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The 3 Personal Growth Strategies This Life Coach Recommends To Every Single Client

Daniel Dowling
May 7, 2017
Daniel Dowling
By Daniel Dowling
mbg Contributor
Daniel Dowling is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in Albuquerque, New Mexico.
Photo by Twenty20
May 7, 2017

You read mbg articles because you love self-improvement. It might be something you’ve picked up this year, or you might be an old pro. So, you've either asked yourself this question already, or you're about to start.

Do I need a life coach?

You might think there are lots of factors to consider, but it's a lot simpler than that. The answer, unequivocally, is yes. No doubt. One hundred percent of us need a life coach—and if you don’t get one, you’re not going to become the person you want to be. Straight truth.

If any of this sounds like a massive pitch for coaching services, just hear me out. I said everyone needs a life coach, yes. But not everyone needs to hire one.

In fact, a good 90 percent of you reading this are perfectly equipped to become the best coach you could possibly have. There are, however, a few factors that might make a professional coach a better investment for you:

1. A pattern of failure in self-coaching:

If you’ve tried your damnedest for over a year, you may need some professional guidance to break out of that pattern.

2. An extremely busy schedule:

People with extremely busy schedules often need an objective presence to help them prioritize.

3. A codependent relationship:

Codependent partners tend to fall to their lovers’ level without some outside help.

The rest of you can (and will) succeed as self-coaches by using the tips in this article. But let's go back a few years.

When I was 24, if anyone needed to hire a coach, you’d think it would’ve been me.

I'd just dropped out of college—the latest notch in my record of failures and forfeits. I’d also dropped out of the Army, and high school before that—not to mention quitting every job I’d ever had. The one thing I hadn’t dropped out of was life itself—which I had considered.

I’d never been into self-help before. I thought it was for losers. But when I found myself sleeping on my mom’s couch for two years, jobless, and arguing with my little sisters over who’d clean up after the dog that weekend, I decided that I was kind of already a loser, and a little self-help couldn’t really make it worse.

So, I read a book. I listened to a couple of audio presentations. I took notes on how to coach myself, and I began implementing the little strategies I learned from experts, bit by bit. I’d never succeeded at anything before. But with the right tools, it was only a matter of time before I rewrote my life’s script.

A month after starting my self-improvement journey, I made my first thousand bucks as a writer—my dream profession. Six months later I’d gotten my first full-time job writing and was slowly shedding the toxic thoughts that had dictated my life. A year and a half later I was independent for the first time in my life, and the clinical anxiety and depression I'd had just a year before had been replaced by writing about my triumphs. Over three years into that journey, I now support myself by helping coach others to success in their relationships, careers, and personal lives.

I might’ve progressed more rapidly had I hired a coach, sure. But it was more important for me to do it myself.

If you want to become your own coach today, start with these three self-coaching strategies:

1. Create a success routine.

Success routines are the cornerstone of any personal coaching method. They prime your brain to think and act successfully. And even when you’re feeling your worst, committing to these routines will help you automatically tap into the higher mindset you need to have your best day possible.

Before I made my own success routine, I’d get sucked into emails and social media and I’d never make it out of my hole before the end of the day; I just kept digging. But when I started making time for meditation and affirmations first thing in the morning, then exercise, followed by planning out my goals for the day, and finally writing for a few hours before checking any kind of media, my life changed instantly and indelibly.

So, to become your own coach, you’ve got to come up with a confidence-boosting, creativity-enhancing routine—one that you can stick to every day for the rest of your life.

Include exercise, affirmations, visualization, goal-setting, and creative work for the best results. Because once you win the morning, you’ve won the day.

2. Eliminate low-value habits.

The more unconscious habits you have—checking Facebook, email, texts, news, etc.—the less time and focus you have to kick ass with and to live the life you love. That was definitely true in my case.

A year into my self-improvement journey, I couldn't have accomplished 5 percent of the things I do now. That’s because I still had a dozen disempowering habits that I hadn’t eliminated yet. All my writing and personal goals were competing with the instant gratification of social media.

I was still living with my parents despite making money as a writer, and I knew I could do better. So, I brainstormed all the habits that were holding me back from the results that I wanted—email, texting, social media, and TV all had to go.

Within six months I’d upped my game (and income) enough to move out and be my own man. It wasn’t magic, either—it was math. If I cut out this amount of time-wasting habits I'd have that much more time to work toward my goals, thus achieving them that much faster. Simple.

So, decide today which habits you’ll eliminate completely and which you’ll limit strictly. Facebook is my bane, so I recommend cutting it out entirely throughout the week. Texting also sends me into a K-hole, so I recommend turning off your phone until after dinner and only checking it once when it's on.

Remember that news isn’t really news: The world is always ending, terrorists are always terrorizing—so cut that out, too. Choose one trustworthy source where you can get your daily digest, catch up once a day at a time that doesn't cut into your productivity, and recognize that FOMO is a waste of time. (You’ll be amazed at how much happier, lighter, and more productive you are without sacrificing any amount of global awareness.) And TV—I believe there is a special spot in hell reserved for this device, given how many lives it has ruined. Quit it if you can.

Let me share an anecdote with you:

Last month I had a huge writing project that required daily morning emails. Not a big deal—I crushed the assignment. But I kept checking my email first thing in the morning, even after the assignment ended; then I’d check Facebook and my texts—to the exclusion of my success routines. Not even two weeks had passed before I’d been drained of all my confidence. So, I decided to quit Facebook and texting for a month, cold turkey, and do only one email check a day in the evening. The subsequent days and weeks were the most productive of my life.

3. Set daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly goals.

Everyone wants to improve themselves. But most people forget that the actual improvement comes not from shifting your mindset but from overcoming the obstacles standing in the way of your goals. You can’t solve a problem with the same, tired way of thinking you had before; you can’t reach a new level with the same old strategy. So, you adopt new ones. You test them out. And when you persevere, day in and day out, you become a new person. Then you reach your goals. Voilà, people.

My personal development was limited until I got disciplined in goal-setting. I couldn’t expect to grow stronger and fitter if I hadn’t climbed the mountains. And you're much better equipped to navigate rocky terrain if you've planned ahead.

So now I take a day each month to plan for the coming month, I take a couple of hours at the beginning of the week to plan for the week ahead, and I take 10 minutes to plan for the day ahead—every day. This strategy has transformed me into a goal-oriented, forward-thinking person—I’ve accomplished more in one year with this goal-setting strategy than in my entire life before. Written goals are responsible for every magazine I’ve been published in, every coaching client I’ve gained, and every financial barrier I’ve broken. To be your own coach, you need to become an expert goal-setter.

Start by reflecting on these questions:

  • What do you want your career to be?
  • What do you want your relationships to be like?
  • How much weight do you want to lose?
  • How strong and flexible do you want to be?
  • What amazing things do you want to see/experience/do in this life?
  • Where do you want to be spiritually?

After you've figured out the answers, break those dreams down into realistic steps that you can take every day, week, and month to achieve your goals.

You won’t be an expert at first, but don’t let that stop you. You’ll get better at setting and achieving your goals when you make it a habit. So, start today. Figure out what you want to do this month to move confidently in the direction of your dreams. Then figure out what you must do this week. Then pull from your weekly list to create realistic steps for each of your days.

The process is straightforward and simple. And if you commit to it for a year, you’ll be exactly who you want to be. That’s how it happened for me.

The fact is that most people can and should be their own coaches. But if you’ve tried self-coaching and haven’t been able to stick with it, or if you fall into any of the other categories mentioned, you should consider hiring a coach.

Daniel Dowling author page.
Daniel Dowling

Daniel Dowling is a freelance journalist and copywriter based in Albuquerque, New Mexico. His writing focuses on personal development and has been featured in Entrepreneur, Fast Company, and FitBit. He studied sociology and anthropology at New Mexico State University.