- James Stevenson, Accredited Wellbeing Coach and Positive Psychologist -
A bit about me...
Nice to meet you. I'm James from the UK. I'm a positive psychologist and a wellbeing and philosophy coach.
Wise Goals exists to bring together my greatest passions and share these with others. Inspiring philosophers, positive psychology, setting goals, and coaching. (see definitions for positive psychology and coaching below).
I utilise the profound insights of the world's greatest philosophers with the exciting new findings of positive psychology to give an insightful and interesting learning experience.
"Positive Psychology is the scientific study of that which makes life worth living" (Peterson, 2008)
"Positive psychology makes people happier. Teaching positive psychology, researching positive psychology, using positive psychology in practice as a coach or therapist, giving positive psychology exercises to 10th graders in a classroom, parenting little kids with positive psychology... and just reading about positive psychology all make people happier!! (Seligman, 2011)
"The content (of positive psychology) itself - happiness, flow, meaning, love, gratitude, accomplishment, growth, better relationships - constitutes human flourishing. Learning that you can have more of these things is life changing. Glimpsing the vision of a flourishing human future is life changing" (Seligman, 2011)
Coaching is "The art of facilitating the performance, learning, and development of another" (Downey, 2003)
Another definition is, "Unlocking people's potential to maximise their own performance. It is helping them to learn rather than teaching them" (Whitmore, 2009).
I use my expertise and experience to help you live in harmony with, and put into action, inspirational words of wisdom from the world's most influential thinkers and the most exciting findings from psychologists.
I've been drawn to goals and psychology all my life. I first studied all about goals over 20 years ago during my sport and exercise science degree.
This interest grew, developed, and lead to a Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology. My interest evolved from the nuances and potential of setting goals individually to the art and science of causing great goals, motivation, and learning to happen.
The most used conversational model in coaching psychology, the GROW model (Goal, Reality, Options, Will), has goals in a prominent position. The very purpose of a conversation based on GROW is enable the achievement of goals through raising awareness, supporting learning, and empowering (Whitmore, 2009).
Positive Psychology is full of science and research which further supports your achievement and goal progress. A few examples are:
I stay up to date with the most current research and continually develop myself so I can be of most service to my clients and readers.
There are numerous philosophers and leading thinkers from around the world who I'm continually inspired by and learn from. The main ones to give you a general idea are:
This perhaps gives a flavour of the kind of philosophy I find most inspiring and powerful. I also have a good understanding of Buddhist philosophy. Philosophy is very much the forerunner of psychology. When I notice area's of harmony among various great minds and this is backed up by modern scientific studies I feel enthused and determined to bring it all to life through coaching.
My journey with positive psychology and coaching began when I found a book called "Flourish" by Martin Seligman (2011), the founder of positive psychology. His aim is for 51% of the world to be flourishing by 2051 (this can, and has been measured).
I fell in love with the idea of an applied positive psychology that focuses on happiness, positive emotions, better relationships, more meaning, and achievement... it's a highly scientific, research-based approach. As of 2013, there were over 18,000 scientific articles published in positive psychology (Rusk and Waters, 2013). This is far from just "being positive" or "positive thinking".
I wanted to be able to best support others to find their own positive way forward using everything I learnt and my reading brought me to the wonderful world of coaching.
My coaching mentors include Christian van-Nieuwerburgh who I studied under, Myles Downey, Nancy Kline, and Jenny Rodgers. I went on to read more broadly and find the only Masters degree in the world to combine the psychology of coaching and positive psychology.
I'm now qualified and accredited and have been running my own coaching practice for 4 years. Before coaching and positive psychology, I was a web business owner, a youth parliament leader, and prior to that a teacher.
I work with people who are all about goodness and making the world a better place somehow. Sometimes exactly how isn't clear yet but the fact remains that this wish is the one you return to again and again. Often this wish is partly in hibernation waiting for the right mix of circumstances and resources to align.
To paint a fuller picture, my clients tend to have a lot of positive ideas and enjoy thinking innovatively. They are kind and often imagine how they can help others in new and creative ways. They are more interested in virtues than wealth and luxury.
My clients are not enthused by earning millions, living in a very large house, and owning an island. Rolex watches, fancy sports cars, and champagne... all of this would likely seem superfluous to those I work with. There's nothing especially bad about them, but there are just far more meaningful and important things to aim for.
Because they sense their unfulfilled potential to do good in the world and benefit others they seek out me as their coach.
The goals that emerge are often little to do with direct financial reward. It's almost always value-based. It could be about people mattering, kind acts, equality, poverty, gratitude, nature, the elderly, connection, discrimination, mental health, embracing difference, peace, fair education, supporting poorer countries etc. The UN's 2030 sustainable development goals are invariably on my clients radar. They are both interested in and inspired by this vision.
For many clients, we start small, as a journey of 10,000 miles does begin with a single step and confidence grows with small victories. The "bigger" ideas may materialise 5, 10 even 20 years from now.
If you relate to this wish, but feel you're not even close yet, I believe in your potential, I work to support your personal wellbeing, agency, and levels of flourishing so you can get there asap.
What can be achieved through the pure-hearted and wise desires of individuals that, unburdened by greed and the desire for fame, simply want to make the world a happier and better place for others?
This is what, more and more in the decades to come, I intend to find out! My purpose as a wellbeing and philosophy coach and positive psychologist is unleashing the vast potential of kind-hearted people upon this beautiful blue planet we call home. Starting small, and aiming high!
I believe in helping you build your strengths and self esteem gradually in a sustainable way. With my curiosity, my belief in your ability, and asking the right questions, I trust you to find what you're looking for within.
You're stretched, compassionately, toward greater self-awareness, finding new and different empowering perspectives, and with a clearer understand of what's happening, you're able to find the energy and motivation to move forward.
I support you to identify unacknowledged fears, so you can overcome them. The same is true of blind spots in confidence that have been preventing you from making the necessary changes to make fresh progress.
I also guide you to understand more deeply what is important to you and what supports you, what resources you didn't realise you have, all related to your short term goals and long term dreams. I apply this in both my writing, my on-line coaching, and my in-person work.
We cover various topics and the specific goals come from you. My approach harnesses the power of coaching psychology and positive psychology accumulated over many years and is focused on achieving the results that you want, not what I or others may want for you!
Although this is a rough guide, it may be helpful to know what a 60 session usually looks like.
This gives you an idea of potential structure of a conversation. Often in reality it's not so clinical. If there is a need to explore goals more the whole conversation may be about that. If it feels significant to give the current reality more time to be aired and understood then the focus can lean that way. If a block of coaching is over 3 or 6 months then the beginning tends to be goal-focused. If the clients has a lot of challenges then goals may happen a lot later and the beginning will be current reality focused.
My job is to manage this, responding uniquely and most helpfully to where the person in front me is. Likewise, the best laid plans and hopes can be side-tracked by unexpected difficulties and a temporary focus on that may be most helpful. All is with the same aim... to learn and develop toward great aims eventually becoming about causing great positive change in society.
"James’ calm and kind approach combined with an ability to listen deeply and ask insightful questions makes for an enjoyable and powerful coaching experience. James’ coaching has helped me to successfully reach my career goal and also goals that emerged through coaching in different areas of my life, including well-being goals. I have no hesitation in recommending James and I am very grateful that he is my coach" - Paul - COO in Education Sector
"James’ caring, attentive, focused, and listening way of being in the moment has enabled me to have fun, laugh, relax, and experience novel sides within me at the same time as discovering sensitive and vulnerable parts of myself. As a human and as a coach James has provided me space to uncover new potentials within me and break through unhelpful patterns. I am now pursuing my lifelong dream as a professional sportsperson and am off to a flying start” - Sandra- Boxer and Business Owner
I really enjoyed my coaching journey with James. He was very professional, and asked interesting questions allowing me to unlock my vision of what I really want. James helped me to focus on solutions so I could get closer to my goals with each session. He is also a very nice person with a warm and compassionate approach. I finally made the move to working for myself in my dream role and now have more clients than I know what to do with. Highly recommend him as a coach! - Fabio - Health and Fitness Sector
James made me feel very safe and comfortable and able to reflect on some deep questions during a time of loss. He gently guided me, over time, to focus on some things that were important to me and the reasons I wanted to pursue them. James has a warm, caring approach that let me explore my feelings. I found him to be an excellent listener and gentle in his way of guiding our sessions. I found the perfect role for me and have also developed my side-business to be more profitable. Very grateful. - Bonnie - Youth and Education Sector
Last Updated: 22/01/2023
Bandura, A (1977). Self-efficacy: Toward a Unifying Theory of Behavioral Change. Psychological Review. 84 (2): 191–215.
Deci, E. L., & Ryan, R. M. (2000). The “what” and “why” of goal pursuits: Human needs and the self-determination of behavior. Psychological Inquiry, 11, 227-268.
Peterson, C., & Seligman, M. E. P. (2004). Character strengths and virtues: A handbook and classification. New York: Oxford University Press and Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.
Rusk, R., & Waters, L. (2013). Tracing the size, reach, impact and breadth of positive psychology. Journal of Positive Psychology, 8(3), 207–221.
Seligman, M. E. P. (2011). Flourish: A visionary new understanding of happiness and well-being. New York: Simon and Schuster.
Snyder, C. R. (2002). Hope Theory: Rainbows in the Mind. Psychological Inquiry. Vol. 13, No. 4 , pp. 249-275. Taylor & Francis, Ltd.
Whitmore, J. (2009). Coaching for performance: GROWing human potential and purpose: the principles and practice of coaching and leadership (4th ed). Boston: Nicholas Brealey.
James Stevenson is the owner of WiseGoals.com and a qualified and accredited wellbeing and philosophy coach.
He works with clients in an patient, understanding and creative way to help them apply great philosophical ideas and psychological scientific findings so they can flourish in a way that leads to them also contributing to a better world.
The development of a strong sense of mattering and agency, alongside deep understanding of inner and outer obstacles give clients a powerful coaching experience. More about James here.
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