Seems like almost everyone knows at least one “life coach” these days. It’s an industry with a lot of buzz, and a fair amount of misconceptions too.
The idea of needing somebody to help figure out “how to live your life” can rub some people the wrong way. While it’s true that no coach can wave a magic wand and transform your entire existence, that’s not really what people are looking for when they turn to coaching.
Nobody wants a “life coach.” What people are really looking for is a better, more vibrant life -- and a coach is the one who can help them strategize, set goals and arrive at a better state.
Most coaches specialize in a particular aspect of the human experience. Could be you’re frustrated with your career, but can’t quite nail down what the next move should be. Or maybe you’ve been on the dating scene for a while now, and aren’t having much luck attracting the relationship you desire. It’s these gaps between where we are and where we’d like to be that are ideal areas for life coaching.
Working with a life coach isn’t a magic bullet. It’s for people who are serious about change. We’re talking about folx who know they can benefit from having a fresh set of eyes on their situation. Big dreamers who want tools and accountability to make their unique vision a reality. High achievers who understand that having a partner can help them stay on track toward accomplishing their goals.
Do I need a life coach? You may, if you can answer “yes” to any of the following questions.
You can’t seem to get across the finish line
Can you think of a time when you were all fired up about a new goal or project, but didn’t ever complete it? Can you remember exactly what it was that got in your way?
Often, it’s not any one thing that does us in. It comes down to something far simpler, and much more insidious. There’s no real plan to accomplish that goal. Yes, a strong initial feeling of commitment is usually enough to get most of us started. But once you burn through that first burst of energy, what keeps you going?
It doesn’t matter if your goal is to exercise more, start a daily gratitude practice, or launch a new business venture. What separates the masses who dig in with enthusiasm on a new project from the few who will actually complete it comes down to this: strategy and accountability.
A life coach won’t tell you what your goals ought to be. That’s yours to decide. Coaching is led by you, the client! But if you have a goal you’d like to achieve and have been fumbling with your follow through, a life coach can definitely help.
Together, you map out a plan and define the action steps. Week by week, you’re held accountable by your life coach to report in on your progress. Small wins are celebrated. Roadblocks get acknowledged and broken down. When you’re stuck, your coach is there to help give you the nudge you need to get back at it.
Professional athletes have coaches, executives at big companies have coaches -- why not you?
You’re stuck on a hamster wheel
When asked “How are you?” do you ever find yourself answering: “Busy!”? If so, you’re not alone. Just about everyone we know has caught the Disease of Being Busy. And for all that fevered “doing,” how much do you think we are actually accomplishing?
Feelings of dissatisfaction, confusion, or ambiguity are often masked with being busy. We jump to answer the ding of our phone. We fill up our plates with a little of this and a little of that because it all looks good. Our lives are like this giant buffet, and we want to taste everything. The irony of course is that when your plate gets too full, nothing really satisfies.
If you’re stuck on the treadmill of doing-doing-doing without feeling like you’re actually getting anywhere, a life coach can help.
The first step is to get clear on what you actually want. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised by how many of us live on autopilot. We fill our lives with activities that we haven’t fully evaluated. We react to what’s in front of us rather than consciously direct the course of our days.
A coach will work with you to define your goals and dreams with precision, and compare those aspirations to how you are truly spending your time. From there, you can begin to prioritize from a place of certainty. You’ll learn to value your energy from a new perspective, so you can shift from rushing through your life to savoring it.
You’re tripping over your own shoelaces
Let’s say you’ve avoided the common pitfalls we’ve talked about up to this point. Goal oriented? Check. Got a plan? Check. You know how to prioritize, and are a master at taking action. Perhaps you’re able to do all this with ease at work, but when it comes to your personal life, well, you’re maybe less effective at following through on your goals.
Could it be that you’re getting in your own way? If that’s the case… don’t worry, it’s not just you!
All of us have self-limiting beliefs and habits that don’t serve our best interests. They show up in different ways. Some people can muster the discipline and focus to achieve audacious goals in service to someone else, like an employer or as a volunteer. But when it comes to turning those superpowers toward their own dreams? It fizzles. The reasons why can vary, but often come down to a critical inner voice that is in conflict with what you believe you want.
A life coach will bring a mirror and flashlight to help you see what you may have been missing. Once you know where to look, those gremlins of self-sabotage become easier to identify and overcome.
Your life feels a bit too “lifeless”
We all come into this world with curiosity, passion, creativity, and the desire for play. For many people, these qualities start to dim somewhere along the road to adulthood. As responsibilities and commitments increase, pressure builds. Societal expectations and norms set in. There’s what we want to do (passion), juxtaposed with what we are encouraged to do instead (pragmatism).
Most of us don’t choose to follow our passions or our sense of adventure often enough, we’re too caught up in routine and realism.
Do you regularly include time for play in your life? The heartbreaking truth is that most of us don’t. Make a quick mental list of things you really love to do. What lights you up? OK, now scan that list and ask yourself… When's the last time you did those things? Many people include activities and hobbies on their mental inventory that they haven’t actually made the time to do in years. The world is filled right now with writers who don’t write. Artists who never draw or paint. Dancers who never dance. Skiers who haven’t hit the mountains in forever.
When we forget our passions, the color and vitality slowly drains from our lives. It’s often a slow creep. We get busy and come to accept that it’s “just how things are”. But it doesn’t have to be.
A life coach can help you rediscover your passions, even if you don’t quite remember what they were. The clues are there, in the story of your own life. Resurrecting old dreams and pursuing the things you love takes intention. Making space to then pursue them involves reprioritizing, and committing to take new actions.
There are times when exploring your joy might feel silly, or even selfish. It’s not. A coach can reaffirm why it’s important, walk with you through the process, and help you stay focused on the larger goal of increasing your overall well-being and satisfaction. If you want to laugh more, you gotta play more.
What To Look For In A Life Coach
Do they have any training?
While this may seem like common sense, it’s something that is too often overlooked. Like we said at the beginning - there are a lot of people becoming life coaches right now. A quick internet search will yield page after page of coaches offering transformative results. When it comes to choosing, what you want to know is this: how do they achieve their results?
Coaching is an unregulated industry. What that means is that unlike the practice of therapy, anyone can say they are a coach. No training required. That’s why knowing where your coach is coming from is important. Who trained them? Are they certified? What is their philosophy and approach to coaching?
When you work with a coach, you work exceptionally closely with them. Make sure the person you choose has the skills and experience to help rather than hinder your progress.
Does their perspective align with yours?
The way your coach looks at life matters. Their tone, style, and approach can make or break the experience for you. A lot of coaches have great skills. But if the person you’re working with swears like a sailor and your own style is more formal… well, that might not be a match made in heaven. Lack of compatibility is one of the main reasons why some people come away unhappy with the coaching process.
When you don’t click, it’s hard to get the results you want. Like any relationship, there’s a lot of reasons why people end up working with someone that isn’t an ideal fit. So if you’re looking for a coach, shop around. Most will offer a complimentary initial call to discuss your goals and assess fit. It’s OK to do several of these, to compare styles and approaches so that you can ultimately choose the person who’s the best match for you.
If you’re not sure where to start, check out JRNI’s directory of certified coaches. We’re happy to set you up with a free discovery call.
What about you, are you committed?
Clients will sometimes step into coaching with the idea that they can achieve their objectives in one or two sessions. And in certain situations, this may be true. But if you’re hoping to get momentum on a goal that you’ve been stuck on for some time, or are hoping to root out self-sabotaging habits and beliefs… that level of change and achievement takes time.
If you are considering hiring a coach, perhaps the most important question to ask is: “Am I ready?” Do you have the time and energy to do self reflection, take weekly action, and make real changes in your life? Are you open to trying new things and being held accountable? Are you ready to commit to yourself and keep going, even if a part of you feels like quitting?
If you’re a solid YES on these questions, go in with an awareness that the relationship with your coach will be for the long-term. Expect that you may need to commit to regular sessions over a period of at least 3-6 months, and perhaps longer. If you’re serious about YOU, know that you’re in it for the long haul.
Ready to change your life?
JRNI Coaches provide the support and accountability you need to do GREAT things. Co-create an action plan, get unstuck and make real progress towards your goals. Come on over and browse our selection of vetted, professional coaches to find the perfect coach for you.