Have you ever worked with a business or life coach? I worked with a business coach as I built the foundation of my consulting practice and the experience was useful. When a significant life goal is on your agenda and you’re unsure how to achieve it, or you recognize that you’ll need some expert assistance to help you make a plan, consider checking in with a business coach. Also, if you find yourself thwarted as you attempt to move forward in life and achieve goals that you find meaningful or essential, but now you’re stuck and at a loss for a remedy, seeing a skilled business or life coach may be beneficial.
If you’re not the type of person who feels comfortable sharing intimate information in a counseling situation, or if the necessary time or money are restricted, it’s possible to coach yourself. The ability to coach (yourself or others) to success is a powerful professional development skill. We’re all capable of giving ourselves and others a pep talk. We’re all capable of creating a list of goals, with timetables for completion. We are also capable of asking ourselves eight insightful questions that when we answer them truthfully can help propel us out of a rut and put us on the path to achieving our most treasured goals.
The Difficult and Troubling Situation Exercise questions below were developed by Jack Canfield, corporate trainer, motivational speaker and author of The 25 Principles of Success (2007). You can use the questions to either self-coach or partner with one or more friends or supportive colleagues and conduct a group coaching session. When a question is asked, answer thoughtfully and honestly, but without elaborate explanations or equivocations. Let the questions do their work. What is the difficulty or troubling situation in your life? How and when will you overcome it?
- What is the problem or troubling situation?
- How are you contributing to the problem, or allowing it to continue?
- What are you pretending not to know?
- What is the pay-off for maintaining the status quo, for keeping things as they are?
- What is the cost of not changing the situation or your behavior?
- What would you rather be experiencing in your life?
- What actions will you take and what requests will you make to bring the conditions or experiences that you want into your life?
- When will you take those actions and requests for guidance or support?
Question 1 asks you to state the problem, or if working alone, to write it down. Admit the problem or obstacle out loud or in writing. Acknowledge that you have a troubling situation on your hands—a roadblock or obstacle, a significant disappointment, or a run of bad luck that is thwarting your desire to attain certain goals and live a life that would make you happy and proud.
Question 2 asks you to accept responsibility for the existence of the problem, or ignoring it, perhaps enabling it and at the very least, prolonging it, or allowing it to continue. This question helps you pull the plug on playing the victim, poor pitiful me. If the roadblock or bad luck in your life remains there for a while, it’s likely that you’ve played some role in bringing it there or keeping it there. Here is your mindset switch. Let yourself know that just like you’ve allowed this obstacle to appear or linger, you can remove out. You have know-how and power. You are not incompetent and helpless.
Question 3 shakes loose the denial that surrounds your difficult situation. In every seemingly intractable problem, it’s likely that s/he who is mired in the mess is pretending not to know why the matter exists. So if your daughter hasn’t spoken to you in 5 years, don’t pretend that you don’t know why she’s cut you out of her life. It’s just that you find it inconvenient to admit to yourself that you know. You find it easier to hide your head in the sand and deny what you know because if you admit to yourself that you know, then you’ll have to do something about it—and you’re probably afraid to do that. There is some seemingly greater difficult situation that you’ll need to confront and resolve. Oh, no!
Question 4 requires that you recognize and catalogue the benefits you receive from allowing the roadblock to remain in place, for the problem to fester. Maybe you run from responsibility? Do difficult conversations make your skin crawl? Might the probable solution to your obstacle cost more money and/or time and commitment than you think you can muster, or cause you to stand up and take charge of your life in a way you fear you cannot?
Returning to school to earn an advanced degree or certification is daunting. There are classes to attend, exams to take, papers to write and all are uniquely costly, in some way. Ugh, why do that when you can go shopping when you feel frustrated about not advancing in your career? Shopping is fun and so is going out drinking with your friends. Many of us prefer to just settle in and become “comfortably uncomfortable,” as my late friend Chris Nieves used to say.
Question 5 compels you to calculate the losses that have piled up as you allow the problem to continue, through your lack of action— a stunted career, diminished income, an apartment that’s not in the part of town that you’d rather live, the inability to provide certain extras for your children, an estranged relationship? Refusing to act has consequences.
Question 6 urges you to love and respect yourself enough to envision the things in life that would satisfy you—a fulfilling relationship with a worthy significant other, a home that makes you feel comfortable, a healthy body, a business or employment that showcases your skills and pays you at a rate you find acceptable, the ability to travel. What conditions or experiences do you want in your life? Verbally paint the picture.
Question 7 reminds you that the resolution to any problem or obstacle demands that you get out of your comfort zone and take action. The action might require you to reach out and request physical help or advice. It’s OK if you cannot take on the problem alone.
So if someone is violating your boundaries by doing any number of things that make you feel uncomfortable, then you must speak up and put a stop to that behavior and apply impactful consequences to those who disrespect you.
Question 8 requires you to establish reasonable target dates to move forward with your actions. Develop a timetable, add milestones and chart your progress. Success is waiting for you!
Thanks for reading,
Image: Telemachus (l) and Mentor (who in the coaching of Telemachus was actually the goddess Athena, who disguised herself as the wise old man). Illustration by Pablo E. Fabisch from Les Adventures de Telemaque (1699) a book based on Homer’s Odyssey by Francois de Salignac de La Mothe-Fenelon (France)