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From Vision to Action: Lessons from Coaching Research

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As we approach the end of another year, it is not unusual to start thinking about all the things we intended to do or achieve but did not manage to fit in. How are we going to make it happen next year? How are we going to make time for that coaching course we wanted to take, restart that fitness regime we did not follow through, learn more about a new software system we are considering implementing? Before we know it, we start feeling overwhelmed and demotivated and inclined to leave it for the next year, next summer, or perhaps, we simply push it under the carpet all together. The feeling of not being able to do the things we set ourselves not only affects our motivation but in the long run may affect our confidence in our own ability to take action.


Psychological research on coaching and behavioural change tells us that a different thinking approach can be more effective in getting us moving towards our goals – even when time is not on our side.

Keeping our focus on the gaps we have yet to bridge tends to trigger a feeling of obligation and dread – leading us to a spiral of negativity that decreases our creativity, ability to solve problems and motivation to take action. In coaching, we call this coaching for compliance and this is a counterproductive way to set objectives and action plans.

An alternative approach is to envisage where we want to be, creating a positive picture of the future. This positivity acts as an energiser that enhances our ‘can do’ attitude and also helps us to open our cognition enabling us to think creatively about how to plan our actions. This is called coaching with compassion – and is an effective strategy to create the traction needed to get us moving towards our targets.

This shift in approach seems simple but for many of us does not feel natural as we have been conditioned to focus on what is wrong, what is missing, our weaknesses, what we still need to do and so on. This habit not only makes us neglect the vision but often makes us forget all the good things we achieve along the way. Examining our journeys using a coaching with compassion framework allows us to build our resources and strengthen even more our vision of success. So, when you start to feel anxious that the year is coming to an end, reflect on all your achievements so far, the things you should be grateful about and the vision for yourself, the person you want to be. Visualise all the great things that the future holds for you, and you will find yourself energised, creative and resourceful.

… and when you think again about that coaching course you would like to attend and thought you would never be able to have time for, you may just regain the enthusiasm to look into it again.

Next year, for the first time, Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching (PCEC) will be starting a weekend intake in addition to the usual schedule. Find out more about our February weekend intake

Tatiana Rowson teaches on the Henley Professional Certificate in Executive Coaching and supervises masters projects from the MSc in Coaching and Behavioural Change programme.

Posted on 23 November 2017

Published 23 November 2017

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