“Life coaching is founded on the premise that your past need not equate to the future.” — Curly Martin, author of The Life Coaching Handbook

When I went through my Life Coach training, we were taught how to identify and remove obstacles that are keeping our clients from achieving their goals. Over the years in my coaching sessions I have seen many of the same obstacles in people.

Here is a list of those common obstacles.

  • lack of vision or focus
  • lack of commitment to achieving a goal
  • putting yourself last
  • feeling guilty if you do something for yourself
  • feeling too old, too young, too poor, too fat, too anything to get started
  • worrying what your family and friends will think
  • overcommitment at work
  • letting yourself get stuck in a rut
  • lack of time, or a perceived lack of time
  • feeling like you’re going against your family’s or church’s values

These are all common. I’m sure you will recognize some of these and realize you are not alone.

But the biggest obstruction of all will be a client’s belief system. We are taught our beliefs as soon as we are born and it continues throughout our lives — from our parents, school teachers, anyone who has ever offered an opinion or attitude about something in our lives. And as I’m sure you realize by now, most people do not hold back giving their unwanted opinions about things that don’t concern them. But their voices stick with us whether we want them to or not. This affects how we behave, how we think, and how we feel about ourselves. Even when we know they are wrong, we can’t help but hear those little voices in the back of our minds.

It takes work to break away and form your own beliefs.

Here is an example from a friend of mine who is constantly on a diet. I asked her once why she was dieting when she was not overweight. And she said she was always a fat kid and didn’t want to put the weight back on. Later I saw a picture of her as a kid and she was not fat, not at all. She looked like any other kid. I pointed this out to her and she looked through many more pictures of herself growing up. She realized she was never a fat kid. But she was always told she was fat. And she believed it.

She still has trouble believing she is not overweight. It’s something she works on. This is an example of a belief that was given to her by her mother. Her mother was extremely overweight and was passing on her insecurities to her daughter. She didn’t do this out of malice, but thought she was helping her not follow in her footsteps.

A Life Coach can’t sort out the issues she has with her mother. A therapist would be much better equipped for that role. A Life Coach needs to know where to draw these boundaries and stick to them. But as a coach I helped her identify how this limiting belief was holding her back.

Her belief that she was overweight was keeping her from wearing stylish clothes, speaking up at work, auditioning for a cabaret, among other things. These are all things she wanted to do but was waiting until she lost the weight. It may take her a lifetime of saying to herself “I am slim” or “I am perfect the way I am” to feel a change within.

The decision to change her belief is what will move her forward.

Can you identify any common obstacles or limiting beliefs that are holding you back?