Lessons from a life coach: how to get what you want, now

People turn to life coaching because they are unclear about the direction their life is going in, they feel there is something missing. It’s my job as a coach to help them work out what that something is, and how they can find it.

All coaches have a series of tools at their disposal to help them do this, over the next few articles I’m going to be sharing some of these for you to use.

We all have secret worries and fears that we don’t want to share with our social circle but when you’re worried that your aspirations or goals will be judged by your closest friends you can start to hold yourself back. You might find yourself blocking your own goals. If you’ve started assuming that what you want simply isn’t possible, that you don’t deserve to go for it or that you should put others’ needs and desires before your own, then you’re probably not getting the most out of your life. Putting our needs behind those of others is something we do in all aspects of our lives. From work, to our families, to sex – we can get caught up in trying to please other people and ignore our own needs.

One way I ask clients to think bigger about what they want is through future-self exercises, these are exercises that encourage you to think as if you had already achieved what it is you’re working towards. This isn’t about being your ‘best’ or ‘perfect’ future self, God knows there is already so much pressure to be this. This is about giving yourself time to explore what’s possible and being really honest about what you want.

Here’s one exercise that I ask clients to do early on in coaching, it’s an effective way to clearly show what you need to do to achieve your goals.

Write a letter and imagine where you want to be a year today. Imagine what your life looks like, what you’ve achieved and what you’ve had to do to get there. Then write a letter from your future self to your present self.

You want this letter to resonate so here are three steps to getting it right:

  1. Write down your goals and what your life looks like when you’re not tolerating it and you are completely happy and you’ve achieved everything you want to. You can be as creative as you like, you’re the only person who will read this so don’t hesitate to put in everything you want.
  2. When writing the letter take yourself out of your day to day environment and go somewhere that allows you to dream big. Go somewhere you find inspiring and beautiful to write the letter, take your time and write without editing or censoring. Don’t cross things out or start again, this isn’t about a writing competition, nobody is grading you on your grammar or the realism of your work.
  3. Don’t judge what you have written as good or bad, possible or impossible. It’s just what’s here right now. Holding back this judgement opens to the door to being honest with yourself about what really makes you happy, and what you really have to do to achieve it. When you read the letter back to yourself, we want for you to feel inspired and energized by what you have written – this doesn’t want to feel like pressure, more like hope.
  4. Now you’ve completed the letter, there are a few things you can do to bring it alive. Keep it where you can see it regularly, and re-read it from time to time to remind yourself of your goals. You can break it down, maybe try splitting the year into quarters with goals for each month. Something I like to do is to share my letter with someone I trust – a coach or a close ally who will champion me and hold me accountable. And there’s a great website called futureme.org – if you post your letter on there, you will get it sent back to your inbox in one year from the date you posted.

Good luck and enjoy!

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