Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

A New Slant on Goal Setting


We always encourage coaches to work with clients to create positive goals that take them in the direction of what they want!  This fits with the idea of running towards, rather than away from things in life.  

I recently had an interesting conversation with someone who had been at a conference on death and dying, with one of the speakers raising the idea of having a “Reverse Bucket List”. A very strange notion I thought - where does that go?  

The “Reverse Bucket List” consists of things that a person no longer wants to do!! Now that might mean saying “no” to a number of onerous tasks that drain energy and take precious time away from doing what we do want to do.  

It also might encourage our clients to take a good hard look at what they spend their time on - believing that they enjoy it and yet we come to the realisation that we don’t enjoy it any more!  

This type of “bucket list” can actually be very empowering!  Yes, it might be more meaningful to us as we get older and realise the value of the years left to us, but I think it's worth considering and playing around with. It’s really no different from asking, “What do we want more of?”, and “What do we want less of?” Try asking it of yourself and see what comes up! 

Happy culling of unwanted and unrewarding activities!


Motivation is not all equal



Here we go – 2017 is underway and we all love a fresh start. The new year can give us the opportunity to begin new projects, to make changes, to wipe out any of the less uplifting parts of the previous year.  But what do we need to actually make a change?

There’s no getting away from it – that overused term – “Motivation”!  And if you want to know more about it, there is no shortage of material, books, articles, speakers etc. to fill you in. But really what does it mean to be motivated? The essence of motivation is energy.  Energy to drive us forward to make that change.  Yet motivation can also come from many different areas – some more powerful than others.

Let’s keep it simple and look at two sources. Controlled motivation and autonomous motivation.  Both can be helpful but one more than the other.
Controlled motivation comes from outside.  Often from another person, who may well have the best interests in mind for the person they are pushing to make a change. Health professionals have traditionally been the people who provide “controlled motivation.” They provide all the facts, the dangers and the wisdom of their superior knowledge to convince their clients to make a change. When someone is influenced by this type of motivation, they tend to “comply” with someone else’s desires.  You may have heard this referred to as extrinsic motivation, but “controlled” suggests that there is a third party involved.  Frequently there is an element of fear inherent in the urge to change.

Autonomous motivation has quite a different feeling about it.  This is when a person is motivated by interest, desire and choice. They have a sense of control and value over the change they're about to make.  They are energised in a different way and often feel a sense of excitement about the challenge ahead.  Health and wellness coaches work in this space... Their job is to “unleash” their clients’ own motivation to change.

Why is the latter so much more powerful than the former?  As human beings, we have certain drives that are universal and one is the drive to control our own destiny to be “autonomous” and “self-determining”.  Although the support of a coach or other person may be of great help, ultimately we will become more flexible and creative, persistent and successful when we are driven from within.  

How we do tap into this type of motivation?  Simply by reflecting on the importance of the change we wish to make.  Time spent uncovering our real reasons to change is time well spent and an investment in the outcome of our efforts.  All too often, we rush in to do what others have propounded as being the “right” way to live.  Why not stop and ask yourself:
  • What will this change mean to me?
  • What will happen if I continue the way I am living?
  • What else might change if I am successful?
  • What does the change represent to me?
Then we’re armed with what we need to move forward.  But only then!

Two Words


The new year is well and truly on us and before we know it, we are into the swing of things and are now wondering where the holiday went. But most of us take some time, if only a moment or two, to ponder what lies ahead. What do we want for 2017?  Do we have new directions to travel in? New challenges to enjoy?  Notice I have not once said the word “goal”... Not that there is anything wrong with having goals, as long as we don’t get caught up in a mad rush to achieve them.  

What I prefer to do each year is to find two words that I can focus on that mean something significant to me at this point in time.  And I let those words “colour” my  plans and way of living.  So, for example, my two words for this year are, “Balance” and “Freedom”.  I won’t indulge myself by explaining what they mean to me, but I think you’ll get the general idea. 

So why am I sharing this?  Because I think it is just another creative way of working with clients at a time when most of them are busy, they've set new years’ resolutions (that often are broken by now) and planning to make major changes in their lives, which suggests that things are really not going well.  The reality is, we have all spent the last year growing, learning and experiencing a variety of things.  Hopefully, we have ended up with more information about what we want, what we don’t want and are feeling fairly clear after a nice rest and reset that Xmas and New Year can often give us.  Choosing two words keeps it nice and simple, creates a feeling of control and gives us clarity around what we need most. 

What are your two words?  How do they apply to your life?  How can you bring more of those two elements into your world?  Share this with your clients.  Have fun with them as you invite them to do the same. Spend time talking about what those words mean for your clients.  Coaching does not always have to be delving into the dark stuff.  There is always room for laughter and lightness; for fun and anticipation; for a sense of the unknown whilst feeling grounded in who we are and what we stand for. 

Go lightly into the rest of 2017 and make it a wonderful year. 

Helping our Clients Define Success



Inevitably, our clients want to move forward - in a direction that they may have struggled with in the past. In fact they may even have failed in that area. So their drive is to succeed this time, which is why they have a Wellness Coach.

Our job as a Wellness Coach is to help them define exactly what it is they wish to achieve and of course to help them get there. But first, conversation around this concept of “success” is essential. Closely related to the idea of achievement is the notion of  ”ambition” and an exploration of both terms can reveal interesting insights for both ourselves and our clients. 

Some people describe themselves as ambitious and others may not relate to the term. The word is often associated with competition and succeeding at the expense of others, but if we accept that a better and more accurate definition is “a strong desire to do or achieve something", surely we would like our clients to become more “ambitious” around their goals? Words can do strange things to our interpretation of life. Success and ambition are really very personal constructs and relate purely to what a person truly wishes to obtain in their life. So to be motivated and enthusiastic about working towards goals is a great thing as it can lead to success, but in this sense, “success” is not about “winning”, neither is ambition.

The first question to ask a client is “what makes you fulfilled and happy in life?”  By doing this we can uncover a person’s core values.  So let’s take a look at a few examples. They may identify strongly with any of the following:

  • Imagination and creativity;
  • Kindness and compassion;
  • Lifelong learning;
  • Building relationships and connection with others.
These are all values and also strengths and if we can recognize what really drives us, we can then set goals accordingly and ensure that the steps along the way give us opportunities to incorporate these core values.

The next question is, “How do you measure success?” The answer to this could be anything, and you may hear responses such as:

  • How much fun I have in life;
  • How peaceful and calm I feel;
  • How much I can contribute to the world.
These bigger picture questions and answers can help shift someone’s mindset and help them identify changes they would like to make that may be somewhat different from what they thought they wanted, or at the very least affect the choice of the ways in which they choose to move forward. When we work with clients to help them define the steps they wish to take, we must never forget to explore their bigger world view first.

The Path from “Aha!” to Integration




In my coaching, I often find that people (including myself) place a great importance on the “Aha” moments, where we gain awareness and insight around behaviours or patterns in our lives.  These moments of clarity are wonderful and they are essential.Without a clear map of the terrain, it is easy to wander off course. However, having a map is not the same as walking the terrain, and walking the path is the only way to reach our destination.  

Our “destination” in this case, would be a new behaviour, which becomes a new habit and ultimately, a new way of being. This is sustained transformation, not simply modifying outcomes, but integrating desired behaviours or thoughts until the point that they become the default operating system.  And walking the path from “Aha” to Integration is made up of daily practices, tools, in short applied insight.  As obvious as that may sound, many of us, (I’m first to admit it!) often confuse the “Aha” with the transformation.  It is walking the path, one foot in front of the other, one step at a time that gets us where we want to be, so we might as well enjoy the journey.

Look Back, Look Forward and Look Around You


Here we go again. New Year and a new start! I was reading another motivating column in the paper about setting goals and it was good to see it pointed out that the majority of New Years resolutions were abandoned within 6 days. There were some useful points made about creating new habits etc. and taking small steps. Hmmm.  

I’ve been thinking about this need each year to reinvent our lives, or ourselves in some ways and it’s got me querying why we don’t seem to be happy with the old self, or our existing life? It can’t be all due for replacement just because it’s the end of December. We always want to improve and grow and that’s a great thing but I wonder if there is a better way of looking at this blank page of the year ahead?

So I  tried using an idea from one of the many books I am reading and decided that instead of setting these amazing new goals to strive towards, I would re-think my end of year meeting (with myself) and ask three things:

  1. What has happened this past year that has been significant and had an element of success in it (Incredible how many things I listed!)
  2. What am I thoroughly enjoying right now? Ie what’s happening in the present time that I want to savour (Again, lots there.)
  3. What have I got to look forward to in 2014? (Such a nicer way of planning new ventures, challenges and just good things!)

I enjoyed this process so much I invited my husband to join me in the conversation and we both felt really energised, grateful and positive by what came out of it. 

Why not try this new way for your annual “review”? 
The principles of course come from positive psychology where the notion of having a positive relationship with the past, present and future can create greater life satisfaction – cultivating gratitude for the past, savouring the moment and anticipating the future. A refreshing approach.  

The Different Hats We Wear


Do you ever get up in the morning and wonder what to put on? Usually our dress is determined by what’s happened outside – is it hot, cold, wet dry? Easy decision. But when we walk out of the door, or even when we stay inside, we have many occasions to decide what hat to put on! Of course I mean that metaphorically but most of us have areas of responsibility that vary greatly and we need to choose our hat carefully and appropriately or our efforts just might not produce anything useful!

Of course I am referring to communicating with people in our lives. As parents, we fall into a pattern of behavior and style of communication that is almost bred into us. Not to say that it always is effective but we do realise that we are there as guides as well as carers, sometimes as friends and often as supporters for our children. But what about the people at work, our clients or co-workers, our team? When do we know what hat to wear to best suit their needs?

Some of the common head gear in our working lives when we have influence over others includes that of teacher or trainer (let’s call it educator), the expert, the mentor and the coach. At times all of these roles are going to be relevant. But where do we get the most value? I read recently a great description of what we call the “coach” role as being a “Potentialiser”! By asking the right questions, we can unlock people’s ability to be grow, to learn, to create – or just to be amazing! Many of the other roles involve us taking on the responsibility and the other party  being somewhat disempowered. So they may be necessary but are they desirable? I think we can be “potentialisers” in anyone’s live – even our childrens. Why don’t we look for more opportunities to ask those crucial questions that help people think, gain insights, gain control, grow and become energised?  

Acknowledgement – Tighe & Gray, 2013.

Is Will Power really like a Muscle?


There seem to be a lot of references to Willpower being like a "Muscle" - the more you use it, the stronger it gets, suggesting that all we need to do to change a habit is to get STRONG!  This is an appealing message to people who like a challenge and who like the idea of a "challenge" and "toughing it out".  But what about the rest of us who would prefer change to be easy, not requiring too much effort.  After all, we are busy people with responsibilities and commitments that take energy!

I don't believe the willpower is like a muscle.  And research backs me up.
Take the study that puts subjects into a situation where they had to resist a temptation. When they backed this up and asked for the same restraint from two groups, the group who had not previously had to exercise "willpower" fared much better! Simple explanation? We only have so much willpower and it gets used up!  It's exhausting using willpower.  Would we really break the Tim Tam habit by taking home a packet and sitting looking at it for 30 minutes without giving in to the temptation to eat them. Then the next night take home, perhaps two packets and resist them for maybe an hour?  I think not!  There would be some serious chocolate biscuit consumption in my house if I tried it.

To replace a habit, we have to identify the cue that precedes the routine (that we want to change) and also recognise the reward we get. We then have to find a new routine that we can put in place when the cue arises and hope it results in a similar reward.

Example:  We feel sluggish in the afternoon.  We reach for the snacks to help us get a bit more energy. We feel momentarily energised. New routine - instead of reaching for the snacks we go for a light run.  We come back. We feel energised.  Eventually we like the feeling of energy that we get from a run, more than the slight lift from eating junk.  We start to crave the feeling that the run results in.  New habit starts to form.  

Sound easy?  It isn't.  But it is a better approach than doing Willpower Workouts!

The Importance of Authentic Business


Oscar Wilde’s The Importance of Being Earnest, first screened in 1895, is a farcical comedy about maintaining fictitious peronae in order to escape burdensome social obligations. Fast forward to 2013 in your business, and let’s consider the importance of your business persona – the face you present to your customer. 

Let’s face it – your persona is the thing that dictates whether your business sells, or smells. How many times have you bought a widget, or a service, and been put off by a disinterested service person or salesperson who is most obviously resenting your presence and, is irritated that you would interrupt their crossword?

Or have you ever seen right through that service person’s ‘interest’ in your problem, realising that they’re really only ‘interested’ in your money?

Unfortunately, these things happen all too often. Why would a business owner or staff member behave like this?
  • they don’t want to be there
  • they’re overworked
  • they hate the job
  • the job is a ‘filler’ until something better comes up
  • they are driven by money above all else.
You can see the pattern. The persona might need an attitude check in order to retain happy customers! 

The magic ingredients that create this switch are PASSION AND AUTHENTICITY. 
Passion is loving what you do; living and breathing it; knowing it inside out. Authenticity encompasses truthfulness (honesty), sincerity and openness. Genuine passion for your business gives you authenticity by default – it’s obvious that you believe in what you’re doing and it’s value. 

An authentic business persona offers great benefits for your customers.  They will: 
  • be drawn to your passion 
  • tell others about your knowledge and enthusiasm
  • feel that you’re genuinely interested in them
  • feel that you understand their need/problem 
  • trust you – therefore be more likely to buy from you
  • feel that your value and ethics match theirs. 
In other words, an authentic persona becomes a client-magnet. There are also clear links to Martin Seligman’s five elements of well being (PERMA): 
  • Positive emotion
  • Engagement
  • Positive relationships
  • Meaning
  • Accomplishment
Your passion drives inspiration and aspiration. You are a role-model; a living, breathing advocate of your craft. Your skill, confidence and belief in your product is real – tangible. You love helping people and building relationships with people who share your beliefs and convictions. Clients trust your genuine passion. Trust builds rapport. 

Your meaning and values are loud and clear – right there on your face and the face of your business.

The Importance of Being Earnest is about being the person you want to attract, then engaging those you attract in a way that is mutually meaningful and ‘profitable’. 

Why would a Coach need a Coach?


When we become skilled in a profession, or way of working, it is tempting to adopt the attitude. "Well I don't need the services of …… - after all, I am one". This argument is a bit weak when we are talking about a service provider such as massage therapist, dentist, physio or anyone who physically performs a treatment that requires an outside party to "administer" it - pretty hard to give yourself a shoulder rub! However, I have found that the best counsellors, coaches and other health professionals are the first to seek out the services of someone who works in their field, as they truly believe in the value of their profession. The best salespeople I know will buy from someone who has shown that they know how to persuade.

A coach cannot ever be a good coach until they have been on the receiving end of good coaching.
If coaching is "the art of creating an environment, through conversation and a way of being, that facilitates the processes by which a person can move toward desired goals in a fulfilling manner” (Tim Gallwey, 2000), then how can we create that environment without knowing what it feels like for the client? When we sit in the client's chair we can experience not only the feelings they go through, but also the results that can occur from working with a coach. Until we have gone through this process, we cannot share the enthusiasm that inevitably comes from being on the other side.

How does coaching and mentoring differ? 
Some new coaches feel they need to learn from someone who has more experience than they do, get feedback and at times direction from a mentor who has trained and excelled in their particular field. This will take more the form of a training session rather than a coaching session and be equally as valuable.

However, if the issue is more around helping you create a vision for where you want to go as a coach, or as an individual, to work out how this can fit into your current life and value system and design a plan for getting there, you might just need a good coach yourself.

If you see yourself nodding your head while reading this, our team at Wellness Coaching Australia provides a unique Coach Mentoring service that can be personalised on your needs. Whether you are:
• Hoping to gain a better understanding of any of the concepts taught in wellness coaching,
• Are seeking mentoring around your options as to future employment or life direction, or
• Need help with creating a business model, we can assist.

To find out more, register your interest with us and we’ll contact you to discuss your needs.




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