Achieve your Career Potential

Successful individuals, like successful businesses, tend to have a clear idea of what they want to achieve. This definition of success, be it anything from being radically innovative to having a position of significant responsibility, is unlikely to be achieved without a practical strategy.

Regardless of whether you work for somebody or are self-employed, below are some coaching questions that will support you in determining a practical way forward:

  1. Imagine a time in the future when you are already successful. What do you notice about your work environment at that time?
  2. What do you notice about the people, and the kind of work you’re doing at that time?
  3. What key skills or talents of yours did you use to achieve that success?
  4. How did you leverage your network in order to become so effective?
  5. What skills did you need to develop along the way, and how did you master them?
  6. Most career paths are fraught with obstacles and set-backs. What resources did you use to help you deal with these in a constructive way?
  7. What do you notice about your work ethic that allowed you to become successful in your chosen area?
  8. Having achieved your success, what values would you say your work colleagues most appreciate about you?
  9. What steps did you take to open doors and create opportunities when you were starting off?

For some, these questions may not be easy to answer. Careers are usually intertwined with constraints including financial and family commitments. These constraints often make it difficult to see a path forward, but it is still possible to carve out one that will work for you.

Coaching is one of many effective tools that can help unpack these various constraints and create a space for you define a practical way forward. The process is designed to make your obstacles less overwhelming, and is focused on creating a series of small steps to get you to achieve your career potential.

If you would like help to define where you want to be in your career, and how you’re going to get there, then please get in touch today and let me know the challenges you’re facing.

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10 ways to get out of a rut

So, you’ve found yourself in a rut. It could be your painful work routine, or perhaps your tedious relationship. It might even be going out and doing the same things every day, things that used to be fun that you now find simply boring. You may not know why it happened to you, or even when you slipped into it. Instinctively though, you know that you’re in a place that you don’t really want to be – the rut.

Assuming you’re not suicidal, in which case you really should stop reading this now and speak to someone about it, you’ve come to the right place. Below are 10 things you can do to help you get out of the rut and head to where you’d like to be:

1. Make a list of at least 8 things you think you might enjoy doing. If you can’t come up with 8, think back to what you used to enjoy doing when you were younger, and think about what you liked about those activities. Do any additional list items spring to mind? If you need more help, try thinking less practically – you don’t have to be able to do these things right this second – they are just things that you imagine would be fun to do.

Look at your list, pick the activity that appeals to you the most, and do it. If it’s something big, think about a couple of small steps you might commit to in the coming week that would get the ball rolling.

2. Consider an area of your life that you’re feeling particularly stuck with. Write down in one sentence what you think about that area. E.g. if you find yourself constantly procrastinating about an admin task you may write something like: I think filing my paperwork is a boring, mindless task.

Suppose you were to think about the same task differently. In the example above, you could reframe the same task as follows: I think if I found a clever system to organise my paperwork, I could probably free up a week of my life each year. If you think about it differently, you might be able to approach it differently, and with greater motivation.

3. Similar to the point above, instead of noticing how you’re thinking about something, observe how you act in an aspect of your life that you’re feeling particularly stuck with. E.g. if it’s your job, what do you notice about your actions at work?

How might you change your actions to make things better for you? Don’t expect to repeat the same actions and get different results – do something different.

4. Is there an uncomfortable truth about some aspect of your life that you are having difficulty facing? Would making a change mean you would have to come to terms with something you’d rather not come to terms with? Very often, we find ourselves in ruts when we are afraid to make an important change.

Suppose you were able to make this change. What would be important about that for you? What could you do that might give you a bit more courage to start the process towards making that change? Perhaps you should do it.

5. Find another person or a group that seems unstuck in the area that you’re stuck with. Talk to them and find out what they do to be in that unstuck state. Their solutions might not necessarily work for you, but they may give you ideas about what you need to start doing more of.

When you’re learning something new, or getting out of a rut, it’s often easier to copy someone who’s already where you want to be. Once you start the copying process, trust yourself to adapt ideas to what works best for you.

6. Say yes. Seriously, just say yes to the next non-life-threatening opportunity that comes up – whatever it might be. Be smart about it, but do it. So, for example, if someone asks you to join them on a visit to an art exhibition you’d never go to in a million years – say yes. Or, if a beggar on the street asks you for a doughnut, give him one. If you don’t have one, go and buy him one.

Break your patterns by doing things you wouldn’t ordinarily do. You might not enjoy the experience, but it sets in play a process that gets you out of the rut and back on track. Make the most of your new experience, whatever it might be.

7. If you can’t do anything to help yourself, make an effort to help someone else. Someone, anyone – it really doesn’t matter whom.

Contribution is a need that is often closely tied to your sense of purpose. A sense of being appreciated or doing something of value often has a dramatic effect on your outlook to life.

8. Accept that the area of your life you’re stuck with is just stuck for the moment. It may be because of circumstances that you can’t really do anything about at present – not even a baby step. If that’s the case, then appreciate the other areas of your life that are not stuck and make an effort to make the most of those.

You can be happy without every area of your life being perfect. In fact, most people are in this boat. Don’t dwell on what you’re unhappy with and can’t change – focus on what you are happy with.

9. Do something that scares you – something you wouldn’t normally do. Perhaps you could ask that cute waiter or waitress out the next time they bring soup to your table. Or try taking that free salsa lesson on Tuesday night even though you can’t dance to save your life.

Curiosity is something often left behind in our childhood. It’s difficult to learn that you like new things, or perhaps even that you’re good at them, if you don’t do new things.

10. Shake things up by changing your routine. If, for example, you’re used to waking up late and rushing to work, try waking up an hour earlier. Spend that extra time doing something you feel like you’ve been neglecting – perhaps some form of exercise, or reading, or even daydreaming. The adjustment may be difficult initially but commit to your new routine for a short while – say 2 weeks, at least. You might be surprised with the different interactions your new routine brings.

Routines are consistent processes we create and rely on to be efficient through our day. However, we change over time, as do our needs, and often these same routines become increasingly ineffective for us. Small changes can yield big results, so shake up your routine.

The above are simply tools to help change your perspective on various aspects of life and get things kick-started. You need not do them all, but pick a couple you think would be practical for you to try and commit to doing them.

If you’re having difficulty motivating yourself to make the changes required, and you really do want to get out of the rut, then signing up for coaching would be a helpful way forward. For more information please contact me here.

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Make New Year’s Resolutions

It’s that time of the year again when there are parties all round and everyone – well, almost everyone – is filled with good cheer. It is the festive season after all. While it is important to celebrate success, the end of each year is also a good time to take stock of your life.

New Year’s resolutions reflect one of the most popular attempts at making positive adjustments to one’s life. Very often, the process results in a long wish-list of of well-meaning, but hard to follow through action points. You may diligently carry out these steps for a week or two and then you generally slip back into old habits and routines. This year, why not try something different?

Suppose for a moment that you could identify the key areas of your life that need work, and further that you could make a list of reasonable, achievable actions that you will stick to. Now, how great would that be? At some level you do know what you want and likely even what it takes to get it. However, identifying the small achievable steps you need to take and committing to them sincerely is something that stumps the best of us at times. Fortunately, these steps are precisely what the coaching process aims to deliver.

As a festive season bonus, please find below a free, quick and easy coaching questionnaire to get you started on making a short list of New Year’s resolutions that count. The results of your completed questionnaire will be emailed to you along with some challenging questions to think about.

If you’re having technical difficulty completing the form above, please try completing it here:
2012 New Year’s Resolution questionnaire

Good luck with your 2012 New Year’s resolutions. In the meantime, do enjoy the festive season and please don’t drink and drive!

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The Importance of Celebrating

We are constantly bombarded with eternal clichés like life’s a journey, enjoy the ride or be sure to stop and smell the roses. While cringe-worthy at times, these expressions exist to firmly remind us to take time out to celebrate our experiences and that it is important to do so. Celebrating our successes and acknowledging personal growth helps keep us on track and motivated towards our goals.

Recently published behavioural studies have shown that the most motivated individuals are those that feel they are making adequate progress towards their own goals. While financial incentives, benefits and pats on the back for corporate accomplishments may stimulate some excitement in the short term, these carrots are rarely sufficient to achieve sustainable motivation. For this, each individual needs to have an idea of what their own end goals are as well as some concrete milestones that would inform them that they are on track.

Generally, people tend to focus on calendar events to mark their celebrations. So they throw birthday parties, exchange gifts on Valentine’s Day, have New Year’s eve bashes or get drunk after their team wins a match against their arch-rivals. There is also usually no shortage of feel-good events like the 2010 World Cup, movies or music concerts. Like those bonus cheques though, these celebrations of life in general while important, are not enough to sustain happiness and motivation. For this, a different sort of celebration is called for.

Coaches strive to enable their clients to think more deeply about what is really important to them. The idea behind this is that the stronger the sense of purpose a client has in their lives, the more meaningful their actions are to them as they take steps to fulfil that purpose. If one assumes that at some level – even if it is purely subconscious – people know what their purpose is, then it is unfortunate that they rarely take the time out to acknowledge the steps they’re taking to fulfil it. It is precisely this celebration that is needed to keep people both driven and happy.

Regardless of whether you have achieved something concrete or not, or even if you think you have failed, get what you can out of every experience and celebrate your progress along your own path. Do so before rushing head-first into making your 2011 New Year’s resolutions. Take some time to answer a couple of important questions:

  • What did I achieve in 2010 that shows I’m on track toward my deeper purpose?
  • What have I learnt in the last year that will help me move forward toward my goals?

Whether you like it or not, the successes and learning of your life up to now provides the springboard for both your future successes and your happiness. So take some time out to celebrate where you are right now – you deserve it!

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LifeCoach-pro update

I will be updating this section of the website with new articles on coaching and personal development over the next few weeks.

Thank you for your patience and please do let me know if there is some specific content you would be interested to see on this site.

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What is Life Coaching?

Life Coaching is a powerful methodology designed to take you from where you are today to where you want to be. The speed and ease with which you can reach your goals and grow in life is accelerated when you work with a coach.

When considering a particular area of life, be it career, family, relationships, health, and so on, individuals fall into one of five camps:

1. I don’t know what I want;
2. I know what I want, but don’t know how to get it;
3. I know what I want and how to get it, but something keeps holding me back;
4. I know what I want, how to get it and I’m motivated and on track; and
5. I know what I want and I’ve already got it!

The life coaching process is most relevant and beneficial for those people falling into the first three camps above. A fundamental principle behind coaching is that each person knows best what they want. Friends, regardless of how well they may know you or whether they have your best interests at heart, still see your life from their perspective. Parents, mentors, counsellors and the like bring to the table their experiences and advise you on what you should do based on that. However, what may be relevant and important to them, may not always be equally so for you.

Call it gut-feel, intuition, or a hunch you generally do know what you want or don’t want at some level. It may not be at a conscious level, or worse yet it may be well hidden but at your very core you do know. An effective life coach is one who is able to help you access your own inner knowledge. In doing so, you establish what you really want in a particular scenario. The coaching techniques employed to do this vary from person to person and range from asking powerful open-ended questions and creative visualisation to considering the same subject from a variety of different perspectives.

Once you’ve established what you want, life coaching aims to increase your resourcefulness to figure out how you can get it. Again, you know best what your capabilities are and where you might need help. An effective life coach at this stage challenges and supports you to define the concrete, realistic steps you need to take going forward. Helping you clarify what your internal resources are and what you still need, as well as which things that are within or outside your control is one of the most useful functions of a coach.

Maintaining your self-confidence and motivation to do something you know is important to you is often the most challenging stage in the process. When there are no hurdles and the value of what you are pursuing is high, it’s much easier to motivate yourself. Sadly, such situations are rare. Things will not always go your way and sometimes obstacles may seem insurmountable. During this stage, the role of a life coach is to keep you focused on your goal and to reinforce why it’s important to you. Your resourcefulness often needs to be increased to deal with your challenges and your state of mind needs to be kept calm and confident to cope effectively. An effective life coach will support you with both these tasks.

People who are attracted to coaching are often already successful in some areas of their life. They want to take their success to a new level and breathe life into those areas that are not working as well as they could be. If you can see such a gap in your own life, and particularly if it’s an uncomfortably large one that’s been lingering around for a while, perhaps now is the time to take the first step toward closing it.

If you would like to know more about life coaching or want to try it out, please contact me

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