Resolve to Get Your Life in Shape -- Larry LaMotte -- 01/14/03

By Larry LaMotte
WebMD Live Events Transcript

Tired of making resolutions each year and then losing focus? Let Life Coach Larry LaMotte help you get rid of the obstacles keeping you from your personal best, and identify and eliminate the energy drains that keep you from keeping your promises to yourself! Read what he had to say about using a life coach to meet your goals.

The opinions expressed herein are the guest's alone and have not been reviewed by a WebMD physician. If you have questions about your health, you should consult your personal physician. This event is meant for informational purposes only.

Moderator: Welcome, Larry. Thanks for being our guest for this Live Event.

LaMotte: Hello everyone and I hope there is warmth in your life, just like this Atlanta weather. The sun is shining and I've got a smile on my face. I am ready to talk with you.

Member: Maybe we should start from the beginning: What is a "life coach"?

LaMotte: A life coach is your intimate partner in action. Often we know what we want to do with our lives, but something holds us back. Maybe it's difficult for example to crawl out of our comfort and safety zones and yet we yearn for a better life. The coach understands we want to achieve new things, and understands the challenge of getting away from the comfort zone and helps through a lot of different methods to keep that person focused and on track so they don't return to their old ways.

Moderator: You said, "often we know what we want." What about those of us who don't know what we want? "Happiness" is too vague a goal. How do we find that dream of what we want?

LaMotte: Great question. In my own life I discovered I was running from morning to night simply surviving, doing very little thinking. Coaching allows a person the opportunity to think and as simple as that sounds, it's an amazing and revealing process. You say you don't know what you want to do with your life. I contend you do. But you have not gotten out of your daily rut. You have not stopped and taken the time to think and reflect. So you think you don't know. My answer for me and for others is find that hour a day to do nothing more than contemplate your navel, as they say. Don't feel guilty about it. You will see that using that hour will lead you where you want to go.

Moderator: What is a session with a life coach like? How often do you and your clients get together?

LaMotte: Basically we get together by telephone once per week for 30-minute sessions. And every session is different. So it's difficult to answer that about what is a session like. Let me say that basically the sessions are aimed at understanding the person's goals, developing strategies for achieving those goals, and making sure steps are taken on a regular basis that will lead to the result the client wants.

I want to add that in coaching I typically take on clients who are already highly motivated to do something good with their lives. And the reason I do that is because until a person reaches a point where they are burning with desire, it is very time consuming and difficult to get them to move in any direction. Since the client is paying for this process they typically want fairly fast results. Only the highly motivated will have a chance at getting those fast results. And they tend to be the happiest clients. So as a coach, I don't want to push against a brick wall.

In my own life, there have been times when no coach could have helped me at all. So it took a period of experience for me to evolve into the kind of person motivated enough to be assisted by a coach.

Member: What is the range of "life problems" that you have been asked to coach on?

LaMotte: I have been asked to coach on challenges ranging from changing careers to creating a whole new life.

Member: I think fear is a big roadblock between my dreams and me. I'm afraid of failing so I keep in my comfort zones. What are your suggestions for facing this kind of fear?

LaMotte: My first is to accept fear. To roll around in it. To bathe in it. To experience every aspect of it. Never to deny it. Fear is built into the human spirit, and for a purpose. It helps us avoid wild animals and hot stoves. In that respect, fear is an aid in life. So don't think there is anything wrong with having fear. It's OK. And the reason I suggest you totally experience it, is because it helps you better understand it. It helps you better understand how to use it on your own behalf.

My reaction to fear in the past has been maybe like yours. I have tried to push it away. And in some cases, I tried to act as though it did not exist. I have run from it. Today I embrace it. I love it. I have accepted it as part of ME. And because of that, fear doesn't get in my way. I know that sounds a little esoteric, so I'll close this answer by saying the next time you experience fear, write down exactly what you are feeling at that very moment and try to see how your legs, arms, head, and every other part of your body are reacting. You will be surprised that you will suddenly have a better understanding that will put fear into a different perspective than you have ever known before.

Member: So I need to use fear to my advantage? Use it as a motivator?

LaMotte: Not use it as a motivator. But learn to put fear in perspective. If you accept it as part of the human spirit rather than reject it as an inhibitor in your life, your perspective changes. Once your perspective changes, the role fear plays in your life changes.

Moderator: So it's more like a door than a wall, to be philosophical about it?

LaMotte: I'll have to think about that. (-:

Member: What is your opinion on "journaling" (there's a message board recently created about that topic)? What would be your suggestion to people who do this to put these "life thoughts" into a constructive use for their lives?

LaMotte: I think journaling is a powerful instrument. I think we so quickly forget our feelings at any given moment that journaling helps us remember. For example, when a person is upset over being overweight, journaling can help that person write not only that they are upset, but "I have this knot in my stomach. I have nausea in my throat every time I look in the mirror." And when you can write those feelings down and then read them later, it just reinforces what it is you want to change, so that you have something to compare to when you begin to lose weight and journal again to say "I look in the mirror today and smile." Again, by re-reading your journal you can re-live those emotions in a powerful way that is highly motivating. And so while some regard journaling as a pain in life, the results of it are extremely positive.

I have also suggested to people that they strap to their bodies a mini voice-activated tape recorder that they can purchase for $30. And as they walk through the day, simply say what they are feeling and RECORD it. It makes it easier than even writing something. At the end of the day, they listen to their own voices they recorded. That, too, is very powerful.

Moderator: Larry, on your message board you have four areas for people to look at as parts of their lives they can seek to change: Environment, relationships, your body, yourself, and money. That just about covers all the stress points in my life! Should we tackle all of these areas at once? I hope not!

LaMotte: LOL! No, I don't recommend it. Everyone is different in how they are motivated and how they are successful when trying to make a change. First understand how you are best motivated. You know better than anyone. Generally speaking, mini steps within one category would be my recommendation. For example, I have people list five tolerations within each category you mention. I suggest they pick one of those five to begin. Don't try all five at once. Then take down information about that particular toleration before they even go into action. It's a little slower process that way, but understand how easily we fall off the wagon. Usually our eyes are bigger than our stomachs (so to speak).

A toleration is simply something that we don't like but we allow it anyway. Example: Every night you open your closet door and you see something akin to a tornado. And you say, "It's so messy in there. I must clean it. It's driving me crazy." But the phone rings, life calls, and it's left for another day. You open it up again, and the same irritation races across your body. But life calls, and it's left for another day. That's a simple example of a toleration. It could also apply to "My foot hurts. I need to go to the doctor." Life calls. "I will do it tomorrow." "I have not written my mother in two months." "Life calls. I'll do it tomorrow." These tolerations sap our energies, because they are always hanging over our head. They are always reminding us of something left undone, reinforcing an image of a failure. When we begin to close these tolerations, there is a feeling of euphoria. And by self-awareness we begin to realize how much stronger we are becoming.

Member: Larry, can you give me an idea to get my family to work with me?

LaMotte: You know your family better than I. Can you give me an idea of what you have tried in order to get their cooperation?

Member: Talking to them and explaining my situation.

LaMotte: Think about this: How do you talk to them? What tone of voice? What forms of motivation do you try?

Let me do what coaches don't normally do and that's to offer opinion on that subject of family and chores. I think the day is over when the woman is automatically viewed as the person who cleans up everyone in a house. We are in an era now with working parents and there is no reason that a woman is selected to do all the dirty work around a house. It's a family affair. And to me, everyone in that family should be held accountable for the environment in the household. The day is over when a woman should feel guilty if the house is not as organized as it should be, because everyone should be accountable.

So to me, someone may have to take the leadership by saying, "Here is what has to be done. And I want you to this each day. And you to do that each day." But otherwise, it's a family affair." That's my editorial comment. I'll get off of my pulpit and back down to coaching now.

Member: My environment is the toughest thing for me to deal with. I'm a total slob, but I love the feeling I get after a spring cleaning or a closet dump. I just can't keep up with my own "drop stuff anywhere" daily life. Any tips for getting ahead of the mess and staying there?

LaMotte: Try writing down your feelings when you see the mess. Write down your feelings after the clean up. Then decide which feeling you prefer. And keep that feeling in mind every time you are tempted to toss your underwear and socks on the floor. I think the key is AWARENESS. We often simply go through the day on automatic pilot. Awareness changes that and the intense feelings that we really experience are allowed to surface. That's when change occurs.

Moderator: Could you explain what an energy drain is?

LaMotte: We have just a certain amount of energy; though at different stages in our life, we think it will never run dry. And things we do such as exercise, good diet, positive thinking -- keep re-supplying our energy. Things we do that irritate us, sadden us, anger us -- create holes in our psyche that allow our energy to drain, run out, escape. So to get more energy we not only exercise and eat right, we also close the holes in our lives. My contention is that when we say there are not enough hours in the day to accomplish everything we want, what we are really saying is, "I don't have enough energy every day to accomplish all that I want." So by closing these holes in our lives from which energy drains, we are giving ourselves additional energy to live a fuller, more productive life.

Member: One area your list doesn't seem to address (I may be wrong) is employment. So many people I know feel stuck in their jobs. The answer isn't quit and move to Mexico to tend bar, so how do we make the most of the careers we have?

LaMotte: Do you feel stuck in your job?

Member: Sometimes :)

LaMotte: I think a lot of people feel trapped in life. It is sort of like sometimes you say something to someone in a way that you really didn't mean to say. And the more you explain the deeper the hole you dig. We make decisions in our lives that often put us into holes. And the more we try to scramble out, the deeper the hole.

For example, and this is typical, one woman wrote she was married at 20, had a baby at 21, another baby at 22. Her husband's career faltered. She realized she wanted to go back to school. But they had no money and no time to do so because of the children. And my question to her initially was, "What were you thinking at the time you decided to have children?" And her response was, "Nothing."

I say all that to say that first I think we have to be accountable to the decisions we've made that led us to the hole we find ourselves in, rather than blame someone else for the trouble we see. Look back on the series of decisions we made that led us to that trouble. If we do that, there is less chance we will repeat that mistake.

Secondly, I don't think anyone should tolerate a job that they find impossible for them to accept. Because if the job is having a very negative effect, then that negativity is passed on from that person to a relationship with the family. It's almost like passing on a virus deliberately. I would rather that person first decide really what kind of job would give them satisfaction, and to do their homework and research and talk to people already in the field and see what it's really like. Be well-versed as possible for this decision for which you will be held accountable. Once that choice is made, I think they should take every step they can to get out of the job they are in and move to the new choice -- quickly.

Member: Career is a big issue for me, definitely. I quit my last job over the environment. It is something I love to do, it is just that adequate respect wasn't there for what I did -- it was like they felt I was dispensable and they could have done without me and when I quit they acted like it was "out of the blue," when signs have been put out for months. So I guess where I'm going is how do you make sure you are in a good environment or shape this environment to be good in this sense?

LaMotte: Good question. Many times we spend more time looking into ways to buy a new car than we do looking into a job opportunity. Even in the interview portion of a job application there is nothing wrong with interviewing the interviewer! Asking the interviewer how he or she personally likes the job they have, what challenges they face, what opportunities, what kind of people and personalities they work with, how the boss motivates -- there is nothing wrong with talking to people who work in that place and asking similar questions.

But first of all, you have to understand yourself. How are you best motivated? What kind of work environment specifically do you want? Earnestly look for a match. It is critically important. Sometimes people feel desperate inside and they take anything that comes along. They have to be accountable for that decision. I think it's worth the wait to find the right match. Because you know when you find it, you will thrive, they will thrive, and the two of you have a relationship that will likely go far into the future.

Member: Do you refer clients to mental health professionals often? How do you differentiate between energy drains you can help people overcome and energy drains that might be the cause or result of depression or anxiety?

LaMotte: I am very careful about staying within my own knowledge base. I think there is great value in using a psychologist for certain emotional problems. And I am trained to look for people who have those problems and refer them to a psychologist. Sometimes coaches work hand in hand with a psychologist, because each has a different purpose. The psychologist tries to get to the cause of an emotional problem. The coach is assisting the person to stay in action, to stay motivated. There are arrangements where the two can help one another and help the client at the same time.

Moderator: We are almost out of time. Before we wrap up for today, do you have any final comments for us, Larry?

LaMotte: I really appreciate the chance to be on this live chat. I recommend you go to web sites such as coachu.com or coachfederation.net and find a coach in your area from their list. I think it's a powerful relationship and it's talked about so much right now because it is working. Thanks for letting me have the opportunity to tell you about a field I am very proud of.

Moderator: Thanks for joining us, members, and thanks to Larry LaMotte for being our guest. For more information, visit our message boards at WebMD where you can continue to work through your energy drains and find support from other WebMD members.



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