As I approached my one-year business anniversary in the summer of 2017, I realised I’d hit a block.
Things were going well work-wise, but I felt as though something was missing. If you’ll forgive me for sounding a bit pretentious, that ‘something’ ended up being my own creative expression.
I’ve always been a writer, but most of the writing I’ve done has been for myself, in the form of random prose that nobody was paying me for (my book, Procrastinations, is a case in point!) But since I’d started my freelance career I was mostly writing for other people, so my own scribblings had had to take a back seat.
Two coaching initiatives helped me through this block. The first was an online course called Top Performer, run by two computer science professors, and the other was the Firestarter programme run by Nicky Moran, an inspirational creativity coach.
These two initiatives helped me write three books in the space of a year, one of which I’m currently pitching to a literary agent – so you could say they’ve been successful!
More than that though, they really helped me think about the fundamentals involved in choosing the right course, or the right coach, at the right time.
When’s the best time to call in extra help?
I think you’ll know when you’re in need of something ‘extra’, even if you can’t put your finger on what it is just yet.
I didn’t recognise my own ‘creative expression’ block at first. I just knew something was missing, so I arranged meetings with different coaches and looked into online business courses. While they were mostly nice, helpful and informative, none of them really seemed to ‘fit’.
If you’re in that situation, I recommend taking some more notice of your day-to-day routine. Is there anything you avoid doing? What do you care about the most? What makes you feel alive?
In my case, I was bored and restless because I wasn’t being creative for myself. My mental ‘happy place’ is being fully absorbed in writing something personally expressive, and I realised I wasn’t really doing that any more.
From there, it was easy to identify the kind of help I needed. I wanted to spark some fresh ideas, and I also wanted to carve out some dedicated time and focus to make them happen.
Choosing the right coach or course
Before you sign up to a coaching programme or training course, you have to know what you want from it, how much effort you’re prepared to put in, and how much you’re willing to spend.
If you’re feeling lacklustre about a coaching programme or a course, but you’re not sure why, I’d tell you not to waste your money! Not only should your chosen programme speak directly to what you want to achieve, but you should be fired up about it, and willing to throw in everything you’ve got.
Choosing a coach can be harder than choosing a training course, because it’s based on a more personal relationship. If you like someone, you might be tempted to look for excuses to work with them, even if their particular skills aren’t what you need.
Again, try to look for a person who will best complement your goals. I met lots of coaches I really liked, but I specifically wanted to spark new creative ideas. That meant choosing a coach who was the direct opposite of me. Someone outgoing and motivational, rather than analytical and ‘wordy’ (step forward Nicky Moran!)
Meanwhile, I chose the Top Performer course because I wanted some help focusing on those creative ideas, which meant I needed the structured, deeply detailed ‘computer science-y’ approach it provided.
It could be that you’re looking for support or reassurance for your ideas, you need to find an approach that helps you stick to a new routine, or there’s a specific qualification or attitude you’d like your coach to have.
Try to narrow all of this down before you begin meeting people or looking at course blurbs, and you’ll understand more about whether they’re right for you. Hopefully, this will lead to success!
Finally, here’s my list of brilliant coaches…
…all of whom are fantastic, each one with a slightly different approach. I heartily recommend them (in no particular order).
Nicky Moran – my Firestarter creative coach who helped make so many wonderful things happen for me over the past year. Her Trailblazer Archetypes quiz is an eye-opener.
Judy Hoskins, Mind Shift Coaching – Judy is on an empathetic, kind and practical mission to help everybody find happiness.
Evelyn Hoggart – Evelyn is incredibly supportive and a fantastic listener. She helps people unlock their potential in life and business.
Vicky Kelly, Butterfly Effect Coaching – Vicky’s thoughtful and caring ‘Inside Out’ approach will introduce you and your business to new ways of seeing the world.
Kathy Ennis, Little Piggy Ltd. – Kathy is a business mentor and trainer rather than a coach. Regardless, she helps you take action on good ideas and turn them into a profitable business.
Chris Cortopassi, Short Steps Coaching – Chris offers direct, motivational-quote-free ‘coaching for the real world’ – ideal if your life looks good on paper, yet you’re frustrated or unhappy.
Rosemary Cunningham – a lovely person and a heart-centred coach who offers money mastery coaching for women, amongst many other things.