So What Exactly is Life Coaching?
Okay, show of hands…how many of you are wondering exactly what I do as a life coach? Is your hand raised? Yes? Keep reading! No? Go ahead and continue getting sucked into the Internet time warp (and keep your eye open for that hilarious cat video. You know the one I’m talking about…).
So here’s my general approach to coaching: I work primarily over the phone, which means I can connect with anyone anywhere, and we both get to be someplace we’re comfortable. We’ll talk for an hour, but this isn’t the kind of convo you’d have with your friends or relatives. The focus is solely on you. The space is safe and sacred: anything can be discussed, and there’s no judgment, just compassion and support. As you talk about whatever’s bothering you most, I’ll utilize my training and experience to listen deeply, jump in with powerful questions and observations, guide you through tough spots, and help you to the absolute best of my ability.
It’s not a venting session. It’s not a pity party. It’s not mental health care—that’s what therapists are for. Instead, it’s a time to dig in deep, to figure out what you really want and need, and to learn what’s holding you back and why. From there, we’ll work together to get you out of your own way so you can achieve your dreams. It’ll be up to you to do the heavy lifting, but you can be sure I’ll be in your corner every step of the way.
Regardless of what we work on, the overarching premise of every session is that you already know what you need to do. Now, if you’re feeling lost or stuck right now, reading this may have you think-yelling “But I DON’T, and that’s the problem!!” while giving me the virtual stink eye. I hear and respect that. But I’m still willing to bet the house that you really do know. I’ve seen it over and over, both through coaching others and my own personal experience. We all have blind spots. We all have thoughts and ideas and actions we resist, even when following through on them is in our best interest. It’s just part of being human, and often the key to breaking through is simply getting some outside help and opening yourself up to a fresh perspective.
So I hope this helps clarify things. Honestly, the best way to fully understand what life coaching’s about and how it can help is by experiencing it for yourself. That’s why I offer an on-the-house, obligation-free 30-minute consultation. If you’re interested in checking it out, head on over here to schedule your session.
In the meantime, what questions do you still have? Just post in the comments or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org, and I'll be happy to answer.
You Get What You Get, But You Can Get Upset
Given all the years I worked with young kids, I can’t begin to guess how much I’ve said “You get what you get and you don’t get upset.” It makes sense, right? I mean, someone’s gonna get a slightly bigger cookie, but you’re not gonna go dessert-less. Someone’s gonna get to the red blocks first but there will still be plenty of blue ones to play with.
But lately I’ve realized this isn’t always the best lesson for kids—or for anyone. I’m not saying we should start throwing temper tantrums when we don’t get what we want, but acknowledging our feelings and understanding why they’re there is a powerful way to help us get on the right track.
This means allowing ourselves to experience all our emotions. And if you’re one of the many who’d rather squelch those not-so-fun feelings, I urge you to feel them anyway. After all, research has shown emotions only take 90 seconds to run their course. That’s it.
Plus, if you choose to tamp down those feelings, I can pretty much guarantee stuff will build up until one day you suddenly explode, causing some serious fallout.
So…that minute and a half of discomfort sounding any better?
I’m gonna assume your answer’s yes. I’m also gonna guess you’re imagining yourself happily getting back to business after those 90 seconds.
Not so much.
Now it’s time to look at why those feelings came up in the first place. If you don’t understand the reason they’re there and make the necessary changes, they’ll continue to show up until you get the message—kinda like a real-life version of “Groundhog Day.”
So let’s say you’re upset about being passed over for a promotion. Are you mad because your manager doesn’t have your back? Because you know you have more experience than the person who got the job? Because you genuinely didn’t do what you needed to in order to climb the corporate ladder? Clearly, each of these reasons would lead to different actions.
Regardless of your particular situation, homing in on why you’re feeling what you’re feeling will help you figure out the next steps you need to take. And, for the record, your next steps should feel good, even if there’s some nervousness around them. If it feels like what you should do rather than what you want to do, PLEASE stop and reconsider before making any moves!
* * *
In the end, feelings are just a way for our hearts to alert us to what’s really going on—and that goes for all the emotions.
Whenever something brings up emotions that feel good—happiness, excitement, calmness, etc.—your heart’s telling you you’re on the right track. Yay, you! Keep going!
But if, for example, you’re not excited about something you think you should be excited about, that’s a sign you’re following your head, not your heart. (In general, the word “should” tends to be a giveaway that your head’s taken the lead.)
And if something brings up emotions that aren’t so enjoyable, it’s a sign that it’s time to do a little soul searching.
**WE NOW INTERRUPT YOUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG POST
TO BRING YOU A POWERFUL SELF-COACHING TOOL**
A great way to figure out the real reason for your feelings is to write a sentence that explains the situation, then substitute yourself for any third parties.
What this looks like—a real life application:
When I was dealing with a difficult time at an old job, my sentence was:
I feel angry with management
because they aren’t listening to me.
Given the circumstances, it made sense that I would feel that way. However, the huge shift came when I did the second part of this exercise:
I feel angry with myself
because I’m not listening to me.
At that time in my life, every part of me was yelling at me to resign: I had all kinds of health issues, my tears were uncontrollable, my brain could barely manage basic tasks, and my hands would often spontaneously spell out “I quit” (and various expletives) using the American Sign Language alphabet.
I knew exactly what my heart was telling me, yet I continued to stay because I gave into the fear-filled thoughts about all the bad things that might happen if I quit. Subconsciously, I was absolutely pissed at myself for doing this.
My epiphany helped me understand what was really going on and what to do about it. With time, it also helped me let go of those strong emotions, understand that everyone involved was just doing their best (including me), and feel grateful for that tough situation that taught me so much and ultimately pushed me out of the nest so I could fly.
Think about something you’re dealing with that brings up strong emotions. Then fill in the blanks below:
I feel ___________at ___________because _______________.
Now write that same sentence, but replace others’ names/”he”/”she”/”they” with your name/”I”/”me.”
I feel ___________at ___________because _______________.
Maybe this exercise will get you clearer on what action you need to take. Maybe it will inspire you to get help. But whatever comes of it, chances are it’ll ultimately lead you to a situation that feels a heck of a lot better than the one you’re in right now.
**WE NOW RETURN TO OUR REGULARLY SCHEDULED BLOG POST**
Our culture tends to label anger, fear, etc. as bad emotions, but there is no such thing as a bad emotion. Feelings are just your heart communicating with you, trying to help you understand what’s really going on and keep you going in the right direction. Simply put, emotions = information.
So the next time you’re distressed, take a deep breath and know it’s just your heart lovingly saying, “You get what you get, but it’s okay to get upset. Now go ahead and feel your feelings, find out why they’re showing up, and use that knowledge to decide where to go from here.”
Just Ask: A Tutorial
cropped version of original photo by Otama (https://www.flickr.com/photos/otama/402299217/)
I’m currently in the final stretches of a fundraising campaign that will enable me to go to a fabulous conference next month. And no, I’m not asking you for money. I’m sharing because this experience has been a great reminder of what can happen when we ask for what we want. Something that looked impossible a few weeks ago is now happening—all because I had the courage to share my story and ask “Can you help me?”
I’ve been amazed and humbled and inspired by people’s generosity. I’m overwhelmed with gratitude. And I want you to know that your version of this can happen, too.
It can be hard for us to ask for what we want. Our society prides itself on go-it-alone-ness. Often, we think we don’t deserve what we’re asking for. Or we can get caught up in the negatives that could happen when we ask: people will say no or think we’re too forward or a million other possibilities that don’t sound so fun.
Ask anyway. Otherwise you risk missing out.
Get clear on what you want and why you want it before you ask.
The clearer you are on the what and the why, the easier the ask is and the more likely you’ll get the answer you want. Think about it—if someone asked you for something but was all wishy-washy and apologetic about it, would you feel compelled to help?
I find the best way for me to gain clarity is by writing. Sometimes I write out my what and why, sometimes I write down the way I want the conversation to go, sometimes I just make a list of bullet points. Whatever it is, it all helps me come from an authentic place and be ready for any questions that might come along the way.
Know you deserve what you’re asking for.
This doesn’t mean getting all cocky and entitled; it actually comes from a place of love and compassion: trusting you deserve whatever good comes your way just because you’re you and you’re awesome.
For many people, this is a hard concept to grasp. If it is, please join me on this little adventure:
Picture yourself as a little kid. Now, does that child deserve to have his or her needs met? 100% yes.
Next, does that child deserve to have whatever will help him or her grow and live a joyful, fulfilling, love-filled life? Absofreakinlutely.
You are STILL that child. Sure, maybe you’ve made some mistakes along the way. Maybe you’ve internalized messages from others saying you’re not worthy. Maybe you’ve even got a long list of why you shouldn’t or won’t get what you want.
NONE OF THAT negates the fact that you deserve whatever your soul longs for.
So talk to yourself like you’d want someone to talk to you as a child—fill your heart with compassion, understanding, generosity and love. However long it takes, however many ways you need to say it, keep telling yourself you deserve it all until you fully believe it’s true.
Don’t get all graspy.
Come to the ask from a pure place. “I need this NOW!” is the energy equivalent of a temper tantrum. It isn’t gonna get you anywhere, and it’ll likely send whomever you’re addressing running away as fast as their legs can carry them.
Instead, ask once you’ve reached a place of calm confidence. Be genuine. Ask from your heart, not your head. Go into the ask considering the act of asking as a win, regardless of the result.
Let go of the result.
I have to admit—this is the hardest part for me. Here’s how I tend to approach it:
- If I get a no, at least I asked, and I’m proud of myself for trying.
- If I get a no, then I’ll likely be in the same situation I was in, so nothing was lost.
- If I get a no and there’s fallout, then clearly I’m on the wrong path and/or interacting with the wrong people. It’s a great chance to take stock and change course as necessary.
- If I get a no, it’s because a better yes is on its way. (Cliché, but I’ve also found it’s true.)
- If I get a yes, I get what I want! YAY!
Who to ask and how:
So who should you ask? Everyone. There have been many instances where I’ve gotten help from people I’d never have expected it from. There have also been numerous times I’ve gotten help from people I didn’t even know.
I’m a big fan of asking the Universe, too. I write it down in my journal, make requests during meditation, and silently ask when the idea pops up in my thoughts. I’m not big on formal prayer, but if you are, obviously that’s a great time to ask, too.
How should you ask? Clearly, politely, and from a place of integrity. Stand in your truth and show your passion for what you’re asking for. You’ve already done the work in getting clear on your what and your why, so let that shine through.
For the record, I always ask that way, regardless of whether I’m posting a fundraising campaign or silently thinking my request while I walk my dog. I’ve seen for myself that the clearer, more respectful, and more genuine my request, the more likely I am to get what I’m asking for.
What to do when you get a no:
First and foremost, remain calm and gracious, thank the person anyway, and move on.
Then remember that a no is NOT the end of the world. It’s just the end of that particular little journey. There are still a million ways your journey could go. To that end, there are a couple options for next steps:
- Accept the no and keep going towards your yes. Take stock of what happened. Maybe you asked the wrong person. Maybe the timing was off. Maybe your approach could’ve been clearer. Maybe your energy was more desperate than open. Once you see how you could’ve approached the situation differently, regroup and try again while keeping this new perspective in mind.
- Accept the no and change direction. Do a little soul searching. Is this really the right path? Or are you meant to travel down a different road? If so, what does that road look like? The right answer will always make you feel freer and lighter.
What to do when you get a yes:
Be grateful every time, no matter how small the yes. Consider celebrating with a happy dance, a high five, or cartwheels.
But don’t let it stop there. Find a way to give back to those who gave to you. Depending on the person and how they’ve helped, you can repay them with a genuine thank you, a great review, a service, or a gift.
It’s also important to pay it forward. Just as others have been kind and generous to you, be kind and generous to others whenever you get the chance. It’s the best and most fun way I know to have a positive impact on the world.
Over the years, I’ve become a big believer in “just ask.”
- A month ago, I missed a bill payment for the first time in my life. I called to apologize, pointed out my otherwise perfect payment record, and asked if there was a way to void the late fee. Without hesitation, the customer service rep deleted it for me, pointing out that everyone makes mistakes. I stayed on the line after she hung up so I could give her a great customer service review.
- I had a freelance client I’d been working with for a couple years. I decided I wanted to raise my rates, did the research to ensure what I was asking for was reasonable, and sent him an email about my new rate in response to a new project request. I was nervous, but my client was totally on board. It was a great reminder that I should always ask for what I’m worth because, well, I’m worth it.
- Back when I was trying to figure out what career I wanted, I was a big fan of informational interviews. I would ask friends and relatives if they knew of anyone I could talk to. I almost always got at least a phone interview. People generously shared their time and stories with me, and I got a much clearer picture than I ever would’ve had I just done the research online. If we met in person, it was usually at a coffee shop, so I paid for their drink. I also always sent a thank you note to follow up.
- Fundraisers: In high school, I raised hundreds of dollars for the Alzheimer’s Association in honor of my grandmother’s long struggle with the disease. In college, I was campus chair of the United Jewish Appeals Campus Campaign and raised a record amount of money that helped both Jews and non-Jews locally and worldwide. And, of course, there’s the fundraiser that inspired this post.
I’m always passionate about whatever it is I’m raising funds for. I share my story, always make sure they know exactly where their money’s going, and thank them in the moment and with a follow-up once the fundraiser’s over. In my current fundraiser, I’m offering various coaching sessions as thank you gifts, which enables me to help those who’ve donated achieve their goals, too.
To be honest, I still often get nervous when I ask for what I want. But I've found the regrets come when I don't ask, never when I do, even when the answer has been no. That's why, despite the nerves, I remain fiercely loyal to the mantra that's bettered my life over and over again: just ask.
* * *
If you’re someone who has a hard time asking for things, I encourage you to go through these steps. I’m willing to bet your life will change in many wonderful ways!
I’d love to hear how it goes, so please share your stories in the comments or email me at email@example.com. (Yes, that’s me asking!)
If you get stuck along the way, you can always schedule a coaching session with me. And all potential new clients get a free, no obligation consultation session. It’s a great way to find out what coaching with me is like, get some help in the process, and practice asking for what you want—wins all around!