7 Questions to Ask Yourself When You Want to Make a Change

Guest Post by Alli Polin

It’s a good thing that you type with your fingertips because that’s about all I can move today.  This weekend I enthusiastically started a new circuit at the gym and now my enthusiasm, while still present, needs a lot of Advil too.

I was bored with my gym routine and knew that it was time for more. I booked a trainer and asked her to help me take the next step and introduce me to machines I should be using but wasn’t using because they looked intimidating.

This was it. Alli 2.0; fit and fabulous. I told her my goals and trusted that she knew what I needed better than I did. She was the expert.

It’s interesting that this sounds like a lot of my coaching clients when they first contact me. They call me up, are ready for a change and look to me to tell them steps 1 – 100 to make it happen.

In reality, we talk about their goals, what they’re currently doing to achieve them, and start exploring new skills and approaches to bring into their repertoire.

In the end, I don’t decide what they’re willing and able to do, they do.

The challenge comes when they stop being a partner in the coaching and look to me as the leader in the relationship – the one with all of the answers. Coaching works best when I lean in 100%, they lean in 100% and together, we make things happen. It’s a lesson I forgot when I showed up at the gym to meet my trainer.

We tried a number of exercises to see how they felt and determine the right weights. Shoulders, delts, pecs were a focus as she walked me right past biceps and triceps. Bummer, I thought, I really want more tone in my arms. Then I reminded myself that she knew best how to achieve my goals. She was the expert.

As I now limp and strain to lift my laptop onto my lap, I still plan to go back and do it again. My resolve is still present even if the pain has put a damper on my enthusiasm.

When you don’t use muscles for a long time, it’s a Big Wake-up Call when you finally do. Kind of like that at work too, huh? Or when you try to do 7th-grade math with your child – it should be easy, but it’s not.

7 Questions to Ask Yourself When Living and Leading Through a Change 

When you do something you’ve never done before (or for a long time), it may hurt. Don’t give up because of a little pain.

I can barely move, but as soon as I can, I’ll be back at the gym. In fact, I’ll still be sore and will use it as fuel to remind myself I’m doing something that matters, not just because it’s easy.

Ask Yourself:  1. What’s causing you pain… and as a result, you’re shying away instead of sticking with it?

You know your limits, not the experts. Listen to your inner-knower.

On some of the machines, she wanted to start me with minimal weight, and on others, we went up fast. Honestly, I only did one set, and less than halfway through felt the intense burn. She made a recommendation, I needed to speak up if it was too much too soon.

Ask Yourself:  2. Where are you letting others tell you what to do instead of speaking up and sharing your insights?

There’s no competition for who goes the farthest the fastest.

I’m not going to magically be in super shape because I do three sets at 40 kg like the guy next to me. I’m going to hurt myself, and it will lead to a setback.

Ask Yourself:  3. Are you trying to keep up with the Joneses or blazing your own trail?

Stay focused on your goals even when someone else is pointing you in another direction.

I want toned arms and a stronger core and want to continue my cardio too. The trainer pointed me towards other muscles that may help me achieve my goals, but I’m not clear how.

Ask Yourself:  4. Are you clearly articulating your goals to others so they can help you to achieve them?

If it’s easy, you’re not pushing yourself hard enough.

You have to stress your muscles for them to grow. There’s the sweet spot between things being a breeze and feeling the tension. On every machine, I played with the weight to find the point it stopped being easy and the last rep would be a challenge.

Ask Yourself:  5. Where do you need to take it up a notch because your current level of effort isn’t helping you to stretch and grow?

Empower yourself to course correct.

Will I take her advice and use the workout plan she gave me? Absolutely! Will I modify it to meet my needs? Count on it. I’m not going to call her up and ask if it’s ok to substitute one exercise for another but will use her plan as the springboard for where I want to go.

Ask Yourself:  6. Where are opportunities to make adjustments to your plan?

Different goals require a different approach.

The number of reps I choose to do are all about my goals. Same machine, different outcome. Fewer reps more weight or lighter weight more reps. It makes a big difference.

Ask Yourself:  7. Are you spending your time on the things that will bring you closer to achieving your goal or are you doing too much in one area?

Today, I’m committed!  Tomorrow, I’ll still be sore but will wake up, drop the kids off at school and go to the gym before opening my email.

What are you choosing? To take it easy or do what you know you need to do even when, ouch, it hurts.

Alli Polin


Alli Polin is a Certified Professional Co-Active Coach (CPCC) ,  a Associate Certified Coach (ACC) and is a former senior executive who now focuses her work as a global leadership coach, speaker and writer. You can follow Alli on Twitter


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