By Matt Trenchard - posted on December 26, 2017

Handling Clients with New Year’s Resolutions


Dear coaches,

During this week, more new decisions to think, act and be different will be made than at any other time of the year. And what will most of these decisions come to? Nothing.

As coaches, we probably have experienced a client (or potential client) who is enthusiastic about making a difference in the life, this year. Yes, this year it will be different. If they just keep up their motivation, willpower and discipline, they can make that change that they've never been able to make before.


Can you feel the heaviness underneath the exuberant excitement? It's there because our client is overrating the strength and power of their will over and above probably years of ingrained character. Character that has brought them much of their success to date, and failure. There is hope, as the way out is through...

The way out is through...

How we are able to be of service depends as much on our own journey into ourselves as it does on our mastery of the technical skills of coaching. By being willing to go on our own journey of discovery, we empower and inspire our clients to do the same. Being on our own journey opens the door for us to serve our clients as described below. Working with clients at both levels is beneficial, however, level 2 does have a greater impact.

Level 1 - thoughts and feelings

We can help our client to begin to notice the impact of their reliance on willpower alone. That impact is their own thoughts and feelings as well as the result, or lack thereof, of their actions. We may suspect that their willpower alone will not be enough to lead them to success. But woe to the coach who ever steers their client towards the bright skies of success with the tools of right answers and good ideas. If we do this we only serve to rob our client of an opportunity for to grow in the area of greatest value - self-knowledge.

We must allow our client to experience the impact of their current patterns of thought and action. To observe the impact of these patterns and, aided by our questioning and feedback, gain insight into the consequences of these patterns. From this will come energy and openness to finding new ideas, new thought and new ways of working.

Level 2 - beliefs and values

The certified coach knows that thoughts and feelings emerge from our deeply held beliefs about what we see to be most important. These most important things we call values. Attached to many of our highest values are erroneous beliefs. These are beliefs about ourselves and the world that fail to match up with how reality actually is. Perhaps our client has a high value of health because they are experiencing the impact of a sedentary lifestyle. A belief that, "It's such an uphill struggle to get healthy, I don't think I'll ever make it," will only serve to hinder achievement of anything to do with health by causing thoughts and feelings that likely lead in the action of inaction.

We help here by sitting with our clients in their emotionally "hot" places. By encouraging them to look where they've been hesitant to look before. At that part of themselves that they have been resolutely refusing to give attention to. For this is where their breakthrough lies. As Robert Frost penned, "The best way out is always through." One of the ICF Competencies (#3) is establishing trust and intimacy. By doing this we create the safe space in which our client can find the courage and clarity to begin the deep work of dismantling the wall around their hearts that is the first step to their stepping into the fullness of their value.

.. to the other side

As our clients become alive to themselves - their values, belief, thoughts and feelings - we begin to see them finding new resources to achieve the things they were never previously able to do.

And so, may you... may you reach in and reach out and find the newness in the awkwardness of your own journey to becoming ever more alive to yourself and awake to others.

Strength on the journey,


References: "A Servant to Servants", Robert Frost