Steps to Launching a Successful Business

Georgia Shaffer, M.A.


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


“Don’t be afraid, because the Lord your God will be with you everywhere you go.”

Joshua 1:9 NCV


kyyxepfp3qy-alexander-milsOne area that often paralyzes coaches before they even begin is a lack of confidence. One coach, who was just launching her business, emailed me saying, “I am stressed over the idea that people are now going to be paying me. Will I give them enough value for their money?”

In an email another coach who was about to start his business said, “I’m worried about letting my clients down.”

When thoughts like this start to haunt you, remember you are not alone. Moses was called by God, but he immediately responded, “Who am I?”

If Moses were called today to be a coach he might ask, “Who am I to even think I can be a coach? Who am I to think I’m ready to launch a coaching business and be paid for my services?”

It doesn’t matter who you are. What matters is who God is. Just as he was with Moses, God will be with you. Therefore, the first step in launching your coaching business is to reflect on God and his attributes.
Reflect on Who God Is
Immerse yourself in Scripture, reminding you of the presence and power of God. Read the stories of Moses and Joshua. And just as God equipped these two men, he can equip you.

As you reflect on the attributes of God, take an honest assessment of yourself. Do you believe God is creative and powerful enough to make a coach out of you? Do you believe he has the ability to do this even if you feel as though you’re not gifted in coaching? What do you believe about God’s ability to develop your talents and to use you in the lives of others?

When you recognize your humble dependence on God and his power to enable you to achieve his purposes, that’s when he can use you to transform the lives of those you coach.
Get a Coach
Many who are first starting their business find it helpful to have a coach for support and guidance. Remember Moses didn’t go it alone either. He had his brother Aaron for support, and he took advice from his father-in-law Jethro. (See Exodus 18.)

I often find that the clients I coach need a combination of encouragement and a gentle push. One beginning coach emailed me several times the day before her first appointment with paying client. She was terrified. With some support and genuine encouragement on my part, however, she was able to push past her fears, lean on God, and take the risk. She kept reminding herself that God is powerful enough to coach her and sure enough, her first session went extremely well.
Organize the Details
w1ckomtu_68-kelly-britoBeginning coaches also need to organize their office and attend to the administrative details. Decide on the key coaching questionnaires and inventories you would like to use and then personalize them with your business name or logo. If an inventory or assessment is copyrighted, you definitely need to keep the copyright information on the document and give credit to the original author. Where possible, you want a standard look and personal to the documents you give to your clients.

For example, in the top left corner of my welcome letter, client data form, and pre-session questionnaire I have my logo with the words What Needs to Grow, What Needs to Go (you can some examples of how I personalize my documents by visiting my free resources page at As one coach said, “Having a professional look to my inventories or articles builds my confidence and reminds me of the fact that I am a professional coach.”

I then store all these personalized templates in one file folder named Coaching Tools under My Documents on my computer.

Decide also how you will keep track of your clients’ emails, their completed inventories, and their pre-session forms. What system will work best for you?

For each client, I have a physical file folder stored in a file cabinet labeled with his or her name. I usually keep a copy of the life coaching agreement and other key information such as the client data form. You, however, might not have space for file cabinets or they might be filled with other documents and information. One of the coaches I worked with has her assistant scan the various inventories and assessments and store the electronic copies on her computer.

For emails, I copy or drag all correspondence into separate Outlook folders labeled with each client’s name. I also keep another folder with each client’s name in a folder labeled “Coaching” under “My Documents,” and I have an external hard drive that regularly backs up my computer files.

Because there is always the possibility of a computer crash, fire, robbery, and computer viruses, it is also important to have an offsite back up of your computer files. Whether you use iCloud or pay for a service like Carbonite, decide how you will backup your clients’ key information. One of my friends had her laptop stolen and the offsite service enabled her to retrieve all her files.

Finally, don’t forget that for tax purposes you need to keep account of the income you receive from each client. It’s best to consult your accountant to find out what format he or she prefers you to use, such as QuickBooks or Excel.

Besides the record keeping, part of organizing your details may also include signing up and offering your clients services such as voice and video over the internet service (VIOP). Skype is a common VIOP that coaches use, but there are others such as Tango. Some clients find using a service like Skype to be a real challenge, while others believe it is important to see their coach.

Another service I provide for my clients, at no extra cost, is the option of recording their coaching sessions. This gives them the opportunity to go back and listen to their conversations with me. I’ve successfully used This is an account you need to set up before you begin working with a client. Once you have an account, you will need to schedule each session on their website and send your client a phone number and an access code. After the coaching session, you can download the MP3 file and email it to the client as an attachment. One thing you need to make clear up front is that if your client has limited long distance or pays per minute, in contrast to unlimited long distance, the client will have to pay for the phone call.

The advantage of attending to these details ahead of time is that later it enables you to focus more on meeting the needs of your clients and on building those relationships. The beginning stages of launching a coaching business can seem daunting, but the rewards of helping people change their lives are great. To move forward you need only take it one step at a time. The first step is to reflect on God and his attributes. Then, find a coach and get busy organizing your details. With God’s power working in and through you, you will help others to grow.
Coaching the Coach Tip:
7hu4iwksw2k-jazmin-quaynorThroughout your coaching career, pause often and reflect on who God is. Find verses in Scripture that encourage you and help you focus on God. One of my favorite verses reminds me I’m not alone: “I will instruct you and teach you in the way you should go; I will counsel you and watch over you” (Psalm 32:8).

Reading this book and referring back to portions of it as necessary is a good way to be coached, but also consider enlisting the aid of a professional coach.

If you dislike dealing with details, it will be easy to overlook or avoid getting your office documents organized. Resist that temptation because attending to these tasks is what helps to make a professional coach.

shaffer_georgiaGeorgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators To find out more, visit

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Seven Practical Tips for Life Coaches on Social Media

life coaches



As a Life Coach, you will most likely oversee running your own social media. Social media has become one of the most accessible ways for the world to see what you have to offer. This is the easiest way for you to get your message out. You have probably noticed by now that you need a social media presence. If you are not using social media, start now. Building a thriving social media presence can be overwhelming, but all it simply takes is time. With social media, you can reach clients, and potential clients like never before. You can promote your work and business without spending a dime.  Social media is an integral part of communication in our world today and it should be an integral part of your coaching practice.


Here are 7 Practical Tips for Life Coaches on Social Media:


  1. Choose the Right Sites for You

Whether you have been using social media for years, or are new to social media, choosing the right platform to use is key. Every day it seems like there are new social media apps coming out. With the most popular of these being the likes of (Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc.). The biggest mistake that you could make is missing your target by focusing on the wrong platform. It is ok to start small. If you feel like just using Facebook, then run with it. Find your niche and go. From there, find out where potential clients may be “hanging out” online.  Avoid using the platforms you don’t like. Start with the social media platform that you use the most. In your free time, what social media do you find yourself using? Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? Once you have figured out which platform to use, you have found the perfect place to start.


  1. Share Your Own Content

You have probably heard this saying numerous times, content is king. When developing a social media presence, it is great to share or retweet other professionals on your accounts. But don’t get lost in that. If you are only sharing other’s content, people won’t have a reason to follow you. It is ok to promote your work through blog posts, testimonials, and newsletters. When you write a blog, share it. Tie everything back to your work. Always use social media to bring your followers to your website. Provide in your bio who you are, what you do, and a link to your website. This should help gauge interest and bring traffic to your site. Make yourself as accessible as possible. Besides connecting your website with social media pages, a great idea is to add social media links on your website so that readers can easily share your content, such as blog posts!


  1. Be Consistent, But Don’t Overdo It

When you are scrolling through Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, certainly you have at least one friend who posts too much. Whether it is posting everything they do, or maybe they constantly are promoting something, don’t be that person who annoys others because they are hogging the newsfeed. The key to building online relationships over social media is that you must be consistent. Post at least one thing every day. Show potential clients that you are willing to engage with them. The worst thing you can do when building a social media presence is to become inconsistent or go missing for a few weeks.


  1. Don’t Get Lost in Comparison

Do you know another coach who has thousands of followers or friends on social media? Don’t get frustrated. If you are just starting out, it takes time. Just because you can have thousands of followers, it doesn’t mean that they are going to engage with what you post. Don’t get lost in the numbers. You want social media followers that are going to listen and interact with you.


  1. Join the Conversation

After building your social media profile, interact with your followers. People want to feel like they are engaging with a person. Respond when others tweet or Facebook message you. Share or retweet things that you may find interesting. Asking engaging questions to your audience. Thank people for following you, and for sharing your content. Try your best to return the favor when you can. Have other coaching friends? Share each other’s content. Reply to people who message you and retweet or share their comments. This can be as simple as liking a Facebook comment or joining a Pinterest board.


  1. Schedule Your Posts in Advance

Life is busy. You may have client meetings set up throughout the week, or you may be traveling. So, what should you do to stay consistent? Plan. There are great tools like Buffer or Hoot Suite that can post your content for you. Schedule in your week a morning or afternoon to write out some blog posts, or newsletters. Planning ahead will help you get a head start, and keep you from starting to decline on your consistency. But, don’t forget that when you post can be almost as crucial as what and where you post. There are times of the day when each social media will be more active than others. No matter when you choose to schedule posts or how often you post, the quality of the work is more important than the quantity of your work.


  1. Have Fun with It

Yes, it is always important to maintain professionalism, but don’t make people think you are a robot. Remember you represent your business when you post or reply to messages, but don’t leave out your personality! Share your thoughts, share your story, don’t worry about always sticking to a strict schedule with posting. Being yourself will allow others to see the real you and will lead to those more meaningful connections.

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Why Gratitude Should Be a Gift in Every Season of Your Life

Lisa Murray, M.A.



Gratitude is the fairest blossom which springs from the soul.

-Henry Ward Beecher


silhouette-1923656_640The fact that we had made it meant so much.

Our first Thanksgiving together was a miracle of sorts.  This fragile, blended family had endured so much in such a short amount of time, many could have fairly reckoned we might not make it.

In the first few months of our marriage, we had experienced one crisis after another, not to mention all of the normal struggles of blending a family —learning how to live with each other, respect one another and forge an identity, a small piece of “we-ness” amidst the fractured parts and pieces of our collective histories.  We entered Thanksgiving week holding our breath, praying for relief, waiting to exhale.

By the time Thanksgiving Day arrived and our extended family was gathered with us in our new home, we were barely hanging on.  We said grace as usual before our meal.  We were chatting casually together while we savored all of our family’s traditional recipes.

At the end of the meal, when the ladies were about to clear the table, my stepson suddenly interrupted the various conversations and asked if we could go around the table and share something for which we were thankful.  He looked toward my husband to start, and before my husband could open his mouth to share, tears began to flow.

One by one, we circled the table offering thanks, expressing gratitude for what God had done or was doing in our lives. Tears flowed easily, graciously.  It was authentic.  Beautiful.  What surprised me the most in that moment was the reality that everyone had their struggles, their heartbreaks, their trials.  No one was exempt.  Yet what a treasure to see everyone giving thanks in the midst of their struggles.

I had grappled with gratitude for so long.  It seemed I was always waiting to get to the other side of life’s trials to acknowledge His provision and His blessing in my life.  I was holding my breath for this season of striving to pass to see the miracle, to give thanks, to offer appreciation.

How can we be appreciative when we are standing at the end of ourselves, struggling to put one cold foot in front of the other for yet another day?  How can we give thanks, when it seems everywhere we look, there is scarce for which to be thankful?

Yet isn’t that what real gratitude is all about?  Isn’t it easy to be thankful when everything is going smoothly, when our life’s plan is unfolding exactly the way we had hoped, when we’re living life on the high side of the horizon?  It’s so much harder when we’re battling just to survive.

I’ve found three reasons to cultivate the gift of gratitude in every season of our lives.


Gratitude brings balance.

hands-1950985_640We tend to live in extremes.  We high-five our successes and grumble inconsolably about our losses.  It would appear that life is a seesaw of highs and lows.  As Christians, we have come to believe that life should be made up of successive mountaintop experiences.   We long for them.  We look for them.  We become obsessed by them.

Gratitude accepts the nature of life as a blend of experiences.  Gratitude allows us to move from extremes of thinking and feeling to embracing every experience as a meaningful, purposeful gift in our lives.  Gratitude doesn’t need life to get perfect.  Gratitude is thankful right in the middle of the imperfect, the unreasonable, the tortuous.

Allow your soul to acknowledge all that is and trust that it is okay.  I’m learning how to see all the experiences in my life as worthy, as needful on my journey.  I’m learning how to acknowledge them and breathe into them instead of running away from them.


Gratitude brings meaning.

Even in our suffering, even in the bleakest seasons, even when the night seems unending, gratitude allows us to welcome all experiences into the fabric of our story and cultivate meaning from the most debilitating of human pain and suffering.

Brennan Manning describes gratitude this way:

 The dominant characteristic of an authentic spiritual life is the gratitude that flows from trust — not only for all the gifts that I receive from God, but gratitude for all the suffering. Because in that purifying experience, suffering has often been the shortest path to intimacy with God.

Search for the meaning in your circumstances.  Lean in a little closer to Him.  Allow your suffering to heal you, grow you, teach you.  Your adversity was never meant to be wasted.  Don’t let your pain pull you away from God, let it draw you closer as your roots become ever deeper and stronger.

Melodie Beattie offers a unique picture of gratitude, saying, “Gratitude unlocks the fullness of life. It turns what we have into enough, and more. It turns denial into acceptance, chaos to order, confusion to clarity. It can turn a meal into a feast, a house into a home, a stranger into a friend.”1


Gratitude brings peace.

nature-1946879_640In an article in Today’s Christian Woman, Caryn Rivadeneira describes that, “gratitude and peace of mind are inseparable.”2

When we give ourselves the gift of gratitude, we no longer live life running from the negative and fantasizing about the positive, obsessed with a utopia of perfection that doesn’t exist.  Gratitude allows us to accept with open hands the ebb and flow of humanity.  Gratitude creates an environment of contentment.  It settles our anxious torment.  Gratitude yields peace.

Paul noted in Philippians 4:11b, “for I have learned to be content whatever the circumstances.”

Begin today to reflect back on the momentous experiences, the miracles big and small that have happened in your life.  Take note of each of them.  Write them on the tablet of your heart, record them in your journal or your Bible to pass down to the generations to come, telling them of God’s faithfulness.  Repeat them.  Savor them.  Enjoy them.  Give thanks for them.

Acknowledge the wounds that have etched themselves in your memory, that have buried themselves in the darkest corners of your soul.  Begin to breathe into them.  Accept them.  Give thanks for them.  Give thanks for how your story, your pain was part of what brought you to your healing, your Healer.  Give thanks that in all things, He has never left you, He has never forsaken you.  Give thanks that He continues to heal you, He continues to teach you.  He loves you.  He has a purpose for everything, even your pain.  Your story is not finished.

Are you struggling through a dark season of your soul, waiting for your miracle to come?  Has life left you feeling overwhelmed, helpless, hopeless?  Do you find yourself barely hanging on, ready to give up?  Don’t.

If there was hope that my delicate, breakable little blended family could one day grow solid and strong, there is so much hope for you, too.  Believe it.  Embrace it.


Gratitude brings balance.  Gratitude brings meaning.  Gratitude brings peace.






Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Franklin, TN, with an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, as well as a graduate degree from Trevecca University.  In 2007 Lisa founded the Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN, where she not only works to help individuals, couples, and families, deal with the complexities and challenges of life and relationships, she also treats a full spectrum of mental health issues. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Connect with Lisa on Facebook: Lisa Murray, author, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray

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Your Coaching Journey Begins Here

Dwight Bain, M.A.


Excerpted with permission from Coaching the Coach: Stories and Practical Tips for Transforming lives, by renowned author and life coach Georgia Shaffer. Want to read more? Click here to purchase!


This is the very portrait of a vocation: a thing that calls or beckons, that calls inexorably, yet you must strain your ears to catch the voice that insists on being sought, yet refuses to be found.

C. S. Lewis


14aoissrsps-david-marcuWhere does your coaching journey begin? I believe it begins when God uses you to make a positive difference in shaping another person’s life. It’s about being used as a messenger to communicate God’s voice to someone who is open to hearing about a greater purpose. Your journey as a coach is about sensing and knowing how to draw the unique potential out of another person, so he or she can move forward to experience God’s greater plan for his or her life.

To avoid confusion about ethical practices, always remember that counseling is about helping people past their pain to find stability again. Coaching is about helping people realize their potential as a man or woman of strength. They are quite different disciplines, but I believe each still involves a divine calling from God.

C.S. Lewis described it this way: “This is the very portrait of a vocation: a thing that calls or beckons, that calls inexorably, yet you must strain your ears to catch the voice that insists on being sought, yet refuses to be found.” Did you hear the part about quietly listening for the “still, small voice” as Elijah called it? (1 Kings 19:11-12, NKJV).

If you have a call on your life as a coach, then you need to listen quietly to what the Spirit is stirring up inside you. If it’s God, then you won’t be able to quiet that stirring until you move forward toward action. At least that’s how my journey as a coach began.


God’s Call on Me
More than thirty years ago I sensed God’s call on my life to become a Christian counselor. My mentor, Elmer Towns, co-founder of Liberty University, describes the call of God on your life first as a “call to prepare,” and prepare is what I did! In college and seminary I was driven to learn everything possible about Christian counseling. I listened to Christian radio programs, read every book and magazine, and attended every workshop and seminar I could find, since there weren’t many resources in the 1970s for this emerging professional industry.

It was like a dream come true in 1984 when a friend and I started a Christian Counseling Center in Orlando. We became the most trusted agency in our area by living out the call of God to help people in crisis find calm again. It was God’s vision, lived out through the lives of two young seminary graduates who quietly listened for His voice.

Then more than twenty years ago that calling started to stir inside me again, in part due to the frustration I experienced over a dysfunctional counseling cycle that repeated too many times. Maybe you’ve seen it too. It went like this. Someone would call in a crisis, barely surviving. We would aggressively guide them through the stress to find stability and then send them home from counseling with high hopes for a better future.

p0rr_3xc988-forrest-cavaleUnfortunately, two years later the person’s life crashed again and we were back into crisis counseling 101, just to keep the person from drowning in problems. Something big was missing from the process, but what was it?

That’s when I began to sense that same gentle voice asking questions like these: “What if there was a new way to help people? Would you be willing to learn the skills to guide people past their pain toward their potential?”

My answer was “Absolutely!” It made perfect sense to learn how to better serve regular people who missed God’s purpose not because they were stuck in misery, but because they were beyond misery; they were stuck in mediocre.

Then it got exciting! God’s Spirit stirred up the desire to learn more about taking people to a new level of success, and the search began again. Professional coaching hadn’t been invented yet, but a number of voices in the marketplace were coming together to discuss how to guide people toward their potential. Creative minds like Thomas Leonard, Patrick Williams, Dan Sullivan, Babs Smith, Chris McCluskey, John Nagy, Ken Blanchard, Laurie Beth Jones, John Maxwell, and countless others were thinking creatively about how to take average people and help them achieve above average results. God began to allow me to connect with like-minded people who were sensing the same desire to make a positive difference.


My First Coaching Process

cvwcovttn40-taylor-nicoleI believe coaching is a journey, one that flows out of your life story. That journey for me was through speaking to business groups. I first heard the term “Life Coach” after speaking to a Fortune 500 company in the early 1990s when a member of the audience asked if I offered executive coaching. I wasn’t sure what that person was asking, so I took down the person’s phone number and promised to call back. After doing some research about getting trained and certified in this new discipline, I called back and we began the coaching process. The stirring in my spirit was a reflection of another call to prepare–not just as a counselor–but also as a coach!

Maybe my story sounds a lot like your story. Maybe God is already stirring you to be part of something more, part of the next wave of helping people and not just as a coach, but as a distinctively Christian Coach. There is a difference!

Who knows? Maybe you will be a pioneer in the process of Christian Coaching. Maybe your name will be among those listed as the early voices who said, “There needs to be something better for coaches, something clearly Christian—something like X.” I hope so, and I hope to encourage you on your journey of being the messenger of God’s voice to take average people past mediocrity to experience God’s vision for their lives.


Coaching the Coach Tip

If you have been searching for the next chapter in your journey as a people helper, perhaps coaching is the answer. There is no better place to start than with the largest group of Christian Coaches in the world, the International Christian Coaching Association (ICCA). If you are sensing God’s call on your life to prepare to serve others as a coach, I invite you to visit ICCA’s website at, or you can also visit since there are almost 200 hours of online Christian Coach training programs available. Both of these organizations are dedicated to equipping you to make a positive difference in our world for Jesus Christ.



Dwight BainDwight Bain, M.A., is a pioneer in Christian coaching with more than 25 years of experience. He is a Certified Life Coach who has worked with executives, pro-athletes and business owners facing complex situations that required managing significant change. Dwight is a best-selling author, media personality and communicator who has worked with corporations like Disney, Toyota and Bank of America; as well as organizations such as Florida Hospital, the American Heart Association and the U.S. Army.

shaffer_georgiaGeorgia Shaffer, M.A., is a professional speaker, certified Life Coach and the author of four books including Coaching the Coach: Lessons from Christian Coaches. She is is a regular columnist for Christian Coaching Today and a board member of the International Christian Coaches Association (ICCA). Georgia is on the teaching team of AACC’s Professional Life Coaching Training. She specializes in coaching coaches, women and communicators To find out more, visit

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Health and Wellness Coaching: An Interview with Dr. Linda Mintle


Elizabeth Hixon with Linda Mintle, Ph.D.

Dr. Linda Mintle
Dr. Linda, what’s your journey? Can you give a little background about yourself and how you got involved in the field of health and wellness?

I began my career many years ago as a behavioral consultant in the Chicago public schools and never really thought much about health and wellness. Looking back, I can now see how important lifestyle issues were to the wellness of students. It wasn’t until I started working in a community mental health center and then a medical school that I started focusing more on the connection between body, mind and spirit. In my specialty area of eating disorders and obesity, a holistic approach is essential to not only prevent problems, but to also address on-going issues. During the writing of Lose It For Life, with Steve Arterburn, I was involved in coaching a number of people in all areas of life problems, including weight loss. Because of my work in a medical school, I focused more on health prevention and childhood obesity. Now, as the Chair of Behavioral Health at the new College of Osteopathic Medicine at Liberty University, I can continue my focus on holistic health and wellness. The other area of coaching I do is relationships. As a licensed marriage and family therapist, I have seen hundreds of couples and families over my 25 plus years of practice. I began doing coaching with those who didn’t need therapy but wanted extra guidance to prevent problems and strengthen their relationships. Because I was doing constant media interviews as a news consultant and TV co-host, there were numerous opportunities to do relationship coaching. Relationship coaching has become the focus of my website, BeliefNet blog and several books including my latest, We Need To Talk, a book that has helped many families deal effectively with conflict.


This month’s edition of the eNews focuses on health and wellness coaching. From your point of view, which areas of health and wellness would you suggest life coaches make sure they are most skilled in and why?

With the emergence of social media, people ask for more help in relationship coaching and basic coping. Relationships impact so many areas of our lives, and the digital world is changing the way we relate and deal with intimacy. When we struggle in our relationships, we can have physical problems, work issues, and family conflicts. To prevent problems associated with digital use, coaches need to stay current on the research related to digital wellness. Understanding what is important to relationship health and functioning in the technical age is beneficial to providing guidance to families and couples. In addition, people need more help managing stress and worry. Anxiety is characteristic of so many young people that resiliency and coping techniques are high on my list of coaching.


When does a person’s situation call for a health and wellness coach? Conversely, when does a person’s situation call for a counselor? 

It’s good to have the distinction between coaching and counseling in your mind since the line can be blurred at times, especially when you have therapy training. Coaches are limited as to what they can do even when they are certified. In coaching, if significant psychological problems are discovered, the client should be referred to a mental health professional. In counseling, we are mostly dealing with problems. So if you are spending too much time talking about negative emotions and things aren’t progressing, you probably need to refer to a counselor.


Coaching is more about helping people set goals and guiding their path to reach those goals. Coaching is present and future focused, not examining the past, and is more preventative and wellness focused. I see coaching as more educational and discovery based. People often want to self-explore and find better ways of optimizing their potential. For example, I had a highly successful client who wanted to push herself even more. She saw me to help her keep balance in her life as she progressed up the corporate ladder. She didn’t want stress and anxiety to overtake her, nor did she want to lose her relationships. She knew she had a tendency towards workaholism and wanted to prevent this. So we set goals and she instituted several prevention measures and accountability markers for her time and energy.


You have a plethora of books you have authored about body image and healthy living. Which of those resources would you suggest a coach use when walking alongside a client who is setting goals for a healthier lifestyle?

I focus on health and wellness in several of my books, but they all have a different purpose. Lose it For Life is a weight loss book that helps people see their weight loss efforts holistically. You can’t be successful with weight loss and maintenance if you don’t attend to your eating habits, spiritual life, relationships, and emotional lives. It is a total plan that addresses all areas related to weight loss. Press Pause Before You Eat helps people examine their relationship with food. The goal is to develop a healthy approach to eating, perhaps regain a positive relationship with eating and food, and understand the triggers and environmental cues that trip you up. Making Peace With Your Thighs coaches women on how to think about their bodies in a healthy way and not give in to cultural prescriptions of beauty. Raising Healthy Kids in an Unhealthy World is one of my favorite coaching books for parents aimed at preventing childhood obesity. The book begins with a tough question—how to answer when your child says, “Mom, am I fat?” A parent’s answer is important to the child’s self-esteem and well-being. And finally, Letting Go of Worry helps us all understand that the basis of worry is doubting God. As we become more intimate in our spiritual relationship with our Father, we can be anxious about nothing and live in peace and contentment.


It’s a New Year.  Often people set resolutions that have to do with exercising and eating habits. Can you share your insight on the practice of setting health related New Year’s resolutions? Do you suggest any alternatives?

About half of the population will make New Year’s resolutions regarding weight loss, exercise, and other lifestyle changes but won’t fulfill those resolutions by the time February rolls around. There are actually a number of guidelines I give clients at the beginning of a new year to increase the success of change. First, you have to be honest about where you are in the stages of change. When someone is not ready for change, failure is likely. Coaches often neglect assessing where the client is regarding those stages of change. Here are the five stages to assess before moving forward with a change goal:

  • Precontemplation—someone else is talking to your client about change, but it is not really in their heart yet. People in this stage must move to the next stage to even consider making a real change.
  • Contemplation—the client is weighing the pros and cons of making a change, but has not decided to go forward with the change quite yet.
  • Preparation—the client has decided to go ahead and start setting up strategies to make change. This is the first step towards taking action.
  • Action—the client begins to make the change and take action. This is where people need to be in order for lasting change to occur. If they aren’t past those earlier stages, change won’t be sustained.
  • Maintenance and Relapse—the client has been successful with a life change, but is now working on maintaining the change and turning the change into a habit. Coaching helps the client recognize that when relapse happens, they know what to do to get back on target. The idea here is to identify the stage of change and help move your client towards action.


Once you are in action, here are a few general guidelines:

  • Make your goals realistic—aim low, not high, so success is possible. Success builds success.
  • Stick with a change long enough to make it a habit. This is why maintenance is so important.
  • Focus on one change at a time instead of tackling multiple things at once. Lose the laundry list!
  • Find support and accountability. This applies to us spiritually as well—when we are down and want to give in to negative thinking or when we feel like we can’t develop the spiritual disciplines like prayer, reading our Bible, it’s easier if someone is encouraging us to keep going. Most change is enhanced with support and accountability.



Dr. Linda Mintle is the Chair, Behavioral Health, at Liberty University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine (LUCOM). She received her Ph.D. in Urban Health and Clinical Psychology from Old Dominion University, a Master’s degree in Social Work and Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and Communications, both from Western Michigan University. She is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, a Licensed Clinical Social Worker, a national speaker and bestselling author with 19 book titles currently published as well as numerous articles and text book chapters. She is the host of The Dr. Linda Mintle radio show, a national conference speaker, a national blogger for BeliefNet and appears regularly as a national news consultant for various networks on issues related to mental health.


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Five Powerful Resolutions To Unlock Your Personal Best This Year

Lisa Murray, M.A.

rlw-uc03gwc-glenn-carstens-petersHere we go again.  It’s only been a few weeks into this new year and I’ve been inundated with an onslaught of goals, expectations, and resolutions I should have for myself this coming year.  Social media has bombarded me with posts about every program for weight loss, finances, wellness, speaking, writing, and relationships that promises me guaranteed success in just three easy steps and three easy payments.

How many of us have made heartfelt resolutions, set lofty goals in the early hours of the new year that we’ve never really gotten around to, eventually given up on, and somehow forgotten until next year rolls around and we find ourselves trying to remember what resolutions we made in the first place?  Has anyone else had enough?  I have.

Please forgive me, but I don’t want any more resolutions this year.  I don’t need another weight on my shoulders.  I can’t take the pressure, the guilt, or the remorse for what I didn’t do, didn’t accomplish, perhaps didn’t even remember.

What I am recognizing is that what I need most is quiet space.  I need less pressure and more solitude.  I need to exhale and to learn how to settle into each moment with more ease.  I need to be a little more gentle with the broken parts of myself that are still healing and growing.  I need more down time to re-teach the child in me how to dream, how to re-imagine the world, and how to color outside the lines.  Perhaps I need to be reminded that indeed, it is okay to color outside the lines.

Somehow I think we all feel like the busyness of life is becoming too much.  What we need most are not more resolutions, but more ways we can become un-burdened, un-ashamed, un-stressed, and un-afraid.  So here are a few things I’m doing to push back from the pressure and make this year the year of un-resolutions.


  1. Un-schedule yourself.

Take one thing off of your calendar each week.  Find one chore, responsibility, errand, or meeting that you can remove from your schedule.  Trust me, you’ll live even if the classroom cookies don’t get baked, if the house doesn’t get vacuumed, or the phone call doesn’t get returned right then.  We are all over-leveraged and over-scheduled.  We are drowning in a sea of  ‘musts.’  Pick something you can remove and begin to simplify and un-clutter your life.


  1. Un-commit your children.

Find one activity, birthday party, or seasonal sport you can remove from your children’s schedule.  Just say no.  It’s easy, try it.  Your kids won’t die.  They won’t be rejected from Harvard.   Your entire family will actually benefit from a simpler schedule that’s not so jam-packed.  Everyone will experience less stress, less anxiety, and less depression.   Each family member can relax into a purposeful pace that allows them to define and nurture their natural talents as well as their highest priorities.


  1. Un-attach technology.

Find pockets of time where you choose not to pick up your phone or tablet in order to mindlessly scroll through your favorite social media.  Instead, breathe, and notice the scenery around you.  Be mindful.  Find peace in the silence.  When you feel the impulse to pick up your technology, simply make a choice not to.  Notice how it feels.  Create a sacred space that your heart and your mind can let go and recharge.


  1. Un-plug the noise.

Have the family practice thirty minutes of silence every day.  No television, no technology.  Little ones can play quietly with toys or color.  Older children can read, explore outdoors, or paint.  Adults can enjoy a quiet moment with a cup of tea, find time to pray, take a walk, contemplate, or journal.  Everyone in the family benefits from being freed from their addiction to technology, music, and other external stimuli.  Developing the ability to connect with ourselves, our environment, and our family members would not only strengthen communication and relationship skills, it would fundamentally enhance creativity and build core emotional resilience needed to successfully manage the pressures of day-to-day life.


  1. Un-leash your faith.

Do something meaningful to engage your faith.  Lean in.  Surrender.  Develop a relationship with God that you’ve been putting off or avoiding.  Stop trying to live life being your own superhero.  The truth is, you can’t.  Allow God to step in and rescue you.  Let Him carry your heaviest burden and heal your deepest wound.  Cultivate joy and gratitude.  Invest in love.  Growing a deep connection with God will unleash a supernatural power and peace in every area of your life.


What might happen if we all resisted the urge to grind out more resolutions this year and embraced a few of these “un-resolutions?”  I believe we might just breathe better, live freer, and find more strength, more passion, and more hope than we could ever imagine.

Have you ever tried any of these “un-resolutions?”  What kind of impact did it have on you or your family’s life?  I’d love to hear!



Lisa Murray is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist in Franklin, TN, with an undergraduate degree from Vanderbilt University, as well as a graduate degree from Trevecca University.  In 2007 Lisa founded the Counseling and Family Ministries at Grace Chapel in Leipers Fork, TN, where she not only works to help individuals, couples, and families, deal with the complexities and challenges of life and relationships, she also treats a full spectrum of mental health issues. Peace for a Lifetime is available on Connect with Lisa on Facebook: Lisa Murray, author, or on Twitter: @_Lisa_Murray

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New Year’s Dreams versus Decisions

Rhona Epstein, Psy.D.



broccoli-952532_640Are you kidding? Another New Year’s resolution to lose weight? Whether it’s you or a client, all of us are guilty of dreaming we’ll eat better, exercise more, wear more attractive outfits, and put on that bathing suit this summer. The list goes on to the endless fantasies we have of making this year different. (Honestly, how many times have you determined to change, but in just a little while find you’re right back to the same old thing?)

Making resolutions and breaking them is an age-old problem. The Apostle Paul struggled to change, and felt the same confusion and discouragement. “I do not understand what I do,” he said (Romans 7:15, NIV). “What I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do.”

The solution is to stop dreaming and start deciding. It’s an intentional decision that creates change—not a thought about it, a decision! So how to do that?

For anyone wanting to change eating habits and get off the yo-yo dieting cycle, these steps are important:

Make the decision to change. A decision is an intention and not just a fantasy. The decision requires commitments from you, your passion and desire, and action. It is a choice to make again and again each new day and hour.

confused-880735_640Go a new way, pursue things differently. Remember that what you’ve done in the past isn’t working. The definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over expecting different results. You’ve got try new things for a new result.

Take it one day at a time. Don’t worry about how you ate yesterday or what you’ll do to exercise tomorrow. Keep making the decision now to choose activity and foods, and amounts of them that are good for you at the right times. Will I exercise this one day? Drink the water I was told to drink? Go to the support group I’ve been meaning to try? Taking things one day at a time means we can’t focus on how great we’ll look when we lose twenty pounds. We need to think about how to eat this one meal, this one day, and what else to do now to live healthier and better. Today is all we have, after all. Yesterday is done and tomorrow may or may not come. When we live in a fantasyland of what we should have done or what we could do, we only end up disappointing ourselves. Concentrating on what we are doing now, on the other hand, never fails.

Find support. This is a major part of turning a dream to a decision. Take that piece of humble pie and let people help. Accountability and encouragement go a long way. A good counselor or a support group (and both) can give you guidance, inspiration, know-how, and support when you need it most. People who have made the changes you are hoping to accomplish might know the way out. Call on them and know that can be a strength to do so. A cord of three strands cannot be broken. That means . . .

bible-1850859_640Depend on God. With support from people around you, your own decisions, and reliance on God, you’ll be able to climb closer to your goal. Too often at the new year, we start a diet and never ask if it is God’s will to restrict ourselves or hurry up and lose weight. God wants what’s best for us. He can help! Transformation doesn’t always happen in the blink of an eye, but over time. Rely on Him for strength to make good choices. Turn to Him instead of food for the things you really hunger. Find rest for your weary heart in His presence. Go to the Real Source of all life to find what you really need, because it’s not in the cupboard.  That means decide this year to connect more with God in prayer through the day. Plan time to hear Him by reading His Word. Make appointments with Him to worship and receive His grace. These are decisions and the process of practicing them will get you to your goal.



img-rhona-epsteinRhona Epstein, Psy.D., C.A.C., is a licensed psychologist, certified addictions counselor, and marriage and family therapist in the Philadelphia area, and the author of the new book  Food Triggers: End Your Cravings, Eat Well, and Live Better (Worthy Publishing). For more than twenty-five years, she’s lead seminars, conferences, and therapeutic workshops to help people overcome food addiction and its underlying issues. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Chestnut Hill College, and her master’s degree in counseling psychology from Temple University. She’s passionate, from her own personal experience and recovery from food addiction, to address the needs of the whole person (mind, body, and spirit). Visit her web site at


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The Holiday Pendulum: An Interview with Rhona Epstein

Dina Jones, M.A., with Rhona Epstein, Psy.D.


Dina: Can you talk to us a little bit about the swing from food-centered holidays—with sweets and heavy dishes galore—to January 1st when it seems like health and weight loss goals are everywhere? This is a lot, emotionally and physically speaking, for many people to take in and walk through every year. Can you give us some insight on this cycle and how it relates to a long term commitment to wellness?


Rhona: I try to help people do the best they can to avoid making their holidays about food. Reminding people about how losing control during the holidays can cause great set backs with the progress they have been making in their health and wellness goals and challenging why they want to let the party atmosphere throw them off their personal goals. There are many other wonderful aspects of the holidays to enjoy. We can change the focus from the food to the Lord, to His peace, to loving others, to service. It needs to be a conscious deliberate decision to enjoy the party without the indulging. All things are possible with God!!


Dina: Sometimes people can have a long chain of days where they meet a certain standard they’ve set for themselves—for example, they have gone 3 months without drinking soda or 21 days with no sugar. Then, when this chain of success gets broken, it can become very tempting to just throw in the towel. Getting re-started after a perceived failure can just be downright discouraging and difficult. If someone breaks a chain of success, what can they do to get back on track?


Rhona: Part of the problem with temporary diets is just that—they are temporary. A lot of the problem is the mindset. If a person thinks of making a lifestyle change it’s different than a temporary weight fix. People need to think about why they are dieting. If the goal is to be healthy and fit they are better off thinking of one day at a time and seeing it as a change they want to make for good. Why get off soda for a while? It’s not going to start to be good for you in a few weeks. If the goal is to lose some weight, the weight will come back if you go back to your old ways so what’s the point of doing any diet if you are not planning on a lifestyle change? So the goal should be reaching for a change.  If you fall, keep getting up and reaching for the change again. Everyone falls. Everyone struggles. We just have to get up each time and try again. I believe some people may be fighting a bigger battle with addiction so that one soda will lead to more and more. In that case total abstinence from those addictive foods might be better.  In any case, if a person has made progress and falls, I think of it like this… it’s like if you walk a mile and fall, you still walked a mile.  Get up and keep walking.


Dina: Can you give us two or three quick tips for preparing for a gathering where there will be food temptation?


Rhona: Plan ahead!  Find out what is being served and decide ahead of time what you will be eating and stick to it.  If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Use accountability—if you have a friend or family member you can trust, let them know your plan so it helps you stick with it. Focus on the other aspects of the gathering- the people, what might need to be done, play with a child or an animal. Don’t hang around the food table.


Dina: Sometimes people shy away from diving into healthy eating either because they don’t like to cook, they don’t have a big food budget, or both. What are your thoughts for anyone with those hesitations?


Rhona: That’s true of a lot of people. Learning to eat right is like learning anything new. It takes time and effort. But there are plenty of short cuts one can learn and it does not have to be any more costly than eating junk. Nowadays many grocery stores have prepared washed and cut up vegetables ready to be cooked. Learning a few simple delicious ways to prepare veggies can make all the difference.  No one wants to eat canned vegetables or steamed bagged vegetables. They are boring and lack flavor.  Just using a sauté pan with a little olive oil and garlic makes many veggies yummy (even spinach).  Salads can be quick and easy too since they are often found washed and bagged. For working folks it’s super easy. There are also many ideas like grilling a bunch of chicken on the weekend and then fixing it different ways through the week.  Some people make a large pot of brown rice that can be portioned out through the week so it’s easy to reheat.  For people who can afford it there are many grocery stores that even prepare chicken and fish meals and you can just heat and eat. There is little excuse for fast food junk meals. There are even places on the go like Panera or Zoe’s Kitchen where you can get a healthier meal in most cities. A lot of it is trying out new things and realizing some foods that are good for you taste good too.  There are way too many examples to squeeze in here but I highly recommend finding people who eat healthy or looking up quick healthy recipes online and give things a try. Many of my clients have been surprised how much they love their healthy foods once they find their groove.


Dina: Can you tell us one or two ways in which you personally make healthy living fun?


Rhona: To me it is not fun to be unhealthy. To overindulge and make myself bloated, sick and guilty is not what I call fun. It is fun to be free of guilt. To live free of worry about what I ate, to know my clothing will always fit and I can shop and the size is the same each year. It’s fun to be able to walk, be active, feel good and have people tell me I look 10 years younger than I am. It’s fun to be able to get on the floor and play with little children and puppies, to be able to walk all around a city and not become easily worn out.  Healthy eating can also be fun. There are plenty of great healthy options that taste great. Once your taste buds get used to good food it is far more enjoyable to eat and feel good about tasty options that also are good for your body. Healthy food can be fun once you learn how to make healthy fun choices. It takes some learning but with some help and a sincere desire to be well it is possible!


Rhona Epstein, Psy.D., C.A.C., is the author of Food Triggers: End Your Cravings, Eat Well and Live Better; and a licensed psychologist, certified addictions counselor, and marriage and family therapist in the Philadelphia area. For more than twenty-five years she’s lead seminars, conferences, and therapeutic workshops, to help people overcome food addiction and its underlying issues. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology from Chestnut Hill College, and master’s degree in counseling psychology from Temple University. She’s passionate, from personal experience and recovery from food addiction, to address the needs of the whole person (mind, body, and spirit).

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2017 Word for the Year

2017 Word for the Year
Dina Jones, M.A.

Hello, Friends. It is almost time to say goodbye to 2016 and a big hello to 2017.

My dear friend Georgia Shaffer brings so much warmth and wisdom to a concept that has grown in popularity over the past few years: selecting an overarching word to focus on throughout the upcoming year. My word for the latter half of 2016 was “grace”, a word I claimed for a season of adjusting to the joys and challenges of three children and a full career.

The theme was such a lifeline for me that I asked some talented friends to create a sign for my office, stating simply, “Grace.” The word “grace” reminded me of so many things in this season. The theme encouraged me to offer grace to loved ones and to myself as we are all imperfect humans and to accept the available grace from our Lord each day.

My word for 2016 came to me partway through the year. I strive to set my word for 2017 more intentionally (before the year begins) using Georgia’s four tips below.


Identify Your Word for 2017 in Four Thoughtful Steps
Georgia Shaffer, M.A.

1. Specifically pray that the Lord will direct you to your word for 2017.
Do not doubt that God speaks to you. While it is not usually with an audible voice, get still, pray, and listen to what word God brings to your mind. You may not be certain, but write it down and then continue to pray and watch until you have a sense of where he is leading you. For example, Deb [one of my readers who gave me feedback on selecting a word for the year] said, “After I prayed and asked for a word for the year, ‘word’ as in ‘word of the Lord’ popped out at me on January 2nd.”

2. Pay attention to what Scripture says about your word.
Deb became curious and she learned in 1 Sam 3:1 that God’s Word was rare in Old Testament days. In 2 Sam. 22:31, she was reminded that God’s words are flawless and in Psalm 119 she learned that God’s Word convicts us of sin, shines light on our paths, and prepares us for what is ahead.

3. Record in a journal or on your computer what God reveals to you during the year.
Having a permanent record is vital. After I asked Deb about her word this year she emailed, “Thanks for asking me about this. I forgot that I put away my journal months ago. I just now found it and reread my notes. Wow! I got some real gems.” Thankfully Deb had taken the time to write down what could easily have been forgotten.

4. At the end of year, look back at what God has revealed to you.
One of Deb’s key principles was that she lives only by God’s Word (Deut 8:3). “This one made a big impression on me, and gave me confidence,” she said. “I wrote in my journal that “I live only by every word that comes from the mouth of God (not by food). One word from God and I’m dead-despite all my efforts otherwise. Likewise, one word from God and I stay alive-despite anyone else’s efforts or my mistakes and failings.” She said, “Looking back at my word for the year is really neat. I felt called to lead a new Women’s Bible study effort at my church this fall. (I had no idea I would do such a thing and it didn’t even exist in January.) I believe God prepared me for that responsibility by leading me to focus on His Word this year.”

If you would like to hear more from Georgia, you can visit her website here and you can learn what Georgia’s word is for 2017 in her newsletter here.

Speaking of 2017, Georgia and I will both be speaking at the 2017 World Conference in Nashville, TN. Fellow coaches, I hope you are able to attend Georgia Shaffer’s preconference workshop with Shannon Ethridge on Creative Strategies for Exploding Your Coaching Practice.

Love & Work well in 2017!


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Webinar Recap: Knowing, Accepting, and Maintaining Our Limits: Boundaries and Health for Leaders


On December 1st, the ICCA, in partnership with AACC, hosted their fourth webinar of 2016 featuring Amy Simpson, M.B.A. This dynamic webinar covered the powerful topic, Knowing, Accepting, and Maintaining Our Limits: Boundaries and Health for Leaders.

Coaching can be difficult, especially when it comes to identifying where and how to draw appropriate boundaries. In our desire to further our coaching businesses and help as many people as we can, we sometimes sacrifice our own health and sanity. In order to be an effective people-helper, a coach must first take care of his or her own health.  Rather than restricting our effectiveness, setting boundaries actually helps you and your clients. Furthermore, we can be a positive example for our clients when it comes to setting and maintaining boundaries in our personal and professional lives.

This webinar focused on equipping coaches to set boundaries in their own lives. In the first half, Amy Simpson focused on boundaries for the coach, and then in the second half, she provided guidance on ways to help clients set boundaries in their lives as well. As part of the webinar, there were two engaging Q&A sessions where Amy Simpson answered viewers’ questions in real-time. Listeners agreed that this was one of the most practical and helpful webinars to date!

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