A Coaching Power Tool Created by Lucie Petrelis-Petra
(Life Coach, LGBTQIAS+, SWITZERLAND)
To achieve their goals, clients need to take action. By putting themselves into a specific mode they can stick to their plan and minimize the distractions towards accomplishing their goals. The clients, along with their coach, will define a name and the characteristics included in that mode which will mirror exactly what they need to stay focused. On the other hand, their mood could appear as their biggest enemy sabotaging the effectiveness, the progress, and the trajectory of their action plan.
How many times we tell ourselves, “I am not in the mood to do that thing today” even though we want to stick to our plan of doing it. And then “today” becomes many days later postponing the task further and further away. Not being in the right mood to accomplish something or to stick to our plan is an option that we give ourselves while at the same time hoping that the more appropriate mood will eventually come soon. What if the progress or our dedication to following our plan didn’t depend on our mood but rather on the mode we put ourselves in to?What if we chose a“no matter what” mode that puts us in a state of mind that, regardless of our mood we will continue to follow each step of our plan towards reaching our goal?
This power tool is aiming to switch the client’s perspective from a perhaps less effective, fluid, and uncertain“mood” to a more effective and solid “mode.” This approach could be used during a coaching session at the moment of putting in place the action plan. When they see that they cannot remain fully accountable to themselves due to the strong impact of their mood jeopardizing the effectiveness of their action plan, they could decide which mode could support them to stick to their plan. What will be the most appropriate behavior for them to be more accountable to themselves and their plan without getting influenced by their mood – assuming that this is what they want?
The terms “mood” and “mode” have many possible definitions used in a variety of ways. The most appropriate ones fitting the context of this power tool, as well as examples of their use, will be presented along with additional information reflecting what is a mood and what is a mode. The coaching application will be described with examples of ways to use a specific mode and what to do when the mood comes back strongly. And finally, the self-application and the inspiration for this tool will be revealed.
Understanding the Mood
- Your mood is the way you are feeling at a particular time. If you are in a good mood, you feel cheerful. If you are in a bad mood, you feel angry and impatient. He is clearly in a good mood today. Lily was in one of her aggressive moods.
- If someone is in a mood, the way they are behaving shows that they are feeling angry and impatient. She was obviously in a mood.
- A mental or emotional state, composure. I’ve been in a bad mood since I dumped my boyfriend.
- A sullen mental state; a bad mood. He’s in a mood with me today.
- A disposition to do something. A frame of mind. I’m not in the mood for running today.
Our mood can depend on so many internal and external factors. They could be connected directly to us or be fully irrelevant to us but somehow managed to impact how we feel, think, or act. Many explanations are justifying the change of our mood1,2 like chronic diseases, mental health conditions, depression, psychological issues, stress and anxiety, magnesium deficiency, diet, dehydration, caffeine, fatigue and poor sleep, medications, substance use, hormones, the weather, and others. When there is no apparent clinical cause, we can define the reasons for our state of mood as unknown or even characterize it as the “just because” mood. Possibly there could be underlying reasons explaining that mood. Still, the point of this power tool is not to specifically identify the source behind the mood but rather support the client to move forward towards action regardless of it.
Relative to coaching
This power tool intends to be used with clients that the change of their mood is non-clinical nor chronicle and does not require medical, psychiatric, or psychological support.
We often say, “I am in a good mood” or“I am in a bad mood” or“I am in a strange mood.” By recognizing or stating out loud, our mood somehow permits us to act a certain way or to justify our behavior, like “Leave me alone, I’m in a bad mood today.” We can experience the same with other people’s behavior too. For example: “Wow, she gave me positive feedback; she must’ve been in a good mood today!.” In some other cases, when our mood is uncertain, we might even state to our environment: “I am in a strange mood today, I don’t know why,” without offering any further explanation. Then people might want to keep a distance from us just to be sure we are not of any threat, since we are “in a strange mood,” and no one is in the position to know what that means, possibly not even ourselves.
Relative to coaching
The mood change can impact the quality of the execution of the clients’ plan and their dedication to it, especially when showing up at its extreme form from a very good mood to a very bad mood or even a strange mood.
Good mood & Bad mood -Characteristics and features
Being in a good mood
Being in a good mood can impact us to be more productive, more fun, more funny, more happy, more joyful, more light, feel more beautiful, be more forgiving, more tolerant, more creative, more playful, more interested in other people, more active, more open to taking action and to new ideas, with a positive mindset towards executing tasks offering the least enjoyment, be more kind, more positive, more smiley, ignore flaws, have a positive approach to life, forgive others more, forgive one’s self more, care more, be more communicative, more easy-going, more open to improvements, sees everything white or colorful, desire to move forward, more likely to express positive feelings and love, be more warm, more creative, more grateful, more in peace, more excited, more empathetic, more enthusiastic, more optimistic, morepleasant, more helpful, moresharing, more likely to make compromises, more open to physical activity, more likely to listen to cheerful music and to signing, eating healthier, increase self-love and self-care, be more talkative, be more accepting to situations that usually would have a negative stand, and many other positive effects.
Relative to coaching
The downside of being in a particularly good mood in relevance to our clients’ goals is that regardless of how wonderful that feeling or state is, it can influence the course of their action plan negatively. And that’s because they would rather do something else which can be more appropriate to their current positive mood than follow the planned action that was originally set in place. For example, if they are in a good mood, they might put aside their daily action plan and accept to run an errand for someone else.
Being in a bad mood
Being in a bad mood can make us more negative than usual or even allow us to get out of situations like “Live her alone, she is in a bad mood today” so they can escape a potential unclear threat due to our behavior. Being in a bad mood makes us less forgiving, less fun, less productive, being more in our head, less communicative, less solution-oriented, less clear, less fair, less open to new ideas or suggestions, less tolerant, more likely to procrastinate, more likely to postpone tasks that are less enjoyable, more likely to be rude, more negative, more grumpy, feeling less beautiful, less confident, noticing flaws, have a negative approach to life, blame others more, blame one’s self more, more likely to have a selfish behavior, more closed to one’s self, more closed to suggestions or new ideas, less open to improvements, sees everything black, feeling stuck, less likely to express positive feelings and love, more cold behavior, less creative, more frustrated, bored, angry, apathetic, cranky, depressed, indifferent, weird, sad, pessimistic, unpleasant, egoistic, doesn’t compromise, more likely to eat unhealthy food, less self-love, less talkative, and many other negative effects.
Fun fact: Being in a bad mood is often associated with the mood of a woman during her menstrual cycle. “What’s wrong with you, do you have your period or something?” (Which is often the case!)
Relative to coaching
Depending on how often the clients are in a bad mood could impact their commitment to their goal and jeopardize the progress of their action plan. The downside of their bad mood during a coaching session could make them shut down, become less present, less optimistic about finding what they need, and potentially un-coachable.
Strange mood: This mood could involve a mix of positive, negative, unusual, bizarre, different from the ordinary, behaviors but also an unknown understanding of what the clients are feeling. Not knowing what they want. Not knowing the source of how they feel and how to handle it. They cannot answer clearly to the question: “What is wrong?” Yet it still influences how they are thinking, feeling, or acting impacting their commitment to their goal. This feature could be particularly challenging to interpret.
Understanding the Mode
- A way of operating, living, or behaving
- Manner of doing or being; method; form; fashion; custom; way; style; as, the mode of speaking; the mode of dressing.
Being in a specific mode
The phases in our lives that we managed to get the job done, or to feel that we accomplished what we wanted, were when we made a decision, and we stacked to it. The successful outcome didn’t happen by chance. It was planned based on our needs or our goal or even on the deadline that we had to follow. To accomplish the goals we had to be in a specific mode that helped us stay effective and focused.
The potential modes to be in are uncountable and ready to be created
Here are some modes for inspiration:
Self-care mode, self-development mode, action/productive mode, business mode, parenting mode, relaxation mode, learning mode, writing/journaling mode, get-the-job-done mode, healthy eating mode, work-out mode, meditation mode, self-reflection mode, home-renovation mode, building-income mode, and endless more possibilities. Choosing to put ourselves in a specific mode means that “no matter what,” this is your current state of mind for a predefined period. It cannot get impacted by any internal or external factor. You are in an execution mode and just do whatever you have set to do. No matter what is happening around you or within you, regardless of how tired you are, how busy you are, how distracted you are, how sad you are, how bored you are, how pressured you feel, there is nothing that can stand in your way from your decision to commit to your action plan. There are no reasons or excuses or unplanned circumstances that could take you offtrack towards accomplishing your goal. You are like a soldier executing tasks.
You planned on finishing writing your book in three weeks, and no matter what, you will finish it by then. You have decided that for the next three weeks you are in a “writing-mode.”You don’t feel inspired enough? You still keep writing and digging on new ideas. You do some research on topics. You just keep going.
You stick to your commitment, and to your deadline, you do everything in your power to remain accountable to yourself, and there is nothing that can stand in your way from achieving your goal. You have a solid action plan, and you decided in advance that it’s feasible and non-negotiable, and you want to prove yourself right. If someone tries to distract you, you explain the situation and how important it is for you to stay focused. You inform them that you are not available at the moment and would get back to them as soon as this current action phase is over (if that is what you want). When you put yourself into this action mode, it becomes the most important aspect of your life cause you know how rewarding it will be for you to accomplish your goal.
You want to meditate every day in the morning for 30 min. It’s a decision. You call it being in a “self-care mode.” You feel rested since you had a good night’s sleep, and you meditate at 9 am. You didn’t sleep well since your neighbors were too noisy, you still meditate at 9 am. You stick to your commitment and practice your meditation in the way you can at the given moment. It might not always be done the way that you would have hoped, but it will be done.
The rules also have exceptions
Since life can be very unpredictable, being in a specific mode could still allow for exceptional circumstances or moments of crisis to occur, which could get the action plan off track. It is still up to you to decide which are these exceptional cases and their terms, and how to go back to your plan as soon as that is again possible.
For the success of the use of this power tool, the coach should focus strongly on the competencies 9, 10 and 11: Designing Actions, Planning And Goal Setting, And Managing Progress And Accountability
Depending on what the clients want to achieve, they can set up the appropriate mode fitting their goals. They will define what will be included in that mode in terms of their thoughts, their behaviors, and their actions, their do’s and don’ts that will accompany them till the completion of their target.
Here are some options for creating and setting a personalized mode:
Setting one mode for a specific period
Example: The client wishes to feel rejuvenated within 10 days
The coach partners with the client to build the components of the mode.
The client defines a name for this mode, which will be in that case, the Self-Care Mode. And then, what will be the features included in that mode:
- Sleep 8-10 hours a day
- Eat 2 portions of fruits and vegetables a day
- Meditate 30 min every day
- Check emails strictly twice per day at 10 am and at 4 pm
- Journaling on daily interactions and keep track of progress on responding vs reacting
- Create opportunities for restful experiences like taking a nice bath with candles and soft music
Setting multiple modes for different days of the week
Monday – Tuesday – Thursday – Friday Self-Development Mode
Wednesday Self-Reflection Mode
Saturday-Sunday Relaxation Mode
Setting multiple modes within a day
7 am – 10 am Self-Care Mode
10 am – 1 pm Learning Mode
2 pm – 7 pm Building-Income Mode
7 pm – 10 pm Relaxation Mode
During the coaching session:
When the description of the mode will be defined, and the clients will be satisfied with its content, the coach will emphasize the following questions relevant to the commitment and accountability:
- When will you start practicing the mode(s) you put in place?
- What could keep you away from staying in the Self-Care Mode?
- What could you do to stay in the Self-Care Mode?
- What are the alternative options if this doesn’t work?
- What resources do you need to put in place to make sure you remain in that mode?
- If you manage to stay in the Self-Care Mode for the time you have defined, what would that tell you about yourself? (Creating awareness)
- If your mood affects your mode, what can you do to go back to your mode?
During the next session, the clients can make all the needed adjustments to make the mode(s)they created as effective as needed. And also, the coach can check-in on how and if the mood(s) interfered with the progress and the focus of the mode(s).
When the mood pokes the mode – The back-up plan
If the mood appears and affects the focus, the clients can put in place a ritual that will bring them back to their mode. For example: Have a nap, go for a walk, have a glass of water, breathe-in deeply 6 times.
Bonus feature…cause life happens
The clients have full flexibility to add some free bonus days allowing the mood to take over and interfere with their mode. For such a solution to be effective without losing the control of going back to the mode, the clients will predefine the maximum tolerated amount of hours or days to remain out of their mode. For example, one day
Self-application and power tool inspiration
Often in my life, I have caught myself postponing things that I had planned due to my mood that didn’t fit with the pre-planned task. Assuming that the specific task was not one of my favorite ones’, I would just put it aside because it didn’t t reflect my mood, “I feel too joyful to pay my bills today.” Or “my mood is too low to declutter my closet as I had planned.” And then, I would delay the execution of the task pending now for weeks just waiting for the right mood to appear magically.
Of course, there are tasks that the right mood is a prerequisite for it to be successful or meaningful but those tasks are more an exception.
I realized that if I wanted to make a positive impact on my progress and accomplish what I had planned, I had to change my approach. I couldn’t wait for my mood to fit the task. I had planned to do it today, and I will do it today. This decision was a total switch of mindset. To make it even more appealing to myself, since my mood would eventually jump in trying to sabotage my willingness, I would tell myself that my later self – once the task would be done – would be so grateful and proud that I finished it without postponing it. By practicing this new habit, I realized that what I was doing was to put myself in the needed mode and to put aside my mood. I practiced it very often and it constantly surprised me on how effective it can be to put yourself in a pre-defined mode of action. (The action could also be giving time to myself to rest!)
Self-application as a coach
I commit to my clients that I will do whatever is in my power to operate under a professional, focused power listening mode, and not allow my mood to impact the quality of our session.
This power tool aims to support clients remain focused on their goals by shifting from mood to mode. The mood of the clients can affect their behavior and their commitment to their action plan. By creating a specific predefined mode, with a name and features, the clients will be able to better control their mood by putting themselves fully in the most effective and needed mode. Since that mode is a solution that they created, it will be up to them to decide how it will look like and how flexible it will be. They will be fully accountable to follow that mode, and in case their mood tries to affect them, they will use the back-up plan to get back in track and accomplish their goals.
What’s your mode today?
Definitions of the terms “mood” and “mode”
1 Kilburn, M., 2018. 7 Causes Of Mood Swings. [online] Avogel.co.uk. Available at: https://www.avogel.co.uk/health/stress-anxiety-low-mood/7-causes-of-mood-swings/[Accessed 12 May 2020].
2 Schimelpfening, N., 2020. What Might Be Causing Your Mood Swings? [online] Verywell Mind. Available at: https://www.verywellmind.com/what-are-mood-swings-1067178[Accessed 12 May 2020].
Sources of inspiration
Bishop, G., 2017. Unf*Ck Yourself: Get Out Of Your Head And Into Your Life. London: HarperOne.
Hollins, P., 2018. Finish What You Start: The Art Of Following Through, Taking Action, Executing, & Self-Discipline. CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform.
Special thanks to No Limits Vivian Theodoropoulou for her valuable support!