss of a person or pet, a personal identity, a relationship, or anything that is meaningful to your client. This step is all about reflecting on and thinking about special memories, and the different ways in which this subject influenced their life.
The hope is that by thinking about all those unique characteristics and stories, it will help your client realize that their relationship with the subject encompasses more than the pain they are feeling right now. Grief is not easy to bear, and it can be difficult to remember the good times before the loss, but by looking back, we can also begin to look forward.
Have your client take as much time as they need to think about the following questions and write their responses. It can be helpful to share these questions with them as a handout that they can complete in writing.
In her book Creating Your Best Life, Caroline Miller talks about the importance of honoring lost possible selves. The idea is that when we lose someone or something, the space of loss opens up a new field for a different self identity to emerge.
Miller recommends honoring this past version of you as it relates to your loss, and saying goodbye to that version of self through a narrative essay exercise. Once you are done writing your goodbye, it is appropriate to burn or wash away your note. Afterward, it may be comforting to approach this cleared space inside with curiosity for what new life will emerge.
The concepts and exercises discussed in this episode are adapted from the work of Elaine Houston, Caroline Miller, and Kristen Neff.
If you’d like to talk with a member of the JRNI team to find out if coaching is right for you, we’d love to hear from you! Schedule a call to get your questions answered, and discover how you can become a force for even greater good.
We’ve assembled a sampling from the best life coaching books available, including both new releases as well as a handful of the tried-and-true classics you’ll want to be familiar with.
This collection of authors explore core themes related to the practice of life coaching, some of which include:
And yes, you may notice some of our picks aren’t explicitly “books about life coaching” - and that’s by design. These recommendations offer a range of examples that together demonstrate what life coaching is all about.
In other words, some of the essential ingredients required for achieving meaningful outcomes as a coach!
Whether you're currently working as a coach, or considering becoming one, you’ll find plenty of inspiration here… along with practical guidance to help you make the right decision for your own life and career.
If you’re looking for a how-to primer that covers the ins and outs of becoming a coach, consider this guide. Written by an ICF certified professional coach with more than 15 years of experience, it’s one of the best books on life coaching “from A-Z” that we’ve encountered recently. In it, Fratto addresses everything you need to know about how to successfully enter the coaching industry.
Walks of Life delivers practical guidance on a variety of topics, including:
Authors Boyatzis, Smith and Van Oosten contend that good coaching is about far more than helping people to achieve goals or solve problems. Rather, coaches can make the greatest impact by helping their clients connect (or re-connect!) to their personal vision, values, dreams, passion and purpose. This in turn stimulates intrinsic motivation, which is the foundation from which sustainable change and growth can arise.
Grounded in five-decades of research and experience, the authors draw directly from their work together at Case Western University, where they founded the Coaching Research Lab. The resulting guidance offered in this book is a useful primer on how to coach from a person-centered, rather than a problem-centered perspective.
“With this book, we present a message of hope. The way to engage and inspire people to learn and change in sustained ways is not difficult, although it may seem counterintuitive at times. We discuss how to stimulate a person to explore new ideas in the context of his dreams and personal vision while on the way to solving specific problems. We explore what effective coaches and helpers do to help individuals make sustained, desired change in their lives. We examine not only an approach for effective coaching, but also what it looks like and, perhaps more importantly, what it feels like to be engaged in a meaningful coaching relationship from the perspective of both the coach and the person being coached.” - Boyatzis, Smith and Van Oosten
Considered by many to be “the original life coach," Cherie Carter-Scott has been in the game for decades. A Master Certified Coach with the International Coaching Federation, she’s blazed a clear path for others to follow. In 1974, she founded the first life coach training program, and has been teaching coaches ever since.
In this book, Carter-Scott distills the essentials of how to deliver “transformation” in practical terms. She shares proven strategies that have been taught to thousands of students at the MMS Worldwide Institute, including:
Alexis Rockley knows how to rock data, and she’s made it her mission to "bridge the gap between science and self help." In this book, she translates the research into practical terms, explaining why people get stuck… and what to do about it.
A positive-psychology trained coach, Rockley guides the reader on an entertaining adventure inside the mind. Her contention is that gurus, teachers, coaches and influencers can’t give us the magic formula to achieve calmer, happier, or more fulfilling life - or as she likes to call it, your "F*CKyeah!” Ultimately, each one of us must unlock the code to happiness for ourselves. What Rockwell offers in these pages is a jumpstart to that process, helping you unlearn what isn’t working… so that you can get down to what actually does.
"So many people want to reinvent their lives but get totally stuck. Rockley breaks down the science of how that happens, while providing readers with the tools to break through the self-sabotaging sh*t that’s holding them back. Want to start living a kick ass life on your terms? Start here.” - Sarah Bliss, author of Take the Leap: Change your Career, Change Your Life
The origins of this book makes for a great story in and of itself. Bill Burnett and Dave Evans both had long and interesting careers in Silicon Valley before they began teaching design theory at Stanford. After encountering student after student brimming with potential but lacking clear cut goals for the future, they wondered if the very same principles that apply to design thinking could be applied to life itself.
The outcome of that question turned into one of Stanford University’s most popular courses: “Designing Your Life”. It also resulted in some great research on the topic, this book, and a host of courses, workshops and frameworks!
If you’re intrigued by LIfe Design, you'll also want to check out the recent podcast hosted by JRNI co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux: What’s Life Design, and How Do You Use it in Coaching?
Now in its 4th edition, this practical manual is often referred to as “the coach’s bible.” Written by the founders of the Co-Active Training Institute (formerly The Coaches Training Institute), the authors continue to innovate as thought leaders within the coaching industry.
Written with business leaders in mind, this book provides a toolkit of resources that are easily applicable for coaches across practice specialties. It includes an exploration of techniques, exercises and ethical considerations that can help deepen and expand your practice as a coach or manager.
“Coaching basics are an essential skill set for any manager or leader who is interested in developing other people, so I use Co-Active Coaching material in most of the MBA courses I teach. Without fail, it engages the hearts and minds of people who care about acquiring meaningful and effective skills they can immediately put to use.” —Heidi Brooks, Ph.D., Director of Yale School of Management Mentoring Program, Lecturer at Yale School of Management, Clinical Assistant Professor at Yale School of Medicine, Department of Psychiatry
Our lives are ruled in large part by our habits. We know this. So why is it so hard to swap out a bad habit for a better one? MIT professor Ann M. Graybiel wondered the same thing, so she studied it. And what MIT researchers found has helped to shape our understanding of how the human brain works.
According to Graybiel, our behaviors get wired in, like well worn trails inside the brain. This is why it can take a lot of effort to shift into a new pattern of behavior - we're mentally resisting the impulse to follow a more familiar route. To change a habit, we have to bushwack a new trail inside our mind.
In his book The Power of Habit, Charles Duhigg explains the Habit Loop that was discovered by Graybiel and her team of researchers at MIT, and how to disrupt it step by step. If you want to dive deeper into the theory and practice of habit change, we encourage you to explore Duhigg’s insightful and engaging work!
A Harvard-trained sociologist and columnist for O, The Oprah Magazine, Martha Beck is a giant in the field of coaching - and for good reason. She's written several books on life coaching, but Finding Your Own North Star may well be her classic.
In this book, Beck guides the reader through the process of attuning to your own internal compass. Along the way, she deconstructs how we’ve been socialized to ignore our personal inner wisdom, and offers guidance on how to recalibrate. Packed with exercises, case studies, and techniques from her own coaching practice, Beck deftly connects data and theory together with its practical application.
“Explorers depend on the North Star when there are no other landmarks in sight. The same relationship exists between you and your right life, the ultimate realization of your potential for happiness. I believe that a knowledge of that perfect life sits inside you just as the North Star sits in its unaltering spot.” — Martha Beck
JRNI Coaching is a community of intellectually curious humans dedicated to making an impact. Our 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 you’d like some partners in the process, 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.
Humans have always been social creatures who thrive among community. The last year was difficult for just about everyone for a myriad of reasons, but particularly in how it isolated us from the people we rely on for connection.
While I imagine there are quite a few lessons to be learned from the pandemic, one that sticks out for me is just how essential our support system is to our wellbeing. When all else was stripped away, what my clients missed most wasn’t restaurants or concerts, it was sitting with their trusted loved ones and connecting.
In a society that is becoming increasingly isolated, this sense of connection is more important than ever.
In their book Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle, Amelia and Emily Nagoski argue that human beings are built to move between time filled with connection, or within what they call the “bubble of love,” and time to ourselves.
Over the last year, that oscillation hasn’t been possible, and it’s hurt us. We need a place for our feelings, for our experiences, for our worries and dreams, and that place is often in the circle of trust and love that is being in relationship with others.
Relationships come in all shapes and sizes, and in all walks of life. A relationship can be between two or ten, among those with similarities or vast differences. The importance lies in the connection, the listening, the trust, and the steadfast support that carries us through.
We know that creating “social capital” or a strong social support system, is crucial to our wellbeing as humans, particularly now that we are, in some areas, beginning to emerge from the isolation of pandemic living. (1) Connection with others helps bring meaning to our lives, and impacts how we interact with both the outside world and our own internal struggles. (2)
JRNI Coaching CEO Noelle Cordeaux’s recent blog about post-pandemic growth gives us a deep understanding of just how important these connections are in our lives. She argues that if we lead with love and empathy toward one another and return our focus to a more collective experience, we can create a “new threshold of shared humanity.” She continues to say that “a byproduct of this outcome is a world where chronic stress holds less power over us, and a world where we can all find abundant peace and safety through community.”
How do we build and utilize that support system in ways that work for us, specifically?
Some of us will have networks already built that we simply need to reconnect with, and some of us will be starting from scratch. For some it is easy to reach out for support, and for others it is terrifyingly vulnerable. There is no one right way to connect; as usual, there are only the right questions to ask.
Mia Birdsong wrote in her phenomenal book, How We Show Up: Reclaiming Family, Friendship, and Community, that “the culture of a friendship is something we can make up if we take the opportunity to talk about what we want it to be. That infinite possibility is freeing.”
We all see family, friendship, and support differently. Think about a time in your life when you felt held, cared for. Who was around? What did that look like for you? Think about what an ideal support system would look like so that you have a blueprint for what you want to build.
Let your intuition and your imagination guide you. We don’t have to let what society, our families, or the movies have taught us dictate the parameters of our social support system. We have the grand opportunity to create something unique and beautiful that works for our own lives and needs.
An important step in the growth process is looking for the gems that are already in your jewelry box. What support do you already have? Who is already in your “bubble of love”? Who are the people in your life to whom you can extend a hand in times of need or joy?
Take time to make a list of who you already know and value in your life. If the list of people in your life isn’t quite as robust as you would like, take a look at areas of connection (parenthood, professional organizations, interest groups, creative communities, etc.).
Online groups are also a great place to start. Perhaps you’re a mom looking for other moms to commiserate and share joys with. Is there a local mom’s group or class you can join? Local groups offer wonderful opportunities for connection.
Take the time to figure out how you want to connect, and then find where those people congregate.
We often feel like we’re the only ones out there looking for community, but I promise you are not. There are others out there who have decided to create spaces for connection, our job is just to find them and then be brave enough to join.
Okay, so once you’ve decided who you’re going to call, or you’ve found the group you’re going to attend, how do you then utilize those connections to build the strongest social support system?
It’s not enough to know people, we must be close to them. We need to build strong connections that will carry us through difficult times. This means we have to model the behaviors we want from others.
As Birdsong explains, we often save our relationship-defining exploration and conversation for romantic partnerships, but there is nothing keeping us from setting up the understandings, expectations, and boundaries in all our relationships that make them thrive. The idea is to be intentional and thoughtful about how we are showing up, and how we’d like others to show up for us, and then to be vulnerable enough to talk about it.
In our busy lives we tend to put our relationships on the back burner, assuming that because in our hearts we care, things will just work themselves out. The thing is, what we water is what grows. If we do not put focus and time into relationships, we can’t expect them to thrive.
So, ask yourself: how can I create space in my life for the prioritization of my support system? How can I make that one of the pillars of my life?
As always, rarely is anything so simple as just “doing it”. We may know what we need to do, but that doesn’t mean we don’t see obstacles standing in our way. Generally, obstacles are either internal or external. That is, they either come from within us and have to do with our own perspective, or they come from the world around us.
When it comes to reaching out for support and connection, we are talking about making ourselves vulnerable, and that can be scary. Many of us might feel anywhere from awkward to terrified at reaching out to long-lost or new people, and that is completely understandable.
If you read the above and started to get a knot in your stomach, I see you. Take a deep breath. Now ask yourself: what is it that is causing this reaction? What story am I telling myself that makes me feel scared to reach out?
If we are ever to gain the myriad of benefits from our relationships with others, we will need to address whatever makes that vulnerability difficult. Whether it comes from low self-value, a fear of rejection, or any other internal obstacle, coaching is a wonderful place to start working on what’s keeping us from reaching out.
A demanding and time-consuming profession, small children, caring for family members, transportation or technological limitations; these are just a few of what may come up when we start to think about reaching out.
Understanding our obstacles is, of course, essential to making a plan. The more we address them up front, the less challenging they appear as they arise. So, list your obstacles and then think of all the ways you can address them.
Often just thinking of a challenge can make us lose some steam, but if we ask ourselves not if, but how we will manage that challenge, we begin to see that very few obstacles are immovable, or at least impossible to work around.
For both internal and external obstacles, the questions we must ask ourselves are: what is one thing I can try that might help me overcome? What has worked for me when I’ve come up against this challenge in the past?
Pick something to try, and we think of it not as a test you might fail, but as an experiment that will give you data for the next attempt.
You have all your information. You know who to call. You know what obstacles you may face and what you can try should they come up. All there is left to do is to put it all together in the plan that will help you build your community.
What is one step you can take that feels like you are moving forward, but isn’t way out of your comfort zone? Start there!
For each of us, this will be different. Some may be ready to start making multiple phone calls and setting up hangouts; others may want to start with sending one email. The important thing is that you start, and that you keep moving.
We all have a different “relationship to relationships”. We have varied histories and experiences, but the one thing we all have in common is our humanity. As humans we need connection; not only do we need it, we deserve it.
Somewhere waiting for you is a beloved community that will hold you in the way you need to be held. All you have to do is take one step toward it.
One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Hannah 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 you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff as an entrepreneur.
Drawn from the work of Stanford University instructors Bill Burnett and Dan Evans, Life Design is a problem-solving methodology that can be used to navigate change and transition at any stage of life using creative, iterative, human-centered approaches.
Life Design has its roots in the fields of career planning, psychology, and the design thinking process. This method “applies design thinking to tackling the "wicked" problems of life and vocational wayfinding.” (Stanford Life Design Lab)
Life Design is rooted in the idea that you can “build your way forward,” based on curiosity, trial, and evaluation. This is a great method to draw from when a life coaching client is working on a “feeling goal” versus a more clear cut target or objective.
Feeling Goal: “I want to be productive and happy in life.”
Target Goal: “I want to graduate from NYU Law, with a focus on entrepreneurship, then settle in the suburbs of New York to be in close proximity to my mother.”
In the second example, you’re working with coaching tools that support your client in laying out a plan and taking clear, actionable steps toward their desired outcome. Progress is measurable.
But what about that first example? As a coach, how do you help your client define and measure a more subjective end state such as “productive and happy”? This could mean many things! In this case, we aren’t really starting with the future vision and working our way backwards because there are so many possible outcomes.
The process involves brainstorming like crazy, and a willingness to consider “outside the box” thinking and action. With each experiment, the client evaluates and improvises until they come up with something that works for them.
When it comes to “feeling goals”, only the client can determine when they arrive at a desired state such as “productive and happy”.
Here's why. Defining how we want to FEEL in our lives is often a far more precious objective than chasing levels of achievement and accomplishment as defined by society at large.
Bill Burnett and Dave Evans both had long and interesting careers in Silicon Valley before they began teaching design theory at Stanford. After encountering student after student brimming with potential but lacking clear cut goals for the future, they wondered if the very same principles that apply to design thinking could be applied to life itself!
The outcome of that question turned into one of Stanford University’s most popular courses: “Designing Your Life”. It also resulted in some great research on the topic, a book by the same name, and a host of courses, workshops and frameworks.
What this means is that your life is constantly evolving, creative, productive, challenging, and changing... and that there will always be the possibility of surprise.
If you hate the idea of tossing out the rule book, Life Design might make you feel a little squirmy at first! But as Frank Zappa once said: "If you end up with a boring, miserable life because you listened to your mom, your dad, your teacher, your priest, or some guy on television telling you how to do your shit, you deserve it."
So - let this be an invitation to run the gauntlet and see what happens when you embrace the potential for mystery around every corner!
We can understand the heart of what this means through the words of Dr. Maya Angelou:
“We have to confront ourselves. Do we like what we see in the mirror? And, according to our light, according to our understanding, according to our courage, we will have to say yea or nay – and rise!”
Very few people have “just one thing” that they are passionate about. Life Design requires constant and continual self-reflection, so lean into your curiosity. You cannot design your life well if you don't understand who you are, where you come from, and what unique interests and skills you have to offer the world.
Investigate and take ownership of what matters to you about yourself, others, and the world. Release what doesn’t align with the person you want to be.
Instead of imagining one “desired future state”, think of 3, 5, or 10 very different future lives that you could picture yourself happily inhabiting. Consider an array of options.
Connecting with other people and learning from them is something many of us are not used to doing. Traditional schooling has taught many of us to be competitive, stay in our own lane, and do our own work. Point of fact: students often get expelled for copying, or “cheating” by working with another student to find an answer.
Talk to people. See who’s doing what, and which approaches you might want to emulate in your own life.
Attempting to break into entirely new networks, especially ones that have historically excluded people of diverse backgrounds and identities, can be challenging. Coaching can help model how to do this effectively.
Guess what? This isn’t a one-and-done process. You can and will change along the way!
Test your ideas and assumptions in the real world. Yes, this can and should be messy and imperfect. Know that you can always pivot and reverse course.
Adapt your plan based on what you learn. Whatever the outcome, where you end up will rarely look exactly like what you thought it would be.
Life design is all about the journey. You might find yourself in a life you absolutely love, only to realize three years from now that it's time to move on to something new. So when that moment comes, as it likely will, remind yourself that life design is an iterative process. It’s something that you draw on again and again throughout life, and one that can be applied to help you redesign any arena of life.
Yes, you friend! Your life has infinite value and worth. You deserve a life brimming with vitality and purpose. Bring intention to the process, and enjoy the unfolding.
Every time you state what you want or believe, you’re the first to hear it. It’s a message to both you and others about what you think is possible. – Oprah Winfrey
If you’d like to put life design theory into practice as a coach, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a force for good in the world.
One of the most commonly held misconceptions about life coaching is that it’s "just another form of therapy".
It’s easy to understand why. People who seek out life coaches, therapists, and counselors are all linked by a common desire to make progress or experience some form of change in their lives.
While practitioners in each of these areas share some overlapping tools and frameworks, there are very real distinctions between them. Depending upon where you are starting from, as well as the end result you’re looking for, those differences can be significant.
Whether you’re considering joining one of these professions, or just looking to hire the right practitioner to meet your current needs, it’s useful to understand what sets each of these modalities apart.
“Therapy” has become a catchall term that covers a wide array of mental health services and techniques. Generally speaking, a therapist is trained in the workings of the human mind, and has a particular license to practice psychotherapy. These professionals have undergone advanced training, usually at the master’s or doctoral level.
Talk therapy most often focuses on exploring and processing the events and influences of your past, and how those experiences may be shaping your behavior in the present. A therapist is also who you’d want to check in with if you are experiencing emotional or behavior challenges that interfere with your ability to function at your best.
Therapists are licensed to treat mental illnesses using psychotherapeutic methods, and help their clients achieve and maintain baseline mental health. Psychotherapy includes treatment of depression, anxiety, PTSD, bipolar disorder, and other diagnosable conditions.
Only therapists and counselors are qualified to determine and diagnose mental illnesses. This is exclusive to the practice of psychotherapy, and wholly outside the scope of practice for life coaches.
“I see therapy and coaching as being on a continuum, both equally important and beneficial, but at different points in a person's life. If your desire is to get where you NEED to be (back to baseline), hire a great therapist. If your desire is to get where you WANT to be (your best possible future), hire a great coach. That being said, I also believe that coaching and therapy don't have to be mutually exclusive. There are many people who could benefit from having both simultaneously - if done mindfully, intentionally, and with a fairly tight focus on the desired outcome.” - David Kessler, therapist and JRNI coaching graduate
Counseling is similar to therapy in many ways, but is generally considered a shorter-term intervention than working with a therapist.
Mental health counselors often utilize psychotherapy methods, and they also pay attention to a client’s past to help understand the client’s present behavior and mental state. Like therapists, counselors are also licensed to treat mental illness. These practitioners can be found in various fields, including: schools, hospitals, correctional facilities, mental health clinics, and social service agencies.
Counselors are trained to support clients who are experiencing common mental health problems such as anxiety and depression. They can also help people work through emotional problems, self-esteem issues, alcohol and substance abuse, and marital challenges.
While therapy is typically conducted in one-on-one sessions, counseling is common both one-on-one as well as in peer group settings.
There are many different types of coaches practicing in the broader wellness industry. Here at JRNI, we train life coaches representing a wide range of specialties: executive coaches, fitness coaches, self-love coaches, couples coaching, writing coaches, and more! While the interests and niches that our coaches serve may be diverse, there are common threads that run through all forms of life coaching.
This is where coaching clearly diverges from mental health counseling. Coaches are not qualified to address mental health problems, or traumatic stress disorder. The focus of life coaching is on the present, and in co-creating the future.
While our past does inform the present, a life coach generally doesn't spend a great deal of time mining a client's stories. Instead, coaches help others articulate their desired future vision, and develop a tactical action plan to achieve specific goals.
The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as: partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
Well trained life coaches understand theories and models of change, and bring tools for self-inquiry, focus, and accountability to the table. A coach’s techniques are similar to a therapist’s in that they are research and evidence-based, and rooted in positive psychology.
Again, the job of a coach is not to make a mental health diagnosis. The expectation is simply that a coach will know when an issue falls outside their scope of practice, and provide the client with whatever support, resources, and practical tools that they are qualified to offer.
“Coaching uplifts people by focusing on clients' strengths. While therapy offers this in part, it is not usually the center of practice, as it is in coaching. While some therapists utilize solution-focused therapy, it is often not the entirety of the therapeutic practice. Discussing what therapy and coaching is or isn't - that's such a challenging topic! It is not black or white, and there are many therapists now practicing from a coaching-mindset.” - Amy Pandolfi, MSW mental health clinician & JRNI coaching student
Another significant difference between a therapist, counselor, and certified life coach has to do with the level of training required to legally practice under these titles.
Counselors and therapists must meet certain educational, supervisory, and licensing requirements before they can work with clients.
Coaching, on the other hand, is largely unregulated.
The theoretical roots of coaching stem from sports psychology, goal setting theory, human development models, positive psychology, mindfulness, and neuroscience. Understanding why coaching works, alongside the application of those techniques, is a fascinating and worthwhile endeavor.
“Don’t call yourself a ‘coach’ simply to negate the fact that you don’t have credentials in another discipline.” - Noelle Cordeaux, JRNI Coaching CEO
Life coaching is a job, just like any other job. You need to develop expertise in change theory and human development in order to be effective. Serious professionals show up better in the coaching space with the increased confidence that comes from having a handle on both the theory and practice of coaching. Which all leads to more positive outcomes for our clients!
For more on coach-specific training and how to become an ICF Certified Coach, check out: What Certification Do You Need to Be a Life Coach?
This is where the International Coach Federation (ICF) comes into play. The ICF is a non-government organization dedicated to professional coaching. With the number of practicing coaches growing every year, clients are learning the importance of seeking out those who have been certified through an ICF accredited coach training program.
If you’re considering hiring a coach, check out their credentials and client testimonials! You’ll want to see that they have invested in reputable training and ongoing education, and possess proven skills that will help you achieve your goals.
To be clear, there is no right or wrong choice. There are many types of therapy, diverse forms of counseling, and a vast array of talented coaches out there. Only you can determine whether to seek out a therapist, a counselor, or a coach.
Coaching, therapy and counseling are all investments in your growth, and should result in increased life satisfaction. As with any investment, take your time and do your homework.
Research the different modalities and approaches. Understand how each service functions, and what you can expect. Explore practitioners’ websites and social media to discover whose style and approach feels like a good fit with your personality and needs.
Schedule a series of complimentary sessions with therapists, counselors, or coaches that appeal to you. Talk through what you are looking to achieve, and find out how they can serve you.
From there, listen to your gut. Your intuition is the real deal, and can be a very helpful screening tool!
If you'd like to train as both a therapist and a coach, it’s perfectly OK to do both simultaneously! Having multiple streams of revenue and modes of practice is fabulous... you’ll just need to clearly delineate those offerings.
Educate your potential clients about the limits of coaching as a service, and how you will proceed if it becomes clear that they need therapy.
Training as a life coach is a dynamic way to expand your professional practice, allowing you more choice around who it is that you want to serve, and how. As a coach, the relationship with your clients is more flexible, as are the rules around where and how you can see clients.
Adding new tools to your arsenal is not only intellectually stimulating, but can help stoke your inner fire and reduce the risk for burnout.
One of the things our therapists-turned-coaches enjoy the most is the increased sense of freedom that a coaching practice can bring. Coaching allows you to be creative in how you present yourself and your offerings.
For another therapist’s perspective on the topic, check out JRNI Coaching co-founder John Kim’s blog talking about why he made the transition: Yes, Therapists Can Be Life Coaches Too! Here's How.
“I'm a licensed therapist turned life coach and have worn both hats for a decade. I got my clinical hours. I took the exam. I worked in non-profit. I worked in high-end rehabs. I had a full practice. But then I started burning out. And I realized this wasn't how I wanted to help people. I felt like I was limiting myself and my creativity. I understood that it didn't have to be coaching vs therapy. So I called myself a life coach and started helping people in a way that felt more honest to me. - John Kim, JRNI Coaching co-founder
Launch your coaching career the right way! Check out the JRNI's Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a force for good in the world of coaching.
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