Monday, March 24, 2008

Change Coaches

I have three change coaches, identified here only by their initials: LS, DGP, LK. They have been instrumental in deep changes in my life by supporting the downs, encouraging the ups, and providing a safety net for when life takes a downward turn. Perhaps even more important than these three is that they demand accountability. My word is my bond. My plan is my bond. No excuses, no whining, no exceptions.

In her workshop on Defeating Self-Defeating Behaviors, author, psychologist, and an extraordinary teacher, Margie Lawson asks the questions, "Why doesn't everyone maintain new behaviors that are good for them? Why do they allow debilitating doubts to derail their goals?" It definitely sounds counter-intuitive, but ingraining a new activity in the fabric of your life as a habit requires repeated doing and a coach to buck you up, to cheer you on, and to make you toe the line. According to Dr. Lawson, "Having a good Change Coach makes [all] the difference between wallowing in mind-muck and following your great map to success."

I knew there were three things that I really wanted in life. Writing, working out, and reducing stress. For years, I'd sratched my head attempting to make my committments to those three things stick.

Every time I made forward progress into the ocean of understanding, only to be flung back harder by the surging tidal forces within and without. For a while then, I would lie bemoaning fate and faith, until the finger pointing to this, that, and the other returned to point to me. Then I would get up and try again, hoping this time I would be able to swim out to freedom.

In December, I read Dr. Lawon's workshop packet over and over to mine it of all the nuances.

January 1 arrived, and suddenly forces within and without were with me. This time, I did not merely hope, I knew. I knew that I was going to be able to break free. This time, I had three change coaches guarding my back and holding the safety net. They would not allow the tides to take me hither and yon.

Nearly three months later, I will tell you that my life has changed in ways I hadn't dreamed of. Without LS, DGP, or LK I wouldn't be where I am now. On the backs of their strength, courage, and compassion rides my current to freedom.

A final word from Dr. Lawson: "No matter what life deals you, your Inner Sunrise can shine."

So, what do you think of the concept of a Change Coach. Is this something that you've already implemented in your life or wish to pursue? In which different ways do you keep your committments?

[Images courtesy of Candice Hern.]


Deb Marlowe said...

Hi Keira!

I don't have any official change coaches, but I have a few very close friends who keep me in line!

Congrats on pursuing your goals so diligently and making a positive change in your life--that's a very big thing.

And Thank You so very much for your kind words about SLRM! I'm so glad you enjoyed it!

Keira Soleore said...

Hi Deb, thanks for stopping by to read and to comment. Having friends who keep in line, is like have that link padded in foam and silk lined. The line's still there, but the process of achieving the goal is so much more enjoyable.

Anna Campbell said...

Keira, what a great post. It almost made me want to exercise. ALMOST! Does thinking briefly about exercise count as exercising? It should!

Congratulations to you on getting your ducks in a row. That pointing finger is pretty ruthless, isn't it? And good on your coaches for not letting you make excuses. I think the moment for me was thinking, "If I don't do this, nobody is going to do it for me." Again, that ruthless finger!

Tawny said...

Keira -FABULOUS and inspiring post! I love Margie Lawson's workshops - they are so filled with wisdom and information.

I think its so much easier to achieve those big goals when you do have support --it sounds like you've scored big time there. I tend to become a little obsessive with my goals, to the point that I focus totally on ONE (publishing) while letting the others languish in the background (exercise). I'm working on that, though!!

Terri Osburn said...

I love this idea. But I don't think I have any really. Don't get me wrong, I have great friends who remind me I *should* write more, but no one for the exercising and stress reducing stuff.

And I'm with Anna, this blog made me wish I could find the motivation to exercise regularly. Wishing counts as exercise, right?

At least the eternal optimist in me believes I'll get to where I want to be....someday. Ok, the eternal procrastinator is bigger and stronger than the optimist. What can I say?

Anna Campbell said...

Hey, Terrio, you and I must get together to think about exercising some time. We can be each other's change coach on the thinking about exercise goal! ;-)

Cassondra said...

Hey Keira!

SO sorry I missed this on Monday. I'm in tax mire this week. But so GLAD I came 'round to read it today.

What a deep and powerful concept--Change Coaches. I LOVE this. And in truth, I can say that any progress I've made has been with the help of this exact type of person. I wasn't calling them Change Coaches, but that's a brilliant name for them.

The interesting thing is that as writers, I think a lot of times we depend on our critique partners to be our "change coaches" and a lot of times they're not. Sometimes the type of person it takes to fill one role is not the type it takes to fill the other.

Donna MacMeans talks about a "professional writers' group" she has, which meets monthly to discuss and set goals, and if you don't meet your goal, you have to pay $5 per goal. She sent her manuscript that sold in a last minute frantic attempt to save that $5 and now we have Mrs. Brimley to read. And this is part of the role they play--holding your feet to the fire when you've committed.

I think the Banditas play that role to some extent for me, but here where I live? I don't have one. I think I need to find one--either online or in person.

I can't believe something so simple and yet so profound has passed by me...the poster child for "self help" concepts.

Thank you for posting this wonderful blog!

Caren Crane said...

Keira, I have to say that I have a modest Change Coach whose initials are DM who is making me walk at least ONCE a week with her. It is the only way I can do it! Otherwise, I would weigh 200 pounds and be a total sloth. I desperately need to exercise and have no motivation whatsoever.

I also tend to let the muse be my guide many days. Not a good plan. The muse is a fickle be-otch and only shows up when she feels like it. Not often enough! Of course, I have forced myself to write when I really couldn't and have had to throw out huge chunks of books that didn't work because I was just writing to write. There is a time to STOP and think, rather than keep writing. It's all crystal clear--in retrospect. While you're in the middle of it, it's horrible!

Jeanne (AKA The Duchesse) said...

Hi Keira! Isn't this a wonderful concept? I've taken some coaching classes and been coached by professional coaches and it DOES make a lot of difference. However as you point out, what makes even more difference is what I like to call Accountability Partners. These are the people, like your change coaches, to whom you state your commitments, and to whom you have to answer. Its kind of like having a "boss" when you don't have a boss. Grins.

I'm also going through a great program called The Prosperity Partnership to become a Certified Prosperity Guide. Pretty cool. You can check them out at if you're interested. Great stuff!

Nothing better than accountability to move you forward and keep you inline with your best intentions! Heehee.

jo robertson said...

Provocative topic, Keira! Like Deb, I have my friends and family to keep me walking the straight and narrow. So important to good psychological health, don't you think?

Uh, NO, Anna, thinking about, planning, and wishing for exercise does not count. One must actually sweat, unfortunately. Sigh.

Beth Andrews said...

Wonderful post, Keira! Like Tawny, I tend to focus on one goal to the detriment of my other goals *g* But I'm focusing on balance this year and it's working wonders.

It also helps to have the support of my dh and kids and of course, I rely on Tawny to keep me writing when it'd be easier to surf the 'Net and exercising when I'd rather be a bum :-)

Keira Soleore said...

Hey there Banditas and Banditalitos (Cassondra coined it)!

Sorry I'm so late in commenting here. Migraine bit me hard the past couple days. All's well now, and after I finish commenting here and drinking my cuppa, I'm heading to the gym.

Foanna and Terri: Almost made you exercise and thinking about it are good steps. Now to find someone who'll bust your chops if you don't go. My change coach is clear across the country, but her reach is just as strong. I've been known to squeeze my workout in just before closing then returning the next morning so that I wouldn't have to report to her that I didn't go. :)

Terri: Change coaches don't have to be local. Two of mine are, and one is on the east coast. They also don't have to close friends. It helps if they have the same goal as you to exercise (or whatever it might be), then it feels like a mutual passing back-n-forth of the carroty stick. Sometimes close friends tend to give you the benefit of the doubt or let you off the hook easily.

Foanna wrote, "If I don't do this, nobody is going to do it for me."

You've hit on a fundamental truth. That realization that you alone are responsible for it, you alone can do it, and you alone are standing in your way.

Tawny: I love Margie Lawson, and I haunt her around the 'Net :) whenever she visits. I find I learn something new every time.

Terri: I'm the world's biggest procrastinator!! If I can avoid doing something, I will. Hence the need for a stick.

Amanda McCabe/Amanda Carmack/Laurel McKee said...

"I'm the world's biggest procrastinator!!"

Keira, I think I am the biggest procrastinator, since I meant to come here Monday and it's, er, Saturday! Must learn days of the week. :)

I do like the idea of having change coaches. I have a few friends who email me to remind me to write, and give me pep talks when needed. One to remind me to go to yoga class would be good, too (though I've found that when I pre-pay for classes, I usually go, LOL). And it's so true that ingraining new behaviors into our lives makes them just a part of the day. I didn't realize this until I got the concept of not "going on a diet" but "changing my eating habits". Big difference.

Diane Gaston said...

It almost made me want to exercise. ALMOST! Does thinking briefly about exercise count as exercising? It should!

Watch out, Anna, it could be the first step.

And Amanda, I'm a bigger procrastinator than you are! It's the following Monday.

I have a lovely Change Coach with whom I must check in about going to Curves. It really helps when I'm wanting to procrastinate and i think, no, I'd have to email a Curves Monday No email!

Right before I sold, I listened to lots of motivational tapes. It really made a difference. I started thinking that ANYTHING that happened, writing-wise, meant I was one step closer to my goal of publishing. This positive thinking kept me from getting discouraged

Keira Soleore said...

Keira wrote, "I'm the world's biggest procrastinator!!"
Ammanda wrote, "Keira, I think I am the biggest procrastinator"
Diane wrote, "And Amanda, I'm a bigger procrastinator than you are!"

My dear friends, it's come full circle around to me again to proclaim even more vehemently that I'm the bigger bigest (ahem) procrastinator. :)

Angela said...

I did not used to be a big procrastinator.. Not until after I had kids did I begin to put things off..
After that, I became bored easily and can not seem to finish anything. A book I picked up at the library, I read one chapter then quit. I renewed it thinking, I will read it now.. But, never did.. I had to take it back.
I just can't stay offline, I'm obsessed now!
You guys are the best.
I need a coach big time. Someone that will kick me in the butt and get me going.

Keira Soleore said...

Life falls into such neat bins, doesn't it? Life before kids. Life after kids. There doesn't seem to even be the least bit of overlap between the two. Friends change. Lifestyle changes. Hobbies change. Personality changes. It's a different you.

I know that inertia of not being able to focusing (on anything other than online blogs and boards and reading). It took me a while to figure out what exactly it is I wanted to do. Then to identify who would be best suited to prod me going in the directions I wanted to move in. Sometimes, the most logical of sources (closest friends) don't work. But I do think a change coach(es) is(are) necessary in order to make life a success.