Tag Archives: Personal development tools

Get a coach? Or write a journal?

The last thing you want to do when you’ve hired an expensive coach is waste lots of valuable coaching time trying to identify what you want to be coached on. I’ve experienced hundreds of coaching conversations (some of which as a client rather than as the coach) where the whole thirty minute session has gone by and the closest we’ve got to articulating a particular goal has been “I think that’s what I want to do.”

It’s not because the client doesn’t want to be coached. Nor is it because the coaching is ineffective. It’s much more because the client hasn’t really done much reflecting of their own beforehand. They haven’t really got themselves COACHING-READY.

As a Certified Professional Coactive Coach I have worked with business owners, entrepreneurs, executives, educationalists, public sector workers and private individuals. I have also been coached myself, and I have found that across the professions and occupations people generally share similar progress blocks.

Often we say “I can’t do that” or “I don’t know where to start” or “What would people say if I did that”?

No matter what our circumstances or our personality, the things that hold us back are largely:

  • our confused view of ourselves, our experience and our potential
  • an inflated sense of the task ahead
  • our own ability to self-sabotage.

I’ve also noticed our reluctance to respond to questions like “What do you want?”, “What does success look like?”, “How will you know when you’ve made it?”, “What is your unique talent or skill?”

Coaches are very well-trained to coax out answers  to these questions. They are remarkably patient and compassionate human beings who want so much for us to succeed: they talk about championing and challenging us to get us to the next level, the place we wish to be. But the onus is still on us to make things happen, and if they aren’t the right things for us, they ain’t going to happen.

So before you think about hiring that coach and making all that investment…

GET JOURNALING!

And no, not just writing about what you did in your day, who nicked your milk from the office fridge, or how many times you changed your toddler’s nappy.

Journaling is much more about being able to reflect on your experience, your purpose, what’s important to you, what you want from life and work, and what’s the best way you’re going to go about getting it. The best way for YOU, that is.

Writing a journal is a fantastic way to get to know ourselves and to begin allowing ourselves to admit to our dreams and aspirations. It’s also an amazing way to build up our inner resilience, and to trust that deep down inside we do actually have all our own answers.

By spending a few pounds on an inviting notebook and a smooth-writing pen, and then by investing some time working through kick-off phrases, inquiries and journal writing exercises, you’ll be able to hit the ground running with your coach.  If you’re clear on WHO you are and WHAT you want to achieve, your coach can help you with HOW you’re going to get there, and you’ll get a lot more bang from your coaching buck.

 

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3 steps to transformation

OK so the title of this blog sounds very “Deepak Chopra” but I promise my insights have arisen by way of something rather more prosaic than spiritual enlightenment.

This has been a month of record temperatures in the UK – and of major house renovations at my home in Wiltshire.

In fact the whole of 2013 so far has seen rather a lot of paint-rolling, wallpaper stripping, stud-wall installation and stud-wall removal as we’ve tackled décor projects in our bedroom, family bathroom, ensuite bathroom, lounge and downstairs study. The building dust has been inches thick. And it’s all this work that has triggered my insights into what it takes to truly transform. I’m wondering if they work for personal growth as well as for domestic DIY.

First of all, the destruction phase brings a certain amount of euphoria. Ripping off wall paper, emptying rooms, knocking down walls all carry a certain no-going-back thrill as you realise you forgot to book a skip or cover up all the furniture you don’t want to be affected by dust. Oh well.

Next the transition phase means you have to make good the surfaces to be painted or papered. For us this time there has been proper plastering to do – which in the absence of a professional my hubby decided to take on himself. Needless to say the first attempt didn’t pass muster, so the whole lot had to be re-sanded and prepared from scratch. There was much tearing out of hair.

Transition also means making choices – what paint colour? What style of wall paper? What floor covering? What colour of tile? And then the painstaking process of the first coat, the pasting, the grouting, as the space begins to shift towards its new state.

Finally the delicious restoration phase. This is the time to splurge the credit card on soft furnishings! To reconstitute the space in the way you want to live going forward. This is where you get to see the fruits of your efforts, when you finally try on this transformed skin and feel what it’s like to  move about in. This is my favourite part – though I also realise that I try and live too long in restoration mode and often it’s time for destruction again before everything’s been properly restored.

As for personal growth, do these steps apply? Often it’s necessary to slough off an out-dated attitude or habit in order to make way for something new. Next we need to make choices about what the new approach will be, and make the first steps in the transition.  Then we need to find out what life feels like within that newly created approach, and include the right support and resources that will restore us to balance and calm, enabling us to make progress on our chosen path.

So transformation is an active process that requires some key stages within. What do the three steps to transformation entail for you – and how will you use your journal on the way?

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How journal writing reveals the intelligence of our bodies

I love how we use very physical language to describe our intuition. We get a gut-feeling, a hunch, or we feel something in our bones, or in our water. Our body often provides us with clues about the truth of a situation, and it serves us to heed the messages that come from our intuitive, physical intelligence.

Our physical experience is a rich seam to mine in our journals, and getting curious about how certain situations are making our body feel can often yield surprising results.

Not only that, but by actively engaging our physical experience in a dialogue, in what I call ‘holistic communion’, we can often dig beneath the surface of our circumstances and gain real insight into what’s going on for us.

A few years ago I embarked on a business relationship which proved to be a massive headache in the long run. I should have known that my future wouldn’t be too bright with the business in question because during our very first meeting I had such a blinding headache that I had to ask my colleagues if they had any pain killers on them! I recall at the time that I’d just returned from a 740 mile round trip delivering personal development workshops at the other end of the country, so I really should have been taking things easy and not jumping head long into another business idea. If only I’d taken the time to write in my journal about the experience, and ask my headache what it was trying to tell me, I’m sure the message would have been “don’t dive in head first when you don’t know how deep it is”.

Pay attention in your journal to what your body is experiencing and discover a whole new set of resources to guide you.

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7 Astounding benefits of journal writing

You may have guessed by now that I’m quite fanatical about how journal writing can change your life. As well as helping you think clearly, keep track of important ideas and projects, relax and tease out your creative side, journal writing also has a number of other benefits.

Here are some more reasons why I believe journal writing is just PERFECT:

  1. Promotes self-healing
  2. Enables weight-loss
  3. Reveals the deep-seated intelligence of our bodies
  4. Forges greater links between the hemispheres of our brain
  5. Encourages calmer moods
  6. Coaxes out our human joy in playing
  7. Transforms our relationship with time

(See what I did there?)

Over the next few posts I’ll be commenting in more detail on each of these amazing benefits – so be sure to check back soon!

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What has surprised you today?

So here’s the first post in my new blog! The Journal Writer’s Handbook is my upcoming book about the fantastic past time that is journal writing. After months of dithering and making very little progress on my manuscript for The Journal Writer’s Handbook, suddenly today I find myself contemplating its publication date, and thinking about using social media, even a blog, to let the world know about it.  And this is what has surprised me – hence my question.

I’ve also been surprised (pleasantly) by being offered editorial space in a local magazine to promote not only the book but a series of journal-writing workshops. Having failed to pull my finger out for rather a long time things are starting to happen that frankly demand that I finish the book and release it into the world. And I’m surprised by what a relief it is.

Anyway, what is the Journal Writer’s Handbook? It’s a book that has resulted from my conviction that reflective writing is one of the most remarkable tools for personal growth and development. It’s cheap, easily accessible (especially once you’ve read the Handbook), doesn’t require any special appointments to be made, and above all is private. Keeping a journal doesn’t involve having to humiliate yourself in front of anyone else, or reveal your deepest and darkest side to relative strangers you’ve paid to listen. No money changes hands – it’s just you, your pen, your journal and however honest you’re prepared to be. (But, as one workshop participant declared: “there’s nowhere to hide when you’re writing to yourself.”)

The Handbook came about when someone told me they’d like me to move into their house and constantly give them journaling exercises to encourage them to write. Otherwise, they admitted, they’d probably find another cake to bake instead. There’s nothing wrong with cake, but I can see how this might become a tiresome procrastination strategy. And seeing that becoming a resident spouter of journaling prompts really wasn’t going to work for my lifestyle I decided it would be much better all round to put together a little book that would take up a lot less room in people’s houses than big ol’ me.

So I wrote it. It turns out to be over 35000 words long – and that was a surprise – with a comprehensive guide to getting started and keeping the momentum going; a quick reference index of exercises to suit various circumstances of life; and a Mood Index, suggesting journaling approaches for different feelings and emotions.

It’s currently in its first galley edition, but it’s well and truly on its way. But if you can’t wait to have a go and see for yourself how illuminating journal writing can be, spend a couple of minutes free-writing in response to these reflective kick-off prompts:

“What’s surprised me most today has been…”

“My usual reaction to surprises is…”

There are no right and wrong answers – just allow your pen to move across the page and see what appears at the end of it. It could be your biggest surprise yet.

Happy journaling!

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