Feeling lost? How to self coach using the GROW model

Feeling lost how to self coach using the grow model beki gowing.jpg

There isn’t really a replacement for having a good business coach. However, sometimes you don’t have the money, the time, or the contacts to talk to someone else. If you’re feeling like you don’t know what to do next, put aside an hour and try self coaching using the GROW model. It may not fix everything, but it’s likely to help you feel more focused and less overwhelmed.

I’m a huge believer in the power of coaching, or simply talking through your ideas with someone else. Just saying your thoughts out loud, explaining why you made that assumption, and answering a few questions can help you to see where you might have missed something, or where your priorities lie. The other person normally doesn’t need to know very much about your business, it’s the process of putting language to your thoughts and looking at your ideas from different perspectives that helps.

But if you don’t have someone to talk to, you can’t afford a coach, or you are feeling stuck and need to sort this out immediately, you can still use coaching techniques on yourself. In this article I’m going to explain one of the simplest coaching techniques - the GROW model, and how you can self coach to reach a goal.

First things first

Treat this like a ‘real’ coaching session, and put aside some time (I’d suggest an hour) to do this. I know this can seem like a long time when you’re busy, but you’re not going to be able to focus if you’re watching the clock.

Put your phone on silent, mute your emails, and make yourself a cup of tea. If music helps, put on something calming in the background, and make yourself comfortable. I like having paper and pens to hand so I can scribble ideas, but if you prefer typing then having your computer nearby is fine too.

Start by taking a few deep breaths in and out, to bring your focus into the room. Feel the air filling your lungs, and notice how your body feels. The aim is to stop thinking about the past or the future, and to be present, so you can give this your full attention. If you practice mindfulness, yoga or meditation, feel free to spend a few minutes using your favourite technique to bring your attention to what’s happening now.

Set a Goal

Decide what you want to spend this time working on. Ideally it should be a SMART goal (Specific, Measurable, Agreed, Realistic, Time-phased). Something like investigate how to increase my sales by 20% in the next 6 months, or plan my time for the next month so I can launch my new collection, or create a 3 month content strategy to build my profile so I can re-launch my business (this is the one I set myself in April).

If you’re struggling to set a specific goal, try asking yourself why you want to do something. For example, if you’re feeling overwhelmed and want to prioritise and organise your workload, think about why you want to do this - is it so you can finish work at a set time everyday and spend time with your family? Or so you can get everything ready for an upcoming event? Attaching specific measurable details and a clear time frame will help you to achieve it.

Write down your goal, and ask yourself the following questions:

1. Why is this important to you at the moment?

2. How important is this to you, on a scale of 1-10?

3. If you achieved this, how would it be different from now?

4. Do you have enough control over this situation to achieve this?

These questions are there to help you check if this is the right goal for you to work on at the moment. If it isn’t achievable, isn’t very important, and doesn’t make you feel excited about achieving it, then it may not be the right thing to work on.

What’s the Reality?

Now we’re going to start looking at things from a different perspective, to see if there’s anything you’ve not thought about before. You’re trying to put some distance between you and the situation, to help you see it objectively. I find it helpful to imagine a friend is telling me their problem, and I’m giving them advice - what would I say to someone else who was in this situation?

First think about the goal, and the problem you need to work through to reach it. Write down:

5. What else is happening that is causing this problem/situation? (Do you need to consider other people/other projects/something happening outside of your business?)

6. When [your problem/situation] happens, what do you tell yourself? How does that make you feel?

7. What have you tried already? What did and didn’t work?

8. What stopped you from doing more? Do you feel like anything is blocking you?

Now try to look at your situation objectively, like it is a problem to be solved, or something happening to someone else:

9. Have you been in a situation like this before? If so, what did you do then that worked? What evidence do you have that it worked?

10. What assumptions have you made?

11. What resources do you already have? (For example, time, money, contacts, skills, support, etc)

What are your Options?

This is the fun part. Try not to worry too much about what is feasible or ‘right’, or even if it is only a partial solution - that will come later. Instead, be creative, and write everything down. Aim to come up with between three and ten different ways to approach this and to achieve your goal.

If you’re having trouble coming up with ideas, use these questions as prompts:

  • What’s a different way you could approach this issue?

  • How might someone else approach this? Maybe someone who is more/less: analytical/confident/creative/risk averse/wealthy/time poor/organised/well known/experienced/introverted, etc

  • What would you do if you could start all over again, with a clean sheet?

  • What would you do if money or time wasn’t an issue?

  • What will give you the best result?

  • What will make you happiest?

  • What will give you the most satisfaction?

  • What will make your family/friends happiest?

  • Is there anywhere you could go for more support or information?

If you are really struggling, it may be worth reviewing your goal. If you can’t think of any options, then you may need to make your goal more realistic.

Look at your list and notice which option(s) feel best to you. Again, don’t worry if it doesn’t seem feasible at the moment. Consider:

12. What else could you do to build on this?

13. What are the pros and cons of approaching it in this way?

What/Will you do now?

Look at your list of options and decide which approach are you going to take. This next part is about committing to this action, and working out what support you need. If you’re torn between what you want to do and what you should do, try looking at the pros and cons of each, and considering which matters more to you. Or see if there is any way to combine some of the ‘shoulds’ with what will make you happiest.

Ask yourself:

14. Which option or options do you choose?

15. What action(s) are you going to take?

16. Does this meet all of your criteria?

17. How will you measure your success?

18. Is there anything that might stop you doing these things? (This might be external events, or some personal internal resistance)

19. What can you do to limit or overcome these challenges?

20. Who needs to know about your plans?

21. Is there anyone who can support you with any of this?

When you have a plan of action, answer the following questions:

22. What is the next thing you need to do to make this happen?

23. What are the other steps you need to take?

24. Looking at your initial deadline (from your SMART goal), is this still realistic?

Break down the time to your deadline into smaller chunks (whatever seems sensible - normally this will be weeks, but if you have a tight deadline it might be days. Months will probably be too long). Now you can map your steps/actions against the upcoming days/weeks, so you have a clear aim for every week. If a step or action seems too big, then you need to break it down further.

Finally look at your plan and ask:

25. If I were to see you next week, what would you tell me has changed?

26. On a scale of 1-10, how committed do you feel to taking these actions?

27. If it’s less than 10, why is that?

28. What could you change or do to bring your commitment closer to 10?

What next?

Well done, you’re finished! Hopefully you now have a realistic goal, and a plan that you know you can follow to get there. And you’ve just spent a solid hour creating a strategy and ‘working on your business, not in it’ (as we’re always being told, as if working in your business is something disorganised people do and not what keeps everything afloat!)

I’d suggest that you plan 20 minutes in each week to review these steps, check you are on track, and readjust if necessary. Accountability can be hard if you’re working on your own, and especially if you’re someone who works well to a deadline. Try writing down your actions for the week somewhere visible, or see if you can tell someone your plans, and check in with them each week for an update.


The GROW model is just one of the many models and techniques that coaches work with, and may not always be the best way of approaching your problem. But Goal-Reality-Options-What/Will is a simple format, and if you’re feeling stuck it can be a good way to start focusing on actions.

One of the main benefits of coaching, self coaching and peer coaching, is simply giving yourself some time to just focus on what matters to you, something we don’t normally do enough of when we’re trying to run a business.

Hopefully this has helped you come up with some solutions. But if you are looking for a coach to go into more depth and support you as you setup and run your business then let me know.

BlogBeki Gowing