10 Life Coaching Topics for Breakthrough 1-on-1 Coaching Sessions

These life coaching topics and detailed plans for 1-on-1 coaching sessions will help your clients achieve major transformations - you'll love #8 and #9!
life coaching topics

As a life coach, your thought-provoking life coaching sessions can create breakthroughs for each individual sitting with you. When you open the path for your clients to talk about life coaching topics like their purpose, aspirations, strengths and weaknesses, you’ll guide them to discover their deepest ambitions and unlock their potential.

These 10 essential life coaching topics for 1-on-1 coaching sessions have been tested by experienced coaches across the globe. I’ve personally used these in my coaching sessions for my staff when I ran my companies and now for my executive coaching clients.

My two favorites are life coaching topics #8 and #9 (imposter syndrome and life purpose – see the video below). I’m hoping you’ll love using them to uplift others just as much as I do. Each topic here includes questions to ask your life coaching clients to give them space to experience breaths of inspiring insight, elevations in enthusiasm, and moments of sheer wonder that lead to the life transformation they seek.

While you’re here, pick up a free copy of my sample life coach business plan that you can edit to create your own strategy to build your business.

Life Coaching Topics That Lead to Transformation and Breakthroughs

1. Defining your personal values

It can be difficult for someone to define and articulate their personal values on their own. One effective way to help your life coaching client do so is by posing questions about defining their personal values that can point them in the right direction.

Asking targeted, thought-provoking questions will help your life coaching client uncover their core values and achieve greater self-awareness. To do this, introduce questions to determine what drives decisions and behavior, such as:

  • What stands out to you when you think of success?
  • How do you like to spend your free time?
  • What activities make you happy and fulfilled?

As the dialog deepens, more specific questions can be asked leading towards defining personal values such as:

  • What do you expect from yourself or others in terms of honesty, integrity or hard work?
  • Where would you like your life to take you?

Through this process it is possible for life coaching clients to define and articulate their personal values for meaningful shifts to take place.

2. Identifying your life goals

As a life coach, it is your job to help your clients uncover life goals and develop an action plan for achieving them. Ask questions that encourage self-reflection. Some questions you can use to get started are:

  • What life events have been the most meaningful for you?
  • When do you feel most alive?
  • What life experiences would you like to have more of?
  • Describe what you’re most passionate about.
  • What would you like to be remembered for?

Your objective as a life coach is to use tools that can help people discover the life goals they feel will bring them fulfillment.

The next step is to identify an action plan that helps your coaching client know what they need to practice. They will also know what to make into a habit in order to achieve the goals they envision.

Break down the goal(s) into actionable steps that you can use to monitor milestones for progress and accountability.

how to get life coaching clients

3. Developing a positive mindset

A positive mindset is essential to success in life, and life coaching your clients can get them to that success. As a coach, one of your biggest goals is to help clients develop strategies to foster positive thoughts and emotions. An actionable way to achieve this is through exercises that they can practice.

Here are a few activities you can recommend – and do with them during your coaching session:

  • Positive self-talk. Positive self-talk allows clients to focus on positive aspects of themselves by speaking words of affirmation aloud for 30 minutes each day. Write down a handful of affirmations ahead of time and ask them to pick one or two that resonate. Have them transcribe their favorites on a card so it is in their handwriting and they can own it. This act of writing the words themselves adds to personal accountability and will make the affirmations be more real to them. If your client’s coaching topic relates to business, you can download my free list of business affirmations for ideas.
  • Journaling. Journaling is another great way for them to keep track of their goals and maintain a positive outlook on things. Have them create a gratitude journal in which they write one line every night before going to bed. They can simply finish this sentence: “I am thankful for…” and their entries can be anything – work, family, friends, health, activities, observations, anything they feel grateful for that day.
  • Mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness meditation can provide calming energy during times of stress or anxiety, and helps them stay grounded. Have them practice a meditation in your coaching session so they can feel the sensations, calm, and peacefulness that comes with the exercise. This creates a memory that they can trigger when they practice meditation on their own.
  • Visualization. Visualization can help manifest positive thoughts into reality by envisioning a possible future that they’d like to see come true. In your coaching session, have your client picture themselves achieving goals so they feel more tangible.

With the right encouragement and guidance from you, these exercises can make all the difference in developing a positive mindset for success in life.

4. Overcoming self-doubt and negative thinking

business coachingA common life coaching topic is helping clients overcome self-doubt and negative thinking. During life coaching sessions, a coach can offer personalized ideas to clients on how they can build their confidence and banish negative self-talk.

Exploring root causes of self-doubt may delve deep into psychological barriers formed during childhood, including the way your client views taking risks, relationships and self-acceptance.

These exercises can be especially helpful:

  • Noticing patterns. Recognizing where one’s thoughts continually circle to will open up possibilities of putting those destructive thoughts aside.
  • Taking, rather than giving, action. A life coach can help clients understand the importance of proactively creating desired outcomes by taking action over simply talking about the issue.
  • Accepting mistakes as learning opportunities. Mistakes often lead to new discoveries about our strengths and potential, which is why it is so important to be kind to ourselves when struggling with difficult issues.
  • Identify supportive people to be around. When your client is able to surrounding themselves with people who look for the best in them, they will experience one of the most powerful ways to overcome negative self-talk. Help them identify who these people are, or where they might find new friends that could share positive reinforcement, such as volunteer work.
  • Focusing on the present moment. Being mindful of the present moment helps us focus on tasks at hand instead of worrying about things we cannot control. These life coaching exercises have helped many overcome self doubt and concentrate instead on developing healthy habits that foster well being.

5. Building self-confidence

In working with clients, you’ve probably already discovered that one of the most frequent life coaching topics centers around confidence. You can intersperse moments that elevate your client’s awareness about their self-confidence throughout your coaching sessions.

These are some non-obvious techniques that I’ve found to work very well (adapted from my self-help posts on Quora). Small steps can create big results. In your 1-on-1 coaching sessions, encourage your clients to take these action steps for 30 days:

  • Start with your posture. It’s probably not the tactic your clients are expecting or looking for, but think about it: when you sit upright with your back straight, how do you feel? Usually, you’ll feel more alert. The moment your shoulders start to lower and your back slouches, you lose that feeling of attentiveness. Have your client practice this in your coaching session and pay attention to the feeling they experience.
  • Smile and say hello to strangers. When they are at the grocery store, prompt them to be the first to say “hi” to the cashier. If they catch someone’s eye as they walk by, say “hi” and smile. Smiles are contagious. When they smile back, your client will feel good and that feeling will help build confidence.
  • Donate your time. Find an opportunity to volunteer and work with others. Giving of oneself creates a stronger sense of purpose, again something that builds confidence.
  • Keep a gratitude journal. Journals work for numerous life coaching topics. And like I noted earlier for developing a positive mindset, have your client get a small spiral notebook and keep it next to their bed. Before they go to sleep at night, write down the date and one entry, just a little something about their day that they are thankful for. It can be as simple as “I’m thankful for my health (or family, or friends, or the opportunity to volunteer today).”

When life coaching clients do these action steps consistently, they will likely find that they feel better about themselves (more confident). They will also notice that others are more attracted to them and want to be around them.

Give it a try for a month and see how they feel. Remind them to keep smiling!

life coaching keywords

6. Setting healthy boundaries

Establishing healthy boundaries is an essential part of living a balanced life and setting your clients up to achieve their goals. As a life coach, it’s important to help clients become aware of their existing boundaries, so they can make meaningful changes and set healthier ones.

Here are several questions that you can use in 1-1 coaching sessions when exploring setting boundaries:

  • Do you think setting boundaries is important?
  • What does setting healthy boundaries look like for you?
  • What kind of boundaries did you establish in your family growing up?
  • Do you feel like your boundaries are respected?
  • What do you consider to be a healthy relationship or friendship, at work or outside of work?
  • How do you manage requests from others?
  • How do you know when someone is crossing a boundary?

After becoming more aware of the current state of their boundaries, encourage your client to take practical steps to set better ones. Ask your life coaching clients to try these action steps to practice boundary setting:

  • Start tracking where they direct their time and energy
  • Practice saying “no” thoughtfully and maybe even creatively
  • Create an action plan based on their needs and values or reach out if they need support.

With the right guidance and intention setting, clients will learn how to set healthy boundaries that help them live life on their terms.

7. Improving communication skills through active listening

getting life coaching client testimonialsEffective communication is a powerful tool. One way to help your life coaching clients improve their communication skills is by teaching them active listening techniques. Active listening involves focusing on what the other person is saying, without judgement, and responding thoughtfully and appropriately. It requires being fully present with the speaker in order to understand their message, feelings and needs.

Here are some key aspects that make up effective active listening:

  • Show genuine interest in what the other person is saying by maintaining eye contact, nodding and using verbal cues such as “uh-huh” or “I understand”.
  • Ask open ended questions to explore the topic further and ensure a deeper understanding of their opinion or point of view.
  • Reflect back the speaker’s words to check if you have understood them correctly and avoid making assumptions or jumping to conclusions too quickly.
  • Listen without interrupting or judging the speaker until they have finished speaking and allow them time to process their thoughts after they finish speaking before responding yourself.
  • Resist any temptation to provide advice unless asked for it, as this can be an indication that you haven’t truly understood what they have said or how they feel about it. Instead, summarize what you have heard back in a non-judgmental way so that both parties are on the same page in terms of understanding each other’s perspective.

It is important for life coaching clients to practice these techniques regularly both inside and outside of 1-2-1 coaching sessions so that they become second nature when communicating with others. This will help build relationships based on trust and respect which are essential for achieving goals together with anyone in life.

8. Dealing with imposter syndrome

Working on overcoming imposter syndrome can be intimidating and overwhelming. In your life coaching sessions, it is important to create a safe environment and provide the right questions for clients to discover the root cause of their imposter syndrome.

Asking these powerful and thought-provoking questions can help clients gain a deeper understanding of why they don’t feel like they’re accomplishing what matters to them:

  • In what situations do you feel imposter syndrome the most?
  • What thoughts run through your head when you are feeling this way?
  • Who influences how you think about yourself and your accomplishments?
  • What is your definition of success?
  • How do your beliefs about success impact your feelings about reaching that success?
  • Are there any particular achievements that you feel proud of and why?
  • Is there any feedback from family or friends that might be informing your sense of accomplishment?
  • What potential blocks exist that could prevent you from feeling successful in the future?

Listen to this podcast I did with Executive Leadership Coach Dr. Jeff Kaplan, who was named Leadership Coach of the Year 2022 by CEO Today Magazine. We discuss techniques to overcome imposter syndrome that you can use in your 1-on-1 coaching sessions.

My favorite is this simple 30-second tactic (see it in action at minute 8:37 in the video above):

  • Have your client write this on a blank sheet of paper: “Jamie the imposter” (use your client’s name)
  • Then ask them to take that paper and tear it to shreds and throw it in the air.

The kinesthetic act of your client writing down what they fear they are “Jamie the imposter” and then ripping it up will create a trigger that they can look back on when imposter syndrome fear returns.

9. Stop coasting through life and create a sense of purpose

Helping your client find a sense of purpose is one of the most noble yet challenging life coaching topics. Over the years as a CEO, I found a framework that I refined into one question that I ask through a point of reference. It can help fast track the thinking that some need to go through to get the answer that makes them happy.

My favorite question that I used to ask every new employee I hired is this:

  • It’s 10 years from now and you and I are having lunch.
  • Tell me about our conversation. What’s your life like? What do you everyday?

There is so much packed into this frame of reference and question that I get giddy sharing it. It’s a technique that you can use with life coaching clients to instill purpose and direction. You’ll want to take notes or record the conversation because your client will share a lot from this exercise.

what is executive coachingHere’s what this approach does:

  • By saying “10 years from now,” they can free themselves from near-term stresses and obligations and allow themselves to dream about the future. Everyone loves to dream about what life could be like. This opening line disarms their fears about coming up with a path – which is usually the blockage – to get to the dream.
  • When you say “you and I are having lunch,” you are painting a picture that they can see. It immerses them into the exercise and helps to anchor the future as a reality. You can add a twist like “having lunch at a nice restaurant” to fuel the dream toward success.
  • Then, when you unleash their mind to talk about the conversation you would be having, you can practically see possibilities and a sense of purpose start to sparkle in their eyes.

You can follow up with questions that guide them on a plan of action to achieve their dream. I usually go down this line of follow up questions after they share what their life is like in 10 years:

  • That sounds exciting. What milestone needs to happen in 5 years to verify that you’re on track to get there in 10 years?
  • Let’s bring it in a little closer. What do you think you need to do in the next 2-3 years to make strides towards this vision?
  • Okay, how about we tighten it to the next 12 months. What experiences do you want to have to put you on the right track?

They may not have all the answers, but you’ve planted a seed. That seed will grow. And you can use this dialog as an anchor in future conversations.

If you see a blank stare or your client responds with “I don’t know what I want to be doing in 10 years,” that’s okay. Just go back to the exercises in sections 1 and 2 of this guide to help your client clarify their values and identify their personal life goals.

10. Embracing and manifesting change

Making positive changes in life can be hard, especially when it means breaking patterns of belief and behaviors that don’t serve us anymore. This life coaching topic amplifies your role to be a powerful supporter to help clients overcome fear and manifest positive change.

Four activities that are quite effective

  • Reinforcing the idea of change being something we choose as opposed to something we have no control over
  • Discovering inner resources such as values, strengths, talents and passions that help create momentum
  • Connecting with inspiring people who help validate a client’s dreams
  • Goal-setting exercises that help shape toward the desired future.

Fear or resistance to change can hold everyone back – but with the right guidance and support, embracing new possibilities is possible.

Life Coaching Examples

We all learn better through examples. If you’d like to see a professional coaching session dissected, the life coaching examples video below will inspire you with ideas and tactics that you can use in your own one-on-one life coaching sessions.

Watch how master certified coach, Dr. Jeff Kaplan from Leading With Heart, tactfully and safely leads his client to a place of awareness. This real, raw, candid, and inspiring coaching demonstration dissects a real life coaching example to get inside the mind of a coach and his client to understand what each of them is thinking at every stage.
You’ll see in action critical life coaching topics like:

  • What are the words and phrases that inspire trust?
  • How do you guide a discussion to make a breakthrough?
  • How do you motivate your client and at the same time hold them accountable?

Life Coaching Topics Help You Create Change

Your clients talk to you because you 1) make them feel good and 2)help them transform their lives. I’ve found these 10 life coaching topics to help me guide my teams, staff, colleagues, and now executive coaching clients towards a happier more fulfilling life.

Try them out and let me know how they work for you. I’d love to learn about the techniques you use in your life coaching practice. You can reach me on LinkedIn.


Raj Khera - bioAuthor: Raj Khera is a 3x CEO who now provides Executive Leadership Coaching and is publisher of MoreBusiness.com

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