Coaching tips

If you would like to receive more in depth tips for a successful and fulfilling personal and work life, sign up here to receive my bi-monthly coaching newsletter

If you’re looking for information about what coaching is and how it works please see FAQs.

Many of the ideas and tips below have come from fellow coaches or my clients, to all of whom I am very grateful!

Many important tasks have no time limit, so invent a deadline. It needs to involve someone other than just you. For example, if you want to get that room decorated, invite friends or plan a party for a date you must complete it by. Book a meeting to discuss progress on the project you’re struggling to get started. Or tell a colleague or friend what you want to accomplish and when, and ask them to hold you accountable to that date.

ARE YOU TYPICAL? Over the years, I have worked with hundreds of people on many different goals and life changes. And here are the top two issues people bring to coaching. Are they yours too?
  • No.1 “I’m unhappy in my work”
    Nearly a third of people in the UK are unhappy at work. And more than half of the people who come to see me want to change their job or career.
    Sometimes it’s older people who have had a first career and now want something more inspiring or a better ‘fit’. Increasingly often it’s younger people wanting to make congruent first career choices and avoid just following the received wisdom.
    Through coaching, these people get more clear about what they really want in their work and discover new ways to take steps towards the job or career they really want. Like the fundraiser who became a nurse or the office administrator who set up her own business…
    How happy are you in your work? What would be the positive impact of feeling fulfilled at work?
  • No. 2 “I want to feel better about myself”
    So many people have the underlying feeling that there’s something wrong with them or beat themselves up with negative self talk. This has an enormous impact on overall well-being, and what people allow themselves to aspire to.
    The good news is that there are ways of discovering more empowering truths about ourselves which can have an enormous impact on how we live our lives. I often hear people say “I can see now that it’s only those thoughts that have held me back and they are simply not true”.
    Is this you? How would feeling better about yourself affect your life, your relationships, your happiness?

Really listening is one of the best gifts. It’s amazing how ‘just’ listening to someone helps them gain clarity and think of new solutions to tricky problems. And opening up the space to ‘listen to ourselves’ is essential when we are grappling with change or achieving our goals.
There are ways of listening well; give someone your full attention with good eye contact (whether or not they are looking at you); nod or say “uh-huh” to let them know you’re really listening; and reflect back the gist of what you’ve heard when they’ve finished talking.
You can ‘listen to yourself’ by writing down all your thoughts about a particular issue in a big blurt. When you’ve finished, write “the most important thing about all this is…” and see what you write. Then read all you’ve written and sit quietly for a moment to see what else becomes clear.
Why not try this today: when can you make five minutes to listen to yourself?

TAKE STEPS FOR A CHANGE Want to know a simple way to get fit, have creative insights, and save money? Did you know that regular walking results in a 30-40% reduction in heart disease? That walking is the best way to maintain weight loss? That it helps you think resourcefully? And it can save you loads of time and money instead of sitting in traffic jams or paying bus fares. So get your boots on and get out there! Here are some top tips:
  • If this is all new to you, plan a simple ‘five minutes out and five minutes back’ walk from home to try it out.
  • To get the health benefits, aim to walk faster so that you can just about hold a conversation while you are walking.
  • Take a creative walk: before setting off, think of a particular challenge, issue or creative project and formulate a question to ponder. Repeat it gently in your mind as you begin, allowing it to mull over, then wait to see what new ideas emerge.
  • Find a buddy — walking with a friend is more fun and a great motivator especially if you make an arrangement and commit to being there.
    “Walking is man’s best medicine.”
    Hippocrates, Greek physician (460 BC – 377 BC)


Modern life has become so fast and so full. In the middle of your to-do list do you ever catch yourself thinking “What’s it all about? Why exactly am I doing this?” It’s so easy to lose our sense of purpose and just go through the motions, which makes life barren and meaningless.
The first step to living on purpose is to stop and step back from the rush of daily events. This might be as simple as sitting quietly for a couple of minutes before getting out of the car or pausing when you complete one task before starting the next. (Where in your day can you find a few minutes to step back and reflect?)
As you do this, close your eyes and take a couple of a deep breaths followed by long slow out breaths then ask yourself inwardly: “what really matters today/in this task/in my life?” Sit quietly, wait, and notice any thoughts or insights. Then ask “What’s the most important thing here?” and again notice any response. This really only takes a couple of minutes but try it and you may be surprised at the knock on effects.

Many of us want something, either consciously or subconsciously, without having thought through what it’s really about. For example, you might want a better paid job or to be in a relationship, but is that really your goal or just a means to an end? So before setting off after a goal in life, be sure to find out what it is you really want. A simple way to explore this is to sit down with a pen and paper. Write down your goal, the thing you want. Now ask yourself “and what would that get me?” When you’ve written down an answer, ask yourself “and what would that get me?” Keep following this thread until you’ve no more answers. You might be surprised at what turns up.

Research shows that the Number 1 way of increasing our happiness is by having more social contact. So take five minutes right now to plan how you can see more friends or have more social time in the coming month. What might you need to let go of so you have the time?

If you’re feeling over-whelmed with jobs to do, ask yourself what one small task would make you feel loads better, perhaps something that’s been bugging you for ages. Commit to doing just that one thing this week and decide when you will do it.

We rarely stop to appreciate the positive things in our lives. Research shows that doing so increases our well-being and happiness enormously. Keep a small notebook by your bed and each night before you go to sleep write down all the people or things you are grateful to from your day. And look for opportunities to express that gratitude.

If you want to make changes in your life (eg getting fit, changing jobs) consider the effects on your life and other people. How will it impact on your family? Where will the time come from? Include this in your planning.

How much time do you spend focusing on the really important questions in your life? This month, promise yourself that you will spend just half an hour a week of ‘quality time’ thinking about what really matters: imagine what a difference that could make…

Ask yourself what you do regularly that feels like a waste of time or gets you down. Perhaps it’s late-night TV or seeing someone from habit. Make a list of all the things you’d rather be doing instead. What could you do differently this week?

De-clutter your life and home at least twice a year. If you haven’t used it for a year – throw it out or pass it on (charity shops will love you).

Start a special notebook — some people call it their ‘Well Done Me!’ book. Every night before you sleep write down the things you have accomplished that day or things you remember from the past where you did good. These can be small or big, anything from ‘raised my children well’ to ‘cleared the pile of paperwork on my desk’. Like most things, you have to do this to really appreciate its impact.

If you are dissatisfied in your current work and looking to make a change, start by asking yourself what you like or enjoy about your current or past roles. Include the work itself, people/colleagues, environment, underlying purpose and daily activities. Use this to start developing a ‘blueprint’ for the work you want, a practical description of the qualities it must have, before then browsing job databases for a match.

Many people wanting to make a change in their lives, whether big or small, expect it to happen quickly. It’s true we’ve all heard stories of people making sweeping changes overnight but in my experience this is the exception not the rule. Having unrealistic expectations simply gives us a reason to feel bad about what we have not yet done and lose motivation. Instead, spend just 10 minutes thinking through some of the major steps. Now be realistic about how long they might take — which might be three times your first estimate! Review what is already happening in your life and adjust your timescale for change to take this into account.