A key role for a coach is to help people to better understand what they want from life.

Coaching can not only bring understanding of objectives and motivations, but also help uncover new objectives, perhaps the ones that were not previously considered achievable. To dare to dream.

Increasing the range of options when setting objectives is a key part of coaching.

Self-Limiting Beliefs

Each person’s world view is made up of their collected experiences and their reactions to them. These reactions become opinions and values, which influence future experiences, which create new reactions. From the moment we are born we are moving around this cycle.

This creates a belief system which inevitably informs our choices and options. Are these beliefs always helpful, however? It may be that our beliefs, whether they are about the world or about ourselves, are actually limiting our options.

Here are a few examples of self-limiting beliefs:

  • I can’t do X because of Y
  • I won’t be happy until I have enough money
  • I don’t have enough resources (a tactic to give ourselves permission to remain stuck)
  • I have too many responsibilities to have fun
  • Earning money is hard work
  • I’m expected to … (by whom?)
  • It’s just the way things are (collective assumption)
  • Options only increase with wealth

The key point is that beliefs are not truths.

It is easy to get caught up in allowing our beliefs to define us. They shape our thinking and our actions but can prevent us from seeing opportunities and can discourage us from even trying at all.

Changing one’s beliefs and fixed ideas is not easy. There is frequently a time lag between changes in thinking and actual changes in our emotional state. Ever argued a point even though you know you are wrong, only to agree later?

Even when we recognise that something isn’t logical or rational, there will be an internal forceful debate between our rational and irrational thoughts over a period of time.

This is where an experienced coach can help the client to identify and maybe challenge their beliefs in order to allow new options.

Generating More Options

The process of generating more options is about being creative.

Lateral thinking can help a person to break out from the limitations of the current world view.

The first idea we come up with in response to a question or challenge is usually based on our existing thinking. Try this – next time you need to work out a problem, write down all your ideas as fast as possible. When you pause, set that list aside and start again. The new ideas are likely to be much more fresh and radical.

Here are a few suggestions when helping trying to come up with new options, perhaps working in a team or in a brainstorming session:

  • Questions should be open in order to explore more ideas: “What else …”
  • Introduce ideas without limitations and without judging them
  • Get all the ideas out before considering their merits
  • Use questions that suspend limits-based thinking: “If there were no limits on … what would you do then?”
  • Use questions that break the rules: “What if you didn’t need to …”

Your aim is to create and write down as many options as possible with little or no evaluation and judgment. Only once such a list is created should you then evaluate them for suitability and feasibility.

And if an idea is dismissed, test whether this is because it contradicts one of your self-limiting beliefs.


Understanding objectives and daring to dream is a key part of coaching. Whether it is a business owner considering their personal future, an executive solving a specific problem or a director looking for new ways to move the business forward, extra options and possibilities are always welcome.


Have new options helped you achieve your goals and objectives? Please share your ideas with us.

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