Coaching is an excellent tool for obtaining clarity on what we want and what we think we should want. Throughout our lives, we develop stories for ourselves of how we fit in or relate to the world. What makes us different and what makes us similar. Coaching gives us the space to evaluate these stories and determine the value we assign to them and where we want to focus as we move forward. We determine the stories we want to lead our paths.

When we notice ourselves in discomfort, holding a desire to solve a problem, or sitting with a drive to minimize an emotion, we look to those around us who either do not struggle in the same way or appear to have overcome our particular struggle. We wear an investigative lens that measures us against the other - what they have and where we fall short.

Here, in this process, we develop our list of shoulds.

When asked (and sometimes when not asked), others are happy to jump in and help us on this journey. Everyone has a piece of wisdom to share of a list of the 10 things we must do to live happier, healthier, and freer. Sometimes we go on this adventure publicly and sometimes we do it privately with our chosen piece of technology, scouring the web for the most read and consumed articles that hold our answers. We create an action plan that is a collection of others stories and experiences.

This is the epitome of what occurs at the change of the new year. It is happening right now.

And when those action plans do not work, we wonder what went wrong or why we cannot create the change we want for ourselves.

Seeking advice and learning from those with experience is a valuable exercise. Leveraging the lessons of those that came before us is also valuable. And there is a critical step that must occur before we move blindly into action against these plans. We must ask ourselves a set of critical questions to determine if their plan is right for us.

Without these questions, we convince ourselves that we will rise at 6am everyday despite our most creative work coming to light in the middle of the night or we make a commitment to give up sugar while ignoring the reality that our favorite, soul enriching hobby is baking up a storm in our kitchen.

Spend a few minutes evaluating the items that you are taking on in the new year, with the following questions:

What does it honor about what you know to be true about yourself?
How does it speak to the innate, animalistic nature of your being?
Where does it live within your value system?
How does our body feel when we imagine taking that action?
What do you need to let go of to invite that change in your life? Are you willing?

There is no one size fits all approach, it’s about finding the magic of our own change catalysts.