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How To Maximize Your Coaching Session As The Client
Be clear about what results you want. You’ve decided you want some coaching on an area. What outcomes do you want? If you don’t decide this up front, you won’t know when you get there. This is about deciding for yourself what successful looks like for you.
Decide what you want from your coach. What is the role that they can support you best in? It may be that you need the ability to have an independent listener, or that you need someone to hold you accountable. Maybe you need a safe place to be able to brainstorm what your next step is. Maybe it’s about how you turn thoughts into action. Whatever it is, make sure that your coach knows what it is, so that they can be best placed to work with you in the way that you want
Understand what you don’t want. What would bad coaching look like for you and make you feel like you had not received value for money? Again, sharing this with your coach can help them to understand what will work against the success of the coaching relationship. Discussing this up front with your coach will help you keep to boundaries that work for you and also mean that your coach has a clear flag of demotivators for you.
Set some goals for your overall coaching. What was it that made you come to a coach? What would make you really feel that it was the right decision that moved you forwards and got you the result that you wanted? Setting goals for your overall coaching which a good coach will do in the very early stages of working with you will ensure that you have something to judge the success of the coaching against. It will enable you as the client to see what progress you have made as you work through your coaching programme.
Understand where you are coming from. What does the coach need to know about you and your background to be effective for you? This may be sharing things about your background and how it fits with your overall situation that you want coaching for.
Know what you want, so you can be clear when you’ve got it.
This builds on the first 5 tips. You’ll have a clear idea about what made you take the step of contacting a coach. Leveraging that idea can give you strength when working with your coach on your goals.
Get clear about how you want to be coached. Yes, that’s right – it’s your session, so if something isn’t working for you share that with the coach. The coach may challenge you about what your reasons are, and whether it is a strategy to avoid moving forwards, but should do so in a way that is supportive to you.
Build on your successes to date. You’ve probably already taken some actions towards your goal. Understanding what these are puts you in a stronger position by helping you to see the positive things that you have already done. It’s too easy sometimes to focus on what we didn’t do rather than what we did
Learn from your life lessons and bring them to the coaching process. Be open about how what you have learnt in life will help you to be stronger and get more from coaching.
What are your expectations? Talking through your expectations with your coach will absolutely help you to make sure that they are met. If your coach doesn’t know, it’s going to be a bit hit and miss. If something that you expected to happen isn’t happening, find out why, especially if this is something that has been committed to. Your coach will also share with you what their expectations of you are – that’s right – it works both ways!
Keep asking yourself if it’s what you want. What’s your gut reaction? Trust your gut instinct about what you want – it’s your unconscious struggling to speak over all the logic we throw at it on a daily basis. If it’s not what you want, what’s the purpose?
Goals, goals, goals…results, results, results.
If you don’t like setting and working towards goals…I’ve got to be honest here. Coaching is probably not for you! Coaching is 100% focused on you, what you want, and how you’re going to get there. To do this you need effective goals, great plans and action.
Revisit your thoughts for your overall coaching plan. Look at what you wrote again. Think about the steps you’ve taken so far. Still feel good? Excellent, this is a great sign that you have the base level, the foundation, right for you before you set off on your coaching journey.
You’ll be looking at goals across the whole of your life. It’s good to start thinking as soon as possible about what you want to achieve in your life overall, as the goal, action, results bug is very catching! Part of the coaching will be using tools such as a wheel of life (or work if you are focusing on work performance) which will help you understand where you are now, where you want to be and evaluate what the gaps are. Setting goals for the whole of your life helps you live holistically rather than risking spending too much focus on one area.
You’ll work with different levels of goals. It’s not that realistic, and can be downright demotivating, to try and achieve everything at once. It makes me think about that circus trick about trying to get all the plates spinning at the time. It can be done sometimes, but at what cost? By working with your coach to set goals in the right priority order for you, over the right length of time, you’ll always have different things that you can be working on
Set big goals and little goals. I love the Stephen Covey analogy of filling a jar with rocks. If you put all the sand in first, (the very day to day detail, small tasks and all the stuff that takes up time like paying the bills) you won’t have time for the rocks (the stuff that really motivates you like going for that new job or increasing your wealth).
Set short, medium and long term goals. If you’ve only got a goal that you can achieve in a set timescale – what’s going to keep you busy in the meantime? Maybe you’ve got one goal that is so large it’s actually a series of goals that you will achieve over time? What’s your first one?
Attitude is all.
We’ve all had one of those days where everything is too difficult, we want to go to sleep, and we’ve just had enough. Imagine coming to a coaching session feeling like that? Imagine your coach coming to a session like that? How productive do you think that session would be? I’ll put a proviso on this section – this isn’t saying that there won’t be times when life isn’t tough – because that’s just not realistic, and we all seem to have some things which trigger us. It’s making the most of your attitude to get the most out of your life, and specifically in this context to get the most out of your coaching sessions.
Positive mental attitude. Have a “can do, will give it a go, willing to try something new” attitude to life and coaching. Think about the positives of any experience. If you don’t have positives or you’re too close to what is a very powerful experience, make a note of it and how you are feeling then come back to it later. Ask yourself what the positive intent and learning could have been behind this experience. How has it helped make you stronger?
Be honest. This is with yourself, with those around you, with your coach. In fact, just be honest. Be open to the fact that sometimes coaching will seem difficult as it will be challenging some of the ways that you think about things and the way that you have done things in the past.
Be open to the process. Being open will enable you to have new experiences. Be open to all kinds of things about how it may work – try new things whilst you are being coached, be the person you think you are, be open to being challenged, be open to sharing what’s at the root of your issue, be open to celebrating your success.
Use affirmations to focus on the positive. Affirmations are short positive statements that are present tense and reflect what you want in your life – your aspirations. You can either print them on a PC, hand write them, paint them, picture them, whatever works best. Some examples are:
* I am achieving my goals consistently
* I am taking action every day and it feels great
* I am ready for this right now and it feels good.
* I am confident
Step outside your comfort zone. Being coached is about stretching yourself in every way to live a bigger life. Live your potential. Start small. Work up to big projects so you feel supported every step of the way. Think about new ways you can do things. Go for the more difficult task in your weekly actions.
Invest for success.
Ok, this is where we talk about money. Coaching is an investment in your future. With any investment you make you need to ensure that it’s the right one for you.
Get the programme that works for you: talk to the coach about what they cover in the programme and find out how that fits with what you came to them for coaching for. Find out how flexible they are on how coaching sessions are structured to meet you needs.
Be honest with your coach about your level of investment. If you’ve got concerns talk about them up front so your coach can understand & talk about the value you’ll get from coaching. Results aren’t guaranteed in coaching but you need to feel that you’re paying the right amount for you. If you don’t feel this you need to ask yourself why you feel this, and what needs to happen to change.
Ask about payment options. If you can’t afford the full investment in one go, find out if you can split payments.
Find out about free stuff. Do you get anything additional from your coach as well as the coaching time? This may be e-books, access to a coaching support group, teleclasses or ezines.
Read around the subject. If you’re worried about the level of investment, find out what your core things are you want to cover and consider how you can do more work on the other parts without a formal coaching programme. Your coach may be able to support you with ideas for this.
Organize and track where you’re going with your coaching.
Imaging getting loads from coaching, really moving forwards from where you are today and feeling great again. 6 months later and you want to revisit some of the tools and techniques you gained from coaching, but you just can’t find them….
Consider keeping a journal that logs from when you start thinking about coaching to when you either finish your sessions with the coach or reach your goal. Journaling is a great tool to be able to look back on and you can do this however this works best for you – a lovely notebook, computer, blogs (if you are happy to be public about what you are working on), visual representations of your journey.
Make the most of your PC. Keep records of any work you do in coaching or that your coach sends you so that you can refer back. Log useful coaching links in your favourites. Use your calendar to track times and goals.
Create a file. Have a loose-leaf file that you can put coaching stuff into. This maybe work that you have done on your pc and printed off as you prefer to work that way, information you have downloaded, inspirational articles from magazines. It’s also a great way to keep the output of your sessions together in one place so that you can find them easily when it’s time for your coaching session. I send one of these out to full coaching programme clients to get you started.
Look out for inspiration. Feed your soul. Changing your life can be challenging so look out for things that inspire you, and keep them somewhere safe. If it’s articles and quotes put them in your file – maybe it’s something larger that you want to create a keepsake box for.
Build a visual wheel of what you want to get from coaching. This is a great creative tool for a wet Sunday afternoon. Put together your key areas of life (you can do this in the wheel of life and use the same life areas) and then look out for visuals in magazines and from papers and the Internet that match what you want. Put dates for when you’ll have them. Keep it visual. Be excited!
It can seem a long way if you’re doing things alone and with barriers. Recognizing where you may struggle and setting up the systems in advance to keep yourself on track can save you lots of time when you’re just at that crucial part of a life change.
Time for you. To be most successful in your coaching investment, you also need to invest your own time. First of all this means carving out some time for yourself, not only to do exercises but to spend some time reflecting on where you are in life. As coaching is so action oriented you will also want some time where you can go and get out there to do what you’ve talked about in your coaching session. This may be part of your daily routine anyway, if not make some space in the appropriate life area to help keep yourself on track
Space for yourself. This is about mental and physical space. Mentally, you need to find yourself some space for the changes that you are about to make. This may be using some relaxation techniques that work for you, maybe meditation or listening to some calming music. It’s also about finding the right space for your coaching session – somewhere that you can have that honest conversation without fear of being interrupted or overheard.
Support. Who needs to know about what you are trying to achieve? Even if you don’t feel comfortable talking about the coaching itself, it will be really helpful for you to have people around you who will support you making the changes that you want to in your life.
Self care. Making changes in your life can be stressful, so do some things to keep yourself feeling pampered, well and safe. Make a list of things that you love to do so that when things feel difficult you can relax and look after yourself. This is also a great way to make a rewards list for yourself for when you have achieved your goals!
Financially. If you know that your goals will involve some kind of financial investment (and many do) start thinking about what kind of changes you will need to make to allow you to achieve your goals.
Be committed to yourself and the process.
Keep motivated. Refer to your goals of what made you go to a coach often, so that you can keep motivated about the changes that you are already making in your life. This is where your tracking and journaling will help you.
Understand your barriers and obstacles. Knowing what is getting in your way helps you to remove the barrier. What’s stopping you taking progress? Brainstorm actions you can take when motivation is low or when you feel you are struggling to get out of planning mode and into action mode
Write it down. If you’ve written your goals and your action plans down you are more likely to achieve them. You can then look back and have a record of what you’re going to achieve, as well as being able to tick them off when you have done them.
Put it in your diary. This is especially great for milestones and actions you have committed to. Your coach will ask you for very specific times that you are going to commit to your weekly actions. Have your diary available on the call so that you can book them straight in.
Tell someone else about your commitment. Maybe you can buddy up with someone else you know wants to make changes. Do you have other friends or a partner who is into self-development & making life better for themselves? Tell them what you’ve committed to so that you know you have to do it.
Visualize and relax
It’s all about the mental preparation as well as the physical tasks that you undertake to get to your goals.
Start having an outcome mentality. Focus on what your end outcome is of what you want to achieve. This can help you focus on your goals more effectively and make sure that you are always thinking about what result you want. Keep moving forwards. If for instance you came to a coach with a goal around losing weight, what’s the actual outcome that you want? Is it to be slimmer, more toned, fitter? Think about the outcome and then you can go back through the process to set specific goals about how you will achieve that and what specific actions you will put in place.
Put yourself in the position of your future self. Go forwards to a point in time after you have achieved your goal. What do you see, what do you hear, and what do you feel now you have achieved it? Get real specific here, and then “act as if” you had already achieved it. (Note – this is within your current situation, not to go out and spend like you are rich if you know you are not!!) Examples of this are thinking about what conversations you have with people, decisions you make, clothes that you wear. What will people notice about you that is different?
Get ready for the session. Already covered in some detail, but specifically here visualise yourself getting through the session and getting what you want from it.
Listen to inspiring music. Keep some music that really makes you feel inspired about your goal.
Visual reminders. We’ve mentioned this slightly before. Put your goals up around the house, work, on your PC, in your car. It’s about keeping it visual and visible.
Celebrate and recognize.
46.Pat yourself on the back, firstly for committing to the coaching process, secondly each time you take actions that get you closer to your goal or each time you handle a setback effectively.
Get supportive friends. Do your friends support what you are doing and your quest to be a better person? Do they tell you about the good things or try to stop you making changes? Make sure that the people you are talking to are helping you on your way not being a barrier.
Keep a list of achievements and happy things. It’s good to create a list of all the things that you have achieved so far in your life, and then keep adding to it. I also like to keep a specific list each day of things that I have been glad about, have made me happy. I share this with a friend which also helps deepen our friendship.
Keep a celebration list. How would you like to celebrate small actions, reaching milestones and hitting your major goals? Creating a list of things you love to do, things you’d like to have and places you’d like to go and then putting them to specific places can help you celebrate your successes. Make sure that they are ecological – in other words that they won’t cause you pain in other areas of your life, for instance in putting you in debt to get them.
Recognition list. Keep a reminder of all the great things that you’ve heard about yourself, or that you know you’ve done that have been great.
And finally, 5 tips to be ready for the session.
Getting ready for the session will help you to get the most from your session.
51. Be prepared. Do any pre work that you have agreed with your coach in plenty of time, for instance sending through the prep form so that the session meets what you need at the time.
52. Be comfortable. Get yourself comfortable – get a drink, a tissue, have a comfort break before your session starts.
53. Create the space. Make sure that you won’t be interrupted during your session – what do you need to do to make sure that this is the case?
54. Put your day to one side. Work to be able to go into your session in the right frame of mind. Spend a few minutes getting into the right mindset for your coaching session. Centre inwards. Take some deep breaths. Think about the positives of what you want to get from the session
55. Call on time. Make the most of your session by calling on time on the right number that your coach gave you.
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