It’s hard to believe that 15 years have passed since I first started out as a life coach. In that time, it has been my privilege to work with hundreds of clients to help them design and live a life that is more aligned with what they truly value. In this blog, I will talk a bit about life coaching in general, share some key insights and trends I have seen after working with people for so long, and offer one thought about a common denominator that seems to be standing in the way for most of us.
Over the past 15 years more people have heard of a life coach, but despite this, I think many people still don’t know exactly what I do. I often describe myself as a “life strategist.” Using a business analogy, most of us can agree that at work we are more successful if our business has a vision, a set of values, a strategic plan, tangible goals, and action plans that help focus our daily efforts towards those larger ambitions. I think it goes without saying that this is universally seen as a best practice in business. My work simply takes those same principles and applies them to our personal lives. Very few people have a vision, a set of core values and a strategic plan for their life. The value of my work is that we drill down from the “vision” of what you want out of life to the very tactical things you can do now to move in that direction. Then we go beyond the plan and talk about the human factor and how you can avoid getting in your own way. Finally, we build in accountability so that I can help you actually do what you say you plan to do. That in short, is what I do as a life coach.
Being a coach for 15 years has also given me a unique perspective on human behavior. I sometimes feel like I am a researcher doing a long-term study on what motivates people, what trips them up, and what matters most to them. There are three major trends I have observed over the years:
- Time-money-stress – In my JumpStart workshop and other public talks, I ask people what they would like to have MORE of and what they would like to have LESS of in life. The answer has never changed. We all want MORE time and money. We also all want LESS stress. It’s both interesting and troubling that despite all of our modern advances we are more stressed out than ever.
- Young “lost” people – Today we have a generation of young people in their 20’s and 30’s who seem ill-prepared to face the world. Despite the fact that these young adults grew up having much more than their parents did growing up, they tend to lack self-sufficiency and resilience to handle life’s challenges. This is very related to last month’s blog about over-parenting and the “tea cup” kids.
- Technology addiction – Fifteen years ago, distractions were mainly restricted to television, the computer and the dawn of the Internet. Today, social media, texting, and having an electronic device tied to our bodies almost like an umbilical cord have resulted in an exponential growth in our level of distraction. Despite a promise for technology to simplify our lives, I find it has made us more disconnected and less present to the world around us. I observe people today expressing more feelings of isolation, loneliness and lack of emotional depth in their relationships than they did when I started my practice.
The common denominator I’ve found with all three of these issues is that we lack the space in our lives to be fully present and mindful. Our fast pace and “busy-ness” causes us to never be still and present to the moment. We are so busy “doing” that we never have time to just “be.” And we are more uncomfortable than ever with stillness. Without time for stillness, we end up repeating the same patterns and falling into the same traps over and over again. The absence of mindfulness has us reverting to the person we have always been and the patterns that caused our problems in the first place. The first step to regaining control over our lives is to create space to slow life down.
- Take time to reflect – carve out some time to be quiet and still without interruptions. Ask yourself what thoughts and behaviors are getting in the way of having the life you really want.
- Set aside time – start a habit of becoming “unplugged.” Choose one period of time during the day as an “electronic sabbatical”. See what happens when you turn your attention away from your devices and just experience the moment. You may find that it’s the simple things that bring you joy.
PS – If you’re reading this and your first reaction is, “Who has the time to slow down?”, then consider this. In my coaching practice everyone has this reaction at first. But when I do an audit of how much time they spend on TV, YouTube, social media, etc., I always find that they HAVE the time; they are just not using it wisely.
Coaching – Working to find time in your life for stillness and reflection is almost always a part of what I work on with my clients. If you think you could benefit from bringing a strategic focus to your life, then I would love to set up a complimentary coaching session and discuss the possibility of working together.