Coaching Case Study By Julie Pressnell
(Life Coach & Financial Advisor Coach, UNITED STATES)
Who are the main players in this case study?
The main players in my case study are myself and my client, Mary. Mary and I met through ICF Peer Coaching. She is based out of Alberta, Canada and had recently retired when we began coaching. Mary had retired from the local government, her most recent role was running the local leisure centre and had spent the majority of her career moving up the ranks after starting as a fitness instructor. Health, fitness and wellness have always been important to Mary.
Mary had raised her children and they were busy with their own children now. Mary’s husband was retired as well and they were looking forward to spending time together, just not too much time. She was able to retire at a youthful age and was not sure what she was going to do in retirement beyond some travel and staying fit.
What is the core problem or challenge you applied your coaching skills to?
Mary is a coach herself and had tried problem-solving and other techniques to figure out what was next. She was becoming anxious and nervous that she didn’t know how she would fill up her time. When we started our coaching engagement Mary had been retired for about 6 months and had completed some travel that she and her husband had planned.
Mary was concerned about finding what her purpose moving forward was. Her identity was not completely tied to her job however she knew the expectations of time and output with her career. Retirement was a whole new world! She could spend her time any way she wanted, however, she found herself wondering ‘What did she want to spend her time on?’
It was a pivotal moment in Mary’s life, retirement, and she had not realized how big of a moment it was until about 6 months into it.
What specific coaching skills or approach did you use in this case?
Being a life coach for children and parents’ of all personality types means that Mary had access to coaching tools but it was not until she was faced with the next phase of her life did she realize that she was in need of a coach for herself.
When Mary and I began coaching she had only been pursuing her life coaching business part-time and was not sure that she wanted to commit to full-time. She was also struggling with ‘gremlins’ as she called them of self-doubt and limiting beliefs.
My approach from the beginning was to create and continually clarify our coaching agreement. There were some sessions that were focused on personal relationships as there were some stumbling blocks with these relationships that redirected her attention from figuring out ‘What’s next?’ However, it was always about allowing Mary to determine the course of the engagement and work on what was most important to her at that moment.
In my approach, it was important for me to establish trust and intimacy with her. I took the time at the beginning of our very first session to learn more about each other, allowing Mary to ask me questions about myself as well. From there, it was very easy to be present with her during our calls. Through active listening, I was able to hear the inflection in her voice of something unsaid or the shift in her energy that keeping her from making a breakthrough. As I listened, I was able to ask her some powerful questions that prompted her to pause and take a moment to think about how she wanted to answer it. And to discover some of the beliefs getting in her way.
Our next steps included creating actions and goal setting. The energy that I could hear through the phone from Mary as she was creating her plan was amazing. She was so excited each time she was able to put another piece of the puzzle together. Lastly, managing progress and accountability were the steps I cherished. Mary was growing confident and had a sense of calm during our last couple of sessions that she did not have at the beginning of our engagement.
What were the results of your process? Was your coaching/program effective? Why? Why not?
Yes, I believe the coaching engagement was successful. In our final session, Mary expressed her gratitude for the work we had done together. And, as she revisited all of the steps and actions that she had taken as a result of our sessions she and I both could see the tangible results of our time together.
Mary was excited for this next phase of her life and not just because she had some things planned out however she realized that she did not have to have everything planned out. She had put a lot of pressure on herself to have a plan, to take the next steps and that had caused her to become anxious and always searching for ‘What’s next?’
Mary’s shift in perspective allowed her to understand that her career had imposed a framework and a mindset that she had to have the next thing figured out. And that she no longer had to abide by this framework as it no longer served her. She was now free to be a part-time life coach for children and parents’ on her terms, be a grandmother to her growing family when she wanted to, take care of herself, her health and her wellness exactly how she had always wanted to, and travel with her husband to the places they always wanted to go.
If you could approach this problem again, what would you do differently?
I would have approached this issue a bit differently utilizing a values exercise. I think important to understand what you value most and how the choices and actions in your life don’t always align. Especially knowing that Mary had entered a new phase of life and I believe that we could have assessed this at the beginning of our engagement to help her determine if there was a misalignment. Our values evolve and change as we do and as we enter different stages of our lives.
What are the top 3 things you learnt from this experience?
My top three takeaways from this engagement are:
1) Mary is a rock star and how fortunate I was to be able to work with her during this amazing mindset shift;
2) The absolute power of coaching and the ability to help make this world a better place;
3) Lastly, how blessed I am to be able to work with such amazing people and learn about people from all over the world. And, that I am forever grateful to Coaching, ICA & ICF.