A little prep work before a life coaching session can help you maximize your coaching time, but there aren’t any set rules about what you should do as a client.
It’s a matter of figuring out what your coach wants and blending that with what works for you. In this article, we’ll look at some things you may want to consider doing to prepare for life coaching sessions.
Make a list of topics you want to discuss and questions you want to ask
You may want to come to the session with some ideas of topics you’d like to cover and/or questions you have for your coach so you can get right to them when the session starts.
Some clients make a written list of several topics as well as questions they have for their coaches before each call. Without a list, it’s easy to draw a blank when the coach asks you what you want to talk about, even though you have questions you’ve been eager to ask your coach all week.
Note-taking materials, clock
You’ll probably want to have a way to take notes during the call — computer, paper and pencil, or whatever else works for you. You also probably want to have a clock or watch nearby so you can check periodically to see how much time you have in the session and plan accordingly.
If your coach gives you a prep questionnaire to fill out
Some coaches give their clients a prep questionnaire to fill out before each life coaching session. The questionnaire generally asks you questions about what you want from the session, your goals, your progress, and any problems that may have come up since your last session. You may also be asked questions that are deeper and require introspection and thought.
Do you have to fill out prep questionnaire if your coach gives you one?
You don’t actually have to do anything in coaching.
But some coaches consider filling out prep sheets to be mandatory. If you don’t do it, they take it as a sign that you’re not taking them or the coaching process seriously. If you want to have a good relationship with them, it’s probably wise to either fill out out the prep worksheet or have a conversation with them where you both agree you aren’t going to.
For other coaches, filling out these prep sheets is your choice.
Should you bother filling out a prep questionnaire?
It’s usually to your advantage to fill these questionnaires out, especially if they’re well-written. They help you figure out what you want to talk about during the session. They can even be thought-provoking and spark insights on their own.
They’re also like getting free coaching time because your coach generally reads your form in advance, on her own time. You don’t have to use your coaching time to get your coach up to speed on the latest happenings in your life; you can just let her know on the form.
It may not be worth your time to fill out a questionnaire if you think it’s badly written and your coach reads it during your coaching session.
If you got an assignment the session before
Ideally, if your coach gave you an assignment the session before, you’ll have done it. But if that didn’t happen, I suggest you think about why you didn’t do the assignment and get comfortable with your reason, so that you can be strong and assertive when your coach asks you about it.
In my view, you always have a valid reason for not doing an assignment, so it’s just a matter of thinking about what it is.
No need to be embarrassed or feel bad, though it’s perfectly natural to do so. This dynamic of a client’s feeling embarrassed and uncomfortable when he hasn’t done his assignments is one of the reasons I’m not a fan of accountability in coaching.
Most of the time, the problem lies with the assignment.
It’s not a good fit for you for some reason. You may be able to figure out the reason yourself. If not, you can let your coach know that the assignment didn’t work for you and ask for her help in figuring out why. Once you understand why the assignment didn’t work for you, you and your coach can craft a better assignment for you.
What you don’t want is to get into an uncomfortable loop with your coach where she berates you for not having done your assignment each week, and you feel embarrassed, apologize, and say you’ll do it for next time, but then you don’t do it. If you weren’t comfortable doing the assignment last week and nothing’s changed, then you’re probably not going to want to do it this week, either.
What if you dislike prep work?
If you don’t have the time or inclination to prepare for your life coaching session at all, that’s cool. You just want to make sure to find a coach whose style is a good fit for that.
Some coaches don’t expect you to do anything but show up to the calls.