As a Life Coach, have you ever said to a client who may be procrastinating on starting a huge goal something along the lines of:
“Imagine how you will feel in ‘X’ number of months/years when you have achieved your goal, won’t that be great?”
Only for that question to elicit little more than a shrug of the shoulders or a flat, “yeh I guess so” type of response.
If you have, you’ll know it can be a dispiriting experience because you’re expecting your clients eyes to light up and for their state to change from one of doubt and/or apathy to one of enthusiasm and being keen to act.
You may even start to question if the client has set the right goal because our big goals should excite us, right?
Well presuming you have run their goals through the core values process and made sure they are in alignment with their values (and if you haven’t then you have almost zero way of knowing if the goal is right for them) you have no need to worry about that.
It’s Not The Clients Goal That’s Wrong, It’s The Question
The problem with future pacing in this manner is that as Humans we have an exceedingly poor ability to judge how we’ll think and feel about things in the future.
We either have a tendency to think what we feel now is what we’ll feel then, or in the case of negative events, that what we don’t want to deal with now, we will want to (or feel more equipped to) deal with at a later date.
It’s why when we have just eaten a huge meal we say things like, “I cannot imagine ever eating another thing again”, because we can’t.
It’s also why alcoholics and drug addicts have no problem when they are drunk or high announcing they’ll never indulge again.
It’s because their brain is imagining the future from the situation they are in at the moment, i.e drunk or high, and it literally cannot retrieve the feelings of a hangover or withdrawal symptoms.
And if you have ever agreed to do something 6 months in the future (such as babysit for a kid you don’t like or attend a party you don’t want to go to) and then on the day regretted it.
That’s because at the time you thought you’d feel when the day in question came around, even though you had zero evidence to support that belief.
Asking clients to imagine a rosy future is a lot less powerful than most coaches imagine because they are asking their clients to look at the future through the brick wall of what they need to do to get there.
Bring The Future To The Client
Fortunately there is a better and more effective method, and that is to bring the future to the client, and this is how you do it.
Ask them to close their eyes and take a few deep breaths to relax.
Then with their eyes closed say something like the following, (and for the sake of this example I am going to imagine you have a client who wants to run a marathon):
Imagine you have just crossed the finishing line of your very first marathon inside the time you wanted to achieve.
See the crowd around you, the clock showing your time and the other runners crossing the finishing line behind you.
Hear the applause and the congratulations coming your way from people you don’t even know and family members too.
Feel the camaraderie in the air and the arm of a fellow exhausted runner as he puts it round your shoulders smiles broadly at you and says “well done, we did it!” and high fives you with his other hand.
(Now we are going to slip in an embedded command mode by telling them what they are feeling rather than just suggesting to them, this is very powerful during closed eye processes like this one).
You can feel that surge of well-being, satisfaction and of pride because you’ve done it, you are now one of a small group of people who have completed a marathon.
Your body aches, but it’s the best possible ache you can ever imagine as you savor every last moment and realize every single moment of training and pushing yourself was worth it, because this is the kind of feeling no amount of money can buy.
As you absorb the scene I want you to to take a mental snapshot of everything. Remember the sounds, the sights, the smells, the tastes and the feelings.
Take as long as you need to embed those in your memory, because every time things get a tad tough, or you’d rather not train, or an extra hour in bed feels more desirable, that’s what you’re going to bring to mind. That image and those feeling are what’s going to drive you forward, because no way do you want to ever miss out on that opportunity and those feelings.
Then shut up and let them take as long as they need before they open their eyes.
Now you have a motivated client.
Fancy $1,000 Worth Of Free Training?
The tagline to this site sucks. Teaching you the things life coach training doesn’t, doesn’t really say anything and doesn’t get the message across of what I’m looking to do here at Coach the Life Coach.
It’s also somewhat contradictory as I am offering training!
The course evolved after working with dozens and dozens of coaches and seeing many of the same knowledge gaps cropping up time and again.
It didn’t seem to matter whether the coaches had gone through training, had no training or were currently training, there were still areas that I could help them with.
Sometimes it was teaching techniques for rapid change with clients or explaining the power of working with core values and other times it was help with marketing, building a brand or maximizing their website to get more clients.
Mostly it was a combination of all those things and that is what we’re working through on the courses.
Getting all that over in a tagline isn’t easy and I haven’t managed it.
If you can think of a tagline that I use I will give you a free place on the full course when I roll it out this fall (provisionally priced at $999) as well as a copy of the life Coaches version of Aligning With Your Core Values.
If that’s not appealing I’d off you two free sessions with me to work one-on-one on what ever area of your practice you feel could do with the most help.
If you want to have a go, please leave your suggestion in the comments and we’ll take it from there.
Thanks for reading!