People sometimes come to me with one area of focus, but through the coaching process then discover that there are other aspects of their life or lifestyle that may be an obstacle to achieving their goals. These obstacles often have to be removed before the client can move forward on their wellness journey.
As a Health and Wellness Coach, I apply the approach proposed by Whitworth et al. (2011) who advocates that from day one, coaching should focus on the client, the agenda should be set by the client and the coaching process should be underpinned by these four cornerstones:
- Accept that the client is naturally creative and resourceful.
- Focus on the client as a whole person.
- Dance in the moment with the client by letting the client take the lead, and know when to step in to lead the ‘dance ‘ in order to move the client forward toward their vision and goals.
- Evoke transformation by coaching the client to identify their wellness life vision and personal goals to advance toward achieving it.
In this article, I share the experiences of how wellness coaching supported a client to identify a purposeful vision for their life and how together we created a client driven plan to start them on the path toward fulfilling their life vision and purpose. I will refer to the client as Gloria, but this is not their real name.
Gloria’s Case Study
Gloria is a 30 year old single female who has trained in the field of nutrition and health and is passionate about promoting healthy eating, particularly among young women. She recently established her own dietary clinic and was working on expanding this so that it becomes her full-time occupation. However, like many start ups, building a client base was slow. Therefore, to supplement her income, Gloria was also working part-time in a variety of other roles.
Gloria came to coaching because she was finding it difficult to balance the various strands of her work commitments with other aspects of her life, particularly her personal health and wellness. Although passionate about promoting the health of others, Gloria was not taking adequate care of her own health and wellness, was feeling stressed and anxious, and was not sleeping very well. While the food content of her diet was reasonably healthy, she was eating on the run and rarely took time to sit down to enjoy a breakfast, lunch or dinner. She felt guilty about the inadequacy of her diet particularly as she is in the business of promoting healthy eating.
Although she had been very physically active in the past Gloria had stopped exercising in recent months citing a lack of time as the primary reason. She was keen to build time for exercise back into her life and felt it would help relieve stress. Gloria requested to be coached around adopting a healthier lifestyle including healthy eating habits. She also wanted to meditate as she feels that this would help her manager her anxiety and stress and that it would restore some balance in her life. Gloria shared that her life is primarily work oriented but she would like more fun and perhaps a romantic relationship in the future. This was not an area she wanted to address immediately as she felt she did not have time to be in a committed relationship.
To restore balance and improve her overall wellness, Gloria identified a vision for her life and set out three initial goals to include in her Wellness Plan:
- Practice meditation 2-3 times per week
- Start running 2-3 days per week
- Improve her diet including preparing healthy meals
Gloria was anxious to increase her client base but recognized that if she did not focus on her own health and wellness she may not be able to expand her business, and ultimately it may not succeed. This was a key motivator in seeking coaching and in identifying her wellness goals. Gloria identified a small network of friends who she believed would support her to implement her wellness plan and she committed to eight coaching sessions.
Recognising and Overcoming Obstacles
Initially Gloria struggled to follow her Wellness Plan and to take action to achieve her goals. In our coaching sessions we explored this and it became apparent that the inner critic was at work and consequently Gloria had low levels of self-efficacy. I coached Gloria to recognise, refute and remove the inner critic from her day to day thoughts and to build confidence in her ability to achieve her goals.
It also became evident that Gloria was prone to procrastination and this was an obstacle to achieving her healthy lifestyle goals and in establishing an increased client base for her business. I coached Gloria to recognise when procrastination was getting in the way of her success and to identify strategies to move from inaction to action. These strategies included making a written list of actions she would take each day toward implementing her goals including practicing meditation, healthy eating and being physically active. Gloria committed to marking off each day what she had achieved from this list and identifying what had prevented her from completing other actions. At each coaching session we reviewed this list and acknowledged her achievements. Such acknowledgement is important for the client as it dis-empowers the inner critic and helps build self efficacy.
I coached Gloria around overcoming the obstacles that were getting in the way of her completing her goals and action steps. Interestingly, time was not the biggest stumbling block but rather distraction combined with procrastination. Gloria admitted that she spent a lot of time in the evening surfing the internet, sometimes up to two hours at a time. As a result, her available time to go for a run, meditate, prepare food or make new client contacts was being eroded. While she said she wanted to start exercising, meditating, preparing healthy food and make new client contacts, she found it easier to put it off, than actually get on with it. When I coached around this, it emerged that tiredness was an issue coupled with a fear of a receiving a ‘not interested’ response from prospective clients. Tiredness and fear were leading Gloria on a ‘not so merry dance’
The beauty of coaching is that the client leads the dance but the coach on occasion will have to guide them to take the appropriate steps in the ‘dance of their life’. I, as the coach, had to step in and take the lead, as the dance was going around in circles and Gloria was not achieving her desired result nor fulfilling her wellness goals. I coached Gloria to review her week, by breaking it down into daily two hour timeslots. She then identified what she was doing during these times.
This was a ‘wake up’ moment for Gloria as she began to see a pattern emerge. She had three mornings, two afternoons and five evenings each week where she had either one or two hours available that did not involve travel or scheduled work. A lot of this time was non productive and was being used for surfing the internet or watching television, and so was there to be re-claimed. This now became her ‘available’ time to focus directly on her wellness plan and to build her client base.
Gloria‘s wellness plan needed to be underpinned by her personal commitment to adopt a new time management approach. Gloria accepted that that she did not have to do everything in the evening when she was tired and so mapped out her day to include work, exercise, meal preparation, meditation and time for building her client base. She had to learn a few new dance moves in order to re-claim and re-orient her time more productively. To get her back on the ‘dance floor’, I led initially but soon, as should happen in coaching, Gloria was once again leading the dance toward balance and fulfillment.
From Procrastination to Transformation
When Gloria first came to coaching she was struggling to get motivated to engage in physical exercise, meditation and to improve her diet. She was also feeling anxious about work and money and was under pressure to source new clients for her business. Additionally, she spent a lot of time on the internet and this was distracting her from making positive changes in her life.
Although Gloria did struggle initially with implementing her wellness goals, gradually as I coached her, she began to reclaim her time, establish a satisfactory work-life balance and improve her overall health and wellness. Her diet improved, she began running four times a week and even signed up for a charity fun run. She joined a meditation and yoga group through which she gained new clients for her business and widened her social network. She also reduced her internet usage and began to use it more productively to maximize her opportunities for sourcing new clients, particularly through social media. Because Gloria has reclaimed some hours in the evenings she has more time for fun and recreation and is now more open to the possibility of dating – an unanticipated outcome from coaching!
Wellness Journey Toolkit
The wellness journey has common stages for everyone but the vision and goals are unique to each individual and the order of the stages may vary. Gloria’s wellness journey involved building the foundation for wellness and personal fulfillment using the following tools:
- Having a clear vision for what she wanted to achieve
- Identifying practical goals for how she would achieve this vision
- Tapping into the support she needed to achieve these goals and to stay on track-for Gloria this was through a Wellness Coach and friends
- Recognising the obstacles that were blocking her path to wellness and fulfilment
- Implementing strategies to overcome or remove these obstacles
- Reflecting on her progress and acknowledging her achievement regardless of how small they seemed
- Evaluating her progress at regular intervals, and changing direction or focus as necessary
This is also your toolkit to build your wellness foundation and a Wellness Coach will teach you how to use these tools to achieve higher levels of wellness and greater balance in your life. Today Gloria owns her dance moves and is blossoming in wellness. Like Gloria, this is your Time to Blossom, so contact a Wellness Coach, start using the Wellness Journey Toolkit and get into the ‘wellness groove’.
Arloski, M. (2009). Wellness Coaching for Lasting Lifestyle Change.
Whitworth et al. (2011). Co-Active Coaching – Changing Business, Transforming Lives (3rd Edition).