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March 7, 2016

Being your own coach

As an executive careers coach, I’m often asked whether I have been able to help my clients make progress with their careers. The answer is, of course, yes in the majority of cases. I am able to combine various coaching techniques and practices, my many years of experience, some common sense and a sprinkling of magic to help clients get the positive career momentum they need. However, a large part of what I do is to help clients refocus their minds and plans, and crucially, to help them get out of their own way.

As an executive careers coach, I’m often asked whether I have been able to help my clients make progress with their careers. The answer is, of course, yes in the majority of cases. I am able to combine various coaching techniques and practices, my many years of experience, some common sense and a sprinkling of magic to help clients get the positive career momentum they need. However, a large part of what I do is to help clients refocus their minds and plans, and crucially, to help them get out of their own way.

We all have it in us to be our own coach but we don’t always do the best job at it. We get bogged down in daily life and lose sight of the bigger picture. We are not always honest with ourselves. We can be our own harshest critics. To be your own coach and to get out of your own way, consider these very simple ideas.

Goals are everything

Our ability to achieve anything in life is greatly enhanced by having a goal or purpose. This applies to careers, personal life, sport and fitness. If you don’t know what you are trying to achieve, you are unlikely to get very far. We should set short term and medium term goals for our work, personal life, finances and health and review them on a regular basis, say quarterly. To have any value, your goals must be written down. You can use a piece of paper like me, a spreadsheet or an app such as “coach.me”. Use whatever works for you, just do it.

Get a cheerleader

I do believe we can all do a better job of coaching ourselves but there is a reason why athletes hire a trainer, and why runners often have a running buddy. An element of external validation, and accountability, is good for us. It keeps us on the right path and sane when times are tough. Share your goals with someone you trust and ask them to support you on your journey through frequent review. This person could be a friend, a mentor or if you’re mentally strong enough, an online tool.

Only do what’s important to you

I ruthlessly interrogate my clients to find out whether they are committed to their goals. Too many of us write down goals which we don’t believe in and have no intention of meeting. Consider your New Year’s Resolutions. Take the bold step, today, to only set goals which are truly important to you and to which you will give 100%. You are an adult, you are talented, you are in charge of your own destiny. If you’re not feeling it, let it go. No one is judging you. There is no point lying to yourself.

Positive Mental Attitude

If you are committed to a goal, for real, you will find it much easier to be resilient in the face of adversity. It is so important to eradicate the things which Amy Morin says “mentally strong people don’t do.” These include not wasting energy on things which you can’t control, and not making the same mistakes over and over. If you are having difficulty reaching a goal and you are certain that it is SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and time-bound), it may be that you are letting your mental gremlins get in your way. By being honest with yourself, and sharing your challenges with your trusted advisor, you can acknowledge your demons and find a way to overcome them.

A problem-solving zone

We work harder than ever before, and are bombarded by information and demands 24/7. It has become increasingly difficult to switch off and step away. This is damaging for your mental faculties and absolutely hopeless for your problem solving. It is impossible to think clearly about your goals and to have perspective about problems if you have no distance from your daily demands. This is an area where I certainly do help clients, by giving them a designated time and place to think out loud. Find your problem solving zone, whether that is walking with your mentor or taking a weekend away. Be brave about stepping away from your email; it will pay dividends.

If you feel as though you are drifting in your career, or that you’ve had a goal hanging around for ages without progress, take some time this weekend to start your own coaching programme and see if you can encourage yourself along the road to your own success.


This article was first published in edition 5 of Rocket, our magazine. Download available Rocket editions here, and save your up to date address in your profile to to indicate your interest in receiving a printed copy of the magazine. Copies are also available to purchase and subscribe to via the shop.

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