A Self-Help Coaching Map: Going for Your Joy

self-help coaching map

Here’s my roadmap for coaching people.

  • Part 1: Identify the current stressors in your life
  • Part 2: Articulate and set sail for your audacious long-term goal
  • Part 3: Eliminate or delegate stressful requirements
  • Part 4: Add aspirational and constructive activities
  • Part 5: Set accountability cycles and an accountability partner

self-help coaching map drawing

self-help coaching map drawing

There you go, I’ve set out the roadmap for you to seek a better and more productive life. My work here is done.

The roadmap is easy, as you know. Most of us know how to lose the extra weight we gained over the holidays. Eat less. Exercise more. Cut out snacks and desserts. And most of us don’t follow the advice we know is right and we know will lead us to a happier body. We just don’t do it. Are we lazy? Perhaps. Are we unmotivated? That’s a possibility. Or is there something else?

Big Changes Take Time and Continuous Effort

If you’ve heard that eating an apple a day is good for you, you might set out in week one to buy and eat some delicious apples. You check-in with yourself after a week and wonder, “Hmm, are these apples really good for me?” You buy another bag of apples for the coming week, but you notice by Friday you have only eaten one apple, and you’ve only got two more days of the week. It’s easy to understand that eating the other six apples over the weekend is not the objective. You cannot load all of your apples into one week a month. And you might not see immediate results. But inside, your body is being nourished by the daily apple, even if you can’t directly feel it. Self-care and self-awareness are the same way.

If you want to change jobs, for example, in most circumstances this process will happen over a number of months, rather than days. And it’s the incremental effort you can contribute to each day, along this process, that will give you additional information, feed your enthusiasm for what’s next, and perhaps start on the training process for a new system you’d like to work with. And, let’s say you want to get that new job in New York City. An additional layer of inquiry is required: living expenses, moving, neighborhoods, schools (if you have kids), etc.) In order to align yourself with the BIG GOALS you first have to know what they are.

Once you have set a few long-term life goals you can begin to take small steps towards achieving them. Many of us don’t take the time to set these goals, and our lives become a series of cycles between enthusiasm and energy to burnout and exhaustion. We’re not getting any closer to our goals because we’re not really sure what they are. Survival is not a very aspirational goal. I know some of you are in survival mode, and this is the good news, you can begin making changes in your life, right now. One change. Taking a walk in the afternoon rather than gulping down another cup of coffee. Even a 15-minute walk will give you a few breaths of fresh air. Do it. Give yourself a small gift. A gift that moves your life towards love, optimism, self-care, and feeling strong again.

Blocking and Tackling

There are going to be times in your life that are chaotic. As a parent of small children, much of the elementary years are a blur of appointments, birthday parties, vacations, sick days, and playdates. It’s okay when your life gets a little overwhelming when you allow your focus to narrow down to your role as a parent. BUT… There’s more. Even as an overwhelmed single parent, I was able to begin adding healthy breaks into my routine. At an office job several years ago, I began taking coffee walks instead of coffee breaks. I’d make my mid-morning coffee and I’d go outside and walk around the building a few times before returning to my desk. I would try to make note of any birds I saw, unique clouds, smells, flowers, animals. The point was, I was beginning to add a little break for myself. It didn’t take much effort to add this in, but it did add a bit of joy to my stressful day.

Are there parts of your everyday activity load that you can let go of? Do you need to be the kid’s sports team captain next year? Would it be nicer just to show up to the games and not have to plan or manage them? Can you add in an afternoon of downtime for yourself? It might seem impossible to stop and not do chores, not clean, not fold clothes, but can you take a bath on a Saturday afternoon while your kids are at friend’s houses? Can you take a nap? Read a book that feeds your soul?

Energy Is Everything

When you don’t take time to nurture yourself, when you burn the candle at both ends and in the middle, your body will push back with illness, exhaustion, and feelings of hopelessness. When you are well-rested and able to put a bit of your attention to your long-term goals, you begin to feel more energetic. As you take one step towards the new idea, your heart will feel the shift, you can feel your entire body lean-in towards the “YES” of the goal-work. You have to be willing to listen to your body. When you are tired, you are getting the message that you may be overdoing it.

What kinds of activities support your energy? Getting plenty of rest. Drinking less or no alcohol. Eating healthy food. Finding an exercise that feeds both your muscles and your happiness. As you begin to feel the positive effects of these small shifts towards a healthier lifestyle you will notice yourself wanting more of the good stuff. Positive energy, positive activities, give your body and your brain hope for growth and the energy to achieve your long-term goals. If you feel your body and your soul, and point your available free time towards your aspirational goals, you will start to feel the shift. Your inner-self will start to glow and resonate with the idea that “maybe that goal IS achievable!” That’s the shift we’re looking for in coaching.

Aligning Your Actions with Your Intentions

Knowing what your long-term goal is (example: being in a healthy and happy loving relationship) you can start shifting energy and attention towards making your goal happen. If finding the relationship is the goal, you can start exploring activities beyond swiping and liking, and go out and find activities that you love to do. Perhaps your next partner is also doing those things. When you find a bit of energy for and towards your goals, you will gain momentum. You will gain insights as you start researching your project, meeting people, asking questions, journaling about your experience.

All of your actions during the day have a micro-influence on your trajectory. If you begin to refocus some of those decisions and actions towards your goal, you will be starting to adjust your flight path in the right direction. Make note of how your energy lights up when you put time into your new direction. The fuel is inside you, to achieve anything you set your sights on, is all about intention and action.

Set your intentions towards your long-term goals whenever possible. Use your actions to feed the energy and momentum of your progress along the path. Keep turning towards your goals and away from things that distract and detract from your plan. If you can find a partner who is willing to check in with you from time to time on accountability, you may find that helps keep you redirecting unhealthy habits back towards what is more likely to bring you positive energy and results.

You can’t eat all 30 apples in one weekend. You can’t reset all of the priorities and activities in your life in one weekend, or one coaching session. You can begin the process today. Then give yourself permission, every day, to realign a bit of your energy and action towards what’s most important in your life. This is where you will find happiness along the way, as you refind your purpose in life, and find the joy of heading in the right direction.

As a certified life coach, I can help you set your roadmap and make plans to get there.

Always Love,

John McElhenney – life coach austin texas
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