• Janice Holly Booth -aarp.org

How A Life Coach Can Help You Through A Transition

Whatever your issues, whatever your goals, these 5 steps will boost your investment in life coaching.

Professional coaching can help you achieve extraordinary results in your life, career, business or health, but the way you approach your sessions is critical in what you will ultimately achieve. In my work as a career and life coach, the people who prepared well always wrung the most value from our time together. And as a client of coaching myself (I work with a health coach), I know that what I bring to each session is directly responsible for what I will get out of it.

Follow these five steps and you too will enjoy the maximum return on your coaching investment.

Step 1: Clarify. Before your sessions begin, be clear about what you want to accomplish (even if what you seek is clarity). Before you even talk to a coach, spend some introspective time to consider what changes or improvements you want to make in your life.

Step 2: Prepare. Complete any assignments ahead of time. This could include reading, watching videos, journaling or even conducting research. If you’ve been asked to keep a food or exercise journal, make sure you have it with you (and that it’s accurate!). Write down questions and make note of any unexpected snags you hit between sessions. Review your progress from the last meeting and note what went well, what was difficult, and what (if anything) you were unable to accomplish. Your coach will want to hear all of it; laying it out ahead of time means you won’t miss any important points.

Step 3: Clear Your Head. If possible, don’t schedule anything else for several hours before and after your session. Cramming too much into the hours before your coaching appointment will make you anxious and distracted; you want to arrive at your appointment fresh, rested and with a clear focus. Where you have your session is important, too. If you’re at your desk, turn off all email and messaging programs, shut off the TV, phone and any other electrical device that could interrupt your meeting. Tell everyone that you cannot be disturbed during the coaching session. Even pets can be distracting, so make sure their needs are met before you begin. Keep a notepad handy.

Step 4: Concentrate. Resist the desire to multi-task while talking to your coach. Make notes during your session because you won’t remember everything you’ve discussed. From the list you’ve prepared ahead of time, let your coach know if you’ve hit any snags or if any part of your program is giving you trouble.

Your coach should provide a recap and action steps at the end of the session; it’s your job to write them down. If writing and talking at the same time is too difficult, ask if you can record the session. You can do this with the microphone/sound recorder feature on your laptop, the voice recorder on your phone, or an old-timey dictation machine.

Step 5: Follow Up. Make a plan for the time between this session and the next. It’s critical to use the excitement you feel after your session to generate momentum for putting your action steps in place. If you’ve been able to clear your schedule for at least a few hours following your session, make a commitment to put one action step in motion right away. Many people—even those with best intentions—wait days before they consolidate their plan; unfortunately, enthusiasm can wane in the interim.

It goes without saying that for every coaching session you should be on time, open to new ideas, and to ultimately be coachable. That means letting go of preconceived notions or deeply ingrained habits. Coaching is a partnership, but even the best coach in the world can’t help clients who won’t help themselves.

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