Motivational speaker and life coach Pete Cohen speaks to the Telegraph about how to take control of your life in order to achieve your aims. Drawing on his talent as a life strategist, human behaviourist, health and fitness professional, business consultant and best selling author, Pete Cohen is highly qualified to help those looking for some direction.
“Great scientists don’t expect to get a perfect result the first time they try anything new,” says life coach Pete Cohen. “They keep working, keep changing the parameters, and they’re not afraid of mistakes. They recognise that life is a journey, and the crucial thing is to keep progressing.”
Helping people along their life journey is Cohen’s speciality. “I work with anyone who wants to change, whether it is altering behaviours or habits, tackling fears or finding motivation,” says Cohen. “Everyone can benefit from stopping, assessing where they are, perhaps marking that line in the sand, and then formulating a plan for change. Only then can we all be the best that we are capable of and live out our dreams.
“It takes courage to look at your life and say, ‘Yes, it could be better’ and then experiment with ways to make improvements happen. Anyone can do it, you just need a few life skills.” Cohen, a confident 41-year-old from Essex, is his own case in point. At the age of five he was diagnosed with severe Attention Deficit Disorder, then, aged 10, was told he was dyslexic.
“I was bullied at school and terribly uncomfortable in my skin,” he says. “I tried to get people to like me by making them laugh or by doing things for them. But the whole time I had big ideas about how my life should be. I didn’t just dream of a normal, uneventful childhood, I also wanted success and fame.”
“Even now,” he admits, “after qualifying in sports science, psychology, hypnosis, personal training and counselling, I never feel totally secure or fulfilled. I’m always striving for the next level.”
For those experiencing these feelings, Pete would urge you not to despair — there are steps to get you started. First, own your problem. “You can’t find a solution unless you pin down the area that needs work; take responsibility. You’ll experience a sense of relief almost immediately.”
Next, learn to appreciate yourself. “Don’t beat yourself up because you have problems — they are what unite us as human beings. Instead, work out what you have done, and what you can do well, and value that. Turn your weaknesses into strengths.
“My own lack of self-esteem early on was actually very motivating for me; wanting to escape gave me the drive to succeed today,” says Cohen. Next, make yourself open to change. “You need to be ready to make that leap. Some couples find it impossible to swap sides of the bed — imagine how much harder it is to make a big life change, like taking up exercise.
“Something in our brain seems to throw up all kinds of resistance, so be prepared to overcome that trap.” Now acknowledge that you are going to turn over a new leaf. It doesn’t mean you have to make radical changes to your life - it may be just a matter of planning carefully for the future. Without a plan detailing how to reach your goals they can seem unachievable.
“Write down a plan or start a diary or blog,” says Cohen. If you lack confidence, for example, write down how this affects you — perhaps it stops you from pursuing a particular career or type of relationship you want. Note down every time you feel unconfident and ask yourself how you could change that situation. A diary also helps motivate you”, he explains, as you can look back at what you have achieved and overcome.”
Next, recognise your goal by highlighting the positive and being proactive. “If you want to stop smoking, say to yourself: I want to be smoke-free; I want my clothes to smell fresh; I want to live a long life.
Most importantly, think: I want to feel more secure.” Finally, let go. “If you insist on micro-managing the whole process, you’ll become obsessed with it, which will stimulate the brain’s resistance,” says Cohen. “Remember how difficult it is to lose half a stone? You think about doughnuts floating through your head! You should set up healthy eating and exercise parameters, and then get on with the rest of your life.”
“When planes fly from London to New York, they don’t go in a straight line,” he says. “We only have one journey in life so it is entirely reasonable to re-plan our route along the way to make the most of everything that comes our way and reach fulfilment. At the end of the day, most of us just want to be happier. The good news is that this isn’t just a dream, but an achievable aim.”