Here’s an article I wrote for the Coaching Tools Company in 2017 about the benefits of a group coaching program:

I’ve found the secret to helping clients who want to change, and build my business at the same time – celebrate success monthly!

We say “Happy New Year” on January 1st, then seconds after the big red apple drops in NYC, people start thinking about resolutions: “I’ve got to go to the gym more”, “go on a diet”,  “…keep the house clean”, “…not yell at the kids”.

For many, the first 3 months of a new year brings a renewed focus on personal growth. We’re excited to change and for the first little while, it feels great. But does it last? Mostly, no.

What most resolutions lack is accountability and supportive feedback

We’ve all seen research that points to new habits taking at least 21 days to solidify. It’s tough to stay motivated alone and without encouragement during the habit-changing process. So, here’s something to offer to clients that provides a supportive community and accountability: A year-long program that meets monthly, designed for people who are ready to live intentionally. I help people align their lives with their core values and intentions – and plan their year ahead. We share insights and laugh while writing and coloring in our journals.

How I started “Celebrate You” – a 12 Month Program to Support My Clients

Two years ago I started hosting small in-person coaching groups (6-8 people) and called the program “Celebrate You”. The group started with a 3 hour meeting for everyone to get to know each other. Members receive journals filled with inspirational questions and quotations ready for them to celebrate the previous year – and set some goals for the year ahead.

For the next 11 months, I facilitated a monthly 2 hour mastermind session. I made sure everyone had a chance to speak, held members accountable for previous commitments and took 15 minutes to present personal growth tools to enhance the group’s knowledge. Each member had 10-15 minutes to share successes from the previous month and bring a challenge to the group for brainstorming. Each member chose a word to guide their year, and then people shared at each meeting how their word of the year had inspired their choices during that month.

Here’s an example of how the ‘word of the year’ works: One member chose “boundaries”. It’s given her license to explore her relationship with her kids and husband, her clients and her extended family. She’s realized how powerful she feels when she defines boundaries for herself and sticks to them. She’s also realized how sometimes she imposed limits on herself without even realizing it.

“I can’t go away with my friends for a girls’ weekend; my family needs me.” We looked at her assumptions and she discovered, oh yes she could! So she enjoyed 4 days away with friends, doing only what she wanted to do, and came back completely refreshed and inspired.

5 Tips to successfully lead a monthly group like this:

  1. Invite people you know are interested in change. The first year I invited friends, not people necessarily interested in change. Unsurprisingly, some people wanted to socialize not grow. The second year I invited only those people who were already on a path of growth, both friends and near strangers. Although on the surface members have little in common, they’ve bonded as a group because they’re dedicated to intentional living and growth.
  2. Define what the group is and who your ideal members are. For my group, it’s a safe place to be real and share successes and struggles. My core belief is that each person can do their own work and find their own answers and the group’s job is to witness the growth and support them. This is not a therapy group nor is it a place to rehash all the problems from childhood.
  3. Require that people commit to all 12 sessions. Creating a safe group dynamic means that the same people show up with continuity. This way it doesn’t take 15 minutes to get caught up and feel safe again.
  4. Get out a timer and give everyone the same amount of minutes to share.
  5. Follow up about what they committed to last time. Did they promise to have a tough conversation? It’s my job to ask how it went. If they didn’t do their homework, it’s important to know why. Did something else truly become more important or did they procrastinate? It’s important to remain nurturing and safe as I ask. Members trust me with their dreams and struggles, and I’m in their lives to support, not berate them.

I’ve heard two things over and over from members.

  • They never would have dedicated time to plan for the new year on their own. They are surprised at how meaningful it feels to say goodbye to the previous year and build on what they learned to make the new year amazing.
  • They are surprised by how much they look forward to monthly meetings and the time to reflect on their progress and support others.

And here are 8 Ideas of how to increase business with a program like this:

  1. Invite your current client and prospect list to the first meeting. Yes, all of them! Over the three hours, they’ll be inspired to think about changes they’d like to see in their lives and many will book private sessions or ask to join one of your groups.
  2. Offer individual life coaching to members looking for specific support.
  3. Offer additional sessions to create dream boards, lead guided meditations, start a self-help book club.
  4. Continue the conversation and support in a private online group.
  5. Add a weekend retreat filled with workshops and relaxation time.
  6. Partner with an organization dedicated to positive life change, like the YMCA, and offer your group to enhance their program offerings.
  7. Create and sell the journal that members use to document their dreams and goals throughout the year.
  8. Offer a discount to members who bring a friend (a friend who’s committed to growth, that is).

This year, let’s help clients end the cycle of resolving to change and then failing by facilitating and supporting their personal growth throughout the year!