Things I’ve Learned Through Coaching People

I’ve now been coaching many people one on one for over 2 years. In that time all of them have had major positive life changes and a huge portion have already achieved goals that they had set for much longer time horizons. In some ways each person is totally different, but I’ve noticed some very strong trends in what causes people to have success.

The first thing I always try to find is the person’s real goal. People usually know what their top goals are, but sometimes it takes a little bit of refining to get to the core of what’s going on.

But the most important thing about their goal is that they have to really want it. This sounds obvious, but sometimes people have goals that they think they should want rather than goals they actually want. Thinking about why a goal is important and why you really want it is an important part of the process. Writing down a goal isn’t enough.

Once a good important goal is set, I design a habit or process which will all but ensure success if they follow it. In designing these habits, I’ve found that by far the most important factor is that it is easy enough that they will follow it consistently. As long as the habit is on the path towards the goal, there is no difficulty level that is too easy. Start very easy and focus on perfect consistency, increasing difficulty only once perfect consistency is reached. As soon as someone is consistently following the habit or process for a couple months, I know that they are probably going to reach their goal faster than they think.

Of course, not everyone has perfectly smooth sailing all the way to the finish line. Some do, but sometimes people slip up or we increase the difficulty by too much.

When people have a bad month, we drop everything else and put a huge focus on the following month being perfect. We plan every little contingency and preempt any excuse that may come up. In the past when we didn’t do that, people would sometimes get stuck in a state of limbo where they weren’t quite failing but weren’t quite succeeding. This is a taxing state and is a waste of time, so I find it’s worth doing whatever it takes to get back to perfect adherence. Don’t let yourself get stuck in that limbo of mediocrity.

Last, I’ve found that people’s most inspiring goals are often hiding behind more utilitarian ones. The first thing we work on is always necessary, but never the biggest win. It seems very common that achieving a big goal gives people confidence to tackle a bigger goal with the same process, and that the next goal ends up being the one that used to seem out of reach and is thus even more inspiring. So even if your current goal isn’t the most exciting thing, know that by achieving it you will open up doors that you aren’t even considering right now.


Photo is the Tokyo skyline at dusk from the Mori Tower. I went to a reall cool Hokusai exhibit there a few months ago… and one of the prints they had on display was the Hokusai I have (their copy was better)!

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