Have you ever thought, ‘I don’t know what I want from life’? You’re not alone. It’s a common feeling that most people experience at different stages of their life, and sometimes it’s a question we can’t answer on our own. What do you want from life? Sometimes we just need someone else to ask the question. Other times, a skilled coach can help us focus and find the answer. Life coach Kim Morgan shares a case study from a coaching session that we can all probably relate to.
Coaching Session 1: A trapped free spirit
Maddie phoned to book some coaching sessions, to ‘see what it was all about’. I asked her to prepare by considering what she wanted to focus on. I said people often try it to achieve a specific goal, change something, or consider what they want from their life, career or relationships.
A week later, Maddie burst into my coaching room like a whirlwind, kicked off her shoes and sat on the floor. I joined her. She unfurled a big sheet of flip-chart paper and showed me a collage she’d made to represent her life now. ‘My life is spontaneous and crazy. It doesn’t seem to suit anyone but me. People are always telling me I ought to be more tame, to fit in,’ she explained.
She told me she hadn’t been able to hold down a job because she didn’t like being micro-managed and hated routine and structure. She’d walked out of some jobs herself and, more than once, had been asked to leave. ‘I’ve always been told that I don’t conform. It’s true that I can’t bear bureaucracy. I am a bit of a maverick,’ she said. I noticed that she smiled when she used this word. ‘So, who is telling you that you ought to be more tame?’ I asked, following a hunch.
Maddie told me that her partner wanted her to commit to their relationship. For him, that meant buying a house and getting married. Maddie actually shuddered. ‘I’m fine as we are,’ she said. ‘We see each other several times a week. I don’t want to live in his pocket, but he wants more.’
I suggested that before her next session, Maddie ask herself a question: what would move her from ‘I ought to’ to ‘I want to’ commit to my partner? I also asked Maddie to make a new collage, representing where she wanted to be in three years’ time.
Coaching Session 2: What does she really want?
I reviewed the case with my supervisor. I was aware that too much fierce independence can mean that we’re not able to rely on others at all, and it can result in mistrusting people and avoiding intimacy. I was unsure how to help Maddie with her commitment issue. My supervisor simply reminded me that fiercely independent people often break the mould and have their own unique ways of thinking and being that can work for them. I realised that I was indanger of projecting my own values on to Maddie.
I couldn’t be sure whether Maddie really wanted to change her behaviour, or whether she just thought she ought to change for the sake of those around her.
Coaching Session 3: Admitting the truth
Maddie happily presented me with her collage about her ideal future. It was full of vibrant pictures of faraway places, dolphins, deserts, books, caravans, motorbikes and tents. She was really excited as she told me about her three-year vision: travel, adventure, blogging and writing a book about living creatively. I reflected that her picture of her future contained no employer, no house and no partner. ‘That’s right,’ she said. ‘I thought about your
question and I realised that I was actually just trying to conform to other people’s expectations.
I have decided to focus on what gives me pleasure and meaning, and that doesn’t include having a mortgage and 2.4 children. I now know that I crave freedom and creativity more than stability and security.’ Maddie had already told her partner she was leaving. We didn’t have another coaching session, because she had already booked a flight to start her travels.
A year later, I was delighted to receive an email from Maddie. She asked me to write the foreword to her book, now ready for publication. She told me: ‘I am living my dream, not someone else’s.’
Powerful exercises to try at home
If you’re not sure where your life is heading, try using a creative approach to goal-setting and draw a map of your life. Take a large sheet of paper and divide it into three sections. Complete the map in the following order:
- In the first section, draw a picture of your life today. Use images or words to represent aspects of your life – you can cut pictures out of magazines and make a collage if you prefer.
- In the third section, draw a picture of your life in two years’ time as you would like it to be. Again, use images or words.
- In the middle section, draw images to represent what is preventing you getting from section one to section three.
- Finally, draw a path from section one to section three, crossing section two. Put words and images on here of everything that will help you cross to section three.
Living a fulfilled life
We get most fulfilment when what we’re doing gives us meaning and pleasure, and utilises our strengths. Do a quick check to ensure that you’re living a fulfilled life. Ask yourself:
- What are my strengths?
- What gives me meaning?
- What gives me pleasure?
- How far is your current situation giving you meaning, pleasure and playing to your strengths?
- What could you change to lead an even more fulfilling life?
If you find yourself rejecting help from anyone, it’s worth checking the reasons behind your fierce independence. Ask yourself the following:
- How do I feel when I depend on someone else?
- How do I feel when someone depends on me?
- In what situations have I shied away from being dependent on others?
- In what situations have I allowed myself to depend on someone?
- What have I learned from these situations?
- What do I gain from being independent?
- What do I fear from being dependent?
For more from Kim, go to barefootcoaching.co.uk.