The powerful transformation that successful life coaches achieve with their clients can seem almost magical. People can find new goals, new inspiration, and the ability to overcome obstacles that seemed insurmountable before.
But while the effect that good life coaches have on their clients can seem mesmerizing to someone outside of the field, coaches know that a lot of the success comes down to the types of life coaching tools that the coach has at their disposal.
These tools, which could also be called methods or exercises, allow a coach to approach each client with the same consistency, finding common themes and patterns that provide helpful insights and solutions that are the most likely to deliver the desired results.
And the good news is that even if you don’t have a lot of coaching experience, you can take advantage of these tools used by some of the leading life coaches today.
But to really understand how these tools play into helping your clients, we must first define what life coaching is and the essential aspects of effective life coaching.
What is Life Coaching?
Life coaching is the process of helping people transform their lives and unlock their full potential. When you’re a life coach, your clients will expect you to guide them through challenges, help them crystalize the most important goals in their life, and achieve greater overall fulfillment in everything they do.
And those are big responsibilities, even for a life coach with a solid track record and a wealth of knowledge. But the best coaches are able to provide consistent results for clients from a variety of backgrounds, identifying the right path to move forward and inspiring the person to take charge of the change in their lives.
While the life coach can’t do all the work for the client, they tend to have the right tools for nudging the person forward and ensuring that they gain and maintain the momentum necessary to achieve transformative results.
The process can be challenging, but it’s also incredibly rewarding for the client and the coach. And that’s why life coaching is one of the fastest-growing fields in coaching, as it encompasses so much and touches on all aspects of a person’s life, which is a career that offers amazing satisfaction and the ability to contribute to the better lives of countless people.
The Essentials of Effective Life Coaching
Because life coaching encompasses so many aspects of a person’s life, there are also many essential qualities that a life coach must have if they are going to be successful.
The good news is that almost anyone can develop or enhance these qualities and skills to become a better coach, teacher, and motivator to their clients.
Let’s look over some of the most important skills you should have as a life coach below.
If you’ve ever held one-on-one coaching sessions, you know how quickly they can turn negative. As the clients unravel their situation and go through the challenges they face, many tend to dwell on their problems and take a negative attitude towards their situation.
And while that’s a completely natural reaction that you shouldn’t judge, that doesn’t mean that you should actively participate in it or encourage it, either. In fact, if you want to ensure that the client keeps moving forward, you must do everything in your power to cut the self-pity sessions short and turn them in a more positive direction.
But for that to happen, you must have the ability to remain positive and decisive even in situations where others would struggle to find hope. That requires the ability to find hope and inspiration in any circumstances, shedding new light on the challenges your client is facing, and getting them to believe that not all hope is lost and that they can find a way to move forward.
That ability to inspire might end up being the most important quality you can develop because it can trigger a response from the client and get them to take action.
You can only help your clients if you’re able to listen to what they have to say. And in the context of coaching, it’s not just hearing the words they are saying but also understanding the tells and underlying messages behind those words, which usually reveal the true meaning and the real obstacles that prevent the client from overcoming the situation.
Great coaches are able to identify the biggest points of emphasis from the subtlest phrases, getting to the very core of the issue at hand and showing the client how their problem can be reframed and attacked more effectively.
As a coach, you will probably find yourself in situations where you don’t necessarily agree with the choices your clients have made in the past or are making right now. But while it’s perfectly normal to have opinions, you need to remain professional and maintain a no-judgment approach when dealing with clients.
That’s the only way to ensure that they are comfortable opening up and don’t start second-guessing what they can share.
Eventually, your clients might experience growth and improve their choices or opinions, but you must allow them to have their own viewpoint without feeling pressured by you to change them. People experience the world in different ways, and coaches must be able to offer advice without judgment if they want to help clients reach their goals.
The biggest goal of any life coach is to get their clients to improve their lives for the better. But if you can’t be persistent in how you challenge your clients, it will be tough to get them to follow through on the commitments they make.
You should also be willing to challenge your clients to get to the bottom of the issues they are facing. That can result in uncomfortable and hard conversations, but the insights gained through these types of sessions can become the foundation for the transformation that follows.
In the end, coaches must be demanding because that’s a big part of why clients come to them in the first place. Sure, a big part of coaching is providing insights and sharing knowledge, but if you want your coaching practice to be more than a lecture, you must be willing to get your clients out of their comfort zone.
Finally, a coach must explain complex ideas and educate clients in a way that’s engaging, easy-to-understand, and relevant to their unique circumstances.
Even though listening is perceived to be the more important part of being a coach, you must also take what you learn about your clients’ situation and put it into context in a clear way that drives action.
And while a big part of that is the types of words you use, your communication must also carry a level of conviction and shine through body language, non-verbal cues, and even the tone you use to describe the various concepts you’re discussing.
General Life Coaching Exercises
Now that we’ve understood the essential principles behind every successful life coach, we can explore the types of tools you can use to enhance your sessions and provide more value to your clients.
These exercises have been developed and used by some of the most prominent coaches in the world. They are proven to deliver excellent results, improving your coaching sessions and making them more engaging.
The first group of exercises we cover is the visualizing exercises, which are essential for providing the client with a way to lay out their current situation in an easier-to-understand way.
The Wheel of Life
The wheel of life is an excellent exercise used not just by life coaches but by business coaches as well. It’s a perfect tool for clearly establishing the current situation in the client’s life and helping them see for themselves just how satisfied (or unsatisfied) they are with where they are right now.
To get started, draw a wheel with the most critical categories in the client’s life. In most situations, these will include:
- Significant other
- Fun and leisure
- Personal growth
- Family and friends
But if you find that your client has different or additional priorities, you can include them as well.
Then, have the client draw a line and write a number corresponding to their satisfaction in that field. This will help achieve two purposes – they will be forced to look at their lives from an objective and measurable perspective, evaluating different areas. And then, they’ll have a visual representation that will show just how lacking some of the areas are, which will serve as areas of focus.
The Life EKG
Another excellent visualization tool that helps the client better understand what makes them happy and unhappy. Although it’s very straightforward, the simple process doesn’t take away from the ability of the exercise to crystalize what really matters to the client.
The life EKG is basically a line drawn on a piece of paper, with highs and lows represented by the line cutting upwards or downwards. A neutral benchmark such as being born could be a benchmark for the middle line, and the top three highs and lows in life should be the fluctuations in both directions.
This exercise can help the client better understand what matters to them most and what has made the biggest impact throughout their lives. Sometimes, seeing these pivotal life moments lined up as an EKG is all it takes to really zero in on one’s priorities because it becomes much clearer what the person must do next.
However, for this exercise to be effective, you, as a coach, must push the client to dig deep not just for the events themselves but also for why they have such significance.
Visioning exercises are the second part of helping the client better understand themselves and what they want. But while visualizing is more about understanding the past and the present, visioning is about seeing what it would be like to live the best life you could have.
Let’s look at a few exercises that can help make that happen.
Create a Vision Board
Vision boards are one of the most highly-used tools in a coach’s arsenal. And when you consider how powerful they can be, it’s easy to understand why so many coaches use them as a central part of their process.
Basically, a vision board is a place where your clients can put together a vision for how they’d like their life to move forward. It should have goals, visual representations of things they want to achieve, and things that matter to them all in one place.
Once your clients put together the vision board, have them come back to it regularly so that they can never forget what they’re working towards and evaluate each day against whether they are getting closer to their goals.
A Day in the Life
Another excellent visioning exercise is imagining a day in your life three, five, or even twenty years from now. Although it may seem simple, this exercise can be incredibly helpful in adding layers to the dream life that your clients want to have, allowing them to create a vivid picture of what it could look like.
To go through the exercise:
- Have your clients imagine a day in the life they want to have after a certain amount of years.
- Make sure that they get into every detail, from the moment they wake up to when the day is over, going through each of the things they would like to do.
- Have them describe how each of those moments feels like and why they enjoy it.
- Finally, discuss how that could become a reality and what steps they could take to bring elements from that day into their current lives.
Immunity to Change Map
If you have a client that just can’t get to a big goal in their life year after year, the immunity to change map might be precisely what they need to finally break through the barriers that hold them back.
It’s a process that forces them to look inwards and analyze what stands in the way between them and the goal that’s so important. After all, if they still can’t find a way forward after all this time, something must be wrong.
Have the client write out the goal, the behaviors that get in the way, the underlying reasons for the self-sabotage, and assumptions that might make the person afraid to pursue the goals even though they want to.
Becoming a successful life coach comes down to not just having the knowledge of how to help clients but also having the right tools to get them moving in the right direction.
The exercises in this article will help your clients clearly understand where they are right now and where they want to go next, allowing you to offer advice on the best path forward based on their priorities.