Friday, January 16, 2009

Life coaching for one

Thoughts on how to be your own best coach:

I was reading Oprah's magazine the other day, a copy in the physiotherapist's waiting room that must have been 2 years old, but the article on women changing career paths couldn't have been more timely.

One woman had recently ditched her day job to buy a trawler, and without knowing anything about boats, took a nine-week training course, and set out for the Maine coast, fulfilling a life-dream to be her own captain. There were some truly awesome inspiring stories.

But the line that stayed with me a week later, was what the coach used to help these women find their passion. He said, sometimes you are already in the ballpark of your best job, but there is some fine tuning to do. You may love design, but hate the deadlines, or prefer working in solitude to working with a team. You have to tease out the parts that make you feel the best. and the parts that you hate. Where are your strengths?

To do this, ask yourself, where do I feel strong? I feel strongest when .... (fill in the blank).

For me, it was this: I feel strongest when I am helping other women find ways to help themselves. I feel strongest when I share information and resources with others. I feel strongest when I am speaking from my calm center.

There are probably some very good coaching books out there - but I haven't read any that didn't seem overwhelmingly complicated, filled with goal setting exercises, which don't appeal to me right now.

I do want to picture myself in the future doing what I love however. One exercise I did with a therapist was very visceral. She had me imagine how I would feel if I continued on the way I am now. Just putting off till tomorrow all of my dreams, reading and writing about them, but not taking any action. Letting fear and depression be my allies. I could physically feel my shoulders getting droopier, my eyes heavy, my insides felt like lead, as I aged visibly in my inner mirror. Until there I was, five years, ten years, then 20 years later, very depressed and ill (a lot like my mother in recent years). That scared me!

Then we did the oppositive exercise. I pictured myself doing what I dream of, leading workshops for women and retreats. I saw their faces as I left the retreat, their happiness, and gratitude for what they had learned. I saw my own face, lit up with gratitude too, and 5 years later, 10 years later, perhaps a book is published, talk shows, touring the world doing retreats for women.

The response in my body was amazingly different. I felt upbeat, happy, light, energized; actually I felt full of light and confident that this was my destiny. The next month I prepared and lead my first all-day retreat, and it was wonderful.

Sometimes we need a coach to help us find our way, to help us believe in our full potential, but sometimes we just need to picture ourselves doing what we love, and then have the courage and patience to let the universe bring it forward, bring us towards it, one step at a time.

ps I did also attend a 3 day workshop on Facilitating and Creating Transformational Workshops with Ken Nelson, and found a wonderful resource in the Women's Retreat Book, on the same weekend at Kripalu. The universe helps those who help themselves :)


Heidi said...

I have been doing this same kind of visualization, and it is amazing how articulating what you want and where you want to be, and feeling how that will make you feel, puts you so much further along the path to attaining it. I read that Oprah article too and was also inspired. I really enjoy your blog.

Anonymous said...

Hi Jenn. Great article. I agree it has to come from inside not some external pressure. There is a voice inside that knows exactly what we want if we only have the space to listen to it.

I woke up one morning last year in the middle of doing my masters degree and had this overwhelming sense...inner voice saying "I want to teach". I had always thought I wanted to but this was more than was so clear that I just knew it would happen. Fast forward two years and here I am starting my teaching placement as part of my teaching course...and it feels so right. I am teaching an adult Art Access group now...and find I am perfectly suited to and trained to be doing this. SO hurray for the inner voice....!!!

Lots of love xx Sue