Town Topics — Princeton's Weekly Community Newspaper Since 1946.
Vol. LXV, No. 9
Wednesday, March 2, 2011
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It’s New to Us by Jean Stratton



CATALYST FOR CHANGE: “I want my clients to walk away feeling they have been empowered, that they have the facility to answer their own questions, make changes, and move forward.” Life and leadership coach Martha Wright looks forward to helping more people overcome obstacles, explore new opportunities, and reach their personal goals.

Life and Leadership Coach Martha Wright Offers Help to Those Re-examining Their Lives

Martha Wright wants to help you to do better. If the job isn’t what you’d like it to be, a relationship is iffy, the diet isn’t going well (you know you should exercise more, but can’t find the time), you can’t sleep, you’re stressed about money … the list goes on and on …. Ms. Wright’s expertise as a life and leadership coach may help you not only to get back on track but to explore new beginnings.

And, in this, “the winter of our discontent,” problems can be magnified by endless ice and snow, lack of sunshine, and the realization that it is still only February!

Nevertheless, there is no time like the present, and seeking new ways of looking at things and making appropriate decisions and changes is always desirable.

“A life coach is someone who gets people unstuck,” explains Ms. Wright, a professional corporate trainer, consultant, course designer, leadership and life coach, based in Princeton. “People get stuck in a job, a relationship, poor eating habits, etc. for different reasons. They kind of know what to do, but they often need someone to help them crystallize what decision they can make and create a pathway for what they can do to change.”

Goal-Focused

“A life coach is goal-focused,” she continues. “When I work with a client, we focus. I work in a very finite box. You decide what your goal is and where you want to be in a specified time period, and we focus specifically on that. We address behaviors that need to be changed in order for the client to evolve.”

Ms. Wright opened her life coaching practice in 2010, after a related career as a corporate trainer. Prior to coming to Princeton in 1993, she had founded Learning Systems in Burlington, Vt. in 1989. A seminar company that designed and delivered training to individuals and groups on varied topics, from financial literacy to personal growth, it was a foundation for her work today.

While in Princeton, she has provided training to companies, such as Honda, Nike, Cummins, Westinghouse, PetSmart, Bank of America, and Ingersoll Rand.

“My background was all financial — accounting, math, and engineering,” explains Ms. Wright, who grew up in New York City. Majoring in math at the University of Vermont, she never envisioned a career as a life coach. “I was always interested in people and talking with them, however, and I was someone they could turn to. My mom was like that too. She could always give good advice to people. Being a good listener and having intuition is important in this field.

“Sometimes, I had talks with friends, who were having problems in various areas, and I could see what was not working. I realized, if you are willing to challenge yourself, you can change.”

In Vermont, she was mentored by two psychologists, who trained her to deliver motivational seminars called ”Choices”. “They thought I had the right mix of personality, intuition, and willingness to evolve myself to make a great leader and coach,” says Ms. Wright. She has now been able to bring her extensive training and coaching expertise to the realm of individual life challenges. Her passion is to motivate people to explore new ways to live their lives.

Beliefs and Illusions

“All life is by design, but most of what drives that design is unconscious,” she explains. “Many of our choices are driven by old beliefs and illusions that may have served us in the past, but now limit the range and depth of our current relationships and careers.

“Making deliberate and conscious decisions to design your life in a way that brings you a sense of fulfillment and allows you to achieve your stated goals will bring you freedom and enormous personal power. Helping you to decipher and defuse the obstacles that may have stopped you in the past, and how to achieve your design is at the core of my life coaching practice.”

Ms. Wright offers one-on-one and group sessions, as well as seminars. The individual programs consist of a 3-month package of one-hour sessions, once a week for 12 weeks. Clients are all ages, men, women, teens, business leaders — all backgrounds and life experiences.

“I am very encouraged and excited,” she reports. “This really came about because of an informal coaching session with one of my best friends. A brain-storming session. We both needed to create our own business, and we set up a time line for each other. My initial clients were really my friends, and it has grown in a very positive way. There has been a lot of word-of-mouth, and I am very happy.”

When a client comes to see Ms. Wright, the first session is complimentary. “It’s one-on-one, so it is very important to establish a good rapport. Once the client has explained the situation and how they are stuck, I’ll ask a few questions to get things started. For example, ‘how would you like things to be?’ We just talk. If someone has a problem with procrastination, for instance, I’ll ask, ‘how does procrastination show up? How often? What’s the result? Do you spend time worrying about it, where as if you just took care of it, you’d feel better.’“Then, we move forward with a plan. What steps to take to get to where you want to be? We have mutual accountability, a contract.”

Desired Outcome

Indeed, clients are expected to take an active role to achieve the desired outcome. Between the weekly meetings, Ms. Wright suggests tasks the client should undertake, always keeping in mind, “This is the thing I need to do to move forward.” Again, if the problem is procrastination, the client tries to accomplish a few things on the “To Do” list.

One of the most common issues people bring to Ms. Wright today is job problems. “They are concerned about their job — losing it, unhappiness with it, increased or changing job responsibilities, staying with it just to get by, and also, just getting by in their life. I want them to learn where they are paralyzed and concentrate on what they really want in their life.

“There are so many issues for people to consider. I help them to ‘Look at where you are and where you want to be. Why are you stuck? What’s getting in your way?’ I teach a way to approach change. There is a reason that can account for people’s behavior that they may be unaware of. I want people to know that they can direct their lives and create the result they want.”

Stress is another big issue that people cope with today. “People are stressed over a lot of things — business, relationships, money, marriage, dieting — even the weather!” points out Ms. Wright. “The thing is to figure out the root of the stress. Sometimes, you can eliminate certain things, including unreasonable self-expectations. Establish strategies and tools to deal with it. Take a deep breath, try meditation, which has been shown to create different brain waves.

“Stress creates many symptoms,” she adds. “Sleeplessness, headaches, indigestion, nervousness. When they go to bed, people often worry about what they have to do the next day, and it keeps them awake. I suggest they write it all down before going to bed, and then let it go.”

Ms. Wright believes that there is an increasing need of a life coach today for people of all ages. “There is more pressure on people, more time pressure. People feel they don’t have enough time to get things done. They are so busy and get to a point where they can’t see the forest for the trees. There’s no time to smell the roses. They aren’t nurturing themselves. Take a walk just to enjoy the scenery. Not a power walk, just to walk for enjoyment.”

Maintenance Plan

Ms. Wright is looking forward to a new program, a seminar specifically for teens, that she plans to launch in the spring. “The pressures on teens today are intense — parental pressure about college, peer pressure, school pressure. They can get stuck, or rebel, or tune out. They need to describe their goals and have someone listen to them and help them discover what they want, where they want to be, and set goals. I try to help them in this way, to assist them in negotiating the ‘teen world of today’.

“And one of my jobs as a coach is that once the client sets a goal, I become their biggest advocate and cheerleader. I want them to know they are valuable. I don’t want them to forget that. And then we have a maintenance plan to help them figure out a strategy they can implement in their lives to continue their progress.”

In addition to the individual meetings, Ms. Wright offers weekly group sessions for six clients. “It is six people who have a common goal — perhaps change, for example. They needn’t want the same change, but to change something. People are generally very encouraging to each other, and there is a lot of interaction.”

Every few months, Ms. Wright also holds seminars, such as the recent February 3 program on “Relationships” at the Arts Council. She addressed such issues as how to give up blame and controlling behavior, and how to let go of relationship patterns that don’t provide healthy partnerships.

Good Communicators

Corporate coaching is another part of Ms. Wright’s practice. She enjoys helping clients face the challenges of their career. “I have a corporate coaching video featuring tools and techniques to help clients as they move up in their job. They may have need of better interpersonal skills; people who are good communicators do better.

“I also do half-hour corporate counseling on the phone. l want the person to have a peaceful place where they won’t be interrupted, and I don’t want them to be on the computer.”

Ms. Wright is very happy with the overall response to her practice, and takes particular enjoyment in helping clients make their way through interpersonal struggles and to find answers.

“I so much enjoy helping people and making a difference in their lives,” she says. “I look into their eyes and see someone who wants to move forward but doesn’t know how. People’s willingness to open up and then move forward is so encouraging. Even making the move to hire a life coach is a big commitment. The mere act of making that connection is such an important first step.

“Then, with the strategies and tools that we work on together, the possibilities can be unlimited. Success to me truly means that I have connected with and helped one person move forward in their life. I really do love that moment when all the confusion gives way to clarity and decision.”

Ms. Wright can be reached at (609) 865-3743. Website: www.wrightlifecoach.com.

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