This post was updated in September 2020 to provide additional resources and tips for legitimizing your coaching practice.
Everyone is a life coach these days.
It's become so common that you might be wondering: is life coaching legitimate?
Here's the thing: the field of coaching is expanding exponentially. With such rapid growth, it's inevitable that a few shady characters will jump on the trend. Don't let that rattle your cage - the industry itself is the real deal.
Here's why so many people are looking to enter the profession:
1. The commercialization of wellness.
In the last five years, it's become cool to be a better version of yourself. Fitness is no longer about going to the gym alone with an US Weekly under your arm. We work out daily taking classes with communities. Yoga, functional fitness, strength training, boxing, spin, kettlebells, and so many more. What we put into our bodies is something we finally pay attention to. Vegan. Organic. Grass fed. We finally realize our thoughts drown us so we meditate. We are interested in living longer and being better people. We are taking ownership and becoming responsible beings.
2. The internet.
The internet has allowed anyone to hang a business shingle on their door. This means if you've been through some shit and want to help others who are going through some of the same shit, you can help without leaving your home. Enter online sessions. Packages. Programs. Life coaching.
3. People hating their 9 to 5's.
Well, we've always hated our 9 to 5's. People are just finally doing something about it now. Helping others is naturally fulfilling and meaningful. And now you can do it without the long expensive journey to becoming a therapist because there are many life coaching programs online.
So everyone's a life coach now. Or so it seems.
But this isn't why you are getting cringes from other people when you say you're a life coach.
When you announce that you are a life coach, people get the impression that what you are really saying is that you have conquered life. That you know everything. It's inherent in the title and a hard pill to swallow. It's lined with ego and push back will come faster than you can tweet your new passion, especially from your friends. Maybe not in words. But you will be able to see it etched into their faces.
So what do you do? You're passionate about helping others. It's something you've always wanted to do. All your friends have been coming to you for advice since forever. And you've done a shit ton of work on yourself, read all the books, and have taken life coaching courses.
Here's what you do to stop them from cringing.
Step 1. Get very specific about what part of life you are coaching.
If your best friend Bob tells you he is now a certified life coach, you may roll your eyes. But if Bob tells you he is now coaching people with divorce recovery, because as you know, he went through it himself and came out the other side a better human. You know Bob has a lot of experience with the topic and has already been helping others by sharing his story through writing and perhaps even in videos. Because you respect his perspective on the topic, you will most likely back his new passion. No cringe. Only support.
Still figuring out what niche might be right for you? Explore the 20 fastest growing coaching specializations to find your fit.
Step 2. Stop trying to sell yourself.
Yes, I understand that if you want to turn coaching into a legit profession, you have to sell sessions, services and products. If not, how do you plan to quit your day job and finally do something meaningful that lights you up? Yes, I get that. What I mean is don't be so obvious about it. That's not where you intention should be.
There's no greater turn off than a life coach desperately trying to sell life coaching sessions. People have to like you before they hire you, know you. You have to give some kind of value before selling anything.
So instead of selling, set your intention on sharing. Your story. Your revelations. What you've been through an what you're going through now. Not sure how to do this effectively? Learn more here.
As you share your perspective, people will relate. They will feel connected to you. Then slowly but surely, a small percentage of them will inquire about your services. So you give them a free 20 minute consultation. Yes, I said free. A percentage of those free sessions will then turn into paying clients. It grows from there.
Step 3. Practice what you preach.
If after step one and two they are still cringing and not accepting you as a specialized coach, then ignore them and continue to practice what you preach. Live everything you've learned and continue to learn. Your own transformation is what will earn you your new title, over time. And it does take time, these things don't happen instantaneously.
Many coaches take courses, do tons of inner work on themselves, get certified, then stop the work and solely focus on selling themselves. They slowly lose buy in. The way to prevent this is to continue your self betterment journey as you build your practice. When people notice changes in you and see your own transformation, when they can see how serious you are and sense your commitment to helping others, they will finally accept you as a life coach.
And if they don't, it doesn't matter. You know the truth and you are operating on a different level. You are finding your way and building something that will last, and impact the lives of others.