A Coaching Power Tool By Madalyn Morris, Purposeful Aging Coach, UNITED STATES
Help People Find Their Unique Balance Between Comfort vs. Change That Fits Their Lives
Adaptability is a built-in human trait that has helped us survive for centuries, helped us overcome disease, survive wars, overcome famines. As bad as the world has gotten in the past, there are over seven billion people on earth today whose existence undeniable proves one thing; humans adapt to their environment. While adaptability is good for survival in a classical sense, too much of a good thing is bad. While many of us have dreams, desires, purposes to achieve, our natural tendency to find comfort in our current environment can stand in the way of change. This comfort trap leaves us to fixate on wants, daydreams of affluent lives, objects, or people that make us think, “if I just had a better job, a better house, more money, better relationships, then I would be happy.” Though the best of us fall victim to these thoughts, even the worst of us know that too much of a good thing is still bad. Too much comfort can be balanced by change, and too much change can, of course, be balanced with comfort.
The purpose of this power tool, change vs. comfort, is to help people find their unique balance between comfort and change that fits their lives. This power tool is untraditional in the sense that, while comfort and change can be viewed as opposites, they lie on a spectrum. Neither change nor comfort is inherently bad things, so each individual can benefit from this power tool by finding a balance that truly suits them.
Change vs. Comfort Is a Dynamic Power Tool
Change vs. comfort is a dynamic power tool, you don’t stay at the same place on this spectrum forever, change leads us to new comfort and comfort may direct us toward new change. Four fundamental circumstances help illustrate ways in which this power tool can help: earned comfort, desired change, destructive change, limiting comfort. Here are a couple of brief examples I’ve gathered simply through observing the lives of my friends, clients, family, and my own. The first example highlights what I like to call earned comfort and desired change. Earned comfort is the feeling of relief and satisfaction that comes with accomplishing a goal you set out to do. For example, taking charge of your health and eating habits. First comes the awareness of how you feel and how you look. Your clothing no longer fits, you have various sizes of clothing for whatever weight you happen to be this week. And then the consciousness of family, friends, and even strangers judging you. Most importantly concerns your health. You decide that you need to take control, take charge and create change. This is a critical juncture in which you realize a desire, and more importantly the change necessary to obtain it. So, you start eating healthier, you start taking walks, and you hire a personal trainer to help you on this journey. Slowly but surely, there is a change happening in your energy, the way you look and feel. Your family and friends are noticing and sharing how wonderful you look. Your confidence grows. This positive change allows you to discover other positive changes you want to make in your life. As you can tell, earned comfort can stem from positive and desired change.
On the other end of the spectrum is limiting comfort. Finding comfort in food, eating your emotions, well aware of the fact that you need to lose weight. Despite this awareness, you go back to self-sabotage and overeat anyway. This is the perfect example of limiting comfort. While with friends it feels good to indulge but the next morning you wake up and start getting down on yourself and beating yourself up. Relying on the comfort of food becomes a reoccurring event. The best use of this power tool is recognizing this stagnation (limiting comfort), taking that displaced energy, and initiating desired change, discussed in the previous paragraph.
Last is an example of destructive change. There are instances in life where too much change can be damaging. Destructive change doesn’t allow us to grow as desired change does. You feel happy with yourself and the way you look but your significant other keeps talking about how your body used to look, especially before you had children. You start to feel insecure about yourself and your marriage, You become stressed and anxious about your marriage and limit your eating to the point of discomfort. This change is unwelcome. You enjoyed your body before the criticism and this change seems to serve others at your expense. As you can see, change and comfort can be both good and bad given the right context. This power tool can help clients find the perfect spot on the spectrum between these two things.
What Are Some of the Tools a Coach Can Use to Help Switch the Client’s Perspective From Comfort vs. Change?
Change can often be intimidating and uncomfortable to talk about. This means that trust in the client/coach relationship is the foundation on which this power tool relies. As the discourse between the client and coach becomes more candid and open, the change and comfort within the client are struggling with will become more apparent. Because this is a dynamic power tool, there’s no textbook way to identify what changes and comforts the client is truly seeking. Therefore trust, consistency, and space are all required For the client to reveal what changes they’d like to accomplish in their own time and what comforts they want to achieve. There are some questions coaches can ask to help use this powerful tool effectively. In other words, what are some of the tools a coach can use to help switch the client’s perspective from comfort to change?
1) Exploration: What is the client bringing to the session? Exploring their behaviors, values, and beliefs. How do these fit into their goals?
2) Outcome: What would be most helpful for them? What would an ideal outcome look like?
Measures of Success: How will they know that they have achieved their desired outcome?
3) Importance: What is the value in achieving their goal? What would be different for them if they accomplished this goal?
4) Sharing observations: Repeating some keywords that the client used. Asking them what needs to be addressed in their session to help them achieve their desired result.
5) More exploration: Asking powerful questions. Listening and responding to the client using their words. Holding space for the client. Giving them plenty of space for exploration and awareness.
6) Learning: What are they learning? What are they learning about themselves? How can they use this learning to move forward with their session goal?
7) Explore Action: What is telling you that this action will help you achieve the goal you set out for yourself today? What steps can you take?
8) Timing of Action: When do you want to do this first step?
9) Support: What do you need to support you as you take this action step?
10) Accountability: What do you need to put in place to hold yourself accountable?
11) Loopback to a goal: Restate goal and check on a measure of success. How are you feeling about this now? What’s your biggest takeaway?
12) Wrap up: Is there anything else you’d like to discuss around this topic? Would now be a good time to end our session?
Weight, marriage, the feeling of being unfulfilled are only a few examples of the many difficult topics that can lead to a client seeking change in this life. Due to this power tool’s sensitive nature, there must be a bond of trust between client and coach. To accurately use this power tool coaches must be mindful of three things:
1). Their client’s current position. Is your client currently experiencing destructive change or limiting comfort? Or is your client achieving desired change or earned comfort? This information must of course come from the client and a coach must never assume a client’s position.
2). If noticeably in a position of destructive change or limiting comfort, how does your client feel about combating their limiting comfort with desired change? If noticeably in a position of destructive change how does your client feel about removing the catalysts for this unwanted change? Altering routines and current positions can be very difficult and overwhelming. Coaches may ask, “how would it feel to make a switch?”
3). Outstanding circumstances. Destructive change and limiting comfort may be caused by factors in your client’s life that are out of their control. In this case, these circumstances may need to be touched upon first, if and when your client is ready.