The Top 15 Life Coaching Tools, Exercises and Assessments
Hunting for fresh resources for your coaching practice? Save time with this resource list of popular frameworks and exercises that you can start using today!
As a life coach, you serve as a trusted guide and strategic thinking partner for your clients. Your coaching presence, coupled with the right tools and interventions, can serve as a powerful catalyst for growth and change.
If you’ve attended life coach training, you’re likely well equipped with the relational skills necessary to help clients evaluate their situation, identify roadblocks and limiting beliefs, and generate new insights. But how do you support your clients in moving from insight to action?
In order to harness that momentum, you may need to reach into your coaching toolkit for an exercise, framework, or assessment that best fits the situation! Odds are you have a few favorites close at hand already. But when the circumstances call for something new, it’s helpful to have a place to turn for additional ideas.
We’ve developed this guide to save you time hunting for the right life coach resources! In it, you’ll find a list of some of the most popular tools and exercises for days when you’re looking for some quick inspiration.
In this resource guide, we cover:
- Client Assessment Tools
- Coaching Session Frameworks
- Powerful Coaching Questions
- Coaching Exercises
- Coaching Interventions
Life Coaching Assessment Tools
Client assessments can be an efficient tool for gaining insight right from the start of the coaching relationship. They offer both coach and client data and information about personal and professional strengths, preferences, values, and style.
Certain types of coaching assessment tools, such as 360° feedback, provide a baseline that you can return to throughout the coaching engagement to retest and measure growth or change. Others, such as personality tests, offer a more static view of an individual’s preferences, strengths, and temperament.
As a coach, you’re not expected to be familiar with every tool on the market! When it comes to using assessments in your coaching practice, it is more impactful to cultivate a deeper understanding of the one or two that you plan to use most often.
Let’s take a look at some of the more common coaching assessment tools.
VIA Character Strengths Survey
Positive psychology research shows that consistently using our top 5 character strengths in a realistic manner leads to the experience of flow states along with the development of deep authenticity connection and contentment in life. Leaning into character strengths allows coaching clients to discover and access the virtues that make them tick.
If you’re going to use just one coaching assessment tool, this is the one we recommend in Lumia’s life coach training program.
The DiSC acronym stands for the four main personality profiles of the DiSC model: (D)ominance, (I)nfluence, (S)teadiness and (C)onscientiousness. Most commonly applied in business team settings, the DiSC tool provides a framework to help people better understand themselves and those they interact with. Application of this knowledge at both the individual and team levels can be helpful in reducing workplace conflict and enhancing interpersonal working relationships.
The Enneagram is a personality typing system that offers insight into how people see the world and manage their emotions. It grapples with the fundamental questions: “Who am I, and how did I come to be this way?” Understanding your Enneagram type can be useful to the process of identifying core beliefs about how the world works, and your place within it.
The Myers-Briggs Type Indicator has been in use for decades, and is often a go-to in business settings. It can be a useful one to know because many clients may be familiar with it already, and well versed in their MBTI "type." Rooted in Jungian theory, the Myers-Briggs is designed to help people understand themselves on a deeper level. It offers insights into a person’s personality makeup, preferences, and decision-making style.
Based on Shirzad Chamine’s research on Positive Intelligence, this quiz can help uncover how habitual thoughts may be leading to self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviors. It can be a helpful jumping off point to support your clients in exploring unconscious limiting beliefs.
Another related technique that we teach at Lumia is called Gremlin-Taming, which is drawn from the work of Rick Carson.
Coaching Session Frameworks
Coaching frameworks help us address the need for “structure” in the interaction with our clients. Although frameworks offer a system within which coach and client work together, the goal attainment process is different for each person.
Most frameworks share common themes relative to the coaching process, which include:
- Establishing a relationship that is built on trust, honest communication, and confidentiality.
- Once goals have been clearly defined, all frameworks include a phase in which insight development and/or action learning occurs.
- In general, most frameworks strive to foster accountability and commitment toward self-initiated change and continued growth.
Here’s 3 of the coaching frameworks that students learn in Lumia's life coach training program.
One of the most simple and effective coaching techniques for guiding a session, this one involves moving through these three questions with your client:
- Where are you now?
- Where do you want to be?
- What’s getting in the way?
5-Step Coaching Process
This framework is slightly more complex than the last, and can be used to support a client with visioning and planning toward goal attainment:
- Set the Session Contract: What do you want to get out of our time today?
- Future Visioning: Build positive motivation
- Strategize: Come up with action steps
- Clear the Way: Identify potential roadblocks, and how the client might overcome them
- ReCap: Go back over future vision, the plan, and agreed-upon action items for accountability
This is a more complex model, and one that might span an entire coaching engagement rather than be "completed" in a single coaching session - though it can work in both contexts! Drawn from the field of Appreciative Inquiry, the 5-D Framework is a conversation model for helping your client develop a clear vision of what they’d like to achieve, along with how to get there.
Here’s how it works:
- Define: What do you want to create?
- Discover: What strengths and experiences do you have that can help make it happen?
- Dream: What will it look like?
- Design: How will you get there?
- Destiny: Experiment, learn, and evolve the plan.
Powerful Coaching Questions
As life coaches, we know that it's not our job to give our clients answers. Instead, we facilitate a process to help them discover the answers for themselves... even when they think they don't have them!
To do this, we need questions - powerful questions that can provoke thought, shift some feelings around, and help our clients gain insight.
When we ask good questions of our clients it fuels their creative ability to see their challenges in a new light. They begin to think and create answers they believe in and they start assuming leadership in their own lives.
So what makes some questions better than others? Let’s take a look at a handful of great coaching questions, and explore the mechanics of what makes them so effective.
5 Powerful Life Coaching Questions
1. What makes this important as your goal for our coaching conversation today? What’s important to you about this topic now?
This line of questioning comes straight from the International Coaching Federation’s standard of practice known as “setting the agreement.”
According to the ICF, when we set an agreement with our clients, there are two parts of the process:
- Part One is the global coaching contract, which governs the purpose of the coaching engagement and discusses the ground rules between coach and client.
- Part Two of the coaching agreement takes place at the beginning of each individual coaching session. The coach must ask the client what the focus of the session is about, followed by a second question to gauge the client’s motivation.
As a coach, what you’re looking for with this question is the client's "why" behind the topic at hand. Why this, why now?
The positioning of this question sets up the work of the entire session, putting your client firmly in the driver's seat. It also provides the motivational context for both coach and client as the coaching conversation unfolds.
2. Where are you today in relation to your goal?
This question invites the client to reflect on their current situation. After all, we can’t know how far a client actually has to go if we aren't clear about where they are in the present moment! When we highlight and discuss whatever gap the client is facing between here and their desired future, it helps to clarify what it will realistically take to achieve their objectives.
3. What are some of your options in this situation?
In order to get started on any goal, it always helps to have a plan! A useful coaching framework for this comes from Life Design, which posits that there are 5-7 paths available to us at any given time, and that all of them are good ones.
Options can be action steps, or they could be potential outcomes in and of themselves. It can be a fun and productive exercise to dream in every direction with your clients.
4. On a scale of 1-10, how likely are you to follow through with this action?
This is known as a scaling question; it gauges a client’s readiness to act.
When a client gives a rating of 7 or above, fantastic! They have the motivation they need to take their next step.
If a client rates their readiness at a 6 or below, that is not going to cut it. When this happens, it’s time to circle back to their underlying motivation in relation to the larger goal. As coach, it’s your job at this point to help the client investigate and explore what needs to be done to increase their readiness to a 7 or above.
5. What will you take away from our conversation today, and are there any action steps you would like to commit to?
The ICF recommends closing out each session with a little space for clients to share and summarize any learning that was gained from the conversation. This helps the client to reflect back on what’s been covered, and to internalize their takeaways.
It’s also a best practice to invite the client to commit to an action. Even if there doesn't appear to be an obvious action arising from the coaching conversation, it’s always a good idea to raise the question.
A commitment to act won't always look like something you can check off a task-list. It may also include:
- Thinking about something
- Living with an idea
- Learning something
- Doing research
- Observing or noticing
Coaching worksheets and exercises are useful because they give your client an opportunity to reflect and generate additional insights between sessions.
As a life coach, you have the opportunity to tap into your own creativity, developing tools and exercises that are uniquely your own. There’s also no need to reinvent the wheel if you’re pressed for time!
There are many effective, evidence-based coaching exercises to choose from. Let’s take a look at a few popular resources that you might want to include in your coaching toolkit.
Wheel of Life
The Wheel of Life helps a client clarify where they are feeling most satisfied, while also highlighting areas that may need more attention at this time. This is a quick exercise that provides a snapshot of where a client perceives themselves to be across 8 important areas of life, which could include:
- Money & Finances
- Career & Work
- Health & Fitness
- Fun & Recreation
- Environment (home/work)
- Family & Friends
- Partner & Love
- Personal Growth & Learning
Drawn from the work of Rob Dial, this process is similar to the Wheel of Life. It can be used by life coaches to help the client take a quick “life satisfaction inventory” across 6 areas relevant to goal attainment: Career, Relationship, Intellectual, Physical, Emotional, and Spiritual.
Reflection is defined as “the process of stepping back from an experience to ponder, carefully and persistently, its meaning to the self through the development of inferences; learning is the creation of meaning from past or current events that serves as a guide for future behavior.” (Daudelin, 1996)
Intentional doodling and journaling by hand not only helps to clarify our thinking… it’s also an effective coaching technique that can help rewire the brain!
Identifying and naming our top values can be a useful exercise for both individual and business clients. There’s a variety of tools for leading clients through this process. Some popular ones include:
- Brene Brown’s Values List
- Printable values card-sort
- Online personal values assessment & report
- The One Thing - Core Value Card Deck
- The Leadership Challenge Values Card Deck
SMART Goal Setting Technique
When it comes to goal attainment, people often fall short of the mark because they lack a clearly defined plan, outcomes, or timeline for completion. One of the primary benefits of coaching is that it can help provide this level of structure and accountability.
To that end, the International Coaching Federation (ICF) favors SMART goal setting theory as a framework for goal setting.
A SMART Goal is:
R: Realistic (within your client’s control)
T: Time Sensitive
Whatever framework you choose, your role in the process is to support your client in clarifying what they want to do, how, and by when. For additional ideas on how to do this, you might enjoy this short ICF blog post: Beyond SMART Goals.
For even more positive psychology exercises, check out the resources available for life coaches at www.positivepsychology.com.
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