We’re well into the summer holidays now, and usually this time of year affords us a break from or some sort of disruption to our everyday routines. This can be challenging of course, but can also provide some much needed space, perspective and a chance to review our normal lives. We can reflect on what’s worked and what hasn’t throughout the year so far, plan to get our goals back on track, and reinstate some of the good habits that we might have let slip during the general busyness of everyday life.

This summer, one of the practices I’ve rekindled is the habit of coaching myself to tackle the everyday challenges that life throws up and also to work on my aspirations and dreams for the coming months ahead. I’ve been doing this every single day during my summer morning routine – and have subsequently felt wonderfully calm and in control, brilliantly equipped to ride the emotions of family life and prepared to face the often difficult challenges of balancing that family life with work.

But what does ‘coaching yourself’ actually mean?

To me, coaching yourself is the way to overcome the powerlessness that many of us feel about our daily lives; the feeling that the world happens to us, that we have no real control over circumstances and events or what other people do that affects us. Coaching yourself teaches you that you do have much more control and influence than you think. It shows you that you have so much more power over your life and experiences than you imagine. Coaching yourself is how you access that power and is the means to regaining control of your life and your future. 

Being able to coach yourself, then, is one of the most important skills you can develop as a working parent. It will not only help you cope with (the many) challenges that arise, but will enable you to realise your potential and achieve your goals. It is a two stage process. Firstly – you need to come to an understanding of how your thoughts are creating the results you are currently experiencing in your life, and secondly, you need to understand how by intentionally changing your thoughts, you can alter/improve those results. Self coaching works by dealing with each issue you experience through this 2 stage filter.

In this blog, we’re focusing on stage 1 – the thought process. (don’t forget to watch out for next week when we’ll be covering stage 2).

How to coach yourself – Stage 1, work through the thought process.

The key steps in the self coaching process are as follows;

1. Identify your circumstance(s) – these are the facts and they are neither good nor bad. They are neutral.

2. Identify your thoughts about that circumstance.

3. Identify your feelings (these are produced by your thoughts).

4. Identify your actions (these are driven by your feelings).

5. Identify your results (these are the outcome of your actions).

Example: Negative Thought Process.

1. Circumstance: receive negative feedback on a piece of work.

2. Thoughts: I’m not good enough.

3. Feelings: self doubt, insecurity, worthlessness.

4. Actions: because of insecurity, become hesitant, avoidant, step back from challenges, do nothing with the feedback except feel discouraged.

5. Result: the next piece of work I produce has the same or potentially worse flaws than the previous, and my confidence is eroded further.

As you can see, the bad news about this thought process is that negative thoughts about your circumstances, if left unchecked, can be the very things that compound the problem or produce even more negative results.

The good news is that, conversely, by changing your thoughts about your circumstances into positive ones, you give yourself the best opportunity to create different and much better results.

Example: Positive Thought Process.

1. Circumstance: receive negative feedback on a piece of work.

2. Thoughts: this feedback is invaluable for helping me to grow/learn, get better at this. It is a reflection of the piece of work, not of my personal worth.

3: Feelings: motivation, determination to use the feedback as a blueprint for progress.

4: Actions: work through the comments/feedback and create a system or process to ensure I apply what I’ve learned to the next piece of work I produce.

5: Results: the next piece of work I produce receives more positive feedback.

This simple example clearly illustrates how examining your thoughts about your experiences is key in the self-coaching process. The results you have in your life right now are more a reflection of your internal thinking, than of your actual circumstances. Coaching yourself takes practice – the more you do it the more effective you will be and the more powerful your results. I invite you to practise coaching yourself by starting small and simply observing your thoughts about issues as in this first stage of the process. This week, when you’re faced with a problem, go through the self coaching steps above and see if you can spot the connection between your own thoughts and the results you are currently getting.

Next week  – changing those thoughts to improve your results. I look forward to seeing you then!