Could Hiring a Coach Help You Conquer Your Worst Habit?

cyclist at top of steep mountain

Do you ever feel that you’ll never overcome certain habits? You’ve tried everything, and still can’t change your behavior? It can be frustrating and discouraging.

Instead of feeling discouraged, consider hiring a habit change coach or joining a coaching group. As the saying goes, “The definition of insanity is doing the same things over and over, and expecting a different outcome.”

What is habit change coaching?

Habit change coaching is directed at making positive changes in an individual’s lifestyle, attitude and behaviors. Like other forms of coaching, habit change coaching is grounded in principles from several different psychological approaches, including:

• Positive psychology
• Cognitive behavioural theory
• Motivational interviewing
• Applied relaxation training
• Appreciative inquiry

The two key principles of habit change coaching

1. The client decides where to go

The common thread through these various approaches is that the coach supports the client to make their own decisions about the habit change. A trusting and supportive atmosphere is used to explore the client’s feelings – positive and negative – regarding the proposed change.

Rather than operating as an expert, the coach takes the role of trusted advisor to the client. The coaching session is more collaborative than typically seen with other professional relationships, and a lot of attention is place on co-creating solutions.

2. The coach drives the car

This is not to say that the coaching session is entirely client-driven. Quite the contrary: the coach employs directive use of empathic listening, points out discrepancies in the client’s reasoning, and identifies areas of resistance. The coach follows a structured roadmap to help the client talk about the how and why of change, which leads to making a plan of action.

What happens in a habit change coaching session?

A typical habit change coaching session lasts 30 – 60 minutes and follows this structure:


  • The coach invites the client to talk about the desired habit change.
  • Talk about current behavior. The coach encourages the client to talk freely about what the client likes and dislikes about their current behavior.
  • Talk about behavior change. The coach asks the client to talk about what the positive and negative aspects of habit change would be for them.
  • Summarize what client has said. The coach summarizes the key points of what the client has said to check their understanding of the client’ perspective.


  • Acknowledge challenges and affirm strengths. The coach regularly and explicitly acknowledges challenges the client faces, and points out personal strengths the client has already demonstrated.
  • Ask for decision. The coach asks the client what they want to do.
  • Are they ready to make a change?


  • Brainstorm ideas. The coach elicits the client’s ideas for habit change.
  • The coach may also contribute suggestions, but only after client ideas are exhausted.
  • Develop action plan.
  • Set up conditions for success.
  • Identify obstacles to change and develop support structures.