Structures in Personal Coaching

Structures in Coaching - bringing your dreams to life every day.

A structure is a real world tool, strategy or technique that makes it easier for you to bring the ideas and goals of your coaching session to reality.

I have seen in my own coaching how I can be talking so visionary and big picture, but within a few hours I could slump back into the old day to day drudge and completely lose that coaching energy until the next session.

That's where structures come into play.  Structures disrupt the everyday normalness of our pre-coach life and prompt us to re-direct our focus toward the new, desirable action.

You will really appreciate being able to keep the energy and passion of your coaching session alive and sustained throughout the time in between your client calls.  This means taking action on your aims and plans is more likely to be top of mind and easily enacted.

It's like having a support plan of secondary strategies to keep the coaching going during the in between times.  one client called it his away game strategy, and I really got that concept.

These structures are about what you can do to keep the coaching mojo alive and bubbling away, so you get incremental growth.  Incremental growth means an almost imperceptible change over time, and that's important at Life Coaching Newcastle as you move towards your goal with little steps on a daily basis. It's variously called chunking down, or eating an elephant on bite at a time - you get the picture?

And most importantly, keeping these structures simple, easily accessible and top of mind means there is no disconnect from the coaching synergy.  Your client is engaged and committed through each and every day leading up to your next session.  This means there is less dread or pressure of failing or of having to cancel a meeting because the homework has not been completed.

Structures for Personal Coaching

For example, putting a note in the client’s calendar is a simple structure for jogging the memory and getting that person to take a desired action. But a structure will work only if people notice it. Whether or not they do what the structure indicates, the structure will lead to learning. The number of structures to get people into action is unlimited.  

Basic Coaching Structures

Here are some structures that have helped people make long lasing change:

• Call your coach’s voice mail or your own voice mail every day when a certain
task is done. Or send an e-mail.
• Wear a rubber band on your wrist when you want to remember to do something,
such as breathe deeply, speak powerfully, sit up straight, turn complaints into requests, or tell someone something positive.

• Throw a dinner party once a month. This can be a structure for cleaning house
or keeping up relationships with friends.

• Find an exercise partner.  This doesn't have to be for every exercise event - just once a week might be enough.

• Devise an intentionally fabricated deadline on the day you start a project—such
as scheduling a meeting to show a colleague or friend your completed project in
two weeks.

• Schedule appointments with one friend a week for two months.

• Put a chair in front of the door when you come in at night to remind yourself to
take along important documents tomorrow.

• Send yourself an e-mail or voice mail to request that a certain task be done.

• Ask a friend to send you a pre-designed postcard once a month to encourage
you to . . .

Counting is a structure.

When you want to pay attention to a certain behavior - when your Saboteur shows up, for example, or when you acknowledge others simply count how many times you do it in any given day. 

This is a structure that focuses your attention on noticing, on developing awareness and mindfulness. 

You can also count the number of cigarettes smoked, the number of calories consumed, the number of sales appointments, the number of times you apologize, etc. 

Counting does not require you to do anything other than notice. But noting every time you do something heightens your awareness.

A talisman can be a structure. A toy lion by the phone can remind the client to
be ferocious in pursuit of a goal.

A coach is one of the best structures

Coaching is a relationship of accountability and a place where clients stop everything while they look at their lives, at how they are doing, and whether they are headed in the direction they want.

Time Management

This category includes any kind of calendar, day timer, or to-do list. It can be paper, computer based, store-bought or handmade, rigorously designed down to the quarter
hour, or just an overview. The key to its effectiveness is how well it fits the client.  

There is a mistaken belief that there is just one right way. For all the evolution in format
and technology, from pencil and paper to palmtop, the appropriate system is
what works for your client.

Money Management

For most people, about the only structure they have for managing this significant
area of their lives is the register in their checkbooks. Other structures might include
computer programs, a monthly budget, regularly scheduled money management
discussions with a spouse, or the services of a financial planner or home budget
This is by no means an exhaustive list; it merely gives you a sense of the
variety of options available.

Using the Senses

For clients who are highly visual, any structure that appears in their daily field of vision
is likely to work—sticking notes to their computer, the cabinet above the desk, or the refrigerator door, for example.
Repainting a room to change the visual space might be an important new structure for a client, or simply changing a chair position so that the client is forced to look at the world from a different perspective. 
Any structural device that engages these clients visually is likely to be powerful and effective.

Think about how you could use the other senses as well. 
Auditory structures, like music or an audiotape of affirmations, and even particular fragrances can be very powerful structures. Religious ceremonies and rituals have used fragrance for thousands of years because it’s a structure that works. How could you use the structure of smell creatively in your clients’ lives?

Some of the best structures come from your intuition and may not seem to
make sense at first. Place watermelon seeds on the kitchen window sill . . . carry a
flashlight in your briefcase . . . wear mismatched shoes today. 

One reason structures work is because they interrupt the ordinary mind-flow and grab your attention. The more outrageous they are, the more likely it is that they’ll interrupt the semiconscious way we often glide through our days.

You may have a whole catalog of structures you have used with clients. That’s
handy and a great source of ideas. But it’s also very effective to let clients create
their own structures. Remember, structures disrupt the everyday old normal and trigger the client to seek the new behaviour as a reminder.

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