A Coaching Power Tool Created by Sarah Wiseman
(Transformational Coach, UNITED KINGDOM)
My power tool looks at the change in perspective that can take us from drifting through life to steering our own course through life. The moment when we realize ‘If I want to make change happen then I have to DO something.’ The moment that we take control, take responsibility, take our dreams seriously, and commit to change.
To drift: to move slowly, especially as a result of outside forces, with no control over direction.
Sometimes we drift through our lives, at the mercy of the currents and winds. Sharp rocks and shipwrecks may await, or, less dramatic but potentially as serious, a lifetime of drifting into unsatisfactory jobs, into not quite ever getting around to doing what we really want to do. We follow the currents of other people’s beliefs and values, other people’s ‘shoulds’, never quite getting where we really want to go. Perhaps not even aware of where we really want to go.
Sometimes drifting can look very busy and purposeful. A person may follow a path that appears before them, into a family business or into family life, for example. They may go into a career that seemed like the right choice twenty years ago. And then they just keep on walking, keep on climbing the career ladder, taking the next job that appears, earning the promotion, doing the right things to succeed. And that’s great – if that is what they really want to be doing. But so often we just sleepwalk into these situations, we go about our busy lives perhaps outwardly successful but with a nagging doubt in our minds – is this really all there is to life?
And often we drift with a head full of dreams. Our body is sitting in an open-plan office in front of a computer, our head is filled with possibilities. Perhaps I’ll write a novel. Maybe I could go self-employed. Maybe I’ll pack it all in and go and live on a desert island. But we never do.
So much of our energy is focused on dreaming, on thinking, on imagining, on future possibilities, but these thoughts don’t turn into action. Looking inward, looking to something that only exists in our minds, talking about it maybe (perhaps talking about it endlessly!) but never doing. Never changing, never growing, just drifting.
And sometimes we drift with no dreams at all. We plod along a course that we haven’t chosen, frustrated. Drifting on the currents of life, we see no way out.
And then something happens. Maybe we get too close to those dangerous rocks. A near miss. Maybe we just can’t face another day at that job. A significant birthday. A storm brings a clarifying splash of icy cold water.
A shift in perspective.
This is the moment when we realize….
If I want to make change happen then I have to DO something. Now!
This is when we take control. Now we are not drifting, we are steering.
We take the helm. We take responsibility.
We take our boredom with our current lives seriously.
We take our dreams seriously.
We commit to change.
We take action.
To steer a course or path: to take a series of actions, usually of a particular type, carefully and intentionally.
At first, steering may look just like drifting to the outside observer. Outwardly, nothing may change. We may still be at the boring job, but unseen by the world we are now making plans, researching, taking action.
We question. Is this really want I want to do? What is it that I believe? Where do I really want to be in 5 years’ time? What does success look like to me…not to my mother or my work colleagues or society….to me?
We may appear to drift around for a while, trying out new ideas, but the difference is that our movement is purposeful to us. We are deliberately choosing our direction.
We make goals and we take the steps that we need to make those goals happen.
We go from saying ‘maybe I could do XYZ’, or ‘I’d love to do XYZ but it’s not possible because….’ To ‘it is possible and I will take the steps I need to take to make it happen.
It might not be easy. It will probably take courage and determination to make changes. We might want to give up. We might need support.
But now we know. If we want to change, we need to take action.
We take responsibility for our lives.
We align with our inner compass.
We steer our own course.
Often the transition from drifting to steering comes about through an outside force. A deadline, a social pattern (eg reaching retirement age and having to leave work), an illness, a divorce; all these things force us to stop and re-evaluate our lives, and we realize that a change is either unavoidable or desirable.
But how do we move from drifting to steering without an outside force?
Coaching supports the possibility of deliberately moving from drifting to steering. A coach can help the client to shift perspective from drifting to steering in the ways outlined below.
Creating awareness about where / when in the client’s life they are drifting and the areas where they are not taking control.
Creating space for reflection – Does the client actually want to make changes in the area of life in which they are drifting? What would be the benefit to the client of making these changes? How does this relate to their beliefs and values? What changes would the client like to make?
Supporting the client to take control, to commit to change, and to take action.
Coaching can help a client to recognize the areas of their life where they might be drifting and can support them through the changes they choose to make to move from passively drifting to steering life in the direction of their choosing.
The shift in perspective itself can be a powerful catalyst for change.
Cambridge Dictionary online (Cambridge University Press) https://dictionary.cambridge.org/