In a recent post, I shared how to identify your coaching niche using my INSPIRED Model. This has proven an invaluable framework for many coaches but there’s a model I created that I think is infinitely more important. Indeed, it’s the one framework I use constantly to guide my decisions in my business.
You see, every coach makes a choice to become a coach. We don’t fall into it as we do so many careers that are adopted early in life. For instance, I fell into the life of being a bank manager after my degree in philosophy and spent an unsatisfying decade of my 20s in and around that profession.
If we make a choice to become a coach then it makes sense to make that choice pay off.
Yet, all too often I see coaches fall prey to a coaching business that becomes just another job.
As a coaching supervisor, I have worked with coaches who have grown to abhor the organisations they work for, yet who are unable to escape the financial stability they provide.
And I’ve worked with coaches who are at risk of burnout, feeling weighed down by their clients’ emotions or the sheer workload.
That’s not what they signed up for when they chose to become a coach.
So where did it go wrong?
Well, in my opinion it is in putting the act of coaching and of being a coach ahead of the purpose of why they became a coach.
Whilst I have never been much of a solution-focused coach, preferring instead to swim in the murky waters of existential issues, I nonetheless use a solution-focused approach to my own life.
One classic technique of solution-focused work is having clear, meaningful outcomes that we move towards consistently.
Many coaches lose sight of why they came into coaching in the first place, caught up in the maelstrom of activity needed to find clients, build a practice, and create sustainability.
And that’s completely understandable, and usually necessary. Few of us have the luxury of a queue of clients banging down our door when we first start out.
But whilst coaching provides the opportunity to make a significant impact on the lives of your clients, it is vital to stay mindful of the things you want it to achieve for you too.
The LIFE Model for Designing Business Outcomes
Having run my own business since 2001, I’ve come to think that a business should ultimately achieve four critical things for you.
That’s where the LIFE Model comes in.
LIFE stands for:
Ensuring you are clear about each of these and that you stay attentive to them over time should ensure that you do not deviate too far from the outcomes you wanted to achieve when you became a coach.
Let’s take a quick look at each component of the LIFE model.
Lifestyle, here, relates to the type of life you want to create for yourself as a coach. It includes considerations such as the number of hours you want to work, the location from which you want to work, the type of clients you want to work with, and the overall balance you want to strike between work and personal life.
If you’re a parent, you will have different lifestyle needs and priorities from a single person with no ties or to an empty-nester embarking on a new phase of life. Your coaching business needs to be aligned to this purposefully rather than becoming yet another challenge to overcome.
This refers to the impact you want to make on your clients and the world around you. It includes considerations such as the specific problems you want to help your clients solve, the type of change you want to create in the world, and the legacy you want to leave behind.
Getting clear on this relates to the idea of coaching niche but it also relates to the scale of the impact you want to make. Two coaches could share the same niche but have wildly different businesses that achieve outcomes of vastly different scale. What impact do you want to make?
Financial goals are critical in business. Without financial outcomes, there is no business. This element then is about getting clear on what you want to achieve financially through your coaching business. It includes considerations such as the amount of revenue you want to generate, the expenses you need to cover, and the profit you want to make.
I often notice coach’s feel embarrassment and shame around money but to run a business you need to be comfortable with it and not be shy of what you want to charge and how you make the kind of income you require.
This refers to the emotions you want to experience as a coach and business owner. It includes considerations such as the level of fulfilment you want to experience from your work, the level of joy you want to feel when working with your clients, and the level of freedom you want to have in your business.
This area is often overlooked as many people treat emotional outcomes as accidental byproducts of their business. I believe we can design the conditions to achieve the emotions that we want. A business that leaves you feeling calm and relaxed is a very different business from one in which you want to feel challenged and exhilarated. Why not create this intentionally.
Why LIFE Outcomes Are Important
Each of these four components of the LIFE model is essential for coaches who want to start or grow their business. By focusing on all four areas, you can create a coaching business that not only helps you achieve financial success but also allows you to live the life you want, make a meaningful impact on your clients, and experience the emotions you desire.
Here are a few reasons why these four outcomes are the most important to create from your business:
- A strong focus on lifestyle ensures that your business supports the life you want to live, rather than the other way around. This can help you maintain a healthy work-life balance, reduce stress, and avoid burnout.
- A clear focus on impact helps you create a business with a purpose beyond just making money. It can give you a sense of meaning and fulfilment in your work, and inspire you to keep pushing forward even when faced with challenges.
- Setting financial goals gives you a clear target to aim for and helps ensure that your business is financially sustainable. It can also help you make strategic decisions about pricing, marketing, and investment in your business.
- Focusing on emotions ensures that you’re not just chasing financial success, but also creating a business that brings you joy, satisfaction, and a sense of accomplishment. This can help you stay motivated and engaged in your work over the long term.
One of the interesting and challenging steps in designing your LIFE outcomes is to recognise where there is tension and contradiction between them and then tackle this before it creates irreconcilable difficulties.
For instance, if you wish to make a significant impact on the plight of homeless people, it is unlikely (though not impossible) that this would sit well with a financial ambition to make millions.
Equally, this same financial desire would not play well (initially) with a desire for a calm, relaxed emotional state.
A lifestyle in which you can travel the world as a digital nomad would not fit with a business predicated on face-to-face meetings.
This is not to say that these things can’t be reconciled. However, by identifying them ahead of time and designing your business purposefully, you are far more likely to achieve your outcomes.
When Is It OK TO Deviate From Your Outcomes?
There are really only two times you want to deviate from your outcomes.
When Things Change
The first is when things change in a way that changes your outcomes.
By being conscious and mindful of your LIFE outcomes, you can recognise when they are no longer the right ones.
Maybe your lifestyle changes due to marriage, parenthood, bereavement or any other number of things life throws at us.
Maybe your focus changes in terms of your impact. You want to go bigger, or change the impact you make.
Perhaps the financial outcome becomes less (or more) important.
And maybe the emotions that felt so important at one point cease to offer the same thing. Certainly as I have gotten older, I enjoy the feeling that comes from certainty in business more than I used to and the joys of flying by the seat of my pants are far less alluring!
When It’s Strategic and Purposeful
The second reason you might allow yourself to be taken off track is when you know it’s a temporary, strategic choice.
For instance, your LIFE outcomes might describe a lifestyle in which you get to work 3 hours a day and coach for one full-day a week. This is your vision.
But you realise very quickly that this isn’t going to happen straight away! You need to put in the work and you know it’s going to take a considerable period of time before that changes.
But here’s the thing. It’s purposeful. You know where you’re heading. You’re not a slave to your business. You are investing what’s needed to get where you want to go.
How To Use LIFE
Like my INSPIRED Model, LIFE is simply a thinking framework. It helps you put attention on where it needs to be.
Take time to write down all your hopes and aspirations. Imagine the life you want and write it down without editing.
Don’t be shy about writing down what you really want to make financially or the scale of the impact you want to make.
But, equally, don’t feel you need to go bigger than you really want. It can be tempting to feel we should earn lots or should change the world.
This is your LIFE! What do you want?
Being the consummate entrepreneur, this model originally started as FILE as I always start any business thinking with the financial component. It was only when a mentee said that it was an anagram of “life” that I slapped my forehead for missing the obvious and suddenly saw the depth of the model and its relationship with your actual life.
I’m not perfect with LIFE. I often go off track – to err is human – but it is always there for me, acting as a North Star, when I choose to look.
It has guided me beautifully and over the years I have slowly built the life I want from being broke and in debt and working until 2am every day (I loved it by the way so that’s not a complaint – my E was good, my F less so!!) to a place where I have the financial and lifestyle freedom I always wanted.
I truly believe that without the consciousness I gave to my outcomes, this wouldn’t be the case. My choices and actions have been guided by the LIFE outcomes I set out and that I have adapted purposefully as life unfolded. And it will continue to do this. It is not static. It is a living, adaptive model for you to check in with.
I hope that this model can be of use for you too.