Self-coaching: creating options

So you know where you’re heading (Goal), you know where you’re starting from (Reality) and you know what you believe and what you’re good at (Values, Beliefs, Strengths). Now it’s time to consider your options …

Some obvious ideas may have emerged while you were exploring what you’ve done so far, or when you first contemplated your goal. And it can be helpful to generate as many ideas as possible so you can have the widest number of options to choose from before you plot your path forward.

As you uncover more possibilities, so too you might identify more people who could help you, some quicker wins and even some unanticipated benefits.

There are lots of different ways to generate ideas – and here is a chance to get really creative and have fun. Some of the techniques I use with clients include:

Brainstorming

Put each new idea (however out there) on a different post it note. Afterwards group and prioritise. Give yourself ten minutes and keep asking “What else?”

Free writing

Take five or ten minutes, starting with the phrase “To achieve my goal, I could …” and continuing to write whatever comes to mind. As one idea dries up, add in the phrase “Or I could …” and keep going.

Mind mapping

This is great if you prefer a more graphical approach. Start with a word or phrase that captures your goal and then write ideas you associate with reaching the goal connected with a line. Then write anything else that comes to mind, creating connections to the goal or to one of the ideas already generated.

Friendly advice

What would you advise a friend to do if they wanted to achieve a similar goal? Write a text to them with some ideas. When you dry up, use the question “What else”

Visualisation

Also knowns as the miracle question. Imagine you go to sleep tonight and when you wake up in the morning a miracle has happened and you’ve achieved your goal.

What’s the first thing you notice that tells you things are different? What would you see? What’s happening around you? How would you tell your partner or colleagues that things are different?

Now take pen and paper and spend three minutes writing down what you saw, what you’re doing that’s different, what did you do to create this success?

Daydream in silence

Set a timer for 4 minutes and hold a question in your mind. Something like: “What could I do to achieve my goal?” And then just think about the possible answers. Maintain your silence but feel comfortable looking around your space or out a window or pace – whatever is helpful for your thinking process. Return to the question or think “What else?” if you dry up. Once the timer goes off, briefly capture the most relevant or exciting ideas you came up with.

What would your hero do?

Think about someone you admire – a world figure, business leader, celebrity or even a colleague or family member. What do you think they would do in these circumstances? Or perhaps you know someone who has already achieved a goal similar to the one you are pursuing. What can you learn from the things they tried?

More ideas

Other activities could include asking a friend to listen while you brainstorm – they don’t need to say anything except to encourage you to keep thinking (“What else?”).

You could also role play, alternating between being current you and future you or current you and someone you trust. The idea is simply to continue generating as many options as possible, nothing is too ‘out there’.

Questions to support exploring options

  • What options do you have to reach this goal?
  • What approaches have you tried or seen in similar situations?
  • What else might you do?
  • If money (or time) was no object, what would you do?
  • What is the right thing to do?
  • What would you do differently if you could start again?
  • If you had more confidence and energy, what could you do?
  • If you wanted another suggestion or option, who could you ask?

It’s worth staying with this topic a little longer than you feel comfortable doing as that’s often when the most interesting ideas emerge. 

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