What other options do you have?

I love collecting good coaching questions. A ‘good’ question might reverberate around in your head or open up to more questions. It is simple, thought-provoking and gets past those bits in your brain that rush to put up barriers and make excuses. One of my favourites is: what other options do you have?

Feeling trapped

How many times have you said to yourself or someone else, “I had no choice”, “it was my only option” or “I was trapped”? You see we all live within our own bubbles of perspective. We can experience the exact same situation with someone but our perceptions might be different. We layer those with our own filters of belief, our fears and our experiences. It’s possible to feel trapped this way.

What if you had a choice?

Another of my favourite questions, what if you had a choice? If you had a choice you would have options, right? Maybe only two options but options nonetheless. Our fears and limiting beliefs wouldn’t be so powerful or might disappear completely.

The thing is that we all have choices. Even doing nothing is making a choice of sorts.

Let’s take an example. A client considering a change of career. When we explored it they said “I am not enjoying what I do or where I am for a number of reasons. I feel stressed out and I’m not coping. The only option I have is to leave but I’m scared, what if it doesn’t change?”

Let’s have a look at this situation objectively and break it down.

1. I am not enjoying my career – what am I not enjoying specifically? Is it the commute? The work? The people?

2. I feel stressed out – how is this manifesting? Can you pinpoint what the cause is? Where in your body do you feel it?

3. I’m not coping – how is this showing up? What are you doing/not doing?

4. What if I leave and it’s the same again? – what if it’s not? Is this true and/or helpful to believe?

What options do you have? 

In the above situation, the client feels their only option is to leave but is that true? (It’s easier to see the options as an observer by the way!)

So I’d say it’s not true but instead of giving them what I see the options are, which is not my place as a coach, instead, I might ask questions such as:

  • If you could wave a magic wand at work what would you wish for? This gives an idea of what they really want and once you know that, you can start taking steps towards it
  • Who is able to support you? When we have a tribe to support us we have access to others’ stories, to practical and emotional help and we realise that we’re not alone.
  • What is within your control? Ultimately we can only control ourselves but that means we can set our own boundaries and act in congruence with our values.
  • Have you been in a similar situation before and if so, what did you do/learn? This is about resilience. So often we get through things then forget about the strength and skill required to do so. Even if it’s not the same, we can always learn from our experiences.
  • What would your best friend say to you right now? As I said earlier, it’s easier to be an observer and this question allows you to stop being you for a moment and think from a perspective of someone who loves you. You might also consider it in terms of what your role model might do.

You see, we always have choices. In the example, the client moved and found something new because their values didn’t fit with the direction the company was taking. They could also have stayed, asked for a secondment, put stronger boundaries in place, done nothing, changed something I’m their personal life, been signed off, retrained, asked for help…the options are many.

If you’re struggling to see your options or you can see them but don’t know which to choose, please get in touch.