5 ways wellness coaching can change your life

IMG_0558One of the most important people to include on your journey to wellness is a wellness coach.

These are professionals who already have an established background in the areas of healthcare, nutrition and exercise science and who have elected to undergo additional training and certification to help you reach your wellness goals. But a coach is not your nutritionist, trainer or your doctor. Unlike those other services, which some coaches might also still provide outside of their coaching business, you are not purchasing information or a program to follow. Instead, you are learning how to partner with your intuition through the guidance of your coach, so that eventually you can coach yourself. This is why coaching of any sort is so valuable and worth the investment.

Specifically though, how can wellness coaching benefit you?

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How the most radical change of your life can be as quiet as a whisper

file0001363797321When you think about making changes in your life, what do you think of? Is it a flash forward to yourself twenty pounds thinner, or twenty grand richer? Do you picture yourself living on the beach, maybe with a new partner, or finally living the dream you long ago laid to rest?

Often, when we imagine great changes in our lives that reflect our deepest values and dreams, images like those above are conjured in our minds. We generally think of how the situations around us would be different, even seeing the future “us” as an entirely different person from who we are now. Living the life of our dreams can seem so out of reach from this perspective. Not only that, when we do make attempts to get ‘there”, we often experience setbacks and failures, further discouraging us so that we stay stuck where we are, as we are, with feelings of general discontent. It is an ongoing challenge to balance wanting to make positive changes for a better future, while also appreciating what life brings us in each moment.

Detailed visions are very important to construct because it helps our neurons fire and wire together in ways that help us change. I like to consider these visions as “sensory visions”; I encourage my clients to use their five senses when describing their vision to begin laying down new neuronal circuitry that will facilitate change. This is an important step because it prepares the brain for what comes next…which is essentially a series of incredibly small changes that my clients never really factored into their grand vision in the first place. It is not unusual during the coaching process for these small changes to take a client by surprise, especially when they occur after a client thinks he or she has “failed” at some task. I love when that happens. As is the case in life, when we don’t get what we asked for, we often get something better.

For example, by working toward a healthy weight for your body, you find you have somehow developed the deep capacity to love yourself unconditionally. By committing to a daily 30 minute walk, you renew your connection with the natural world and express gratitude for its beauty. Or by deciding to improve communications with your partner regarding your health efforts, you infuse your relationship with vitality that it hasn’t seen since you first got together.

Sometimes, the changes that have the most radical impact on our lives are like gentle whispers in our ear. We make an almost imperceptible shift in our behavior, that is in line with our higher values, and see the effects echoing loudly in other areas of our lives. While the coaching process is about setting and attaining realistic goals, the biggest growth occurs when we realize important things about ourselves we were previously unaware of. These are the little insights, the “Aha!” moments, that connect us deeply to ourselves and each other. Our vision is a dream, that we can only work toward by becoming awake.

Dream your wildest vision for yourself, and then when you are done, wake up to the life you have. Wake up to who you are. Commit to small changes you can stick with, as if you were listening to a lover whisper in your ear. I promise you, these whispers will change your life.

Finding your dream

file0001684040893As adults, most of us have stopped dreaming. We don’t imagine the wildest scenarios that we could find ourselves in tomorrow, next week, next year, because we know we are supposed to be more practical than that. We become burdened by the responsibility of adult life, of paying the bills, securing insurance, and making sure a roof is over our heads and food on the table.

Some of us have a stronger need for this type of adult security than others, but we all have that inner dreamer hidden within. The dreamer that thinks of the best possible scenario, whether its falling in love again after a divorce, moving to a new city with exciting job opportunities, or growing the family with another child. Our dreams change as we age, as we evolve as people. But for so many of us, the dreams begin to lose their vibrancy and texture once we enter adulthood. It’s almost seen as silly to have a dream as an adult, as if somehow by not currently living the “dream”, we have failed. We begin to domesticate our wildest dreams, to house train them so that they can fit into what life currently represents for us.  But having a dream as adults is so important for our overall health and well-being. Having a dream means that we are connected to some deeper part of ourselves that knows our full potential. And the more urgency we feel to live out that dream, the more we know the current situation has been limiting us for far too long.

Finding your dream is both hard and easy, depending on how you look at it. The easy part is that your dream is already within you, waiting to be explored. The hard part is that often we are unconscious to the dream, and we need to interpret Life’s signs and symbols to help make it a reality. The latter requires immense faith in ourselves, faith that we can know something so intangible about what others would call mere coincidence. But to those of us who are in touch with the dreamer side of our personality, we know there is no such thing as coincidence. We know that a dream is on the horizon, and we just have to follow the signs to find it.

Start to pay attention to the little signs that Life directs your way. When you sense you need to follow in a certain direction, allow the dreamer in you to take charge. Allow yourself to dream as big as you possibly can, to look to the future with anticipation and glee that it will be more amazing than you could even possibly realize now. Finding your dream begins with the permission to dream big. There is nothing holding you back, there is no one else you need to please, just dream big and take one step closer to the life you have always wished to live.

Following your dreams doesn’t mean it will always be easy. But the darkest night of your soul when following your dreams, will be nothing compared to the darkest night in a life you weren’t meant to live.

Your Vision

Creating a vision is an important coaching tool that helps each client connect with their innermost values and desires, and links it to their motivation to make the vision a reality. Some may find this exercise easy, while others will struggle with visualizing clearly what it is they want most for themselves. It requires a shift in thinking. The center of the vision is ultimately you, after all, and no body else. Not your family, friends or significant others. This vision is all about what you want in life, and this can be a hard shift to make for those who have spent much of their lives focused on the people around them.

A clear vision is so important to create because it actually begins to train our brain and nervous systems. We all have well worn paths of thought we tread down again and again. This is no coincidence – this is merely how the brain works. The more we think and do things, the easier it becomes to think and do those same things again. By creating a detailed vision that reflects what we want most in life, we are allowing our nervous system to lay down new tracks that we can hopefully reinforce with further thought and action. The more we focus on this vision, the better chance we have of bringing it into reality.

Understanding some of the neuroscience behind habit change is important, because we find that ultimately creating good habits that lead us to our ultimate vision is not just a matter of willpower. We can actually set ourselves up for success. We can begin making progress, even if it seems slow to us in the moment, towards a larger vision that has the power to transform our lives. We begin to see that we have always been moving forward, but without a clear vision, we weren’t going in the direction we wanted. Choosing where you want to be in life is something only you can do. No one else can choose for you. Therefore, its best to create a vision that reflects your wildest dreams and impossible hopes, because truly, within a vision, nothing is impossible.