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15 Steps: Be Your Own Life Coach!

Note: This article started as a handout for a lecture I gave in 2009 on How to Be Your Own Life Coach. It focuses 15 self guided assignments that will help you identify your strengths; allow you tools to better listen to yourself; develop a strength-based set of goals; and set yourself on an path that will allow you to become an even better version of yourself. Try it!

15 Assignments

The following independent assignments will take most people 2-6 months to complete. Try to do them in order, starting a new one each week. Don’t get overwhelmed by seeing them all here in a list. Most of them are really fun to do. The things you discover in one assignment will help inform the later exercises. Some, due to their nature, may be ongoing and overlap with some of the others. You will want to make a physical folder or notebook to keep your notes, assignments and ongoing lists in one place. Make it fun.

1. Find your Strengths

If you want to be the best version of you, you need to build upon your strengths.

A. Take the Briggs-Myer Type Indicator personality inventory and review results. You can take it online for between $30-50.

B. Buy the book: StrengthsFinder 2.0: A New and Upgraded Edition of the Online Test from Gallup’s Now, Discover Your Strengths by Tom Rath.

The book comes with a code in the back to log onto a website and take the Strengths Test online. The website will automatically generate a multi-page report of your strengths for you to review.

2. Pursue your Passions

Make a list of 10 places in your city that you want to take yourself on field trips. For the next 10 weeks pick one each weekend to visit.
Tip: Make a Google map to record all the places you want to go, add things to it on an ongoing basis. You can share it with friends, too!

3. Clean House

Purge 100 things out of your life to allow room for new things. Keep a list of what you have purged.

4. Happy List

Identify what picks you up when you are really down and/or depressed. Make a list of ideas and if you like, write yourself a letter and put it in a place that you will easily be able to find it when you need it. Tip: Consider sharing your Happy List with your closest friends and family.

5. Identify People to Pull Closer

Make a list of people you want to reach out to and then brainstorm how you can pull them closer.

Tip 1: Read Never Eat Alone: And Other Secrets to Success, One Relationship at a Time by Keith Ferrazz.

Tip 2: Make a habit each Monday to review your schedule and set up at least one lunch date a week.

Tip 3: Everyone can throw a dinner parties. Or start a book club, salon, bowling club, support group, organize outings or events, etc. Having something to invite people to makes it easy to “Pull” people.

6. Ideal Days

Make a list of all the ideal days that you can imagine for yourself.

7. Values

Make 10 word clusters (3 words each) to define your values.

8. Goals

Based on what you have discovered through Strengths, Ideal Days, the Value exercise, etc. write a series of long and short-term goals. If you already have written goals then use this time to update them. Make them very specific. Then once you have the list break them down into steps to achieve goals.
Tip: Brainstorm way to automatically see your goals everyday.

9. Visualize Goals

Pick 10 images that inspire you to achieve your goals, it could be people, it could be stuff, or ideas. Put them somewhere where to will see them everyday and at the right time.

10. Energy

Identify 5 ways for you to gain more energy and work them into your daily routine.

11. Finance

Review you finances and identify your weaknesses/bad habits. Brainstorm ways to protect yourself from these bad habits.

Tip: Great finance blogs for people in 20’s and 30’s (and beyond):

Tip: One of the best things you can do for your finances, social life, health and state of mind is to learn to cook. Cooking reaps many rewards.

12. Get a Cause

Identify one important cause that you can passionately support. Join related organizations and start educating yourself on topics related to the cause so that you can be a knowledgeable advocate on that subject.

13. Build a Folder of High Achievement

Get a folder or notebook you like; an Itoya works well for this exercise. Fill the notebook with all kinds of documents that demonstrate your high achievement, you at your best.

Ideas: Recommendations, acceptance letters, resumes, awards, diplomas, creative achievements that you are particularly proud of, things you have written, business cards from all the jobs you have had, press clipping about you, speeches you have given, particularly flattering pictures, bios, etc. Continue to add to it over time. Look at it frequently to remind yourself of your history of success. Before doing that require you to be at your best, flip through the book to boost your confidence.

14. Make Time

Set aside some time every week and time monthly to look at what is coming up so that you can be best prepared and proactive for everything coming up. Use monthly reviews as a time to start a yearly calendar.

15. Time Machine

Identify something you did at some point in your past that you really enjoyed but you stopped doing. Find a way to start doing it again, maybe with a new spin.

Well, and then what? If you are still going strong, awesome! You are becoming an even more fabulous version of yourself. Some of these assignments are things you will have to continue to work on in perpetuity. Life is 80% maintenance. Some of these exercises are things you will need to do again from time to time. Keep the list and your notes so that you can revisit them in future.

Moving forward, challenging yourself, identify an area that you want to become an expert in and develop that expertise. Offer to mentor others, brainstorm ways in which you can contribute to the various communities that already belong and consider creating new communities and organization to serve unmet needs, etc.

Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by the ones you did so. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.


Mark Twain

What was your favorite exercise? Tweet me @pattyhume


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