5 steps to transform your life through the art of self-coaching
Written for Daily Hive by Catherine Roscoe Barr, neuroscience-based wellness coach and founder of thelifedelicious.ca
Have you ever learned something you knew could change your life for the better, but failed to take action despite feeling inspired?
I know I have. Ditto for the hundreds of clients I’ve worked with over the last 20 years.
Knowing versus doing is a conundrum that’s kept me fascinated for more than two decades, and become the focus of the work I do as a neuroscience-based wellness coach.
We all know that we should think, move, eat, sleep or connect better, but often it can feel too hard to take action (like getting out of bed early to exercise or planning healthy meals ahead of being starving and tired).
Even when we do take action, it’s hard to stay consistent over months and years.
As a coach, I’ve seen clients make progress in creating healthier habits during the time we’ve worked together, only to then hit various bumps in the road and fall right off the wagon.
I’ve done a lot of falling off the wagon too, up until the day I discovered something truly magical.
With mindful awareness and intentional action, we can rewire our brains to repel us from unhealthy habits and draw us toward healthier habits.
As a coach, I help clients change their behaviour in the short term, but I want everyone to know how to change their behaviour for the long term, by rewiring their brains – that’s why I created The Life Delicious self-coaching model.
I call my five-step self-coaching model the “Magic Formula” because it feels magical, delightful and wonderful to notice yourself transforming without the intense effort normally associated with changing your habits – and to see those changes sustained over time.
A coach helps you develop skills, enhance performance, and facilitate growth – even when you’re busy, exhausted or overwhelmed. You can be this kind of strategic cheerleader for yourself when you learn the art of self-coaching!
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Step 1: Discover – Build awareness
Invest a little time in discovering how you truly feel and what you really want, and learning something new about mental and physical wellbeing. Build inner awareness by asking questions like, “What does it feel like when I’m sedentary throughout the day, or skip meals, or get too little sleep, or snap at someone I care about?” Build outer awareness by listening to podcasts, reading books or articles, or watching informative videos, and noting what resonates most.
Step 2: Diagnose – Identify issues
Now that you’ve built more inner and outer awareness, you can better diagnose the challenges you might be facing. What boundaries do you need to create and state so that you have space to take action (e.g. I don’t touch my phone after 8 pm or before 8 am)? What barriers are in your way, preventing you from moving forward (e.g. should you invest in blackout blinds or new running shoes)?
Step 3: Prescribe – Create plan
Armed with knowledge and awareness, it’s time to create an action plan that’s both scheduled and flexible. Priorities go in your calendar, so be sure to put your healthy habits in there or else something less important might take their place! And, to be prepared for unexpected things to happen, it’s worth looking at your habits in a flexible framework that can expand or contract depending on your day (e.g. a 15-minute vs. a 60-minute run, or a two-minute vs. a 20-minute meditation) and can happen in the morning, afternoon or evening (Plans A, B and C).
Step 4: Practice — Take action
Taking consistent action requires commitment and curiosity. What’s your why? Why do you want to be well? Being well helps us feel more creative and kind, which absolutely changes the impact and influence we have on the world and those around us. Wallowing in guilt and shame is not productive. When we can look at our lives through a curious lens, we can employ gentleness, compassion and a growth mindset to help change our behaviour for the better.
Step 5: Pause — Review results and objectives
Pausing to reflect on how our choices made us feel is the most important part of this process. More than 15 years ago, thanks to the work of neuropsychologist Rick Hanson, I discovered something that changed my life forever: “You can use your mind to change your brain to change your mind for the better,” he says. This process of using your mind to rewire your brain is called self-directed neuroplasticity, takes just 30 seconds to begin working, and is made even more powerful when you follow the thinking part by writing it down, then re-reading multiple accounts of your own data. Future visioning is the practice of regularly revisiting your objectives (aka dreams) – what do you want to achieve in this lifetime, and are you moving toward those goals?
The Magic Formula is a cyclical process. Now that you’ve gone through these five steps, keep going – go deeper! Build more awareness, overcome more challenges, revise your plan, renew your commitment, and continue to review your results and objectives.
Every moment of every day presents the opportunity to change for the better. No matter what’s just happened, you can reflect on how your choices made you feel – good or bad – and use that awareness to literally change your brain to help you make better choices tomorrow. Over time, these small, sustainable shifts can completely transform your life!
To learn more, visit the Kickstarter campaign to support my new book, Feel Better Now: A Micro-Manifesto on the Life-Changing Power of Small, Simple Pleasures.