My journey into the world of coaching began almost 10 years ago. At the time I was putting in roughly 70 hours a week working for one of the world's largest financial services companies in London and I was, quite literally, in a panic.
Now, having a panic attack anywhere is a little humbling; to have one on the platform of a London subway station at rush hour is, frankly, life changing. I was exhausted, depressed, medicated and as the rat race stepped over me on their way to the office, I knew I needed some help beyond the prescription drugs and therapy sessions, I needed to help myself.
For me, it took a breakdown in my physical and mental health to realize that I needed to take control of my own health and wellness and start dealing with all the signs and signals my mind and body were sending me.
Most of are on excellent terms with our inner critic, that voice inside our head that holds us back, keeps us down and protects us from the things we've decided we're scared of. Let's mute that critic and give your inner coach the attention it deserves. Channel the coach inside yourself and envision success in your future by taking positive action in your present. Say 'I can,' and let your inner coach be your guide.
The cost of professional coaching can be prohibitive to many, but many of the techniques and methods used there can be self-taught. Starting a new health and fitness regime, changing careers or simply dealing with the challenges thrown up in day-to-day life can be daunting and intimidating. Learning to coach yourself through situations like this is possible. Here are a few simple steps to help launch your journey into self-coaching.
MAKE TIME FOR YOUR INNER COACH
Making time for myself was one of my biggest problems. If you don't make time for it, then it's unlikely to happen. One of the main reasons that people benefit from life coaching, therapy or personal training is that they dedicate time to it each week. Setting aside some time to tackle your problems and define your goals is the first step towards targeted personal development.
I can already hear you saying that you're too busy. Well, the truth is, unless you're running a country, you're not. Everyone has the same 168 hours in his or her week. Make a commitment, schedule the time and stick to it.
DEFINE YOUR CORE VALUES
Take a quick look at the website of any major corporation, I can pretty much guarantee you that somewhere there's a list of their core values, values that shape their corporate culture and define the character of the company.
As individuals we should have a set of core values that form the foundation of how we interact, work and conduct ourselves. Our core values will provide consistency and provide guidance when we find ourselves faced with challenges and tough decisions.
Get acquainted with your core values. Tolerance, honesty, integrity, loyalty, whatever your core values are, take some time to define them and keep them at front of mind. Being able to ask yourself if your choices reflect and support your core values is extremely liberating.
WHAT'S GOOD FOR ME?
When facing any decision start asking, 'What's good for me?' What's best for me emotionally, physically and mentally and how will my choice affect me today, a week and a year from now?
Hunches, intuition, a gut feeling or flat out common sense -- call it what you will, your mind and body usually have something to say if you listen up. Psychologists call it heuristics: encouraging a person to learn, discover and problem solve by experimenting, evaluating and constructing answers and solutions by trial and error.
Your inner coach provides an honest voice that speaks up for your best interests, listen closely and you'll get the guidance you've been looking for.
BE CLEAR ABOUT WHAT MATTERS
If you died tomorrow, how would you live today? It's an old concept and a little cheesy but it does have some value. If the unthinkable does happen, I'm pretty sure your dying words won't be, "I wish I'd spent more time at the office."
Being clear about what matters may be as simple as prioritizing your to-do list but whatever the challenge or dilemma, it's important to determine what's more or less important.
GET SOME OBJECTIVITY
Perspective is everything. Most of us have very strong established viewpoints that can blinker us from the truth and reality of a situation. Ask yourself, 'What might I be missing here?' We may not like the answer, but it's important to be honest with ourselves and look at things as objectively and completely as possible.
Imagine lifting yourself a mile into the air and looking down on the problem or situation. What do you see and how do you want to move forward? Teach yourself to ask what role you really have to play -- if any -- in a given situation. Do you act, step back or exit completely?
Developing a sense of what is your responsibility and what isn't is key to self-coaching. Too often, we act without enough information or barge into a situation when our input was neither requested nor required.
MAKE YOURSELF HAPPY
Music, art, travel, food -- make a list of the things that bring happiness to your life. How many of these things have you indulged in or made time for recently? When challenges present themselves, ask yourself what would make you happy in that situation that won't lead to unhappiness further down the line. Pursue that course of action and make time for the things that make you happy.
Your inner critic will often keep you out of trouble but try balancing the critic with the coach. Be your own best coach, mentor and cheerleader.