Life happens. People get busy earning a living or raising a family, and dreams get set aside. Years go by and missed opportunities become regrets and failures – solidified in their minds as negative self-judgments. Those youthful hopes get buried and forgotten.
But change also happens and, under the right circumstances, hope is revived - bringing with it a chance to do something new, to be creative, to be that great person secretly tucked away. Awakening that inner person and charting a course to a new life is the purpose of transformational coaching.
Transformational coaching is a positive, life-affirming process that helps clients become the people they always wanted to be. In other words, it’s a pathway enabling individuals to become their best “selves.” Coaches guide clients in this self-actualization process, helping them understand their own qualities of excellence, qualities that may have laid dormant for years.
Becoming accountable for one's life is the foundational aspect of transformation. It requires clients to acknowledge that everything in their lives is – in one way or another – a result of their own choices and decisions. They have been creating their own reality all along – a reality built of limitations instead of possibilities. This realization enables clients to understand that different choices will result in a different life, empowering them to make new choices that move them in the direction of their greatest aspirations.
A Personalized Program
A vision-based plan. An individualized development program based on “visions” sets the course for clients. Visions depend on imagination and clients have fun imagining who they could be, but in reality, visualization is a challenge. It require individuals to look beyond superficial desires to those passions that bring more profound satisfaction.
For example, someone who desires to be a rock star might really be looking for freedom of expression. This is a more concrete objective that could actualize in a variety of different arenas.
Visions embody an individuals' biggest, most outrageous dreams of who they could be in a world without time constraints, financial obligations, lifestyle limitations, or any other kind of blockages. These visions guide the program and evolve as clients' perceptions change. Often individuals discover more profound dreams within themselves that generate new visions, motivating them to alter their initial program.
Visions inform the therapeutic process as clients set goals that move them forward. These goals are steps that address the variety of issues that need to be resolved. They may be internal goals such as changing negative self-talk, physical goals such as walking everyday, or developmental goals such as signing up for a web design class or piano lessons.
Success comes from applied focus. Clients begin to see results as soon as they begin to apply their efforts. Often just the act of stepping outside self-imposed safe boundaries brings a sense of liberation.
Wherever the steps in the plan lead, staying with the program requires ongoing commitment, a willingness to examine one's inner self, and the courage to take a leap of faith into the future. Coaches provide perspective and encouragement, but individuals do the work. And although the process is sometimes difficult, it provides the satisfaction of progressive accomplishment.
The Transformational Process
An internal process. Transformation is a therapeutic process that focuses on “being” rather than “doing.” Although the individualized plan establishes steps to accomplish, those steps are not always exterior ones. Often they are steps that require intensive inner work, requiring clients to go inside and search for their true natures. By getting to know themselves more deeply, clients self-actualize, becoming their true, authentic selves.
The transformational approach includes a combination of traditional talk therapy, alternative motivational therapies that focus on inner work, relaxation, and bodywork therapies, such as massage, reiki, or Tai Chi. Coaches guide clients through conversations in an effort to bring issues and unacknowledged impediments into perspective.
Identifying and dissolving impediments such as limiting beliefs is one of the first steps in the process, addressing powerful negative self-talk that keeps clients from taking on new challenges. Self-talk such as “I can't do that because I have a family to support,” and “I don't have time” are examined by the coach and the client. These often are excuses that individuals use to prevent them from achieving or realizing their goals. The coach helps the client stop this kind of internal discussion, while helping discover ways to work around these impediments.
Other negative beliefs that are tied to deeper, more unconscious conditioning such as self-worth, deserving, or even self-punishment are more difficult to overcome. These belief structures have typically been a part of thought processes since childhood, and are integral to the way clients see themselves. In transformational coaching, beliefs are nothing more than habits, habits that are changed with concentrated intention and effort.
Intention is the foundation of transformation without which all subsequent steps in the process can't happen. As clients become “present,” or fully acknowledge all the facets of who they are in this present moment, and they understand what they want to become, they set intentions or goals that become the building blocks of their plans. Intention is more than just a decision to change, it is a focused exertion of will with the goal of specific accomplishment. It is the power behind clients' abilities to shift their attentions and energies toward their aspirations.
The process emphasizes the self-knowledge that comes from going within. As the inner voice filters and quiets the outer voices, confidence develops, and clients are able to perceive and take the next step. Each step generates a new set of circumstances, integrating new considerations into the mix that either encourages clients to move forward, or leads them to make course corrections.
Results of Transformational Coaching
Transformational coaching changes all areas of a person’s life, often simultaneously. This can be overwhelming and is the reason that the coach and client partnership is so important.
Health. Transformation almost always has a beneficial effect on physical health. Becoming conscious of unhealthy habits and behaviors often starts with poor diet or lack of exercise because these behaviors have a direct effect on energy levels and the ability to focus.
Relationships. The relational world of workmates, friends and family frequently changes as clients move away from old insecurities, becoming more positive and appreciative of their surroundings and the people in their lives. As clients change, old, negative relationships fall away as new positive ones begin. Greater openness and love are natural states for individuals who are learning to value themselves more.
Finance. As clients realign themselves with a constructive plan for building a new future for themselves, the financial concerns of mere survival are positively shifted by the excitement and anticipation of doing what they love to do. In actuality, clients learn that their unhappiness is never about what they're doing as much as it is about what they're not doing to move toward their own greatness.
Spirit. Most clients experience an expansion of their spiritual world as a result of learning to hear it. Listening to those inner voices - the quiet voices that are joyful as well as the jangling, distracting ones - helps them distinguish and sort out the positive from the negative. Acknowledging their sources of inner knowing is a unifying process in transformation, bringing stability to clients’ exterior personalities, greater presence in their own lives, and more confidence in their ability to chart their own course.
If you desire to help individuals with many of life’s challenges, and appreciate a spiritual focus in the resolution of workplace stressors, family life, career decisions, relationship issues, and personal growth concerns, consider transformational coaching.
Transformational coaches practice in most states with certificates although there are no state licensing requirements. Contact schools for more information on life coaching certificates and psychology degree programs before entering the field of transformational coaching.