We’ve all heard the jokes about life coaches. And we’ll be the first to admit, some of them are actually pretty good:
The satirists absolutely get one thing right - anyone can say they’re a life coach. And there really is such a thing as ineffectual coaching. That's the form you'll see practiced by those who have little training or experience.
So why do people hire coaches? And what do they get out of it?
With the rise of professional training and certification, the life coaching industry has come a long way over the past decade. When the coaching process is grounded in research-based frameworks and tools, it can change lives.
But does that alone make it valuable enough to actually pay someone for coaching? After all, can’t our friends and family listen, hold space, and help us stay accountable to our goals... for free?
Let’s look at it another way. If you had a broken tooth, would you ask your neighbor to grab some pliers and yank it out? After all, that’s pretty much what the dentist will do for $500. Right?
Coaching techniques like active listening, asking powerful questions, and assisting someone in the process of finding their own answers can look like “nothing much” to the outside eye. But each is a skill, with a mountain of theory, research, and practice behind it.
Yes, our friends may love us. But how many of them are trained to set aside their own wants, needs, opinions, and advice in order to create the conditions for another person to achieve their own revelations? This is what's known as "holding space", and it's both an art and a science - not something most people are born knowing how to do.
OK, so what about therapists?
Isn’t therapy where we go if we want someone to listen, help problem solve, and hold nonjudgement space for us?
Therapy is a powerful modality for healing, but it’s not the right tool for all situations. It’s also not coaching!
Who’s using life coaches, and why?
Some common reasons include:
- Career advancement
- Health and fitness goal attainment
- Intentional life design
- Rebuilding after a breakup or divorce
- Launching a new business
- Establishing clarity around life vision and goals
- Accountability in achieving a goal
- Stimulating artistic or creative self expression
- Improving relationships (family, friends, significant other)
Consider Hiring A Life Coach If...
You struggle to follow through on goals
Many people are pretty good at hitting targets for work. But what about your personal goals? (Gut check: what’s your track record on following through with New Year’s resolutions?)
We all have things we'd like to achieve in life, but there’s a big distinction between dreaming and doing. This is where life coaching comes in. It creates an outside structure to support your momentum and progress. And unlike a friend or family member, your coach won’t be uncomfortable calling you out on excuses or self-sabotage. It’s what you’ve hired them to do!
You don’t know where to start
Even the brightest minds get bogged down by confusion and overwhelm. If you’ve ever been caught in the grip of analysis paralysis, you know what a quagmire it can be. Sometimes we need an outside perspective to help navigate the bog of uncertainty. This is where clarity coaching comes into play.
You get in your own way
The unfortunate reality is that much of our self talk is rooted in false beliefs that only serve to hold us back. What are false beliefs? Simple: unconscious stories that we have about ourselves that are untrue and limiting. Since 90% of our actions stem from our subconscious, our false beliefs play a huge role in nearly everything we do.
We all have them. The tricky thing is that we may not be aware of our own false beliefs, or how they affect our daily life. A good coach is trained to see where they may be sabotaging you, and can help you to expose and rewire them.
Anxiety and stress are getting the best of you
Most people experience anxiety from time to time. But for some, it can take an enormous toll on quality of life. In our fast paced, “always on” culture, there are a lot of things that either cause or trigger our anxieties. If you’re otherwise at baseline mental health and wellness, a coach may be able to help. A well trained coach can help you determine the roots of anxiety and stress, and support you in developing an effective and appropriate approach for managing it. From there, you’ll be in a better position to begin tackling your other goals.
You’re feeling less engaged in life
When we forget our passions, the color and vitality slowly drains from our lives. It’s often a subtle creep. Life gets busy, responsibilities accumulate, and we come to accept that it’s “just how things are”. But it doesn’t have to be.
Here’s the thing: resurrecting old dreams and pursuing what we love takes time and intention. Making space for joy involves reprioritizing, and committing to take new actions. A coach can reaffirm why cultivating your joy is important, walk with you through the process, and help you stay focused on the larger goal of increasing your overall well-being and satisfaction.
Before Hiring A Coach, Ask:
Are they certified?
Coaching is an unregulated industry. What this means is that unlike the practice of therapy, anyone can say they are a coach (see video above!) 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?
Do we click?
The way your coach looks at life matters. Their tone, style, and approach can make or break the experience for you. 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. Most coaches will offer a short complementary session for you both to assess fit. Take advantage of it!
Am I serious?
If you are considering hiring a coach, 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 coaching is a commitment. Expect to be working with your coach for a period of at least 3-6 months.
If you’re serious about achieving your goals, invest in yourself for the long haul.
Thinking about becoming a coach?
Check out JRNI Life Coach Training - a program that's every bit as unique as you are. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, business instruction to prepare you for liftoff as an entrepreneur, and fellow students dedicated to becoming a collective force for good.