Coaching: Change Made Simple

Here's a story that I think gets at why we have such difficulty with change.

I was 8 years old and my parents gave me a dollar to go to the toy store with my best friend and his mom. I found a Frankenstein model that I had been wanting that cost 88 cents, but I put it back on the shelf. When my friend's mom asked me why I put it back, I said because all I had was a dollar, the model cost 88 cents and I didn't want to get in trouble by wasting 12 cents. She then explained to me that if I gave the clerk my dollar, I would be able to get my model and get 12 cents back in change.

I thought that was pretty cool and got the model.

The point of this silly little story is that until that moment, no one had explained the concept of change to me and therefore I believed I could not get what I wanted.

Now I just said all that to be able to introduce you to one of my favorite strategies for coaching people to get the changes they want in their lives.

Let's say a person comes in and they want to work on balance in their lives. That's a good thing to want, but how in the world do you take all the tasks and demands of life and manage them, much less balance them?

The first step is breaking down this task into manageable pieces.

The life balance wheel

So picture with me if you will a large circle divided equally into 8 sections, like a piece of pie (you may even want to stop and draw one for yourself). We'll call it our life balance wheel. Each one of these pieces of the wheel represents a part of our lives. I usually divide it into these eight pieces: family, career, finances, personal/spiritual growth, recreation, effectiveness/contribution, friendship and environment.

The second step is to rate yourself in each of these areas, using a scale from 1 to 10, where 1 is the worst/lowest possible and 10 is the best/highest possible. Now picture that circle again, and then picture each piece of the pie. As we rate each piece between 1 and 10, we simply place a curved line on the section of pie, where a one would be at the pointed inner piece of the pie and a 10 would be on the curved outer piece of the pie.

After we have rated all eight areas, we connect the various curved lines to each other which form a usually very bumpy circle.

Now imagine what it would be like to ride in a car with wheels as bumpy and rough as your life balance wheel. Sort of feels like our lives feel sometimes, doesn't it?

As a coach, now my job is to help you discover what's most important in your life, what you most want to change, create an action plan to get you there, and then hold you accountable and hold your hand as you achieve the changes you want.

The third step is to pick the first area in which you want to work. Let's say it's in your family relationships, that you have rated a 4 and you would like it to be a ten. Going from a 4 to a ten is a pretty big leap, and trying to do it all at once is part of what can make change so difficult at times. So we again break it down into manageable pieces. My next question would be what will it take to go from a 4 to a 5 in the next week before we meet again? A good place to start would be to spend at least 1/2 hour of uninterrupted one on one time with each member of your family. After you have completed this goal and moved from a 4 to a 5, we'll chart a course for moving from 5 to 6. Then later on we'll work on the other seven areas of the wheel.

Now these are 8 areas of life that I chose. You can pick whatever 8 areas work for you.

What this gives you is a simple yet powerful tool for breaking change done into manageable amounts, and a way to create a clear and detailed map for how to get there.

In closing, imagine what your life would be like a year from now if each month you chose one of these areas to work on and improve. My guess is it would be pretty cool. So let's get moving!

Visit for tips and tools for creating and growing a great relationship. You can also subscribe to our f*r*e*e 10 day e-program on how to enrich your relationship today, from relationship coach and expert Jeff Herring.

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