I love coaching. I love it because of the way it helps me get laser-focused on what's important, and because I know there's someone on the other end of the line really helping me become my own best self by asking powerful questions and challenging me to think outside of the box. I also feel more committed to actions I've told my coach I'll take than ones I just decide to do on my own. So what's the problem? It's not a problem, per se, but I can't possibly afford the amount of coaching that I want to have in my life right now. The solution? Peer Coaching/Support Networks. I've piloted a few of these in the last several months and I am absolutely loving it.
One that's really working right now is a health/nutrition program two friends and I set-up. It's a month-long program focused on health and fitness goals. We created a shared "journal" on Google Docs, and a tracking spreadsheet to track the following things every day: how we feel (mind and body), five target actions (ex: running 2x/week), five restricted actions (ex: dessert no more than once a week) and a daily mantra. This is adapted from a program my friend Liz shared with me called Get Clients Now if you want more details on what we've modeled ours after.
How it Works: We have weekly Sunday calls to review our tracking spreadsheet and talk about how the week went - wins, problem areas, and what we'll focus on the next week. If we have extra time, we discuss broader challenges or questions (what to do about Thanksgiving, for example; or how to get back on track if we screw up). It's so amazing to have this support network - and I really have to credit it for getting my butt to the gym this morning (and last week)! It gave me exactly the extra push I needed since I knew I'd have to report back to my friends at the end of the week.
Benefits of Peer Support Networks
- They're free!
- They provide great structure and support for pursuing your goals
- You can get to know people through networks made of friends-of-friends
- Support networks will hold you accountable and (hopefully) not let you give up when you fail
- It's a great way to benefit from rich, topic-based discussions and share tips and best practices with each other
How to Create Your Own Support Network
- Choose a topic (not mandatory, but helpful) or central theme that you're looking to get support around (health/fitness, leadership, relationships, etc.)
- Enroll some friends! Give them an overview of what you're hoping to do, then collectively decide on goals and format for the program (everyone should have a stake in how it works)
- Set-up some structures:
- Set a start and end date
- Schedule Weekly or Bi-Weekly Calls
- Create shared documents to review together each week
- Have each individual identify goals, what they're hoping to get out of the program/support network
- Hold an intro call to discuss those goals and decide on format
- Start the program! Adjust documents, schedule as necessary
- Hold a post-mortem when it ends - what worked? What didn't? What would you do differently next time?
- Start over! If it works, why end a good thing?
Noomii.com - I stumbled across a website, Noomii.com, that seems to support this very type of program. I haven't done much research or tried it yet, but you might be interested in giving it a shot. The site paraphrased it's mission as a "buddy system for life." The following is text from their How It Works page:
"Noomii helps you and a friend achieve your big goals in life. With our unique pair coaching system, you become a life coach for your friend, and your friend life coaches you in return. It’s simple, fast, and fun. And the best part is that anyone can pair coach – with no prior training or experience. It's easy - and we show you how!"
The best thing about support networks is that they can be whatever you want - get creative and experiment! You'd be surprised at how much you and a few friends can accomplish.