Many of my clients have become skilled at using self-coaching techniques to move forward in life; both personally and professionally. Setting goals, keeping an open mind and looking for creative options are all techniques that we can use daily – if we take the time to practice. See below for some self-coaching tips using the FOCUS © method.
The trick to quality coaching is to be impartial and non-judgmental, which can be difficult if not impossible when you coach yourself! So, for more complex situations there is no better solution than working with a professional coach. A professional coach will ask questions that you haven’t thought of yourself and will get you to think deeper about the trickier aspects of your goals. He or she will encourage you to take a fresh perspective and to face challenges that you may otherwise avoid. Through a selection of tools and techniques your coach will help you to navigate the change and take the actions required for significant progress.
A good Coach will help you to:
• Gain clarity of thought.
• Untangle issues and focus on the ones that matter.
• Take a different perspective by challenging old assumptions and beliefs.
He or she will accelerate your progress by:
• Asking questions that you would not ask yourself.
• Remaining supportive yet impartial.
• Providing accountability for your actions.
But, by using a self-coaching technique such as FOCUS ©, you will be able to move forward steadily and consistently towards your goals, whether you are working with a professional coach or not.
FIND YOUR GOAL
Start with the end in mind. Be clear about what you want to achieve before deciding on how to achieve it. Then break it down into long term, medium term and short term. (Short term should be a maximum of three months)
Ask yourself the following questions and be as specific as possible (SMART) in your answers.
• What would be happening if everything in this area of my life was perfect?
• How would I know that I have successfully achieved my goal/aim?
• When do I want to have achieved my long term by?
• When do I want to have achieved my medium-term goal by?
• When do I want to have achieved my short-term goal by?
OPEN YOUR MIND
Focusing on your short-term goal, notice any negative thoughts and challenge them. Are obstacles real or imagined? If they are real – what would you need to do/learn/ask in order to overcome them? If they are in your mind only – what should you be telling yourself instead?
• What strengths do I have to help me to move towards this goal?
• What is really holding me back right now?
• How else could I view this obstacle?
CLARIFY THE GAP
Think carefully about your short-term goal and where you are now in relation to it. Think creatively and make a list of all the possible actions you could take in order to close the gap. This is not a list of what you will do, it’s a list of what you possibly could do and should be a very long list!
• What do I already know that needs to be done to achieve my short-term goal?
• What else could I do?
• What would I do if I knew I couldn’t fail?
• How would (X) approach this? (think of someone who you know would find it easy)
• Who can I ask to help me?
• What other possibilities are there?
UNDERSTAND YOUR BRIDGE
You have your own unique strengths and abilities so the way you close the gap will be different to anyone else’s. Therefore, you need to create your own bridge between where you are now and where you want to be. In the previous stage you will have created a huge list of possible actions, so now is the time to choose which ones you will use.
Ask yourself (use a selection of highlighters if you have them):
• Which actions should I put to one side for now for review at another time?
• Which actions should I discard altogether?
• Which actions would move me faster toward my short-term goal?
• What will I do first?
• How will I do it? (break it down into tiny steps)
• When will I do it?
• What will I do next? (and so on)
The trick to stepping forward and avoiding procrastination is to focus on each step at a time. By breaking planned actions down to bite-size, baby steps you will experience a series of consistent wins and develop a habit of taking the actions required to achieve success.
Time to Act
Now is the time to act, so make a start by scheduling time in your diary to complete your actions. These appointments should be as important, if not more important than any other entries in your diary. They are appointments with your future, the future that you have designed for yourself. Respect them in the same way as you would respect an appointment with someone important in your life.