Need to make a change? Here are 5 tips from an executive coach

Some of us are happy as to where we are in life, and others among us are restless, desirous of a different future.

Those of us in this category are ready to make shifts and changes to move ahead, enjoy new opportunities, and to seize more of the potential we possess. If you are in the latter category, take heart!

Growth is not easy, but the steps are simple, and the rewards are many.

Here are 5 top tips from this executive coach to help get you started:

 You have untapped capacity

No matter how old you are, or what your background or circumstances are, you have more potential. The world did not realize this until late last century, previously believing that a person reached their personal development “ceiling” at young adulthood.

Thus, many of us grew up with adages such as “You can’t teach an old dog new tricks,” which we now know is not really the case. As we grow older, the time it takes to develop to new levels is a bit longer.

However, there is just as much capacity and satisfaction as we journey there.

A growth mindset is key

It is easy to settle into patterns of thinking that keep us from seeing more of our potential. Look for areas in your life where you might be using limited mindset language, such as, “I can’t…because,” or “This is just the way it is.”

These are language indicators that you believe nothing can be done, or there are limited choices. Seek to shift such language patterns by beginning to ask yourself, instead, “How can I…?” or “What might other options be that I have not thought of?”

You can’t always change external circumstances, but you can take responsibility for how you show up in these circumstances and manage them. Developing a growth mindset means taking charge of yourself in all situations and opens up doors to  many more opportunities.

You have hidden strengths

Notice where you might default to thinking you are “not good at this,” or “not made for that.”

This comes from life experience and from other voices that have told you who you are – your parents, social circles, and society. However, if there are strengths you would like to develop, cast these doubting voices aside and explore ways in which you can develop in it. This involves revisiting past successes, interests, and activities where you have felt most engaged and alive.

Recognizing these strengths can reveal untapped potential and new directions for personal and professional growth. It’s a process of self-discovery that encourages you to look beyond your current role and imagine what more you could achieve.

Potential needs a place to go

Why do you want to grow? This is key – and needs to align with your values and priorities.

For example, if I were your coach and you told me you wanted to take on more responsibility at work to line up for a possible promotion, and you had previously shared that you want to work less and have more time with family, I would ask you how your goal lines up with your stated values.

Determine where you want to head, and then revisit your values and priorities to ensure that your goals align with these. Once you do this, create a growth plan that will help you get there.

Feedback and reflection

Make sure that you have identified markers that will tell you that your plan is working.

For example, if you want to lose 30 pounds, the weight scale will tell you how you are progressing. If, on the other hand, you want to be a better communicator, identify what that looks like and the behaviors you want to embrace. Those behaviors will be your markers so that as you begin to embody these, you will know you are moving toward your goal.

Feedback from others is important – we can’t see our own blind spots. Therefore, select one or two trusted friends that will be supportive and truthful with you and ask them periodically to share how they see you are doing in the area you have selected to grow.

Additionally, personal reflection is key. Journal on a regular basis, identifying where and how in your growth journey you congratulate yourself, what you are learning, and what you want to do more or less of in order to reach your goal.

And a bonus tip – growth does not happen overnight! It took you years to get where you are – it will take a while to make those shifts and changes you want to see in yourself. A well-defined plan that aligns with your values and priorities is key, as is compassion for yourself as you hit a few bumps along the way to success. Keep going. Growth is not easy. But it is incredibly rewarding.

Patti Cotton serves as a thought partner to CEOs and their teams to help manage complexity and change.  Contact her via email at

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