by Beth Shepard    Beth's profile on LinkedIn  

Self-Coaching: Life Skills for Lasting Success

Workplace wellness coaches offer employees and family members a personalized approach to behavior change. Whether or not your organization offers this resource, why not teach participants the skills they need to coach themselves to a healthier lifestyle?

The Coaching Framework

Certified wellness coaches integrate a wide range of skills and knowledge — in behavioral and motivational science, positive psychology, health promotion, relationship building, and much more — to facilitate lasting change. Advantages include professional expertise in areas such as motivational interviewing and appreciative inquiry, for example, enabling coaches to frame evocative questions that move participants forward. But people can practice certain elements of the coaching process independently to gain traction toward goals and work through everyday challenges.

A typical framework includes the coach and participant collaborating to:

  • Assess current level of well-being from a holistic perspective
  • Envision the desired outcomes in detail, creating long- and short-term behavior goals
  • Identify core values and how specific goals are linked to them
  • Recognize key motivators, potential barriers, and possible solutions
  • Take stock of internal strengths and external resources for achieving goals
  • Create a network of social support for encouragement, accountability, and positive reinforcement
  • Engage in regular reviews to reveal relevant insights, resolve difficulties, celebrate successes, and modify goals.

Only I can change my life. No one can do it for me.

— Carol Burnett

You can help your population build the skills needed to follow a similar self-guided framework. These practical abilities also help people thrive in other facets of life: career, parenting, relationships, community, self-actualization, and more.

8 Self-Coaching Questions for Participants

Setting aside time to think through these important questions is an excellent way to start self-coaching:

  1. Self-assessment. On a scale of 1 (low) to 10 (high), how do I rate my overall well-being right now? How satisfied am I with my health-related quality of life? What behaviors am I most ready to change? What makes now a good time to start making these changes?
  2. Looking ahead. How would I describe my ideal level of well-being? What does it look and feel like? Where would I like my wellness to be in 6 months?
  3. Goal setting. What specific behaviors will I need to have mastered in 3 months to make notable progress toward achieving my wellness vision? What specific behaviors can I commit to this week that will move me toward my 3-month goals?
  4. Core values. What 3-5 values matter most to me? How do they relate to my well-being goals? How could I better align my daily behaviors with my core values?
  5. Motivation. What are my most powerful motivators for behavior change right now? Are they my motivators or does someone else want me to change? Are my motivators strong enough to keep me moving forward when the going gets rough? If not, what other motivators might be more effective?
  6. Barriers. What obstacles could get in the way of reaching my weekly, monthly, and future goals? What might be the best ways to get around them so I can stay on track?
  7. Strengths. What major accomplishments have I achieved, and what personal strengths helped me? How could I use those same strengths to meet my well-being goals?
  8. Support. Who are the most supportive people in my life? What types of support do I need most from them?
Tips for Sustainable Change

It’s no secret that behavior change is usually more difficult than people anticipate. These self-management skills enhance accountability and motivation:

  • Reflection. Setting aside daily time to focus on what’s going well, what’s not, why, and what to do about it; keeping a journal to help examine thoughts and feelings about changes.
  • Self-monitoring. Documenting daily exercise, meditation, or produce servings to objectively identify patterns and assess progress using apps, pen and paper, or simple spreadsheets.
  • Self-evaluation. Reviewing records and perceptions of improvement weekly; adjusting mindset, routines, and goals as needed.
  • Problem solving. Identifying actual and potential barriers and planning how to get around them; making this process a weekly habit — including action to overcome obstacles — to build confidence.
  • Self-curiosity. Exploring behavior, which is critical to adopting new habits: That’s interesting; I wonder why I did that? How are my emotions driving my behavior right now? Could I try a different approach to this situation?
  • Positive self-talk. Recognizing and stopping negative thoughts and offering positive, upbeat encouragement and feedback… like a coach.
  • Self-compassion. Being kind to support behavior change. (Dr. Kristin Neff offers free resources for building a habit of self-compassion.)
What to Do

Try these ideas to cultivate self-coaching skills in your population:

  • Personalize a self-coaching process with your brand; include worksheets, journal pages, and other materials to support skill-building (your EAP provider may already offer related services and learning material)
  • Hold self-coaching training sessions or lunch ’n learns
  • Include self-coaching tips in program communications
  • Invite volunteers to experiment with self-coaching and then share testimonials
  • Create a short video illustrating the self-coaching process
  • Experiment with a peer-coaching approach for added support
  • Encourage managers to promote self-coaching in the context of job performance and career growth.

When we are no longer able to change a situation, we are challenged to change ourselves.

— Viktor Frankl

Wellness coaching is a terrific service that, done well, offers remarkable results. Equipping employees with self-coaching skills can enhance outcomes, reach those who aren’t ready to work with a coach, and supply vital tools to help people be the best they can be — in health and beyond.


Moore M., Jackson E., Tschannen-Moran B, Wellcoaches Coaching Psychology Manual, Second Edition, Wolters Kluwer, 2017

Add comment