Hiring a coach is a great way to jumpstart a new career! Want proof? You're looking at it. My experience with a coach challenged me to identify and confront stumbling blocks, taking action "outside the box" to make my dream of professional writing a reality.

My Seven-Step Program

Before writing this article, I used a technique I learned from coaching called "Seven Steps to Creating What You Want in Life." (I learned this from Lee Ann Del Carpio, of Inner Power International™).

First, I wrote a list of all the things I didn't want: distractions, miscommunication and procrastination.

I took the list, crumpled it up, and threw it away.

I took a clean sheet of paper and wrote down, in detail, the outcomes I did want: focus, flowing words, and a fun article for readers.

I took this list and explored what this inner experience felt like in my body. I closed my eyes and brought up a memory of a time when all these qualities were present: a spoken-word performance I had presented in San Francisco.... The flow of my words that night was powerful. I felt my presence captivating the audience as my poetry leaped off the pages into the hearts of everyone in the room; I felt confident and aligned with my purpose as a writer.

As I relived that evening, I allowed my body to recapture the sensations of the experience: that calm, centered state.

I brought to mind a symbol I had created (during a previous coaching session) to represent this state of mind: a queen's crown encrusted with precious jewels--white and yellow diamonds, emeralds and amethysts.

I took a deep breath and touched my heart with my right hand, a gesture I previously created to physically ground this state into my current reality (called a "tick").

I let it go and began writing.

 

Time Travel

Another powerful method I learned was to "test out" what it would feel like when I achieve my goals; I call it "quantum visualization."

I dreamed all my life of becoming a successful freelance writer, but never knew how to make that dream a reality. My coach guided me to a place where that dream had already manifested. She asked what that world looked like. I described what I saw: article assignments, magazines, book signings, sitting in front of a computer with my fingers dancing on the keyboard.... She asked me what it felt like. I focused on my body, feeling grounded and centered, all the cells in my body at peace, a focused vibrancy of being fully present. My posture was better: shoulders back, neck long, breathing deep.

I used these pictures and sensations to propel myself forward along the path of professional writing. Soon afterward, I bought a laptop, had business cards made, did market research and landed my first magazine assignment. It was as if the outer world were striving to match my inner world.

 

The Lawyers in My Head

Alan Cohen, the best-selling author of The Dragon Doesn't Live Here Any More, has said that "there are two lawyers in your head: one fighting for you, and one against you. Which one wins? The one you pay the most."

Using this concept, my coach gave me a new approach to resistance and negative self-talk.

Growing up I was bombarded with negative messages regarding my creativity. Echoes of "You can't do it," and "Who do you think you are...?" rang loud in my head, often preventing me from submitting ideas to publications.

I created an image of a courtroom, with my father playing the part of opposing lawyer, insisting I never take any risks.

For the defense, I assembled a team of lawyers that symbolized courage and the tenacity to express creative talent. I chose Bjork, the eclectic Iceland singer who never compromises artistically; Robert De Niro, who believes in trusting your instinct no matter what anyone says; and Madonna, whose outspoken boldness has a strength I admire. This triumvirate became my team of advocates in the courtroom in my brain.

I pay the opposing lawyer nothing; I pay my team everything. Guess who wins.

Now, whenever I notice any negative self-talk or procrastination starting to take hold, I hear it as messages coming from the lawyer who fights against me. I hear the judge say, "Thank you for the input; now sit down and shut up." The opposing lawyer takes his seat, and my team takes the floor, providing a stunning array of evidence in my favor--highlighting my gifts, my integrity, my achievements.

You know what? We win the case, every time. And it always gets me off the dirt roads and back onto the highway of my purpose.

Coaching requires a commitment, usually a three-month minimum. Sessions can take place over the phone, typically three or four times a month. Results vary, but they can show up immediately, depending on the chemistry with your coach and your commitment to change.

Shop around. There are tons of coaches out there; most offer one free trial session. A fantastic resource is the International Coach Federation's website: www.coachfederation.org; just click on "quick find" then scroll to "find a coach."

LISA J. BARR
is a successful freelance writer...but then, you already knew that.