Most coaching clients run into obstacles when they start pursuing their dreams. There is nothing abnormal about that—a dream that is worth giving you life should stretch you and force you to grow along the way. Identifying obstacles come in two flavors, external and internal. External obstacles are circumstances that keep you from moving forward – things like a lack of money, skills or credentials. Internal obstacles are beliefs or thinking patterns that hold you back. If you believe that conflict is something to be avoided at all costs, for instance, you’ll have a hard time dreaming about taking on roles or responsibilities that involved conflict.
External Obstacles: Have your coaching client get alone for a half an hour or so and think about what external circumstances block the pursuit of their dream. It may help them to imagine moving toward their goal step by step and ask themselves: “What do I need for this dream to happen that I don’t have and will be difficult to get?” The things you don’t have but are confident you can acquire aren’t obstacles—we’re looking for the places you say, “I don’t know how this could ever happen.”
Internal Obstacles: Have your client imagine again the step-by-step journey of pursuing their dream from the beginning, and this time observe their internal reactions. How do they feel when they think of the different challenges this dream entails? Where do emotions like fear or doubt rise up? What is their inner critic telling them? Have your coaching client record their thoughts and feelings and report back to you in your next coaching appoint.
Identifying obstacles, whether external or internal, is critical for your client to go forward with their dreams, plans and goals.
Tony Stoltzfus is a best-selling author, leadership coach, master coach trainer and director of the Leadership Metaformation Institute. Additional information on this topic can be found in Tony’s book, The Christian Life Coaching Handbook.