Every proficient life coach is aware that excellent coaching commences with posing the correct inquiries. However, merely posing questions does not suffice to deliver thoroughly effective coaching. To distinguish yourself as a coach and positively affect your clients, it’s essential to take coaching exercises into account.
Although coaching is a personalized process we can use some universal coaching exercises that are proven to work in various areas of life for various types of individuals. Those will help clients to achieve their goals, in a more effective and entertaining way by helping to:
- Assess the personality & life
- Identify what’s missing
- Set up meaningful & achievable goals
- Visualize the objectives
- Prioritize the tasks
- Proceed with a calm approach
Some of those exercises will require your evaluation and participation, while others will be more personal. You can instruct your client to complete these exercises on the printed sheets, or on the computer.
Without further ado, let’s dive into 7 best life-coaching exercises that your clients will love:
1. Evaluate the Wheel of Life:
This fantastic coaching exercise originated from Tibetan Buddhism but is still super relevant today. Self-reflection is a key to a successful life, and this exercise is exactly about that. The wheel of life provides a 360-degree perspective of the current life condition. It immediately detects areas of imbalance and assists you in developing priorities based on your life vision.
The traditional wheel of life consists of 8 categories. which form the “perfect” life balance. For the majority of people, 8 categories are enough to concentrate on, but you can have more of them if the client feels so.
Here are the categories and questions that will help clients evaluate them:
- Personal Development: What is the progress of your personal growth? What is your education level? How confident you are? How you are willing to learn more?
- Health: How is your emotional, physical, and psychological health? How are your diet and sleep? How are your stress and energy levels? How athletic you are?
- Career & Business: How are you achieving success in your studies, work, or business? How happy and motivated do you feel to move forward?
- Finances: How are your income, savings, budgets, and investments? How is your financial education? How close you are to your financial goals?
- Fun & Recreation: How fun and adventurous your life is? Do you have enough interests and hobbies? How often do you laugh in your life?
- Family & Friends: How are you getting on with your family and friends? Do you spend enough time with them? Do you feel connected? Do you have like-minded friends?
- Love & Romance – Do you feel love and loved? What is your current state with your partner? How healthy your relationship is? How vibrant is your life if you are single?
- Spirituality – Everyone has different beliefs and defines spirituality differently. Whether it is god, the universe, or your inner self, ask yourself, how connected you are. Are you following your grand purpose?
To perform this exercise, ask your client to prioritize these areas by their importance. Then ask him to evaluate these areas by rating them on a scale from 1 to 10. The best way to carry out this task is by filling in the results on a pie chart. By that client will get a good perpetual view of his performance in all important areas.
Depending on a coachee you can add, reduce, or replace certain areas from the wheel. In case you feel that there should be more things to concentrate on, you can add values like – contribution to the world, social environment, culture, traveling, self-control, and so on.
2. Practice the Johari Window:
Another effective life coaching tool to promote self-awareness and self-realization is the Johari window. This exercise was created by two great psychologists Joseph Luft and Harrington Ingham who combined the first letters of their names to come up with this model.
The Johari window works by assisting individuals in seeing the difference between how they perceive themselves and how others perceive them. It is an ultimate self-awareness tool, which not only empowers interpersonal communication but also helps to develop relationships with others.
There are 4 window panes that need to be genuinely filled by the client – Arena, Blind Spot, Facade, and Unknown. Depending on the individual, and how much he knows about himself the sizes of those windows can be different
Here are 4 window panes, and how they should be filled:
- ARENA: This window reveals what is known to self and others. Encourage clients to come up with the traits of their personality that are obvious not only to them but to others around them. What personal aspects the client is aware of and willing to communicate openly?
- FACADE: This area is about what is known to self, but NOT known to others. Inspire a coachee to think what are the positive or negative things in his life that he is aware of, but does not reveal to others. Whether there are actions, characteristics, fears, issues, anxieties, traumas, hopes, dreams, or other things, encourage him to recognize and write them down in this box. Challenge him to think about what is limiting from expressing himself more.
- BLIND SPOT: This window describes what is NOT known to self, but known to others. The client should seek to identify the behaviors that are not evident to himself but evident to others. Ask him if he is unintentionally doing something that affects others in a positive or a negative way. Encourage him to remember all of the feedback he was given in the past from people around him. If he struggles with the answers, you can advise him to seek feedback from friends, family, or co-workers.
- UNKNOWN: The unknown area represents the things that are not known to yourself and others. This may include unexplored information, skills, talents, actions, and situations that have unknown impacts. Initiate a client to think of subconscious knowledge that no one is aware of, such as early childhood memories, traumas, talents, and undiscovered skills, and write down all upcoming challenges that are worth embracing.
To perform this exercise provide the template to your client, so he could either use it digitally or print it off. Then explain how the Johari window works and what values it can bring. The ultimate goal of this tool is to increase awareness of yourself and become more open to the world.
3. Come up with S.M.A.R.T Goals:
Once your coaching client completes the self-assessment exercises and knows more about himself, it’s time for him to clearly define his goals. Goal setting can fulfill ambitions and ultimately lead to happiness, however, setting the wrong goals can leave us frustrated and unmotivated. The SMART goal framework will ensure that we set not only achievable but also truly important goals.
The acronym SMART stands for specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely. This exercise will help to clarify the goals, concentrate the efforts, make efficient use of time, and increase the chances of achieving what is desired. This framework can be used in both professional and personal areas of life, including career, finance, health, relationships, family, self-development, and others.
Here’s how you can instruct clients to complete the SMART goals:
SPECIFIC: This is probably the most important part when setting up goals. The more specific a goal will be the more likely is going to be achieved. To come up with a specific objective, a client will have to answer 5 following questions:
- Who is involved in this goal?
- What do I want to accomplish?
- Where is this goal to be achieved?
- When do you want to achieve this goal?
- Why do I want to achieve this goal?
Example: I will significantly increase my Instagram account followers over the next few years because I want to gain recognition and generate online income.
MEASURABLE: Ask a client to come up with precise metrics that can be used to track the achievement of the goal. The purpose of measuring the goal is to make sure that in whatever way the goal is measured it accurately reflects the progress towards it. It can be percentages, time, pounds, miles, or other units.
Example: My goal is to increase my Instagram account followers by 300%.
ATTAINABLE: In this part, the client will have to justify that his goal is realistic. Encourage him to write down all the reasons why he thinks that his goal is highly achievable. Also, challenge his capabilities by asking him to answer the following questions:
- How realistic is the goal?
- Do I have the financial capacity and resources to achieve this goal?
- Do I necessary skills and tools to achieve this goal?
- Which tools and skills I will need to achieve that?
Example: I don’t have a lot of money to invest, but I have a lot of time, a like-minded network, a great camera, and good marketing skills. Thus, I think this goal is realistic and highly achievable.
RELEVANT: Relevant goals reflect something that you truly desire and they should align with the other more important goals. They should be intact with your values and what is really important in your life. The main purpose of this area is to identify whether or not the goal contributes to the bigger objectives. For that, you can ask your client to answer one simple question – how does this goal will contribute to your happiness?
Example: Getting attention, bringing value to people, generating online income, and being location independent will ultimately bring happiness to my life. Therefore growing a big Instagram account seems to be a relevant goal.
TIMELY: Time awareness is important for maintaining the required efficiency while moving towards our goals. The purpose of this bit is to apply some pressure by setting up deadlines. If the goal is long-term, you can divide it into smaller time frames. Here are two questions for a client to answer when setting up reasonable deadlines.
- When the goal will be accomplished?
- What will be accomplished by the next week, month, or year?
Example: The goal will be accomplished by the end of next year. My Instagram account will grow by 40 followers next week, by 170 followers next month, and by 2000 followers next year.
The key purpose of SMART goals is to help clients to come up with specific objectives and that leads to a higher likelihood of achieving them. As mentioned the SMART goals can be used in various areas of life, therefore a client may complete multiple SMART forms. This exercise can be done either on paper or in a spreadsheet app like Excel.
One thing to keep in mind is to avoid setting up goals that someone else has power over. For example, getting a promotion at work, or finding a new life partner. Advise your client to come up with goals that he has control over and could be fully accountable for.
4. Set up the Vision Board:
Once Mark Twain said – “You can’t depend on your eyes when the imagination is out of focus”. This quote perfectly suggests that we need to have an image of our goals and dreams in order to achieve them. In fact, many studies have found that people who clearly visualized a positive outcome are more likely to take the right action towards it.
Creating a vision board and consistently paying attention to it is an amazing exercise for the clients to execute their goals. A well-composed vision board can provide a clear vision, connect certain areas of life, and massively improve the chances of success.
Before creating a vision board, ask your clients to answer the following questions:
- Who do you want to be?
- What do you want to do?
- How do you want to feel?
- What type of people do you want to be around?
- What is your ideal partner?
- Where do you want to live?
- What material things do you want?
Although these are general questions, it’s important to answer them in a very specific way to get the clearest picture. For example, if a client is dreaming about a new car, he should identify the make and even the color of that car. After the coachee answers these questions, instruct him to turn his answers into imagery. He can cut pictures from magazines, download and print them from the internet, use photos, or draw something.
Once all imagery is collected, the most visible way to display it is by putting pictures together on the board and hanging it up on the wall. Then, advise the client to stare at it for a few minutes in the morning so he can be focused and motivated as well as before he goes to bed, so the vision gets embedded in the conscious and subconscious.
5. Prioritize with Eisenhower Matrix:
When your client has clearly defined his goals and tasks to achieve them, you can introduce him to an Eisenhower Matrix, also known as the Urgent/Important Matrix. This exercise was created by former US president Dwight D. Eisenhower, who once said – “What is urgent is seldom important and what is important is seldom urgent.”
The president has demonstrated exceptional productivity throughout his lifetime, and his method teaches how to effectively prioritize things by urgency and importance. The Eisenhower Matrix also helps to eliminate stress and distractions, increase time management, as well as make quick and effective decisions.
The method involves filling four different quadrants:
- DO: This quadrant is about what is urgent and important right now. Fill this section with the tasks having clear deadlines that will result in significant consequences if not completed on time. For example, that could be a due assignment, an urgent request from the boss or clients, or a family crisis. Ideally, the list should be small in this section. A timer can be used to effectively eliminate these tasks.
- DECIDE: This area contains important, but less urgent tasks, and often it requires the most time attention. Seek to fill this area with both long-term and short-term goals that have no closely approaching deadlines. It can be strategic planning, career development, or relationship building. The key to this area is to prevent the pressure by not letting these tasks end up in urgent/important area. You can use the calendar to keep track and control of this list.
- DELEGATE: This section is about what is urgent, but not important. Fill it with the tasks that need to be done now but are not that important to you. There can be also tasks that don’t require your expertise or presence to be completed. For example, it can be a meeting or email that you don’t necessarily have to attend or respond. Often these tasks can be outsourced (delegated) to other people.
- DELETE: This quadrant involves a list of things that are neither important nor urgent. There can be tasks, activities, or habits that cause distraction and procrastination. For example, spending time on social media, playing video games, etc. The goal is to eliminate all these things and the smaller this section is, the better.
While this exercise can keep your clients cool and collected sometimes it can be overwhelming and difficult to manage as there are no exact rules on how to execute it. Work with a client to clearly define not only his urgent tasks but also short and long-term goals. Encourage him to limit the items per quadrant and focus on one task at a time. Also, make sure that the objectives listed in the important, but not urgent section are ranked by priority as well as broken into smaller components if they seem too complex.
6. Try Journalling:
Journalling is an amazing exercise that can be very beneficial in many areas of life. There are things that you may not be aware of before you take the time to write them down, and journaling is a fantastic way to inspire awareness. It is well-known that journalling can boost mental health, improve self-confidence, inspire creativity, and most importantly – help to set and achieve goals.
Compared to the exercises that we have already mentioned, journalling can be more of a private exercise, that allows clients to brainstorm more openly while being messy and 100% honest with themselves. They can write whatever comes to their mind, and freely express their feelings, values, and beliefs. Additionally, journals can be used as calendars, reminders, trackers, or planners. Unlike open diaries, these types of journals target different areas of life and require following a specific pattern.
Depending on your client’s needs you can recommend to him some of the following types of journals:
- Daily journals
- Productivity journals
- Gratitude journals
- Reading journals
- Bullet journals
- Dream journals
- Meditation journals
- Fitness journals
- Finance journals
- Food intake journals
- Traveling journals
- Visual journals
- & many more
Encourage the client to spend at least 15 minutes a day writing down his thoughts and let him keep his writings to himself. If you are unsure, which journal could suit your client most, you can recommend a blank journal, and provide some prompts to reflect on. While you will not be able to track his exact progress and achievements with this method, you can rest assured that the client is improving in some areas of his life on his own. You can also expect to achieve clearer communication with him over time.
7. Practice Mindfulness:
In this busy and highly competitive world followed by distractive technologies, everyone should practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is our ability to be present, and fully aware of what are we thinking and doing. It wakes up certain parts of our brain that are not always active due to conscious or unconscious stress. It is scientifically proven, that mindfulness can not only eliminate stress, anxiety, and depression but also improve clear thinking, enhance sleep, and even treat medical conditions, such as high blood pressure.
The already discussed journaling can be a good practice of mindfulness, but meditation is the most effective one. Advise your client to sit for at least 15 minutes a day in a quiet and non-distractive environment with his eyes closed and just breathe. The breaths should be deep and slow, and the mind should be focused on nothing else but breathing. While this practice seems simple, it’s could be difficult to keep our thoughts collected during the practice. If we notice that our thoughts are wandering, we should return our attention to breathing and carry on.
Encourage your client to practice this simplest form of meditation daily by adding more time as he progresses. You can also suggest a more extreme type of meditation, such as the Wim Hom breathing method, Alternatively, going for a walk, jogging, and yoga are also great ways to practice mindfulness.
The coaching experience is only going to be better for your client if you introduce him some powerful coaching exercises. The exercises that we have mentioned are perfect for life coaches as they work for different types of individuals willing to succeed in different spheres. Start with self-awareness and goal-setting tools, then move to goal execution exercises, and finalize with some journalling and mindfulness practices. Your clients will love performing these exercises as they allow them to know themselves better and provide clarity towards success.
If you enjoyed this exercise, check out other great articles that will empower coaches like you:
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