As I was relaxing in a hot bath after the 10k race I had just finished, I reflected upon the key factors that made it possible for me to finish it at a much better pace than during my trainings, as a result of a commitment I made during my coaching certificate program.
As a busy consultant for more than 15 years, and an entrepreneur for the last 3 years, maintaining a work/life balance had always been a struggle. Although I have been practicing yoga in and out during more than 10 years, I would only allow myself time for physical exercise “after”; after this report is completed and sent; after I have finished writing this article; after I have facilitated this workshop…
As this misbalance was having impacts on my level of energy, I had made it the topic of my coaching to build a more healthy routine in my week. After each coaching session, I would come up with a commitment to go swimming, running or practicing yoga at least twice a week. But – Ô disgrace – I would find myself a month later with merely one or two yoga classes and a run done.
By that time, the most frustrating aspect for me was not only that I was not working out as much as I wanted. It was becoming clear to me that I was fooling myself by not following-up on my commitments to take care of my body, and this was starting to deter my self-confidence, and my trust in the coaching process, which I am so enthusiastic about.
Something had to change. So I decided to make THIS the topic of my next coaching session: “How come I keep on making commitments to take regular time for physical exercise, and I don’t keep up to them”. I wanted to unveil the inner obstacles that were keeping me away from being faithful to myself, before venturing into making other ones.
During a pivotal coaching session with my cohort fellow, I got clarity on my inner obstacle; « the topic behind the topic ». Although I was willing to make a change to give more time and space to physical exercise in my life, I was still unconsciously operating under an old paradigm – that taking care of my physical condition was not “as important” as fulfilling my commitments towards others, especially towards my clients. The visible symptom of this was my calendar, in which professional activities had a variety of different colours, whilst all the remaining aspects of my life – time with friends and family, physical exercise, entertainment, spiritual practice, were all regrouped in the same orange colour.
I got at once an insight on my blind spot. Until then, as a consultant and a coach I was striving to assist my clients in finding sustainable solutions, both at personal and organizational levels, but I was not truly considering my own sustainability in the equation.
Having clarity on my inner misalignment and finding the true motivation for change – i.e. not merely to fulfil a commitment, but to build a sustainable balance in my life and be part of my vision – was the real stimulus that triggered change in me. Since then I have been working out more regularly – and happily.
Based on this experience, I could sum up the main success factors about how coaching can help you make a sustainable change, whatever is your challenge, as follows:
1.Be clear on your topic and aspirations
What is it that you want to change? What are you tolerating? What is the one thing you that would bring a significant improvement in your well-being? In your performances? In your life?
2.Be conscious about inner obstacles and true motivations
Use past failed attempts to get a deeper awareness about what is true for you. What is the limiting belief? What makes the change so deeply important for you? What is “the topic behind the topic”? Once you can hold them both in your consciousness, notice what is really meaningful for you in the change you want to undertake, and make a decision from that place.
3.Make a commitment and make it public
This is where the rubber hits the road. How serious are you about changing? Maybe you need to consider further the benefits of status quo and the costs of change? Maybe you have already checked both and decided to change? If so, what concrete step can you commit to, that will generate a creative tension between your current situation and your desired state? In my case it was registering for the 10k race, right after my pivotal coaching session. Make this commitment as soon as you feel the clarity and alignment in your decision. Don’t let the momentum fade away.
4.Explore options and resources
Look around and see what options and resources are available to you. Identify and invite those who care to support you in your endeavour. You will be surprised at how much people enjoy being here to support you in your challenges. By changing and making them allies and active witnesses of your change, you are giving them the opportunity to help you be at your best, and you are inspiring them to be at their best too.
5.Be open to what’s new and do your share
Internal changes bring external changes: welcome support and model the successful ones in your field. Be curious about them. What makes their success? What is their secret recipe? How do they overcome doubt, hesitation, frustration, procrastination? Be aware about the new people you met, take a fresh look on the situations you find yourself in. Look at them from the perspective of the person you want to be. Last but not least, do what it takes to sustain the change: no one can go running for you, neither can one learn how to swim simply by reading a book. In other words, change requires action.
6.Observe yourself in the change and take the good in
Journal, share your story, integrate the change by sharing it with others, by making it part of your new life. Celebrate and … be ready for further changes!