Coaching is becoming more and more widespread. However, because the word itself is used very widely, it can be confusing to know what to expect from coaching and exactly what is meant by coaching in a specific context.

Over the coming weeks, I will clarify in a series of posts what a coaching journey is, from the perspective of the coachee, not the coach. If you are already contemplating – or will do so after reading my posts – embarking on a coaching journey, I want to guide you through one so that you know what to expect, what will happen and most importantly, how you will change for the better.

Whether coaches call themselves life coach, executive coach, career coach, well-being coach or whatever else, your journey will be similar and will involve self-learning and improvement.

The 4 stages of your journey

I have decided to break the journey into four logical stages, from start to finish. This process is based both on theoretical work by many about the coaching journey and on my own experience in my coaching practice. I will present the four stages in a linear process. However, it is likely that stages will be revisited at some points along a real journey. The journey will be the same whether your coaching is personal or is about improving your business/organisation.

1.      Realisation: I have a problem I cannot fix or a goal I cannot achieve

This stage is about realising that something has been bothering you, probably for a while and that you are now getting stuck with it, not knowing where to go to progress. The issue you have can be a known problem becoming more prominent with more negative consequences, for instance having to spend more and more time at work at the expense of your family and friends. It can be a goal you really wish you would achieve but you cannot see the steps to take to get you there. You may have tried many things, with no notable success, before considering embarking on a coaching journey. My advice is to get coaching help before the situation gets really serious and triggers feelings of frustration, anxiety, fear and even depression. Once you are aware of the situation, the earlier you decide to do something with the help of a coach, the easier it will be to implement the changes you want.

In this section on my future posts, I’ll expand on topics such as how ready you are to change; what is in your control to change and what you want to consider when choosing a coach.

2.      Awareness: I can see the situation differently

Now you have begun the coaching journey with your coach. During this stage, the coach will help you define your goals precisely, look at your situation differently and understand it at a deeper level. The focus here is on understanding enough to raise your awareness as to where the problem has originated. It is not about scrutinising your past fully, but just enough to have a clear view of the situation. I should say views of the situation. This is what this stage is important for. When you are stuck with your issue, it is usually that you keep on looking at it from the same angle and obviously come up with the same answers and results. You probably know this quote usually attributed to Albert Einstein that “Insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results.”. The coach during this stage will help you broaden your perspectives and becoming aware of all the resources you actually have, without having realising it.

In this section on my future posts, I will cover topics such as different point of views, beliefs and values and positive intent.

3.      Planning: I know what I can do now

By this stage, you have a clear understanding of your current situation and of where you want to be. You also are aware of what has been blocking you so far in achieving what you want to achieve. In this stage, you will become aware and gather the strengths, resources, experience you have at your disposal that will be useful to reach where you want to be. They usually will be from areas different from the area where the situation you want to improve with coaching is. Drawing on these strengths, resources and previous experience, you will now be in a position to create a list of options (however crazy they might seem at this point) to achieve your goal. Once you have chosen the option that is to be the most likely successful, you can plan actions and gradual steps that will each take you closer to achieving your goal. The coaching journey will take place mostly in stages 2 and 3. You will raise your awareness, decide on and take some actions, reflect on the effects on these actions – have they brought you closer to your goal? – this will in turn raise your awareness further, which in turn will help you refine your actions. It is a cyclical process until you reach the last stage of your coaching journey.

In this section on my future posts, I will cover topics such as strengths, experience, progress and celebrate achievements.

4.      I have arrived at my destination

You are here at the stage where you have achieved your stated goal and during which the coaching relationship will come to an end. For some, it will take a few sessions to reach this stage, for others it may have taken several years. It all depends on the complexity of the goal and the circumstances in which the changes to achieve the goal took place. In this stage you will reflect on what is different now that you have achieved your stated outcome for the coaching. Is it as expected? It is also the stage during which you will look beyond the stated goal. What now, where do I go? All this should be done in a positive way. The aim of a coaching relationship is to give you the tools and strengths to then go on your own, sustain and learn from what you achieved during coaching. You will, in a way, have become your own coach. It may happen that you decide to sign up for more coaching sessions, and this is fine if both you and your coach agree this is the best for you at this point in time. However, you should keep in mind that when coaching is fully successful, it is a temporary arrangement. Your coach should have brought you in a position that you feel confident and prepared to tackle your next goals.

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