A few weeks ago, after taking a break for the holiday season, DeShawn (of yourADDanswers) and I hooked up on Google Hangouts to catch up on our coaching work.
How are the new habits, hacks, workarounds and strategies working for me? How am I doing with my time management, transitions (from one task to another) & productivity? And am I doing better staying on top of the day-to-day, while also making progress on my new projects and goals?
It wasn’t until after we closed the hangout that I realized our session hadn’t been our usual working session, where I came away with tasks and an action plan, this hangout was more of a review, a recap, a debriefing, a graduation. I realized just how much work we had done, how far I had come with DeShawn’s guidance and support, and how ready I was for the work ahead.
So how does coaching work? What is the process? And was it worth the expenses? Read on for all the intel…
Flashback to January 2015
It was a year ago that I decided to try working with a life coach, specifically a coach that specializes in working with people like me, that live with the unique set of strengths and struggles that are ADHD. I was determined to figure out how I could keep up with the day-to-day, while still making progress on my big ideas and goals.
It was time to build a surfboard and learn how to ride the often unpredictable ADD tides. It was time to learn how to work smarter not harder!
I had been curious (and more than a bit skeptical – click here to read all about it) for quite some time about how coaching could actually help. I would ask coaches I met questions – “So what is coaching? How does it work? Is it really worth all the money?” – and I’d get frustratingly ambiguous answers – “Every client is different and every coach’s approach is different so the process is never the same.” and “My clients say it changed their lives.” HUH? What kind of answers are those? I wanted concrete facts and ROI numbers. I wanted some kind of process, a framework, a rough draft! Give me details, examples! I promised not to hold them to it!
Then one day I picked up the phone, talked with DeShawn and decided to give coaching a try, make an investment in myself and my future.
After this year of coaching with DeShawn, and coming to know numerous other highly-trained and talented coaches, here’s my uncertified “coaching framework” that most coaches seem to use in some shape or form.
Determine Fit & Readiness
First, you and the coach need to determine if you are a good match. It’s kind of like dating – Are you ready to commit to coaching? Are you ready to change your life? Are you ready to move forward into a new future? Are you ready to do the work to get there? Are your expectations realistic? And does the coach feel their style and skills match up well with your needs and goals? This is usually accomplished in a preliminary consultation, which most coaches offer for free.
Clarify Your Goals
Next, you’ll work together to discern and define the what your hopes and goals are – personal and/or professional and for coaching. What are you not achieving? What are you struggling with? What is causing you distress?
While coaching isn’t therapy, it does require you to dig below the surface and be honest. In coaching, you’re not working to fix the past or deal with other emotional or mental challenges (those you need a clinician for), but sometimes you need to access the past (or reframe your perspective on it) in order to effectively move into your future.
As DeShawn so simply & eloquently stated in her guest post – Therapist or ADHD Coach – therapists help with healing, while coaches help you plan. I found during my year of coaching that there can be a whole lot of healing happening as you develop your plan.
After you’ve agreed on your goals, your coach will help you identify obstacles and challenges that are impeding your progress to achieving those goals. Or getting started at all for that matter
Discerning and identifying might be accomplished in one session, or it may take a few. For me, it was over the course of our first few sessions that things started coming into focus, and they continued to be defined and refined along the way.
Development and Implementation
Your coach isn’t in the driver seat, you are, they are just a very helpful passenger, sharing observations and giving suggestions along the way. Based on your goals, challenges, and strengths, they’ll help you reframe obstacles or situations and suggest strategies, tools, hacks, workarounds and tricks for you to try out. Your coach can also be a wonderful source for nonjudgmental accountability and an empowering cheerleader, even when your inner voice is being a Negative Nelly. Based on your feedback, they’ll keep refining their suggestions until you find just the right combination for you.
My Coaching Process
While some coaches and clients meet (in-person, virtually or via old-fashioned phone calls) every week, I quickly learned two things – 1) video was much better than phone for me, it was more intimate and engaging being face-to-face, and I couldn’t get distracted with DeShawn watching me; and 2) with my busy schedule I needed more time between appointments to process, integrate and accomplish what we had covered in each session.
For the first three months, as we worked through the first steps of the coaching process, we scheduled video chats every other week. After that first phase, we took some longish breaks between sessions – sometimes due to overloaded or conflicting schedules, sometimes because I just needed more time to try out new hacks, strategies or workarounds and work on establishing new habits before I could report back to DeShawn and plan my next steps.
Once I had adjusted my perspective on a few issues, built some new scaffolding to support some of my weaknesses, delegated a few of my distractions, established some new habits and implemented a few of ADD Crusher‘s productivity hacks (which I’ll share in a separate post very soon) it was time to let things settle in, time to see just how these new tracks would work with my old ADHD brain train.
During those breaks, I would set weekly goals (that I shared with DeShawn) and DeShawn would check on me with a quick daily text. Somedays I was so “in the zone” I wouldn’t text her back until that evening when I could proudly share all I had gotten accomplished that day, other days her text was just the gentle nudge I needed to get me back on track.
Coaching may not be therapy, but it soothed some of my old wounds from growing up in the pre-ADHD world and helped me put some behind me. I learned I needed to kinder to myself. And even though I thought I knew a lot about how my ADHD brain works, I zeroed in on weakness and started to learn how to minimize them, while learning how to leverage my strengths.
Am I glad I tried coaching? Was it worth the investment? ABSOLUTELY!
After a year of coaching with DeShawn, I now have the awareness, skills & tools I need to get working on those ideas & goals I used to worry I would never even start working on.
Up next – I’ll share some of the revelations, realizations, strategies, and tools I discovered during my coaching journey.