Coaching Tools 101: "Get Motivated" Tool - Change the Words You Use to Boost Productivity!

Client Get Motivated with Words Rocket on blackboard

As coaches, we all know the words we use can significantly impact how we feel. Which words most inspire you to take action? Which words demotivate you? What about your clients?


Click to see a larger image of this tool

I finally launched this "Get Motivated" Tool because I LOVE IT!

This motivational language tool made a huge difference to me personally - in particular when it comes to the words I use when doing household chores! But first, let me explain how it works in more detail (and I hope you'll get something from it too!).

We all know that using words like "Should", "Ought to" and "Have to" can be demotivating - but do you know how demotivating? Do you know what words inspire you the most? And importantly:

Did you know that using different words for something you want to do as opposed to completing a chore - can make a HUGE difference to people's  motivation?

What Words Inspire YOU to Take Action?

The Get Motivated! What Words Inspire You? Coaching Exercise uses a simple scoring system helps your clients understand which 'operational' words to use - and when! It gives people the opportunity to change the words they use, be more motivated and boost productivity!

"Anytime words alone stop you doing what is important to you - change the words." Moshe Feldenkreis

NOTE: I have held back from offering this coaching exercise, because it takes a little more explanation. And whilst it's a straightforward exercise - and most people can follow the instructions just fine - it's best done or introduced in a one-on-one session or workshop where you can talk your clients through it.

"Get Motivated" What Words Inspire YOU To Take Action? Coaching Exercise Instructions

Click the tool image at the top of the page to see a larger version of the tool so you can follow along.

1.  First your client is asked to pick 3 activities;
i) a short-term goal,
ii) a long-term goal and
iii) an activity they don't enjoy (eg. a household chore)
And then write them in the Goals/Activities Table provided.

2.  Next, your client is asked to look at the Word List provided and to pick 4 expressions (in addition to the 5 provided) they use when thinking about their activities and goals. They are asked to select from the list, a mix of 1) words they use and 2) those that appeal to them - and/or 3) they could choose their own words not on the list.

NECESSITY:     I Must, I Have to, I Should, I Ought to,
POSSIBILITY:    I Might, I Could, I'm Able to, I Intend to,
PROBABILITY:     I Will, I'd Love to, I Choose to, I Want to,

Now they write these words in the left-hand column of the Motivational Words Discovery Table.

3.  Finally, using the words in the left-hand column of the Motivational Words Discovery Table, they are asked to make a sentence in their mind for each of their 3 goals/activities. For this exercise to be effective they need to take a moment to really FEEL into each statement, before writing a score out of 10 (where 1 is totally uninspired and demotivated and 10 is excited!) for how inspired they feel to do each of the 3 goals/activity in turn.

4.  To wrap up, your client is asked to review the Motivational Words Discovery Table and identify which words are 1) most motivational and 2) which are most demotivational for them - for each type of goal/activity. Finally, it asks "What you have learned about yourself? What will you do differently?"

Extra Tips:  Some clients will complete this exercise more quickly that others. Some will need to read each statement out loud and take a little longer to process, and others may quickly put the statements together in their head and whizz down the list.

Although the Motivational Words Discovery Table may look like a lot, it shouldn't take more than 5  minutes to complete.

Then, when finished, hey presto! Your client now has scores out of 10 - tangible evidence - of how the words they're using currently to motivate themselves are working!

As a coach, questions to ask to go deeper include:

  • Are there any other words you use that you missed and might like to score?
  • What did you notice about how you felt in your body with each set of words?
  • Thinking of the words you currently use most often with yourself, do they motivate or demotivate you (or neither)?
  • What new words might you like to use that could be more effective going forwards?
  • What else can you notice about the words that most inspire you?
  • What else do you notice about the words that most demotivate you?
  • Is there a difference between the words that motivate you for a short-term goal, long-term goal and the activity you don't enjoy?
  • What will you do with this information going forwards? What specifically will you do differently - and when?

Other Areas to Use This Tool

Business, Leadership or Executive Coaches:

If your client manages people, you could redo this exercise but this time use the words your client uses when giving others tasks. The 3 categories would be 1) An immediate task, 2) A longer-term project and 3) An unpleasant, boring or tedious task. This could help your client get an insight into how others might feel when given tasks.

You could also work with your client to get their staff or employees to complete the exercise. Then you would discuss and share the results with your client, so they have a better idea of the words to use with individual staff members.

Are you a Parent or Teen Coach?

Consider how you could use this tool with your teens to give them more self-knowledge and self-motivation, or how parents could use the learnings from this tool to communicate better with their children!

My personal learnings from this tool?

Well, firstly, I learned that when I say "I'D LOVE TO" do something - I feel fantastic, motivated and inspired. My score for this was 10/10. I use these words regularly with my goals now.

But the biggest learning was around the activities I DON'T enjoy.

  • So, when it comes to doing household cleaning chores, if I say:
    - "I MUST do X" my motivation to do the task was a big fat zero (perhaps even a minus score!)
  • But when I say:
    - "I MIGHT do X later" my motivation to do the task is a 6 (not very high - but it was my highest score, and who likes chores anyway?).

Once I started using "I might" with my household chores, I found I was a) more likely to do them and b) when I did do them I felt so much lighter! This learning alone has made a huge difference to how I feel (and how many chores get done!). It seems odd - but also totally makes sense - that I feel more motivated when I give myself permission NOT to do something (using "I might"), because I'm not feeling pressured or judged.

So, now it's your turn!

Get the Get Motivated! What Words Inspire You? Coaching Exercise here >>


If you liked this article on motivation and the words we use, you may also like:

And this is just one of our many coaching tools! Learn more about what coaching tools are, when to use them and how they can help in our Complete Guide to Coaching Tools here >>

Image of Client in front of Blackboard with Rocket by Ahmet Misirligul via Shutterstock

Image of Motivated Client by Kurhan via Shutterstock

Image of Motivated Client Cleaning by Serhiy Kobyakov via Shutterstock


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