Why Asking Clients To Imagine A Rosy Future Fails

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!




  1. Patty Nowell

    Some ideas for tag lines:

    1) Propel your coaching to the ultimate level

    2) Putting a “real world” spin on text book training

    advanced training in techniques that put you at the top of your niche


    training in advanced techniques that put you at the top of your niche

  3. I love this sort of wordy thinking. So thinking aloud:

    • coaching in practise not theory

    • life coaching in real life

    • coaching as it really is, not in the text books

    • From theory to practise

    • Coaching knowledge for real clients

    • Bridging the gap from text book to client

    • timbrownson

      Thanks Liz and again interesting to hear how somebody who has (almost) done the course views it.

    • timbrownson

      Firstly, thanks! And secondly where the hell have you been Kim. I’m pretty sure I still owe you a session!

      Hope things are well.

      • Well.. Tim, I’ve been implementing the shit out of what I am learning along with reassuring myself that it all takes TIME. Some days I do the reassuring more than the implementing..(0:
        Would love to reconnect soon.

  4. Well firstly I want to thank you from my coaching soul for being here – I recently ‘found’ you through LinkedIn and have become an avid reader of your wonderful words of wisdom!

    Possible tag lines:
    * Coaching – join me on a journey of discovery
    * Coaching coaches for a brighter future
    * Lessons in life coaching to be the best you can be

    Good luck, I hope you find what you’re seeking 🙂

    • timbrownson

      Thanks for the submission and also the kind words Sandra I appreciate it!

      I think I put some peoples backs up in the group for maybe being a tad too strident with my opinions at times 😉

  5. David Dressler

    How about I coach you? I will help you extract from your niche the words that best define your niche, words that “stick out and stick” in people’s minds (your tag line). I will do that for $1000 or less.

    However, in lieu of coaching you, here are my attempts at tag lines (which would be be sharper if I knew your niche):

    1.Ask the right question–get the right action.
    2.Question and action coaching.
    3.Right question-right results coaching.
    4.Results now coaching.
    5.Shhh. Don’t let the secret out. Sometimes the coach is the roadblock!

  6. Coach to thrive, not survive
    Kick start your coaching practice
    Taking your coaching practice LIVE
    Hit the ground running without falling flat on your face!

  7. Natasha PIckup


    I think your Single minded benefit for coach training will model how you are as a person.

    you are the value behind all your marketing and this should shine like a star.

    You are authentic. You are real. You are different. People will not all love you. The good ones will.

    based in this :
    A revolution in coach training
    dare to be different coach training…with a daring adventure
    Marmite coach training…they’ll love you or hate you. Joke.
    Swim against the tide.


    the point is you are unique and can show how them can coach as their unique selves too…if not it should be as this is why I want sessions with you.

    • timbrownson

      I’m blushing!

      You know what, I actually like the marmite one. Not sure it would work, but it’s clever and fun.

      Thanks for your suggestions Natasha.

  8. Tag Line: Because You’re Serious About Getting Results In Your Coaching Business

    Suggestion: next time, instead of a dead brick wall, put a hole in the middle of it and a smiling face looking through it. My advertising mentor taught me that smiling faces sell, things don’t (that’s why they put smiling girls next to expensive cars, the “cheesecake” part is just a bonus), and consider using it for your logo. No photo logo looks like an amateur, IMHO.

    And I could use any training you care to provide in exchange for the use of these suggestions.

    • timbrownson

      Thanks M!

      With regard to the image, I’m not trying to sell anything (other than an idea if you want to get picky).

      When people land here they are not going to decide to not read a post because of the image and a smiling face would have delivered the wrong message imho.

  9. Natasha PIckup

    extreme coaching
    Coaching uncovered
    The naked coach…coaching laid bare
    Refrshes parts that other coach training doesn’t reach
    bic picture coach training…gives you the complete picture
    The whole cake coach training…have your cake and eat it

    Lol…no more

  10. Elizabeth Murphree

    Coach The Life Coach: A Survivor’s Guide to Coaching Quandaries and Marketing Quicksand

    • timbrownson

      I think that would work brilliantly as a book title, especially if you mix it with Natasha’s and make it:

      Coaching secrets: A Survivor’s Guide to Coaching Quandaries and Marketing Quicksand

      maybe a tad long for a tagline, or maybe not?

  11. Mo

    Hey Tim,

    Here are some thoughts I had on this (maybe some can be re-arranged or changed to work).

    Some sounded really good when I first though of them but they seem less good when I read them now LOL Ah well, it’s not about what I like is it? You may think something is awesome when I see it as mediocre (hopefully!!)

    – What you don’t know can hurt your business
    – Tools to help close the gaps in your coaching business
    – Finding and closing the gaps in your coaching business
    – Helping you close the gaps in your coaching business
    – Making your coaching business even better
    – Helping those that help others help better
    – Coaching those that coach others coach better
    – Helping you help more people (more effectively)
    – Resources to help you grow your coaching business

    And more…..

    1 Betta Meta Training

    2. Things you only learn at recess during coaching school.

    3. They teach you what should work. We teach you what does work.

    4. Got skills? Start thinking, “Hone, Sweet Hone.”


  12. Tim,

    First, thanks for your involvement on my recent relaunch.

    Second, here’s what I’m thinking:

    The primary issue of all beginning life coaches is how to make coaching their primary career/income source. So I’d try to put something about income in your tagline.

    My examples:

    Make A Living Helping People Make A Life
    Coach People To Positive Change and Get Paid Doing It
    Grow Your Practice From Hobby To Career
    Because The Best Coaches Get Paid
    Grow Your Work Into A Successful Business

    I look forward to seeing what you come up with.

    All the best,


  13. Tobi

    If you’re still taking suggestions, what about:

    BS-Free Tools For Coaching and Practice-Building Success

  14. Bobbi K

    What about real world advice on navigating the bumpy road of coaching? Brand new to your site, and I am interested in becoming a life coach myself. Been giving advice and been a “listening ear” for decades to all who know me, so why not use my skills along with training to build upon that? Looking forward to making some changes to become the coach I feel I was born to be 🙂

  15. *A Daring Adventure Continues – Moving from Average to Extraordinary Coaching

    *Going the Extra Mile – Advanced Training for Extraordinary Coaches

    *A Daring Adventure – Reaching the Summit in Your Coaching Practice

    *Choosing More – Advanced Training for Coaches Who Give a Damn

    Tim – your work is fabulous in all forms – the newsletter, blog posts, coaching, books, and I am quite sure the training matches the quality of the rest of your services. Thank you for caring!!


  16. Tim – just want to throw my 12 cents in here to help you out:) I see some great ideas above and like to add this so you find that message which resonates best:

    Helping you/life coaches unlock your/their potential so your client’s can unleash theirs.

    Effective life coaching methods and marketing advice for life coaches.

    Life coach training for life coaches who want to grow their practice and help unleash their client’s potential.

    Life coaching strategies and marketing advice that helps you impact your client’s lives.

    Nuts and bolts of building a thriving life coaching practice.

    Cause even coaches need practical life coaching strategies and business advice.

    Cause when your life coaching practice succeeds, your clients win.

    Where life coaches go to improve their practice and deliver for their clients.

    A road map for building a thriving coaching practice and delivering for your clients.

    No fluff life coaching & marketing advice for life coaches seeking to create a thriving coaching practice.

    When you’re fertilized, your clients bloom! (yeah, I’m busting up)

    When your life coaching practices grows, your clients bloom.

    No fluff marketing and life coaching strategies to build a thriving life coaching practice. When your business grows, your clients bloom.

  17. How about the tagline ‘Canning the BS & does what it says on the Tim’ or ‘Can the BS – I do what it says on the Tim’

    These are a play on the phonetic of BrownSon & Tim instead of Tin.
    I think it,s original like you,helps convey your humor, straightforwardness/no nonsense approach & generally your style. It also infers that your business name(s) already do a good job of explaining what you do.

  18. timbrownson

    Hi everybody, sorry I’ve been unresponsive the last couple of days and I appreciate all the responses.

    Unfortunately, I have had suggestions coming from multiple sources and was unable to keep them all in one place as I wanted.

    So please don’t leave me any more at this juncture.

    I *think* I’m going to go with:

    Real World Coach Training For Real World Coaches

    The problem is I’m not even sure if I came up with it or someone else did, so I now have to go searching back.

    If you did they say that please let me know and once again:


  19. Ok everybody I have decided on what I am going with and it will be..

    Drum roll please…

    Your Coaching Success….Accelerated

    Once again, THANKS!

  20. julia

    {i + inspire}

    can be worked into an existing logo etc using different text

    Coaching Alchemy – for those who believe that the magic is in the believeing