How do I Know When I’m “Done” With Coaching?

I just watched a movie where one of the characters, a therapist, was so ready to be done with a certain client that she told him he had “graduated from therapy.”

He left all excited. Box checked! Therapy complete!

I think this is a common idea in our western culture that if we’re doing something to work on ourselves — therapy, coaching, etc. — the goal is to get out because it means now we’re “fixed”. We did the work. We’re done!

But let’s look at coaching in a different light.

When you think of a professional athlete, no matter how good they get, they’re never going to be “done” having a coach. Sure, they will need different kinds of coaches, at different times and levels of intensity throughout their career. There might be times when they take short breaks in the off-season. Everyone needs some downtime.

But then when it’s time to get down to business, and they’ve got goals they are striving for full force, it’s back to it, working to bring their best with a coach.

I think personal and professional coaching is similar to athletic coaching in this way. Depending on where you are in your life right now, what goals you’re aiming for, what life throws at you, you will probably find yourself needing some kind of support.

What that support is and where it comes from will change over time as you grow and change, but the need to support your growth will continue.

My Journey Through Multiple Coaches

I have worked with different types of coaches at different times depending on what I was trying to accomplish. Each time I completed with a coach, I didn’t feel so much that I had “arrived” or that I was “done” — it just felt like the support I needed for that leg of the journey was completed.

Sometimes, when we were intensely focused, I saw my coach a lot or even had multiple coaches at the same time.

Other times I needed a bit of a break. Things were going well, and I just hummed about at my own internal speed until something popped up that told me, “I need a coach again.”

Each coach I have had was an incredibly valuable person suited to what I was going through right then.

My first coach fiercely believed in me. She taught me to unapologetically reach for what I really wanted and find my inner leader who I could call on as I stood up to do scary things. Her style was direct, firm, compassionate.

Then I went on to get my coaching certification and I needed a coach with a specific credential to mentor me as part of the program. I chose someone with a completely different style, who had a quiet strength that I found comforting while I was stretching myself to become a certified coach. He often brought me around to see my own thinking in much subtler ways, and it was exactly who I needed at that moment.

Then I noticed a new pattern in my life: I kept setting goals relating to fitness, but not reaching them. I decided to reach out to a wellness coach to find out why. We did many experiments over the course of six months to figure out what internal beliefs were blocking my progress. Once I recognized those and she helped me figure out what was working, we set up some structures for me to move forward with. That journey felt complete.

The coach I’m working with currently loves to go deeeep. She helps me tune into my body for answers in a way that’s been hard for me in the past. She uses the Internal Family System to dig into the root of some of the patterns I’ve noticed in myself over and over and want to move past. She’s quietly intense, non-judgemental, and incredibly present.

With each coach, they fit the moment I was in and filled a need. Each time we completed our coaching journey together, I knew the time was right to move forward. When I reached out to my next coach, it was because I had discovered a new path, a new leg of my personal journey, and I knew the power of coaching to help guide me through it.

If You Need a Coach Again, Have You “Failed”?

Sometimes you might work with a coach for a while on a specific thing, feel like something is resolved, complete with them, and move on.

Then something happens and you realize, “Oh hell, there it is again!” Or a new damn version of the same thing, cleverly adapted to the new level you’ve risen to.

So does going back to your coach or finding a new coach for this situation mean you’ve “failed”? That your first coaching experience wasn’t a success?

Nope. Completely the opposite.

There’s no “failing” coaching. For real. We’re literally always growing — it just happens at different speeds at different times or when we’re ready for different challenges.

Most of our patterns have been DECADES in the making. It’s not particularly realistic we would bust through all of them immediately and forever over the course of a few months. It’s not a failure, by you OR your coach. It’s part of the process and takes time.

This stage in the process might be time for someone new or a new approach to help you tackle this situation from a different angle.

Back to our athletic coaching analogy, very few athletes who achieve their best do so without coaching support.

I think it’s the same in other areas. As long as we still plan to do things that will stretch us, we’ll probably benefit from having a coach.

This is because once you become accustomed to having the support, accountability, and clarity that comes from having a coach on your team, it often feels like something is “missing” without it. I know this for myself personally and from what clients have told me.

Having access to a “thinking partner” regularly as we all do our best to make our way through this life can keep us on course and growing.

So, How Do You Know When You’re “Done”?

If you’re thinking of starting coaching, looking for a coach or in the middle of a coaching journey, you might be wondering – how will I know when I’m “finished” with coaching?

Having completed a journey with multiple coaches, and also having taken than journey with multiple clients, I can tell you that usually both the coach and the client have a clear sense of when they’re done.

Sometimes meeting our initial goals is a good indicator. Did we accomplish the goals we laid out for ourselves? That might be a sign that you’re ready to move forward.

At the same time, I have multiple clients who continue to work with me although we’ve accomplished their initial set of goals! Because they are ambitious high achievers who have new goals to work toward and I still feel like the right person for that work.

Sometimes, we get the sense that the next work requires a different approach, personality, or expertise. That’s also a good indicator that it’s time to be “done” with one coach and potentially seek out another. If you find yourself being drawn to something different, or notice that you have made great strides over this past journey, but are plateauing a bit in terms of progress, that might be a sign to seek out a new experience.

The thing about coaching is, as much as we set out to accomplish goals, like anything in life, it really is about the journey. It’s about who we become as we seek to overcome our limits, our beliefs about ourselves and what is possible, and the things that have held us back.

I don’t know about you, but I never want to be “done” growing, achieving, changing and learning. At each stage, I want to be reveling in what life has to offer me and pursuing that wholeheartedly.

Sometimes, that means achieving my dreams. Sometimes, that means learning how to rest and enjoy. Whatever it is, coaching has helped make the journey smoother, more connected and more in line with what I truly care about.

So, I’ll never really be “done” with coaching. And I’m okay with that! Because I know coaching has helped bring out the best in me, and I’ve seen what magic it’s created in my clients’ lives too.

And that kind of growth, change, seizing of the moment, deep engagement with what matters — that is something I never want to be done with! ????



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