Coaching acknowledges that everyone has the capability to achieve what they set their mind to is what drew me to coaching in the first place. Everyone has a potential, some of us have just enabled it more than others.

Another thing coaching taught me is that sustainable change only happens within. You might be told to do something and be successful at it for a while, but if you do not want to do it, chances are you won’t stick to it. You, and only you, decide what to do and not to do with yourself. Once you are aware of that, you will naturally shift your focus from trying to change others to better managing yourself. And a great way to do that is through self-coaching.

First, the foundation

To successfully coach yourself, there are a few things you first need to agree to.

Work on your self-awareness

There is absolutely no point in working on yourself alone if you are not aware of your reality. And by “reality”, I do not mean what you think you are or aren’t. It’s not about your perception of reality, but reality itself. Check the post on Emotional Intelligence to work on that.

Try to truthfully answer the questions below in the next 10 minutes:

  • What are your thoughts and beliefs? Why do you think what you think?
  • What are your values and how do you display them every day, regardless of how you feel?
  • What drives you?
  • Who are you?
  • What’s your purpose?
  • What do you feel, where do you feel it, and why?
  • What are your strengths? What drains your energy?
  • What can’t you do?
  • What’s going on inside of you?

If you can’t answer them quickly enough, there is absolutely no issue. It just means you might need to work a little more on your self-awareness. This series of articles might be a good starting point.

Be alone in a quiet space

It’s important that you set yourself for success by not being interrupted. You will start being in your thoughts and flow quite quickly. Distractions will break that cycle. Pick a quiet and comfortable place where you are alone. Leave your phone in another room. Tell people not to bother you. You need that moment with and for yourself.

Take (a lot of) notes

Take one of these pretty notebooks you bought one day but never used. Or take a few sheets of paper. Use a pen that is pleasant to write with. Have colored pens, highlighters, and post-its around so you can use all of them to organise your thoughts in writing if needed. The reason why writing is crucial is that your thoughts need to come out of your head. With a coach, you say things out loud to another person, which makes you accountable. When you are coaching yourself, let’s face it, it’s very unlikely that you will talk to yourself out loud. Having it in writing makes up for that lack of accountability. Whatever you thought of is there, in front of your eyes.

The step-by-step guide to self-coaching

Define your goal(s)

  1. Answer this question: What’s your goal today?
  2. Now answer: Anything else? If you have several goals, it’s okay, write them too.
  3. Then pick the one that is the most important to you today.
  4. Sart probing yourself: Why is that goal important? What does it mean to you?

Work on your success criterias

Like in a real coaching session, once you’ve narrowed down your goal, list your success criterias for this self-coaching by answering these questions:

  1. How will you know this self-coaching is successful?
  2. How will you know you’ve achieved the goal?
  3. What does success look like?

What you want here is to spend some time to write a specific goal (think SMART) that you’re going to reach at the end of the session. Once your goal is defined, kick-off the exploration with this question: What needs to happen?

Ask yourself the right questions

It’s about what questions you ask, and what they draw from you.

The form

This will be the hardest part and will require a bit of preparation beforehand. Leave this page open to guide you through the process but also find good questions, like:

  • Is there anything else about X?
  • Is there a relationship between X and Y?
  • What happens next?
  • What happens just before X?
  • Where could X come from?

Check these other questions and pick the ones you want. Go with your instinct.

The substance

Good questions will be the ones that draw thoughts from you, make connections within, increase self-awareness, make you deal with your emotions, empower you, and bring you closer to your goals. Nothing less, nothing more. Do not worry so much about how you phrase these questions, the most important is what you actually answer.

Repeat until it feels enough

Ask, answer, write, draw, ask, answer, write, draw, ask, answer, write, draw. You got it. Repeat until you’ve explored everything you could, and even more. You will know when it’s time to stop, that is when you have answered how to get to your goal based on your success criterias.

List the followup actions and summarise your learnings

When you feel like you’ve arrived to the end of the session and you have a clear idea on how to get where you want, take a moment to list all the action items you need to followup with in chronological order, starting by the one you need to do first. Add a deadline while you’re at it. Then go back to your notes to read them again. Is there anything you could add to your list of actions? What strikes you the most? What did you learn from this exercise? Take a moment to reflect on what you just did. You can be proud.

Share it with others. Or not. Do what you want.

One last optional step is to share the process of self-coaching or talk to your closest friends about what you are now so close to achieve. It will be another way to make yourself accountable. However, like in a coaching session, what is said (or written) is confidential, so you can keep it to yourself if you feel like it. There are no rules here. I would just advise you to keep the notes in a safe place where you can find them if needed. You decide the rest.