Making New Year’s Resolutions Stick

resolutions1With the beginning of the New Year, many of us plan to make resolutions to address an issue or improvement that we know needs our attention — regarding our career, workplace challenges or opportunities, health, diet, exercise, relationships or some other aspect of our lives.  Working with a coach specializing in the type of change you want to make can help you sharpen your goals, time frame, and most importantly, your sense of how to move forward.  Furthermore, a coach can support you as you make these changes, and help you to create a framework of accountability that keeps you on track to accomplish your goals.

Since most coaching sessions occur weekly, every other week, or twice a month, a coach can help you break down the changes you want to make into smaller, more achievable pieces.  At each session, you’ll review what you’ve done since the last session, discuss opportunities and challenges in moving forward, and then agree on next steps to be accomplished prior to your next coaching session.  Agreeing with your coach to make specific changes prior to your next coaching session will increase your motivation and provide you with ongoing accountability for follow through.

A professional coach will be able to help you identify both helpful strategies for moving forward on your resolutions as well as features in your own behavior and in your environment that are holding you back.  Similarly, a coach will also help you develop multiple ways for you to maintain and support the changes you make long after the coaching relationship ends.

Need help finding and selecting a competent coach?  Ask friends and colleagues for referrals.  Search online.  Visit the websites of regional coaching associations such as the Western Mass Coaching Alliance or a North American coaching site such as noomii where you can search for coaches by specialty and zip code.

In choosing a coach, you need an approach similar to that you use for selecting other professionals such as lawyers, doctors and tax accountants.  Many coaching websites make suggestions for how to go about selecting a coach, such as checking out several coaches and having an initial conversation or session with the most promising coaches you find before making a choice.  Since coaches also want a good fit with their clients, they typically offer complimentary initial sessions in order to make this mutual assessment.

Once you find a coach who seems like a good fit, make sure to be clear about the changes you want to make and your time frame for making them.  In addition, reach agreement about a regular schedule for coaching sessions that meets your needs.  And if this coach helps you to make the changes you want, make sure to tell your friends and colleagues about the changes you made…this will create a strong incentive to help you avoid backsliding.

And finally, if your coaching falls into any of the three following categories, check with your tax adviser to see if coaching can be a deductible expense.  If the coaching is related to your ongoing employment, such as leadership coaching, it may be deductible as a unreimbursed business expense.  Similarly, if the coaching is related to a job search in your current field, it is likely deductible.   If your coaching is in response to doctor-diagnosed health condition (e.g., being overweight, having high blood pressure, avoiding foods that create a medical condition, increasing strength and endurance after an accident or injury), it may be deductible as a medical expense, or may be reimbursable through a health savings account (HSA) or flexible spending account (FSA).  In addition, an increasing number of health insurance plans will reimburse their members for certain “wellness” activities, so look over your health insurance plan benefits carefully.