Self-coaching for awareness and inspired action


Photo credit: Doug Kline/flickr/Creative Commons

Self-coaching helps me to:

  • explore how I feel about a situation
  • identify what I can and can’t change
  • identify actions I can take
  • reconnect with why I’m staying in a situation when it feels tough
  • see when a situation no longer matches my values
  • explore a creative idea or character, bringing them to life
  • get unstuck
  • identify who can help me get unstuck
  • see from someone else’s perspective as well as my own
  • set goals and first tiny steps

Self-coaching does everything that a coaching relationship does but without the mirroring that a coach brings; there is reflection but there are blind spots, which a coach could hold up for exploration, so self-coaching is really useful and less powerful than being coached.

Self-coaching arose during Morning Pages many years ago. Morning Pages, basically, is a tool for listening to yourself, warts and all: first thing in the morning you take half an hour to write whatever comes into your head onto three sheets of A4. I’ve used this tool off and on since 2007.

As I wrote my Morning Pages, it occurred to me that if I was coaching me, I would ask a certain question in relation to what I was writing, so I decided to switch into Coach mode to ask myself the question, and then switch back to think about and answer the question. Self-coaching became a regular occurrence and also happened when not writing. Self-coaching is very useful when you don’t have a coach to hand.

So, how do you do it? Here’s an example of when I self-coached myself around what sort of van I’d like:

Coach-me: What would you like from this session?

Me: I’d like to get a bit closer to what sort of van I’d like.

Coach-me: A bit closer to what sort of van you’d like.

Me: Yes. At the moment I know I’d like it to be my creative cave, a space where I can go off for weekends by myself and see what happens.

Coach-me: See what happens?

Me: Yes. I don’t want to put pressure on myself to come home with a perfect creation. I  might come back with nothing. I might go and climb somewhere.

Coach-me: So the van you’d like is your creative cave where you may or may not create something and you may use it to go climbing somewhere.

Me: Yes.

Coach-me: And what else?

Me: I could visit friends and relatives in it. I could attend events in it. I could travel around Europe in it.

Coach-me: A versatile van.

Me: Yes.

Coach-me: And how close are you to knowing what sort of van you’d like?

Me: I don’t know. Not close at all. There are the main contenders – Mercedes Sprinter, VW T4, Ford Transit, and lesser known to me: Renault, Citroen Berlingo, or there are vans that are already kitted out, like camper vans, but I don’t really like their aesthetic.

Coach-me: So you’ve researched vans and campers and you know you don’t like camper aesthetics.

Me: No.

Coach-me: What do you like?

Me: I like VanDogTraveller’s van. It’s nice but it’s his. And I want mine.

Coach-me: And what is ‘mine’ like?

Me: Cosy, comfy. Nooks and crannies. Knotted wood. Things stuck to surfaces. Pretty. Nice colours. Teal. Wood. Not modern looking. More, well, like it’s grown into place, like a fairy tale. It doesn’t have to be real wood. It could be painted onto the surfaces. I want to feel like it’s a room inside the Magical Faraway Tree.

Coach-me: A room inside the Magical Faraway Tree. What sort of van would provide space for that?

Me: Something that I can climb into – like a hidey hole, and that I can make bigger when I need to cook – so it could have a pop top roof. A VW T4. I did some research into those and they’re quite robust and reliable. And I’ve found one on Gumtree that’s nearby. I spoke to a mechanic about it and he’s willing to check it out with me but something is holding me back.

Coach-me: A room inside the Magical Faraway Tree is like a hidey hole and a VW T4 could provide that and room for cooking with a pop top roof. Sounds like you’ve identified the sort of van?

Me: Yes, I think so. I just need to look at it and test drive it and see what it feels like. And sell my motorcycle.

Coach-me: And sell your motorcycle?

Me: Yes. I don’t know where I’d park the van. I could give up the motorcycle and the garage and get a parking space instead. I haven’t ridden my motorcycle for a while. Just to Boulder Brighton. I’m not into it any more.

Coach-me: So, we’ve moved from identifying the sort of van you’d like to practicalities of where to park it, what to do with your motorcycle. How are these related to knowing what sort of van?

Me: Well, I guess it relates to how much money I can spend. If I sell the motorcycle I can spend more money.

Coach-me: And if you spend more money?

Me: I might get a better van.

Coach-me: And what kind of van is a better van?

Me: One that is mechanically sound and structurally sound and maybe has a roof in already. I feel like the first thing to do is make an advert for my motorcycle that is a good price – priced to sell – and then I’ll have a bit of money to play with. If I go to see this van and it’s mechanically and structurally sound and the mechanic gives it the okay then I’ll want to buy it and I don’t have the full amount yet.

Coach-me: And you don’t have the full amount yet. And can you secure the van without the full amount?

Me: I guess I could offer a deposit and ask family for a loan. I could ask before arranging to see the van. And I could place the motorcycle advert before arranging to see the van.

Coach-me: And we are prioritising actions.

Me: Yes.

Coach-me: Where are we in relation to knowing the sort of van?

Me: I have an idea and a possible van to look at and before that I need to do a couple of things in relation to finance.

Coach-me: And what might get in the way of those things?

Me: The tedium of writing an advert. But I really want a van and when I think of it, it inspires me (and scares me a little). And asking family for a loan might be annoying for them. I have a current loan but it could be tacked on the end and I could pay it off quicker, but that’s not guaranteed.

Coach-me: What would inspire you to take these actions?

Me: When I think of going off for weekends in the van to create or climb or visit people. Having my things around me, like my coffee pot and food and puppet stuff or whatever materials I bring. I don’t think it’s the van I’ve seen advertised. I want a white van that doesn’t look like it’s being used as a camper.

Coach-me: Ah. That’s a turnaround.

Me: Yes. I don’t want to rush either and make an expensive mistake. I want to save and sell my motorcycle and then buy a van. I’m in conflict actually. I want a van now. And I want to have the money for it. My family were kind to lend me the money for the motorcycle and I don’t want to offend them or seem scatty.

Coach-me: And you want a van now. And your family might help and you don’t want to ask them.

Me: They could say no. That’s okay. Then I’d know. It’s information. They know I’m reliable at paying back.

Coach-me: They could say yes. What then?

Me: Then nothing stands between me and getting a van.

The self-coaching session took place at the beginning of the week and I took both actions shortly after. I now have a loan in principle and I sold my motorcycle to someone very lovely.

Coaching, whether yourself or an other, is about listening well and asking questions. I will explore the elements of listening well and asking questions in future blog posts.

What do you think about the self-coaching process?

What do you use to move yourself to action?

Discover Your Inner Resources for a Positive Stronger You Pilot Workshop

photograph of donut sculpture and Brighton Pier by Veronica Tapp

Veronica Tapp and I have been working together to create a workshop: Discover Your Inner Resources for a Positive Stronger You. We’re using Clean Language Questions and self-development exercises and games to explore your inner resources. And there will be tea and cake. What more could you want?

We’re offering this workshop to you at a very low price (£5) in exchange for your feedback so that we can develop it further. It takes place on Saturday 8th July 2017 from 14:00 till 17:30 in Brighton, East Sussex, UK. If you love self-development and / or have some kind of challenge to prepare for that will require you to dig deep, then this is for you. To book your place, click here.

How to instantly transform your life with the Wheel of Life

Using a Wheel of Life not only allows you to see your current levels of fulfilment, but also gives you insights into how you can instantly transform your life with small actions. The Wheel of Life can be used once or often; you might use it at the beginning of a coaching relationship to ascertain areas you’d like to work on. I use it a few times a year and it’s nice to look back on them and see what’s different and what’s the same.

How to use the Wheel of Life

The middle of the circle counts as zero. The outer rim of the circle counts as 10. Label each section for an area of your life. I used “fun”, “health”, “money”, “work”, “friends”, “spirituality”, “family” and “romance” as my labels. Now ask yourself how fulfilled you feel for each section on a scale of 0 to 10, 0 being not fulfilled at all, 10 being completely fulfilled, and mark the segments accordingly. Here’s mine:

Now you can ask yourself some coach-ey questions:

  • What do you notice about your wheel?
  • Which segments, if any, share the same number?
  • Pick a segment and ask what makes it that number and not the number below it?
  • What would it be like if one segment increases by 1? How would it affect the others?
  • Which section(s) affect(s) all the others?
  • What other questions would you like to ask yourself?

I wrote my questions and answers down, and gave myself a self-coaching session by doing so. I came away with an instant action of phoning my Aunt, some insights into how mindfulness (which is my version of spirituality) affects all the other areas, and a reframe of my perception of interruptions at work, which felt inspiring and exciting.

What happens if an area of your life has a zero? Well, it depends… What might the zero mean to you? If you could change it, what would it be like? How does the zero benefit you?

You can use the Wheel of Life alone, with a coach, or with friends. As I sat to draw my Wheel of Life, my friend, Jane, arrived and I invited her to join me in the exercise. I asked her a few coach-ey questions once she’d drawn hers. Jane remarked on the process:

it’s very revealing and very quickly identifies areas of possibility and areas of life that need work. There are a lot of good things to work on. You can do this in 45 minutes and go away with a diagnosis and a prescription as well. It’s very powerful.

Although Jane had the benefit of my coaching experience, you can totally get some insights and actions doing the Wheel of Life alone. You can download a FREE blank Wheel of Life in PDF format here: wheel_of_life_blank. If you feel like sharing your Wheel of Life with me, I’d love to see it.


What’s your experience of using the Wheel of Life?