Life coaching is about creating a transformation which brings life back into balance. Life coaches use a set of tools and techniques to pinpoint their client’s goals and to empower them to achieve those goals by providing direction, support and challenge. Life coaches work on the basis that the client has the answers within themselves.
Whilst there is a huge benefit in working directly with a life coach to enable you to make a transformation, there are also many life coaching tools and techniques which you can use yourself, without guidance. By incorporating some of these methods into your daily life, you'll be taking significant steps towards achieving your dreams and desires.
Here are 11 life coaching techniques and tools which I incorporate into my life coaching practice and recommend for you to try.
Goal setting is a fundamental life coaching tool. As the well-known saying goes, “If you don’t know exactly where you’re going, how will you know when you get there?” Setting goals forces you to get really clear on what it is you want. And with clarity comes magic. A SMART goal is specific, measurable, achievable, relevant and time-bound. Without those aspects, goals can be too lofty to be meaningful and they can easily drift into the future. SMART is the only acronym I have happily taken with me from my days in the corporate world – it just works!
Our minds are powerful beyond belief. Instead of focusing them on the things you don’t want, start to use your mind to imagine what you do want. This will help lift you out of your current reality. A really powerful life coaching technique is visualization. There are many scientific studies – such as this University of Chicago one from 1996 – which prove visualization is an effective strategy, especially within the sporting arena.
Think of yourself in a particular situation and imagine exactly the outcome you desire. For example, if you’re feeling some anxiety about giving a work presentation, imagine how you will feel before, during and after and taking positive feedback from your audience. Keep visualizing this until the day you actually have to give the presentation.
Alternatively, you can also get creative by making a vision board which brings your goals to life and serves as a daily reminder of the transformation you want to make.
Visualizing success can put you on the path to achieving it shutterstock/Triff
It can be easy to get lost in the details of your current reality. This can also keep you stuck and create a low vibration. A really simple but effective life coaching technique is to imagine that you’re up high in a helicopter, looking down on your life. From this vantage point, very often it can help you see the bigger picture of why things might be challenging for you at the moment and how it could serve as a catalyst or a stepping stone towards a positive transformation.
The clarity that people seek to enable them to make a transformation is rarely found in a cluttered, over-busy mind. For clarity to emerge, your head needs space. As a holistic life coach, this method forms the basis for much of my approach. Space can be created in a number of ways, such as meditation, mindfulness or simply going for a walk in nature. I often recommend to clients that they give themselves permission to take a week off from thinking about or working towards their goal. Although it may seem counter-intuitive, it’s amazing what messages can come through!
This is a big one. Very often, we look for answers outside of ourselves. We look for validation of our ideas, we look for others’ approval before making a change, and we look for total reassurance that we are making the right decision. This is one of the biggest causes of inertia.
“A really powerful life coaching technique is visualization. There are many scientific studies which prove visualization as an effective strategy.”
However, you have constant access to a ‘superpower’ to help you – your intuition (that inner knowing, that gentle nudge, that gut feeling). Encouraging clients to be guided by their heart first and then letting their head kick in is a life coaching technique I use with every client. As the Einstein quote says, “The intuitive mind is a faithful gift and the rational mind is a faithful servant. We have created a society that honours the servant and has forgotten the gift”. Try connecting more with your intuitive mind first.
This life coaching tool is something I encourage with all my clients. Journaling is a way of emptying the mind of unhelpful or destructive thoughts. It’s a way of making sense of them so that they can be released to make room for more positive, empowering thoughts. It also gives you an outlet to explore any new ideas so they can start taking root.
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Journaling can be done at a set time each day, perhaps for five or ten minutes before bed or first thing in the morning. Alternatively, keep the journal with you at all times and use it to capture thoughts, feelings and ideas as and when they arise. I recommend that you write freely, from the heart, and with no judgement about what comes out. Journaling is what I refer to as the closest thing to a therapist – in paper form!
This one is not so much a life coaching tool as it is a mantra for living a more authentic life. When I was on a career break in Australia back in 2010, a yoga teacher shared this expression with me and it stuck. So often, we make choices based on what we feel we ‘should’ be doing, saying, thinking or feeling – according to our family, friends, employers or society at large. The next time the word ‘should’ comes into your head or out of your mouth, I recommend a little alarm bell ringing to remind you to check in with yourself. Is there a more authentic, aligned choice you could make?
When we focus on what we already have, we attract more of it. Gratitude is another simple life coaching tool which brings profound results. Nothing shifts your vibration quicker than the practice of gratitude. It can be done anytime and anywhere. And there is always something we can be grateful for, even if we want to change a situation.
Very often, clients express to me how much they hate their job or employer. I recently asked a client what she might be grateful for about the job she was desperate to escape from. After the initial shock at my question had worn off, she cited earning money (enabling her to travel) and enjoying banter with colleagues. Your current challenge itself is something you could potentially show gratitude for, especially if you are able to view it as a catalyst for change.
Affirmations are positive statements you repeat to yourself which enable you to overcome limiting beliefs and self-sabotaging patterns. You are using affirmations all the time whether you realise it or not, with the things you say to yourself, often at a subconscious level.
“When we focus on what we already have, we attract more of it. Gratitude is another simple life coaching tool which brings profound results.”
This practice is about consciously choosing the things you say to yourself in support of the changes you wish to create. For example, if you had a limiting belief that you should always put everyone else’s needs ahead of your own, you can turn that around into an affirmation which states, “I give myself permission to tend to my own needs”.
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When clients are feeling stuck or lacking confidence, often they have a loud inner critic. If you also identify with that critical, negative voice in your head, the life coaching technique I recommend here is to access your inner mentor. Just imagine yourself in 30 years time and that you are looking at your current self from that new vantage point. What messages would you give your current self? Realise that this is not your older self but actually the wiser part of your current self – your inner mentor. Access your inner mentor whenever you doubt yourself or your inner critic is getting loud!
This final life coaching tool comes from NLP and gives you a quick way to generate a more positive association with a particular topic or goal through the use of an external trigger. For instance, I had one client who was feeling very low and joyless and had lost his spark. I suggested he dug out an old photo of the last time he felt joyful and at peace. He found a photo of himself at the 2018 Winter Olympics and it reignited a feeling of passion and the possibility of reconnecting with his true self. What photo or object has a particularly positive association which could serve as an anchor for you?
So, there we have it, a selection of life coaching tools and techniques which are easy to access, simple to use and bring about powerful results. Have a go at using one of them over the next seven days, beginning with the one you feel most drawn to and see what changes for you. •
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Rebecca Kirk is a holistic life and career coach. She helps people who are feeling stuck, out of balance or unfulfilled discover the clarity and belief to choose a path which brings them greater purpose, well-being and joy. She uses an approach which encompasses body, mind and spirit to create a deeper and more lasting transformation.
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