The best tips and exercises from our coaches

Victoire Guyot blog

Image source: Sergey Tinyakov

Victoire Guyot is an April 2020 On Purpose Associate, currently on placement with the Innovation and Insight team at Samaritans.

There are many great things about being part of the On Purpose Associate Programme and one of the greatest is receiving professional coaching.

For each Associate the experience is different. Some of us are more comfortable revealing ourselves whilst some of us may find the exercise uncomfortable or somehow frightening. Coaches are also different and use different techniques depending on how they have been trained and their personality. But for all of us, it simply seems to help. We would even now agree that it seems impossible to reach a more meaningful life without taking the time to self-reflect.

So, here is a little gift just before Christmas! The April 2020 cohort has gathered all their coaches' best tips and exercises that have helped them find answers to some of the big questions we all have.

Big question 1: Who am I?

  • Identify your personality.

The MBTI or Myers–Briggs Type Indicator identifies 16 types of personalities. You can find free tests on the Internet like this one 16personalities.com. It's a good start to understand yourself better and why you do things the way you do.

  • Clarify your values.

Having more clarity on your values is helpful to focus more consciously on what matters to you. Dr. Schwartz has developed the Theory of Basic Human values that describes 10 values across many cultures from conservation to openness to change, self-transcendence to self-enhancement. The Schwartz values test is a self-report questionnaire that helps you identify them. And to find out if we live by our values, some of us did a "value audit" of their bank accounts, checking if they spend on what matters for them.

  • Know your strengths to make the most of them.

All of us have been taking the ViaCharacter.org survey to identify the positive parts of our personalities and understand how they impact how we think, feel and behave. Keep them in mind when facing a challenge and ask yourself this question "How can my strengths help me overcome or resolve this problem?"

Big question 2: what does a good life look like for me?

  • Picture your future.

Imagine a future where you thrive. What does it look like? Where do you live? What work do you do? How do you spend your time? Who are the main people in your life and what do you bring to them? Try to find a quiet and peaceful place to do this exercise. And at the end, capture your thoughts by writing them or drawing them.

  • Write your obituary.

You had a wonderful life and you've achieved what you wanted from it. What will you have done? What people will say about you? What will be the qualities people would most wish to celebrate? How will you have affected other people? What difference will you have made in the world?

Big question 3: What should I do with my life and career?

  • Reveal your "Ikigai"

"Ikigai" is a Japanese word meaning "reason to live" and you can find it at the crossover of what you love, what the world needs, what you are good at and what you can be paid for. To get closer to it, some us find this article of Coach Space helpful.

  • Identify your Career Anchors

Most of today's organizations "manage" their workers' careers according to what's best for the organisation, and not the individual. That's why it's important to be self-reliant when it comes to career management. Edgar H. Schein has conceptualized the Career Anchor as being our unique combination of perceived career competence, motives, and values. You can take a free test online on the NHS website to identify it. I personally found this exercise insightful and if you have done a personality or value test before, you should recognize yourself while informing what kind of career might suit you.

  • Imagine different job scenarios

Think of different jobs or fields you are interested in and imagine what a workday would look like and feel like. Then you can reach out to some people doing the jobs you think you could like and ask them for their honest feedback to get closer to the reality of the job.

Small tips with a big impact

A lot of us have started to do simple actions which have proven to be more powerful than we could have imagined.

  • Write in a journal every day, 10 minutes per day. Feel free to write down everything and anything: things you get out of your mind, things you are grateful for or proud of or things you have learnt. The process of writing is liberating, and keeping a journal allows you to keep track of where you are in your life.
  • If you are not sure that you can identify clearly what you particularly like or dislike about a job, this exercise is for you. While at work use post-its to scribble every time you feel good and enjoy your time and every time you don't. Try to describe the situation you are in. At the end of the week and after you have collected a few post-its, you might notice patterns like "I enjoy my work when I'm brainstorming with my team" or "I enjoy my work when I have to get stuck for 3 hours on a complicated task." It will help inform what you should look for in your next position.
  • Create space for your mind to process. You can even try something called an "intention walk" where you go for a walk holding a question in your mind that you want to try to answer, some solutions might come to you without purposely looking for them.

We hope you'll enjoy trying some of these best tips and exercises from our coaches!

The On Purpose April 2020 cohort