If you are anything like me, you’ve read dozens, possibly hundreds, of self-help books. Whether it’s older books like the 7 Habits of Highly Successful People and Think & Grow Rich, or newer books like You Are A Badass — there are plenty of books on personal development. Devouring them helps us make steady changes in life.
However, you may still find that you haven’t found what you are looking for. Perhaps you are wondering — “ why is this not working?” I’m here to tell you — unless you make some fundamental changes, rather than simply surface changes — nothing will change.
If nothing changes, nothing will ever change.
Most of us desire change in our situation — but we are hesitant to make fundamental changes. We want our relationships to improve- but we won’t risk losing the relationship by changing. We want our life to change, but we only make timid tweaks to it. Perhaps, even, we want our health to improve, but we cannot seem to get up earlier to do exercise.
What change have you been waiting to see happen in your life, without having made the necessary changes?
Why do we focus on personal development and self-help?
I started down the road of self-improvement to learn effectiveness, improved focus, and leadership skills. You might be looking for that, or perhaps any of the following:
- a sense of direction
- better connection and improved relationships
- self-awareness and identity
- motivation and seeing things through
Overall, self-help and self-improvement books teach you a lot, opening up the possibilities for future change.
Learning personal development
- humility — the more you know, the more you recognise the little you truly know. There is always room for more study and reflection. I don’t know about you — but there was also great joy in learning!
- the power of perception and questioning the lens I looked through. Changing a perspective, looking at a situation through another viewpoint, allows us to consider that there are other options we had not previously considered.
- responsibility for only myself — a deeper understanding that the only person that I can control — or decide for — is me. You cannot control or change another person. But any time you change — the relationship and dynamic changes! So, if I want a relationship to change — I must change. The other person may — or may not — like these changes.
- crucial conversation skills — even through self-help books I learned a lot about difficult conversations. This includes conflict resolution skills.
- prioritising — learning to identify in your life what is important and making sure that you are putting that first in your schedule. Time blocking and focusing your energy on that one thing. Productivity can be learned and improved.
- self-compassion — learning to love and accept yourself. Just as you are today! And through this lesson, we learn that happiness comes from acceptance of the circumstances of the present moment. Rather than living in the future, we begin to focus our energies on the present. This is truly loving yourself!
- the importance of relationships and appreciation for those we have supporting us!
Where does self-help fall short?
Personal development took me to a place where I could play on my strengths, rather than trying to make up for my weaknesses.
At the same time, have they totally transformed my life?
Because I didn’t put it all into practice! I read it. Related to it. Learned it (head knowledge). But I failed to put it all into action.
Self-help falls short when we want to continue feeling safe in our comfort zone. A little like the African proverb:
When you pray — move your feet!
A great example that I can give from my personal life: I was constantly feeling overwhelmed, so I became an expert in scheduling — prioritising and time-blocking!
In fact, some of the resources that I now give away are all about scheduling and making better use of your time! But what I failed to do was remove things from the schedule.
I was busy being busy. Feeling important and still overwhelmed.
I didn’t want to learn how to say “no” because I was scared of hurting people’s feelings.
Self-help to feel better
Reading self-help books might make you feel better — “Se e I’m not the only one with this challenge” — while allowing you to continue exactly where you are!
So, you may be busy trying to make minor adjustments to the life you have, rather than creating the life you want. You journal occasionally with the prompts. Then, you say the affirmation for one day, not thirty. With another book, you think about the conversation you should have, but never actually have that heart-to-heart talk your relationship so desperately needs.
Undoubtedly, you are avoiding the pain of change or the risks of stepping beyond your comfort zone.
But your goals and achievements, lie in the transformation that will happen — and it may be uncomfortable as you learn the skills necessary to achieve that!
Additionally, you may lack the support necessary to take risks — to become uncomfortable in the “ I don’t know what I don’t know “. Who can you admit this to when your life looks picture-perfect to your friends and family? Who can you admit to that things are not as good as they seem?
What changes will coaching help focus on that self-help books couldn’t?
Although it’s true that a coaching session can help you look inward, that is not the primary goal or purpose of coaching. This is not therapy. We are not looking to revisit the past (unless it’s specifically to overcome something for moving forward). And while we will plan for the future, the primary focus will be on your power and responsibility in the present moment.
Refining and identifying your dreams and goals
Through coaching, you will not simply talk about “well, I’d like to…” — but we will get clarity about what you are actually committed to doing. We will use mBIT (multiple brain integration techniques) coaching for this: head, heart & gut. This means acknowledging your desires and emotions, and how you feel; then starting from a place of self-compassion.
When you truly love yourself, what do you want and desire for yourself and your family?
We then allow your analytical and logical mind to step in and brainstorm ideas and ways that this could be created. What options are available to you that could bring this into being? What steps and plans would need to be made?
Before we say “yes, this is the plan” — we would also check in with your gut-brain — do you feel safe with this plan? In coaching sessions, we would take the time to overcome any anxiety or doubts that you have about these desires and ideas.
Finally, when you feel completely aligned — that you have reached a place of inner wisdom and knowing, we would come back to planning and implementation. At this stage, we can identify your priorities and work out scheduling (which, by the way, I am really good at!).
One of the realities with any desires or goals is that there may be delays or obstacles. There might be skills you need to learn. You may need to get resources together or even ask for help.
One of my jobs as a coach is to assist you in identifying the tools and the people that you will need to involve. We will also prepare you for any critical conversations that you need to have so that you feel ready (even if slightly out of your comfort zone), to have those conversations.
When you encounter an obstacle, we will discuss how to get around the problem or “stuckness”. Coaching helps you keep moving forward — in the present — rather than stopping and thinking it’s insurmountable.
The plan may change and adapt — but the goal remains the same.
Accountability: your self-esteem and self-worth grows
One of the reasons that coaching is more effective than trying to do this “on your own” is the factor of accountability. At the end of each session, you will go away with commitments — and check-ins to ensure that you are on track.
As you see yourself keeping your word and your promises — actually living up to what you said you would do — you will notice how your self-esteem and confidence grow.
One of the primary causes of losing self-confidence is that we no longer believe ourselves when we say we will do something! As you begin to keep the small promises to yourself, you will notice how you begin to trust yourself once again!
Addressing habits, thought patterns, and time-wasters
Finally, as we work through your self-awareness, we will bring to the surface the thought patterns, habits, and time-wasters that you hadn’t realised were slowing your progress down.
One of the biggest benefits of coaching is that someone else is looking at your blindspots and asking the questions that you don’t even know to ask yourself! We will consider habits that served you well in the past that are no longer working at this stage. That way, you can unlearn those strategies and learn new ones that can move you towards your present goal.
Originally published at https://bethgray.coach on August 9, 2019.