Wellness Coaching Australia's Blog

How do we define success?


















This is not a new question and I am sure not the first time I have written about it, but it is such a significant area to explore that I feel it is worthy of re-visiting and reviewing our responses.  Answering the question will help us get a greater understanding of our client’s goals, aspirations and sense of achievement.  Like so many aspects of health and wellness coaching, as coaches we have to ask the question of ourselves to provide the most meaningful support for our clients.

There are many different factors that influence whether a person feels “successful” in life.
Let’s consider the external factors.  We live in a world where relativity is a fact of life - the inevitable tendency to compare helps us define normal, exceptional and perhaps just plain “odd”.  “We are wired for comparison” according to Mark Manson.  Success and failure are somewhere different concepts but both frequently influenced by what others think.

Common ways of measuring success:

Financial – many people feel that success is only theirs when they hit their financial goals.  Money is extremely important to them and they spend much of their life working towards that notion of “success”.  Whether this healthy or not is irrelevant – it just is what they do and how they feel. It may come from parental values, from a fear of not having enough or any one of a multitude of reasons from their past.  Interestingly, people who value money often report that they never feel financially sound and they are often striving for more to achieve that end.

Status – this is all about how other people see us.  Status cannot exist without there being a hierarcy.. Someone has to be below us to feel successful in this realm.

Accumulation – plain gathering of “more” drives many people and the sheer fact that they own an abundance of things makes them feel successful.  But do they ever stop the need to acquire?  Will there always be an empty void which can only be further acquisition?

The satisfaction that we get from achieving a goal  – or not?

“Society values success and there is a competitive edge to most aspects of our world” writes Chris Skellett when he describes why people can lean too much towards an achievement orientation.

Yet it is really useful to remember something about goals.  The pleasure we get when we succeed at an important goal can be quite short-lived.  We call this “post goal attainment positive affect”.  However, when we are working towards a goal, the steps along the way often provide “pre-goal attainment positive affect.  The reality is most pleasure is felt along the way – hence the term “the progress principle”.

But how does this all fit into our definition of success?

Define success internally, not externally
This phrase had a powerful impact on me.  It reminded me that so very often we define success based on what other people think.  (see all the above examples listed above.) If we can shift our measuring stick to one of internal values, we may well be on to something that can reduce stress, anxiety and the feeling of being continually deficient in our lives.

When we ask ourselves certain questions such as the following, we can get closer to refining the way we look at success in our own lives.
“Would you rather be well off and work in a job you hate, or have a lower income and work in a job you love?’
Would you rather be famous and influential for something that has little importance, or be anonymous and working on something that could make a difference to the world?”

When we truly define what is important to us, only then can we decide whether we are successful or not. Stand back and take a look at your life and decide whether there are days when you feel you are failing and ask whose measuring stick you are using?  Do you see yourself as successful in other ways?  Once we have this self knowledge only then can we support our clients identifying their ways of measuring success.

References:
Jonhathan Haidt, The Happiness Hypothesis
Mark Manson,https://markmanson.net/5-mindsets-that-create-success
Chris Skellett, When Happiness is not enough

Personal and Professional Development for Health and Wellness Coaches


When you work as a coach, it’s important that you walk your talk, stay abreast of industry changes, and maintain your currency professional skills.
Your commitment to ongoing personal and professional development shows your commitment to self-improvement, professionalism and professional integrity.Let’s look at some options for personal and professional development.

Personal Development for Coaches

Four main strategies for personal development include:

1. Hiring your own coach
Hiring your own coach means improving your physical or mental habits to further your own personal growth, to deal with change in a healthy way, and/or to achieve new goals.
It also demonstrates that you believe in what you do enough that you’d also buy it yourself.

2. Self-coaching
Self-coaching could include post-session reflections, using thought models, talking to yourself or journaling as part of a pro-active routine. Being proactive with these habits means we are being role models for our clients.

3. Ongoing learning
Coaches are professional communicators, so it makes sense to learn or polish up personal skills that help us to become better communicators.

4. Mentoring
Conversations with mentors can help you to gain wisdom and perspective by learning from someone who has done or is doing what you seek to achieve.

Professional Development for Coaches

Industry bodies are organisations that aim to advance a specific profession by providing guidelines, standards and recognition of a professional’s education and experience. 
While not a formal requirement, Health and Wellness Coaches may choose to be credentialed by either the National Board-Certified Health and Wellness Coaches (NBCHWC) or the International Coaching Federation (ICF).

Whether or not you have membership with an industry body, ongoing education demonstrates your commitment to your profession and your clients.
Coaches who are certified with NBCHWC or ICF must commit to the following professional development requirements; these requirements provide a good guideline around ongoing education needs for non-certified coaches. 

National Board-Certified Health & Wellness Coaches
Coaches who have NBCHWC credentialing are required to re-certify every 3 years by completing 36 hours of continuing education related to health and wellness coaching. 

International Coaching Federation (ICF)
Coaches who have ICF credentialing have specific requirements depending on the level of credentialing they hold. 

For the Associate Certified Coach (ACC) (the basic level), the requirements are:
Receiving 10 hours of Mentor Coaching over a minimum of three months
At least 40 hours of Continuing Coach Education (CCE) completed in the three years since the initial award of your credential or since your last credential renewal
Mentoring involves coaching with feedback in a safe and collaborative way, to identify strengths and areas for improvement. It is highly recommended for coaches who have no means of obtaining feedback on their coaching skills and techniques.

Summary

If you work the field of personal development, then it’s essential that you walk your talk. 

Ongoing personal and professional demonstrate your commitment to your craft, your desire to grow as a person and a coach, and a means of maintaining currency and standards in the industry. 
A weekly personal routine is a mainstay for health and wellness coaches. Professionally, 10 - 15 hours of formal training plus additional mentoring (3 – 5 hours) per year is a valuable for increasing a coach’s capacity and skill. 


Financial wellness – a new or an ignored frontier?


Life is never simple, which is why it is so interesting!  Here’s an example. Have you ever had several goals you wanted to achieve, yet at times they seem to conflict with each other?

One case of this that we hear often is from people who want to “follow their passion” (in their professional life), but also want to be financially secure.   Yet their passion may not hold the level of certainly around financial security they require.  

Of course, this applies to many of students who want to study health and wellness coaching, yet are concerned that it may not pay the bills.  When we get a dilemma like this, we can experience tension, stress and a sense of “stuckness” as we struggle with what really amounts to two conflicting values.  So how do we get round this?   We may also experience a sense of guilt or disappointment in our failure to follow our heart.  After all, surely financial “stability” should not be as important as doing what we really want do – living the professional dream?

Yet finance (or fears around lack of finance) is one of the biggest stumbling blocks when it comes to people achieving their goals.

Lea Schodel, a recent graduate, does a lot of work in the field of financial wellness.  She says,

“Money has such a large influence over our day to day lives, our sense of success and self-worth and our overall happiness and wellbeing. Our career choices, our ability to spend time with our family and friends, or to do the things we love, whether we can join a gym or practice yoga, how much we can spend on food, healthcare, self-care and other treatments, the type of neighbourhood we live in, the relationships we have and even our self-esteem are all impacted directly by our relationship with money. 

Our finances play such an integral role in our total wellbeing yet, so often they are ignored, put to one side or handed over to someone else to manage.

The elements of wellness

Image souce:  wellnessutah.com

There are many elements that comprise of our overall wellbeing: Social, Physical, Emotional., Spiritual, Environmental, Occupational, Intellectual and Financial. What is important is to recognise that there are many elements (other than diet and exercise) which contribute to or detract from total wellbeing and we cannot have total wellness unless we pay attention to and seek balance with all elements of wellbeing in our lives.

So how can we align our goals so that we achieve both a career we love and healthy finances? 
This was a question we had to address when we put together our latest training program – the Professional Certificate in Health and Wellness Coaching with Business Pathway (PCBP).  We love helping people learn to coach. And we have recognised the need for support in setting up our own business for some time. We have provided the Passion to Profit program almost as an add-on for people who finished the training and then realised they ill-equipped to actually make money from coaching.

So, we decided that we would combine all our programs and offer an inclusive “journey” that guided people along the path to becoming a proficient and effective health and wellness coach but at the same time, kept their eye on the end game – how they would make this work for them as a business.

To date, we have had a great reception to our PCBP and we can’t wait to work with the people who have enrolled at the start of this year.

View the details on our Professional Certificate program here.

We are also looking forward to Lea’s professional development webinar which she will hold later in the year when she will help our coaches learn how to “talk about the money”.  In this sense, when our clients present finance as the biggest obstacle and which we so often skirt around!  Watch this space.

You can get in touch with Lea at: lea@leaschodel.com

Why Measure Happiness?



We often use the terms wellbeing and life satisfaction in favour of the sometimes wrongly interpreted label of “happiness”, yet there is no getting away from the fact that happier people do better in life – on many fronts! But first, how do we measure happiness? There are two commons ways of measuring “happiness” – firstly, subjective wellbeing – people are asked about the degree of life satisfaction they experience and this is matched with a high level of positive emotions and a low level of negative emotions. This is more about a snapshot at any one time. The second way is of a more enduring measure – how much fulfillment we are getting from our relationships, how much meaning we are experiencing in our life and whether we feel we are developing as a person. 

So when we have this “score” what correlating relationships do we then look for?  Well, research has shown that happier people experience the following:

  • Greater productivity at work;
  • Greater creativity;
  • Higher earning and better jobs;
  • More likely to be leaders;
  • More satisfying relationships;
  • Better overall health;
  • More likely to be helpful and generous.
Sonja Lyubomirsky presented at a Coaching conference in September this year and emphasised that the research also showed that happier people tend to be more focused on others, and sadder people more focused on self.  We might question which comes first, for example, if we are not experiencing good health, then surely we will be unhappier.  However, Sonja described a study which exposed people to the cold virus (after measuring their happiness levels).  The virus was actually injected into their nasal passages. And guess what? The happier people were less likely to develop a cold. This gives weight to the notion that happiness is the cause rather than the effect of all these other positive factors.  

So we know that around 40% of our overall happiness can be influenced by the activities we do.  (The other 60% is either genetically determined – 50%, or linked to our circumstances.)  What are those activities?   Well there are many but here are a few tried and tested:

  • Express gratitude;
  • Be physically active;
  • Be mindful and savour experiences;
  • Practice forgiveness;
  • Set life goals;
  • Perform acts of kindness (make someone else happier).
The important thing also to note is that the activity needs to be a good “fit” for the individual. It needs to fit your personality, culture, and even strengths and what might work well for one person may not work for another. We need to remember this when working with clients and at times help them find the source of their unhappiness and come up with an activity that will counteract this.

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 Prison of Perfectionism


How many clients do we work with who admit to being perfectionists? (Often said quite wryly but we can sense the pride behind the statement.) It’s as if they know they are trying to achieve impossible goals yet are upholding a value that often defines them. So we get this sense of conflict which so often happens with our client. They know it’s unrealistic to expect to be perfect all the time but they’re driven by an internal measure. I.e. their heart dictates the value. Sometimes perfectionism comes described as being an  “all or nothing” person. Unless they totally give something up, they can’t cut down, they have to embrace change completely or they won’t bother taking the first step. 

Sound like perfectionism?  It is

Perfectionism has been linked to a wide array of mental health issues – depression and anxiety being the most common.  Instead of thinking it as a virtue, we need to think of it is a form of vice – or a prison that keeps us locked into unrealistic expectations - that we will never fulfill.

There is a better approach. moving from perfectionism to optimalism. Optimalists also strive for success for they are “more flexible, resilient and adaptive in the pursuit of their goals”, according to Tal Ben-Shahar.

So what’s the difference between an optimalist and a perfectionist? Here are a few, Which do you lean towards?  
  • Perfectionists have a fear of failure – optimalists view failure as feedback
  • Perfectionists are defensive – optimalists are open to suggestions
  • Perfectionists look for faults – optimalists look for bright spots
  • Perfectionists are rigid and inflexible – optimalists are adaptable and flexible
One of the most debilitating characteristics of perfectionists is their tendency to procrastinate – simply because unless they can do something perfectly, they hesitate to begin or to do it at all. They freeze. 
 
“Don’t let great get in the way of good” is an excellent mantra for these people.

So what do we do with clients who are perfectionists?

As coaches when we work with perfectionists we encourage the idea of setting goals as “experiements”.  As something they can learn from.  If we set them up in this way, they are more likely to enter the journey willingly and with a better attitude.  The answer to perfectionism?  Be authentic!  Be who you are, go after the things you love, use your strengths, accept your weaknesses and learn to get satisfaction from within no just from outside, i.e. other people!

How do we experience success?




Ihave often wondered why I feel uncomfortable tying the word “success” into any description of wellness coaching – after all, isn't that what people want to experience? At a recent workshop the question came up again and it gave me cause to think, read (and chat) further about the concept. What does success actually mean?  

A positive interpretation would be the achievement of any goal you set yourself.  This morning watching the German soccer team run around the pitch having won the final in the World Cup, there was no doubt that they were exhibiting symptoms of that feeling of “success”!  How proud they were. Positive emotions abounded. There was plenty of “meaning” in their efforts and they were certainly “engaged” and the shared joy which came from the “positive relationships” with team members, their coach and their fans all would have contributed to a longer lasting feeling of happiness than if the win was a rapid competition between two men with little publicity.  In this case, “success” was evident and a good thing!

But what makes me feel uncomfortable is when people are seeking “success” with their main aim to be seen to be successful by other people.  In other words an externalized recognition.  And we do see this when clients come to us to satisfy someone else’s idea of what they should look like or how they should be living. “Being successful” to me seems quite empty compared to the notion of living an enriched and fulfilling life.  

Moments of satisfaction are wonderful and even more so when we have bounced back from setbacks, yet I refer to Simon Sinek’s words that “there is often an irony to success. Many people who achieve it don’t always feel it”.

I agree that success and achievement are not the same thing. When we achieve a goal, we tick a box and feel good – for a while. We have got WHAT we wanted. Real success comes from the feeling of clarity around WHY we want it.  Back to purpose and meaning again. Our goals are milestones along the way. Ok you might say this is simply a semantic argument and I’d agree but whatever word you use, whether you see achievement and success as the same thing, be clear about the reason why we are doing what we’re doing in the first place. 

Because this is who we are.

Things that Trip Us Up


When we work with people around lifestyle changes, one of the main areas to focus on is the potential hurdles that get in the way and prevent our success. These come in many shapes and sizes and very often people mention things like lack of willpower, too little time, no support, insufficient knowledge, competing priorities etc. One that is rarely recognised and identified yet often becomes evident in our coaching sessions, is the sheer amount of “clutter” that exists in our lives! Now this may be physical clutter – ie can’t find my running shoes, clothes or hand weights in all the mass of belongings in the house, or it may be mental clutter where our minds become too full of things to remember to really make a plan that we can stick to.

I was interested to read that there is now a professional organisation who governs a new industry of professional organisers and was struck by how closely related our work would be. In today’s overwhelmingly complex life full of materialism and choices, people become frozen by indecision or lack of clarity around what they want, why they want it and how the heck to get started. And most of this is simply because their lives are full of excessive “stuff”. Hanging on to useless possessions can indicate that someone is not coping and can really bring a person down. Many times we have worked with people who want to lose weight and helped them create a plan to get their past five years tax returns lodged – before they begin to sort out the pantry!

So when you think about your unachieved goals, ask yourself? Is there any area of my life that is creating a potential block in letting me move forward? It may not be the obvious, time worn obstacles to change.

Whether you use a Wellnesss Coach, a professional organiser, or both, change takes time and energy and an impartial third party can be just the ticket!



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