How to start thinking like a coach

One area where coaches excel is setting and achieving goals. You can too, using this simple technique that can flip how you feel and think on its head.

Here’s how to start thinking like a coach, even if you’re brand new to the game.

One thing you need to know is how to get yourself to take action when it comes to setting and achieving goals. Often the only thing in your way is yourself. Doubts come up. Fear come es up. Resistance comes up.

The universe tests you and tries to stop you. And sometimes you let it.

One thing that’s important to understand is that something that’s good for us often doesn’t feel good in the first place.

Exercise is a great example. Our bodies need exercise—so do our minds—but it never feels good when you first start it. Initially what you feel is pain but on the other side of that is growth. And fun!

If you want to start thinking like a coach, you’ll need to know how we set and achieve goals, because there’s a little difference that most people don’t have.

And it’s the little things that create the biggest difference.

It’s called cognitive framing and it’s a fancy way of saying it’s the meaning you place on your experience that defines the experience you have with it.

If you say it’s bad, it’s bad.

If you say it’s good, it’s good.

Nothing comes with inherent meaning.

So we learn to frame a challenging experience and say, ‘This is good for me. Even though it’s challenging, it means I’ll have a better relationship with that challenge.’

Think about when you’ve done a workout before, something that’s new for you. You wanted to tighten up a certain area, let’s say your legs. So you put in the work then a day later you have really sore legs.

You wanted that soreness because it’s good for you (it’s called DOMS—delayed onset muscle soreness … yep, that comes from my previous life as a personal trainer!)

So you frame that soreness as a positive and say, ‘well, I’m sore but I’m glad, it means it was a good workout.’ If your legs were just randomly sore you’d freak out and go to the doctor, but because you know that soreness is moving you forward you frame it the right way.

You say this is good soreness. You see it will end well and make you stronger. Bring it.

What if you took that same principle and applied it to everything in your life? Framed everything the right way?

Growth is challenging. Getting outside of your comfort zone is challenging. It has fears and doubts associated with it. Nobody gets to create whatever it is without moving through challenge.

Next time you go and set a goal that wills see you grow and expand and help you be a better version of yourself, just know the next thing after setting that goal is that that the challenge is about to begin.

As soon as you say yes to your dream challenges appear.

You want to use this cognitive framing technique and say, ‘This challenge is good for me, this self-doubt is good, this fear is good.’

Do what late US psychologist Susan Jeffers suggests and say you’re going to feel the fear and do it anyway. Allow the challenge to do that, move through it, know that you’re moving towards a better and more complete version of yourself.


One of Australia's leading coaches, trainers and speakers, and head facilitator at The Coaching Institute. In between mentoring thousands of coaches and leaders all around Australasia and helping others build incredible culture, Matt is passionate about fitness and music. His healthy office lunches whipped up in five minutes are the stuff of legend

Matt Lavars life coaching
Matt LavarsThe Coaching Institute