self improvement, how to be happy

How To Coach Yourself Through Life

Life coaches are somewhat of a controversial issue, with supporters crediting every aspect of their success to their coach, and doubters often being surprised that the concept even exists.

But no matter how you feel about life coaches, there are certain steps you can take to keep yourself in check when you’re busy living your life. In a way, you could coach yourself.

Remove The Word Lazy From Your Vocabulary

Or at the very least, never use it to describe yourself, ever. Even in thought or internal dialogue. Even in your darkest hour, stay clear. When you think to yourself, “I’m just lazy.” Something terrible happens. It becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy, a permanent excuse. You might never actively use it as an excuse consciously, but somewhere deep down because you’ve convinced yourself that you have this critical character flaw, you’re opening yourself up to the kind of behavior that people describe as lazy.

If you currently think that you are lazy, make it your mission to disprove yourself. Do any and every menial task that takes under 10 minutes the second you get the chance. Stop postponing things, and get exercise in a way that you enjoy. Just prove to yourself that lazy is the last word that should be used to describe yourself.

Be Critical, But Don’t Stray

This can be a very difficult balance to find. One of the things that I do that helps me personally when I’m being introspective, is to never take it personally. I always look at my actions as something I am perfectly able to change, and therefore any criticism I have towards the ┬ámy actions only serves as an indication that I should change, nothing more. It should never turn into a personal attack. If you ever find yourself attacking your own character, in a much more effective and deep-cutting way than anyone else ever could, then you’ve ventured too far.

As with avoiding the word lazy, avoiding any other form of character attack is done of the same reason. If you decide that you’re not a people person, it is unlikely that you will ever make progress. If you look at what makes you a bad people person, and start tackling some of the relevant issues, then you can actually get somewhere.

Be Supportive, Within Reason

One of the things that can often lead to inaction, is the inability to be supportive of oneself. It seems that I’m only able to when someone else reminds me that I should do it. But. Sometimes no one else will support you. And it’s in those times that it’s important that you’re able to support yourself.

One thing that can help is to stop comparing yourself to your “competition”. At least if it’s in a negative way. Only look to your competition for inspiration. To reverse engineer ways you can improve your own process, and of course, to make friends and allies.

Keep in mind that becoming supportive of yourself is not an instant shift in mindset achieved through some “aha-moment”. No, that might be how it starts, but far from the whole struggle. It is reminding yourself to stay constructive whenever you start getting down, and always actively seeking out the positive in negative situations. Being your own cheerleader takes effort, although thankfully you can do without the outfit and the pompoms.

Depending on what your desired destination is, borderline narcissism could be helpful, but in most cases, it’s not. So that’s why when I do something right I try to focus on the worthiness of the act itself, rather than attribute it to some sort of inherently amazing quality in myself.

For example when I lost weight rather leisurely, my friends and family were taken aback by what appeared to be lack of effort, and wanted to attribute it to magical powers of insane metabolism. But instead I know it was the diligence of eating a little less, a little healthier, and exercising a little bit more that made all the difference. When I fell back into my old habits and gained weight, that quite effectively proved that to me.

If you start attributing magical qualities to yourself, it’s easy to lose focus on the all important actions and habits that are the true reason for your success. This way you can also stay humble when you start conquering goals, which is all the more impressive.

Always Prioritize Action

Actions speak louder than words. If taking action is possible, and you’re not, then more likely than not you’re only working against yourself. There are a lot of things that are quicker, and better, learned through trial and failure than research and thought experiments. Of course there is a time and place for extensive research and planning, but see to it that you don’t go overboard. You don’t have to make a 300 page comprehensive plan of action before you start actually trying to lose weight. A lot of the time it’s better to just get started, before you talk yourself out of even beginning.

When In Doubt, Do Something

For example: When you’re starting to feel really lost about something, feeling unable to choose or constantly changing your mind… actively do things that will bring you closer to a decision. Rushing into a decision can be devastating, but it’s always much better to actively increase your chances of making the right one, than postponing it until you feel paralyzed and opt for not changing anything after all.

Just sitting there, doing nothing, holding onto my doubt is a mistake I’ve done all too often this year. For months I was drowning in the illusion of apathy that I had created myself. And later on when faced with a difficult choice, I postponed it until I was paralyzed. Only when I started taking small baby steps, did things start to make sense. Sometimes there is no wrong and right decision, you just have to make one and see for yourself what lies ahead of you.

Expose Yourself

Not in the sense of removing your clothes, but instead actively voice your ideas and plans to people in your social circle. Not only does it serve as fuel because you feel like you HAVE to get some progress now that you’ve gone and told your friends… but sometimes you will receive surprising amounts of relevant guidance. Guidance that can mean the difference between success and failure.

Of course you have to learn to take people’s opinion with a pinch of salt, but there’s a nice side-effect to this kind of change in behavior. You will quickly find out which of your friends are poisonous, chronically unsupportive, overly negative. You will find your true supporters, and you will also most likely find one or two like-minded people that can serve as a compass on your journey.

Don’t Be Afraid To Ask For Help, But Ask The Right People

Part of being your own coach, is realizing that sometimes you need help, and actively seeking it out. At least if you’re planning to be a good one. But your job as your own life coach is to ask the right people. It can be tempting to ask your closest friends and family for advice, even if it’s about something they know nothing about.

Instead, make sure you always ask people who have the relevant experience needed to give you some pretty damn great advice… even if they’re younger than you. Of course these people will not always be freely at your disposal, and in that case you can ask people who have slightly less relevant experience.

Let’s say you want to be a sculptor, and the only person you “have access” to, is a mildly successful painter. While he might not be able to give you specific technical advice on your form, he could have great insights in what it takes to get established in the modern art scene. Sometimes you have many people with experience relevant to some part of your journey, and if you piece together their advice, you’ll at the very least have a foundation to build on.

Ragnar is a Norwegian student of life and freelance writer, with a deep interest in self-improvement. At his blog Tangible Freedom, he explores what it takes to achieve a life of freedom. Free from the limitations of your own negative mindsets, free from the traditional 9 to 5 lifestyle, complete with location independence. To follow his journey, and borrow insights learned along the way, visit Tangible Freedom.