During my life coaching training I have continually come across the question of whether or not a client’s problem requires action. The classic coaching relationship between coach and client has been one of helping the client identify their biggest areas of lack of fulfillment in life and determining what the coaching relationship will focus on: career, body, finances, relationships, recreation ideas and or spiritual connection and then setting SMART (specific, measurable, attainable, realistic and timely) goals and closing their gaps.
The wrench that has been thrown into this formula, from Dr. Amy’s coaching curriculum, is that problem identification and goal setting is not always the answer to our problems. This is a challenge for me because I have always been biased toward action in life and believe you must take 100% personal responsibility for creating the life you want to live. I work hard to never take on a victimized position and own the fact that what I am living right now is a result of my younger self’s actions. Yet, sometimes despite taking action, I still find myself with the same problem, in a different environment.
The truth is that even if you DO NOT pursue action, there are ways to make your life better. How you may ask, with your thoughts, by taking an inside-out approach to your problems. I have read this many times before, even quoted it in my facebook “about me” section. Yet it takes time to sink in, how exactly do you change your thoughts? How do you get ahead of the emotional roller-coaster before it takes you to destination “I need change,” rather than I need to change my thoughts that surround this issue?
What I have come to realize is that you don’t need to make everything so hard and that it’s your thoughts getting in the way of the flow of life. The trick is to go with the flow and not let a thought storm in your way. Going with the flow may include trying things and failing, taking risks and losing money and not always knowing if what you are doing is going to pay off in any way. My own small example of this included quitting my gym this year and buying an elliptical machine from a friend. I used to go to the gym every weekend and 2 nights after work. I would spend 20 minutes commuting back and forth, get into the packed locker room, pick a locker right by a person who just decided to come back from their workout, dance around while I changed and tried to let them into their area, only to go find that my favorite treadmill was in use and that I had to use the noisy one.
First world problems, yes, but the whole experience was dreadful and encompassed 25% of my weekend. Now I get on my elliptical for 30 minutes on Saturday and Sunday, listen to some great podcasts by Koren Motekaitis or my favorite financial bloggers and then do some sit ups and weight lifting. I stopped thinking that I have to go to the gym and do a certain routine for 60 minutes or it didn’t count. I don’t really know if this new program will work and I’ve spent some $$ trying things out, but I’m enjoying the process so much more.
The journey toward your goals should be enjoyable, if you want to be fit and healthy, keep asking your body what feels good while you exercise and what food nourishes you without weighing you down and making you feel guilty. If you are on a path that feels continually arduous and you have lost the why, it’s time to reflect on what needs to change. It may not just be a perception change, it may require action.
However, if the task is difficult and you still have a strong why, in the case of teaching a challenging child how to read because you know your end goal is to see the child flourish—then it may be time to reconnect to the why and accept the tribulation as part of the process that is strengthening you and bearing fruit that you truly want.
My final reflection on this topic includes a question that was posed by my life coaching teacher:
If you might not get what you are working toward, would you still want to go through the process?
If you are facing a tough decision about whether to keep investing toward a certain path on the way to your goal, think about the process to get there. If you don’t reach that goal, are you still enjoying the process? Are you learning and developing into the person you want to be regardless of reaching your goal?