On the right track - an article from Surrey Life

Surrey Life - December 2005

Every year millions of us make and break New Year's resolutions. Caroline White explains how life coaching can be used to achieve our goals.

When we approach the end of another year, our minds start to drift into a reflective mood, as we contemplate what's happened during the past twelve months and what we want to achieve in the year ahead. There's pressure – from the media and friends - to create New Year's resolutions, with the naïve expectation we can flick a switch and become different people with new motivation at the stroke of midnight on New Year's Eve.

But is it possible to change our habits or behaviour in any permanent way? The secret lies in our beliefs and motivation. If deep down we don't really believe we can achieve the goals, or they are not compatible with our core values, we simply won't make them happen.

To change our behaviour we need to change the beliefs we hold about ourselves or how the world operates. Beliefs steer our brain. They have the power to create the world we want to live in. Our beliefs are shaped by what we experience and observe in life. We can hold on to a belief that served us well as a child, but may now be out of date. But if we still operate under the old belief, we may end up sabotaging our goals without understanding why. This often happens with efforts to lose weight or start our own business.

That's where life coaching comes in. The process works by helping clarify what we want in life – and then facilitating the change in behaviour through changing the underlying belief that will support it. But life coaching isn't about dredging up the past. It's about re-programming our mind to take us forward, unhooking ourselves from unhelpful or inaccurate beliefs and replacing them with those that will propel us towards our goals.

Coaches often use NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming) techniques, a complex science long embraced by the sports community and corporate world to create winners and achievers. NLP has been extended successfully into the personal arena, to change disempowering behaviours or habits, or eliminate fears or phobias. It uses powerful techniques to re-wire thought processes so the transformation takes place from the inside out and new behaviour becomes automatic, rather than forced. It's an intelligent, thought-provoking process, using powerful questions, models and visualisation techniques.

Even where there isn't a specific issue or crisis to address, but simply an awareness of being unhappy or lacking confidence in a particular area, coaching can be effective in uncovering the reasons and turning the situation around. It is all based on the power of the mind, through which you can do, have, achieve and create anything you want for your life.

Life coaching Q&A
How do you find a good coach?

Personal recommendation is a good place to start. There are plenty of listings on the internet and in telephone directories, but be aware that money spent on advertising may not reflect quality or experience. When making first contact with a prospective coach, don't be afraid to ask questions. If you're not comfortable with the answers, contact another. It's a good idea to ask about any coach's training. Qualified coaches will be happy to show you their certificates.

How are sessions conducted?

Sessions are conducted by face-to-face or telephone consultation. Some coaches offer both, and others specialise in one style. Results usually emerge faster through face-to-face sessions.

How many sessions?

If a coach insists you need a specific number of sessions before you have even started, look elsewhere. Coaches can give a guide to the number of sessions anticipated, but there's no real way of knowing until you start.

How much does it cost?

Charges vary with location and expertise, and can also depend on whether the coaching is conducted by telephone or face to face.

How do you measure results?

If you don't feel or think or see any change – big or small – after each session, you're wasting your money. Some sessions may prove more pivotal than others, but they should all move you in the direction you want to go. A good coaching session will leave you feeling inspired, transformed and motivated.