5 Tips to coach yourself through change

As the year draws to a close, it seems that the amount of change and uncertainty is not going to let up anytime soon. Like a surfer standing on the shore, the perfect moment to paddle through crashing white water navigating currents, tide, and wind can seem daunting. The inner chatter starts before action silences that voice, launching onto the board in a quest to get out the back into the calmer rolling swell.

I do believe despite very recent events, the ray of light at the end of this pandemic tunnel is getting brighter. My attention had recently been caught by evidence from the journal of obesity. https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/33043562/

It found that as adults, we:

. Increased consumption of junk food
. Reduced physical activity
. Achieved less sleep
. Had greater anxiety

This is especially concerning because all of the factors above are linked to make a COVID-19 outcome worse.

How can you ensure you maintain your physical and mental health habits with the start of a new normal.

The purpose of this short article is to give you five tips to coach yourself through the ever-changing normal in 2021 to help sustain higher levels of health and performance.

1) Do you have permission
How aware are you of where you’re starting? Using a combination of research from the Transtheoretical Model (TTM) and developmental psychology, we ask the question; do you have permission for this action? At some level, do you stop yourself from taking action because there is a positive intention being served in the change not happening? While the intention may be positive, the outcome may not; therefore; the strategy is arguably not working. The TTM stages:

The early-stage language will come out as: “I’d like to, I need to. At later stages, you will be in action or certainly demonstrating commitment, and that will sound more like “I choose to, I’m ready to, I am doing.”
So the first step – dial into your awareness, this is curative. Then, if you are unsure of where you may be on the change stage, listen to your self-talk about goals and note them down on paper. Catch your use of language, have you given yourself the green light toward action.

2)The thing about motivation

Motivation acts as a filter for us to process information. Which way does yours flow? Are you toward motivated or away motivated? That is, are you driven to move away from pain or toward pleasure. Chances are you might say a bit of both. When setting out a plan, aim motivation toward the pleasure you seek to gain. If away motivation is the driver, the brain gets pointed toward the problem rather than the solution. A statement such as “I don’t want to smoke anymore” points to the exact thing we want to avoid, that is, smoking. You cannot not think of something. The classic “don’t think of a pink elephant with orange spots” command – what comes into your mind’s eye? That same creature. Far more helpful for the brain /body system to be geared toward what we are looking to gain. The toward version of the smoking statement might look like this: ” I want to breathe easy when playing with my kids.” It states what you do want and focuses on a sensory-based experience that is positive.

3) Strategy

Taken from the Well-formed outcome model, I use with all clients both in business and motorsport. It serves as a facilitator of clarity. To make the changes you want, it helps if those changes are grounded in some context. When are these changes going to occur, how and with whom? How will you know you are on track? Do you have clear, measurable key performance indicator set out? If you say you want to prioritise sleep quality, how do you keep score? Do merely subjective measurements work for you, such as “I feel fresh and energised or do you choose to marry that up with some objective measure such as using a device? How do you know headspace practice is working for you? Is the inner-critic behaving, and does this reflect in your self-talk and journaling?
Future pace the change you want to see. Go forward in your mind and play out a movie of yourself having already established this new way of being. How do you walk, talk, and dress? What and who do you say no to? What are your closest friends and family saying about you?

Run your desired changes and goals through the model and discover if they stand up to the criteria and are well-formed.

4) Packed with meaning

Is the change you set out on packed with meaning and intention? Is it truly compelling? We know meaning drives performance while at the same time helping you to become crystal clear on intention.
“Energy flows where attention goes as directed by intention.” A firm intention keeps energy channelled where you want it. Without it, you become attentional. A puppy is attentional in the way it will bounce and play with one toy then hop and run over to the next toy or item of household furniture that looks more exciting. You’re not a puppy, are you?

5) Trust

Pay special attention to your successes and boot out the judgement on any setbacks. As a coach, it is critical to establish trust and rapport with clients. As you work on coaching yourself, remember to go through the process with the same level of compassion and care as a coach would have to their client.
Trust that you are always in process, continually moving. We can get trapped in a static view using static language. Discounting is the saboteur to who you are becoming. Language such as never and always will crop up here. Discounting is a typical position where we forget to step back and credit ourselves for the progress made. Instead, we focus on what hasn’t worked and why x,y, or z will never work!

Remember, change can be tricky (I use ‘can be’ because it doesn’t always have to be – a self-limiting belief to get into there for another day). Focussing on your growth, moving away from static viewpoints, and celebrating small success, you can begin to coach yourself through any endeavour in 2021—progress, not perfection.

With Force & Grace

Jake