2021 State of Life Coaching & The Wellness Economy

The field of life coaching is nestled within the much broader wellness industry. But what is “wellness” in practical terms? How do we measure its social and economic impacts, and what does this information mean to you as a practicing life coach?

In this report, we’ll be taking a look at:

  • Scope of the Global Wellness Industry
  • Life Coaching & The Wellness Economy
  • 2021 Trends: What Every Coach Needs to Know
  • Coaching Industry Outlook

Along the way, we’ll share tips and strategies for integrating this information into your life coaching business. As you dig in, consider where popular coaching niches might fall within the wellness spectrum. 

Wellness Defined

The Global Wellness Institute (GWI) is where we obtain all of our industry data here at JRNI Coaching. It’s recognized as the leading source for authoritative wellness industry research, and is an excellent resource. 

According to the GWI, wellness is the “active pursuit of activities, choices, and lifestyles that lead to a state of holistic health.” 

What’s important about this for you as coach is the idea that wellness is proactive and ongoing. It’s not some destination we arrive at. Rather, wellness is a lifelong process.

Wellness as we understand it here extends far beyond physical health - what we’re talking about is the whole person. This is what really sets the wellness industry apart from the traditional healthcare system. 

Health Continuum diagram illustrating the Medical Paradigm ("treat and cure illness") and the Wellness Paradigm ("maintain and improve health")
Source: Global Wellness Institute

Wellness is also highly individual and contextual.

What constitutes wellness for each of us is made up of a combination of biological, mental, emotional, socio-economic, and cultural factors.

Circle depicting 6 aspects of welless: physical, mental, spiritual, emotional, social and environmental
Source: Global Wellness Institute

Wellness requires us to be active and engaged, although our individual choices may in truth only make up part of this overall picture. We recognize and acknowledge disparities in access to, and the ability to realistically implement, a full spectrum of healthy tools and habits. The COVID-19 pandemic provides a grim illustration of this reality, with stark consequences. 

What this all means is that the wellness “constellation” may look different for each person. It can also change throughout the course of our lives. 

This is the space where we operate as life coaches. 

Coaching serves those who are moving toward a state of thriving, from wherever they may currently be at on the wellness spectrum. As a life coach, you help clients define what optimal well-being looks like for themselves. Coaching provides a container of support and accountability,  encouraging clients to take steady action toward achieving their goals.  

Life Coaching & The Wellness Economy

The wellness industry is made up of any business that helps consumers incorporate wellness activities into their daily lives. According to the GWI’s most recent study, the global wellness economy is currently valued at $4.5 trillion.

Right now there are ten sectors in the wellness economy, and coaching fits into every single one of them! As you review this list, think about where your own coaching specialization might fall within these sectors.

  1. Personal Care, Beauty & Anti-Aging
  2. Healthy Eating, Nutrition & Weight Loss
  3. Wellness Tourism
  4. Fitness & Mind-Body
  5. Traditional & Complementary Medicine
  6. Wellness Real Estate  
  7. Preventive & Personalized Medicine and Public Health
  8. Workplace Wellness
  9. Spa Economy
  10. Thermal /Mineral Springs

All ten wellness sectors are dynamic, interconnected and are linked to the wellness economy as a whole. They are all components of a “wellness ecosystem” that nurtures lifestyles of wellbeing and longevity. According to the Global Wellness Institute:

“In the face of longer lifespans, rising chronic disease, stress, and unhappiness, consumers are re-examining their lives and focusing attention on what makes them well – particularly the places and ways in which they live, work, and travel. The wellness economy reflects those shifting priorities, alongside a growing recognition of the critical impact of physical and social environments on our health and wellbeing.”

As a life coach, you can specialize. You do not have to be an expert in every single one of these areas, nor must you limit yourself to working within just one sector of the wellness market. Consider: what are you most drawn to? How does your background and experience fit within these sectors? Where can you be of greatest service? 

How many coaching niches can you think of that might fall within each of these categories? (For further ideas, check out: 20 Best Life Coaching Niches

Life Coaching Trends for 2021

As the world begins to open back up this year, people are going to want help in navigating how they want to live, engage, and incorporate a broader definition of wellness into their lives. As life coaches, we help individuals do things that are hard and new, which often entails weaving several dimensions of “wellness” into their lifestyles simultaneously. 

At JRNI Coaching, we see three wellness areas in particular as increasingly important over the year ahead:

Social Wellness

This is a new concept that the industry does not have as much language and discourse around yet, which means it’s a ripe space for life coaches to make a contribution! The best way of thinking about social wellness is in terms of “healthy communities”. As a new frontier for coaching and wellness, this is one place where you can really help shape the future by putting your own words to what social wellness means and how we do it.

A great example of how coaches can contribute to the emerging social wellness dialogue is John Kim’s new book Single On Purpose. Here’s content that has been specifically generated to help people live socially well inside their single status. Through exploring what it means to be a single person in this world, John is helping to create new narratives around singlehood: it’s not a way-station on the road toward a relationship (as our current cultural norms would have us believe), but a destination in itself.

Workplace Wellness

As COVID-19 wanes and the world begins to open back up, workplace wellness will take center stage as employees demand fair wages and working conditions, fair treatment, workplace well-being, and greater balance.

The way we work is also changing. The pandemic completely disrupted notions of how and why we work, as well as when and where. A shift towards collective consciousness, referred to as “Generation Woke” in some spheres, will continue from 2020 into 2021 as consumers and workers lean into expectations for brand purpose.

Millenials and Gen Z are driving consumer behavior change towards personal responsibility and responsible consumption (WELLTODO, 2020.) This change signals that participation in social change will be expected through and with the brands and businesses.

Life coaches can enter the workplace wellness space from either the individual or corporate angle. With individual clients, we can support their efforts to find meaning and balance in their work and personal lives. Business coaches can partner with corporate and nonprofit organizations to offer wellness programs and employee coaching through company sponsored programs.

Overcoming Crisis Fatigue

There is a strong market need for targeted mental wellness solutions addressing specific symptoms of modern society, alongside the challenge of living through an era of collective crises. 

“Consumers are demanding mental wellness solutions geared towards addressing specific symptoms of modern society, as well as the divergent needs of those living through an era of collective crises.” - WELLTODO, 2021 Consumer Wellness Trends

The invitation to wellness providers and coaches will be to map out and modernize a new mental wellness ecosystem that provides different routes to entry, direct access to resources, and more relatable and attainable outcomes. In your work with individual clients, this will likely include supporting people through stress and fatigue, and - when ready - helping them shift out of survival mode and into a more expansive state.

2021 Coaching Industry Outlook

Value

Over the past year, it’s become painfully evident that our current way of life is not supporting wellness and human happiness. People are seeking alternatives to a 24/7 work culture that results in stress, anxiety, dissatisfaction, and poor health outcomes. 

The life coaching profession is uniquely positioned to support this changing landscape of wellness. Given the complexities of these times, working with a life coach as a trusted partner to move forward into uncharted territory is a sound and comforting investment for businesses and individuals alike. 

Most adults never take the time to sit and strategize, yet “making a plan for one’s plan” is the safest and most cost effective way to move forward.

Life coaches are trained to facilitate the process of imagining a future state that has never existed before, and crafting a well thought out plan for moving forward. We're also skilled at holding the plan while the client proceeds with designing actions and experimenting with new ways of being until their imagined future state comes to fruition.

The role of life coaches in delivering this kind of strategic partnership is beginning to surge within the public’s awareness. From conscious dating to workplace equity, consumers are waking up to the fact that they need help to do things differently and truly make lasting change.

Professional Standards

The International Coaching Federation, otherwise known as the ICF, has emerged as a global industry leader whose mission is to educate the public and advance the coaching profession so that coaching becomes a well understood and integral part of society. To that end, the ICF has crafted and maintains a credentialing process for coaches that reflects global industry standards and supports consumer education.

The role of the ICF will become increasingly important to the coaching industry as more  businesses and individual consumers seek to hire coaching professionals. We are swiftly moving towards a time when insurance providers will recognize coaching as a service that is vital for preventative health and post treatment care.

Want to hear more about current coaching industry trends? 

Listen to JRNI co founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux discuss the state of the coaching industry in depth, and how you can apply these insights to your own coaching practice on The Everything Life Coaching Podcast: 2021 Forecast for Life Coaching & Wellness.

How to apply these trends to your own coaching practice

Here’s a Quick 2-Step Emerging Playbook for coaches this year:

1.) Acknowledge that the world has changed. Meet consumers where they currently exist, through digital offerings and adaptations of physical offerings.

2.) Be conscious of the way you’re creating value in this new world as it unfolds. Listen, learn and adapt – and then repeat.

Identify changes and differences in client behaviour and preferences as they occur. What do your clients want, what makes them feel comfortable, and how can you support that? 

Explore and define how you can expand your  services to fit within different channels and to meet folks where they exist. Figure out where you fit in within this new, fluid landscape.

Ready to Help Others Navigate A Changing World?

If you’d like to support people in achieving multidimensional wellness, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a force for good in the world. 

‍JRNI Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.


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