Do you know exactly what your problem is?
For example, if you suffer from stress, do you know how many times a day you get stressed?
Do you know what sets you off?
Do you know how long it takes you to calm down?
Do you know if you always react in the same way?
Do you know if the way you react helps or not?
If your problem is time management, do you know what you spend your time on? You might have a rough idea but have you ever recorded how many hours you spend on which tasks?
If your problem is weight management, do you know what you eat and when? How hungry you feel before and after your meals?
If you suffer from a lack of confidence, do you know when it affects you, what it stops you from doing?
The Importance of Keeping a Diary
Now is the time to introduce to you the idea of diary.
The idea is simple. By recording exactly what the situation is right now, you will have a clear image of what is really happening and what the root cause of the problem might be.
Hold a diary for a week and record all the events that are relevant to you and your problem.
For instance, if you have problems managing your time, start by writing down what you think you do during the day and how long it takes. Write also what you would like your day to look like ideally. Then record the actual times spent on each task every day. You will probably get a slightly different picture. The actual figures and the discrepancies with what you thought and what you would like will be an excellent starting point to help you think about how you can change and what solutions you can implement.
Here are examples of diaries:
Use these or create your own diaries.
Make it a duty to record faithfully all the entries every day.
Above all, be honest with yourself.
By pinpointing where the problem lies, you will know what to start tackling.
OK I’ve Made my Diary, So What Next?
Once you have clearly identified the problem in as much detail as possible (what, how, when, where…) and documented this in your diary, you are then much better equipped to deal with it. It’s no use having only a vague idea what your problem is but it’s just a label you put on it rather than giving it some real context (e.g. ‘I get stressed’ vs recording the exact times you got stressed, the intensity, where you were at the time, what you were doing, how long the feelings lasted for, how they changed during this time, any other feelings which came along just before, during or just after the time you were stressed etc etc).
With this level of information you are already beginning to confront the problem. You can then use a number of different techniques to address your problem (whether straight forward life coaching techniques, NLP based techniques, alternative therapy, hypnosis…) but the point is that you can now do so much more effectively and with absolute clarity about exactly what it is you’re addressing. It will make any further analysis much more straight forward.
What Techniques Exactly?
Well, there are many, and the possibilities here are to branch off into slightly different areas depending upon what works for you (because different people respond well to different approaches). Some very popular examples in the coaching world are addressing limiting beliefs, more technical NLP based techniques such as anchoring, sub-modalities or the ‘swish’ model or the good old reliable coaching classic GROW model.
We will be providing more articles related to some of these techniques here over the coming weeks. In fact we already have an article covering how to identify your limiting beliefs and what to do about it here.
Did you make a diary? How did it go? Did you find it easy? Difficult? Surprising? Did recording the problem in a diary make it seem more or less significant? Please do share any thoughts you might have (whether you’ve created a diary or not or just read the article in passing) in the comments below.