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The Business of Life Coaching
Legal 101 for Life Coaches
What you need to know to protect your coaching business
Team JRNI
Dec 2, 2021
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The Business of Life Coaching
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The legal guidance in this article was developed in collaboration with attorney Valerie Del Grosso, creator of The Coach’s Legal Library. With more than 12 years in practice, Valerie specializes in working with life coaches to ensure your business operations are set up to run smoothly. To access the Library along with additional tools, resources and guidance, visit Del Grosso Law.

The Legal Nitty-Gritty Every Life Coach Needs to Know

With virtual life coaching and group programs on the rise, launching an online business is easier now than ever before. And if you’re operating as a solo coach practitioner, you can begin doing business today with little more than a phone and a laptop. But before investing in business cards and a website designer, there’s a few legal issues related to running a life coaching business that are helpful to be familiar with.

Yeah, we know - you became a life coach so you can help people! Is all this legal stuff really necessary? Yes, and here’s why:

  • Your heart, time and money all go into developing your unique brand. Do you know if your business or program name legally belongs to someone else already? What could happen if it does?
  • Program names, ideas, and content are frequently stolen online. Is your perfect business idea protected?
  • Imagery, photos, and art are subject to copyright laws. Do you know if the photos on your website are legally yours to use, and what could go down if they aren’t?
  • You’ve invested in extensive training as a life coach. When it comes to running your coaching business, we know you want to do it right.

Savvy coaches know their legal requirements!

In this article, we review the most common business startup questions that you are likely to have as a life coach. We'll also go over the specific legal requirements you need to be aware of. By the end, you’ll be able to put your nagging legal unknowns to rest so that you can send your work as a life coach out into the world with confidence.

Want a quick rundown of the topics included in this guide?

Here’s What We’ll Cover:

  • The one thing you absolutely must have when doing business online
  • Consumer privacy laws
  • Selecting (and protecting!) program and business names
  • Using other people’s content and images in your work
  • Client agreements and refund policies
  • Whether you need to set up a legal business entity

As we go, it's important to remember that individual circumstances vary. Depending upon where in the world you're practicing as a life coach, there may be specific legal requirements to be aware of in addition to what we’re covering here. When in doubt, consult a good advisor in your local area!

Privacy

Developing a robust contact list of prospective clients is a core strategy for building a sustainable coaching business. If you are doing it primarily through a social media platform like Instagram or Facebook, it's important to remember that you don’t own that asset. What this means is you don't actually have the contact information for your followers. In in the event that the platform you're relying upon shuts down or changes how it does business, you could lose your audience overnight.

To mitigate this risk, many life coaches develop their own contact lists in addition to having a social media presence. If that sounds like something you'd like to pursue, a simple way to populate your email list is by offering a freebie or bonus in exchange for the person's email address. For many coaches, this is a sound strategy for building your audience, demonstrating value, and attracting potential clients.

Now here comes the legal fine print...

If you are going to collect emails or other personal information, you need a privacy policy.

If there’s one thing you walk away from this article remembering, it should be this!

Your privacy policy needs to be accessible to the public in some fashion. A best practice is to include a link to that policy on the footer of your website, and on any sales pages that you may have. Again, this is essential if you are collecting contact information.

So what does a privacy policy entail?

If most of your coaching clients are in the United States, and you have fewer than 50,000 people on your list, privacy requirements are pretty straightforward. Here’s the 3 things you need to cover:

1) You need to let people know how you are collecting their information. This should include:

  • Your website contact form
  • The platform you use for managing contact information (ActiveCampaign, Constant Contact, MailChimp, etc.)
  • The system you use for collecting payments (Stripe, PayPal, etc.)
  • Any tracking tools you are using (Facebook Pixel, Google Analytics tag, etc.)

2) You must disclose what you are doing with the information you collect. This is often self-explanatory, and might sound like:

  • “I’ll be sending you a monthly e-newsletter.”
  •  “You’ll receive my e-newsletter and occasional offers.”
  • “I’ll be sharing information about the services you purchase from me.”
  • “I may use your information for advertising purposes.”
  • “I will never share or sell your personal information to others.”

3) Include how they can remove themselves from your list. A best practice is to make this available through an “unsubscribe” option in every communication that you send.

Privacy laws vary widely across the globe.

If you’re operating online, chances are a portion of your audience may be covered by the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (lovingly known as the GDPR), which governs how personal data is processed and transferred. You can learn more about those requirements here.

To see a sample privacy policy you can visit The Coaches Legal Library, a free resource offered by attorney Valerie Del Grosso.

Business and Product Names

Woman holding a lightbulb

Do you have a name in mind for your coaching business, or ideas about branding for the group program you’d like to offer? The first thing most people do at this stage is to check and see if the domain name is available. You might also search related social media handles on Facebook and Instagram for the name(s) you have in mind.

What if your search reveals that someone owns the domain name, but isn’t using it? Or you discover through a Google search an old blog or inactive website with a similar name?

If someone is sitting on a name, that isn't necessarily a deterrent to using it. Part of the legal criteria for determining if a name is up for grabs is whether it is actively being used for the sale of products and services.

Let's face it: great names are getting harder to find as more people enter the coaching industry. Attorney Valerie Del Grosso suggests that if you land on a name that you like and it doesn’t appear to be in active use, start using it ASAP. This helps to “stake your claim” around that name.

OK, so you've narrowed in on a name you'd like to use. Terrific!

Here’s what you’ll need to do next.

Search the name with the US Patent and Trademark Office. From the Quick Links menu under Trademarks, use the TESS database to run a cursory word search of the names you have in mind.

If someone else has trademarked the same or similar name, be aware that there could be legal ramifications to using it yourself. Should you do so, the person who “owns” that name – whether they are actively using it or not—has the right to send you a cease and desist letter.

If this happens, it can shut down your brand instantly.

The law around trademarks states that there is no “good faith” defense. What this means is that there’s a legal expectation that you’ll do your homework before doing business! "Not knowing" that someone already holds the trademark to the name you’re using isn’t a valid legal excuse, and you may be subject to penalties as a result.

Do YOU need to trademark your business or product name? Not right away, in most cases. Once you have gained some traction in your coaching business, that's the time to start thinking about Trademark Registration for your brand. This process can easily cost a thousand dollars or more, which is why it makes sense to play with names to see what works best before deciding to register it.

Content & Images

Old fashioned typerwriter displaying word "copyight"

Many people come into the coaching industry with a mistaken idea of what it means to properly “credit” other people’s work. And that’s not surprising, really. When it comes to citing sources, most of us learned how to do this in an academic setting. In educational settings, you are often able to use images, quotes, and other people’s ideas simply by “citing your source.”

Not so when it comes to business!

Citing a source essentially lets people know that you aren’t plagiarizing. However, in a commercial context, we don’t have the right to freely incorporate other people’s ideas and images into our work. Out here in the business world, that's considered theft.

Need a couple common examples?

  • Doing a Google search for an image, then using it on your website is most likely a violation of licensing law.
  • Taking the notes from a training you attended and turning those ideas into a blog or Instagram post may be a violation of the original content creator’s intellectual property.
  • Lifting language that you like from another website and incorporating that verbage into your own materials is plagiarism.

When in doubt, assume you do NOT have permission unless you can clearly document it. Even a search of “royalty free images” on Google will not give you reliable results.

Here’s how to stay on the right side of intellectual property laws:

  1. Use your original photos, words, and ideas.
  2. If you are going to use photos from other sources, make sure you have the rights to use them in the specific context you’re using them in. Digital image libraries such as Unsplash, Adobe, and others will make it clear what your license covers.

Admittedly, this can be tricky at times.

Let’s take one example that seems cut and dried… but isn’t! Imagine that you want to use a photo from your wedding album on your coaching website. You hired the photographer and paid for those images, so they belong to you, right?

Not exactly.

Often, the licensing is tied to a specific use. Commercial photography has different (and usually higher) pricing for this very reason. If you purchased those photos for personal use, then incorporate them into your business materials, the photographer may have legal standing to pursue action.

While this may seem intimidating, it’s not difficult to stay in compliance with brand, image, and copyright laws. You simply need to incorporate checking these details into your content creatioin workflow.

For very low cost, you can purchase beautiful professional imagery quickly and easily online – images that you’re legally entitled to use! And if writing copy is a chore you'd rather avoid, there are ways to purchase content at reasonable prices. There are copy businesses out there that cater to life coaches, offering everything from pre-baked social media posts to client workbooks. As part of your purchase you're given the rights to use the copy, word for word.

Contracts & Agreements

Men shaking hands

When it comes to coaching agreements, there’s two main schools of thought in the coaching world. Let’s take a look at both.

Opinion A: I don’t need a contract!

Here’s how this line of thinking often goes...

“I’m never going to sue anyone, so I don’t need this. Presenting my client with a contract is awkward and overly formal. It’s not how I operate, or the tone I want to set at the start of a new relationship. I’m just not going there.”

If this sounds like you, here’s what you need to know:

  • When a client is paying a sum of money for a coaching package or program, it’s natural (and often expected) to receive documentation that formalizes their investment.
  • A contract tells your client that you have thoughtfully considered the relationship in advance, and that you take your business – and your clients - seriously.
  • A contract is an opportunity to demonstrate your professionalism and expertise. It also helps the client know what to expect in working with you.

Opinion B: Contracts are a normal part of doing business as a life coach.

There are ways to communicate the technical details of a coaching relationship in a tone and style that feels authentic to you. You really don’t need to use a bunch of legal jargon. In fact, it's best not to! A good contract is one where you and your client clearly understand the scope of work, and your respective rights within the relationship.

The one thing you must include in your contract is a clear statement of the exchange of value. For example:

  • # of sessions for $X dollars
  • Access to a 6 month group program for $Y dollars

While this is all you technically need, you’ll likely want to say more.

According to attorney Valerie del Grosso, most coaching contract disputes are not about the amount paid for the service. Instead, disputes are usually over the finer points, such as:

  • The client repeatedly cancels 5 minutes before their scheduled sessions. You held the time for them on your calendar in good faith, but they don’t think it’s fair to be charged for a no-show.
  • The client disappears for 2 years, then reemerges. They now want the rest of their unused sessions, but you are no longer offering that service.
  • A client goes through your entire coaching program, then tells you at the end that they are not satisfied and want a full refund.
  • A client gets inspired by what they learn in your coaching program. So much so that they decide to go into the same line of business as you… using the materials and knowledge they received from YOU! Your former client is now building a business based on your intellectual property, and is operating in direct competition with you.

Refunds

Person sliding money across a table

Often, life coaches are not sufficiently clear about their stance on refunds. A well-intended, but ineffective refund policy sounds like:

“I offer refunds in the case of emergencies only.”

The problem with this approach is that if there is a dispute, your criteria for issuing a refund is subjective and unclear. In Del Grosso's experience, the clients who are most likely to want a full refunds are often willing to jump through a number of hoops to get it! What happens when you determine the client's reason for cancellation was not an "emergency", but the client sees it differently?

Most payment disputes will land with your payment processor.

A client may choose at any time to dispute the credit card transaction that paid for their coaching with you. If your policies are not clear, the client might offer proof to the bank that they "met" your refund criteria. It’s then up to you to prove that’s not the case.

Here’s the thing: credit card companies and banks are not courts or judges. But they are often who decides. Outlining your refund policy clearly in the contract helps you provide the necessary documentation to banks and other decision makers.

If your contract states “no refunds”, know that you DO have the flexibility to offer them in cases where it feels appropriate to do so.

As a business owner, it’s also important to be aware that consumers typically have more legal protections than your business does. These rights are often specific to where the client lives. If you’re selling services online, it’s generally OK to have a “No Refunds” policy. However, be aware that in some states or regions, there is a specific period of time (such as 3, 5, or 7 days) in which a consumer can request and receive a full refund, “no questions asked.”

If you have a remote coaching practice with clients that span the globe, it’s not feasible to have a different contract for every location. You’ll just need to do a reasonable risk assessment, and be prepared to honor regional requirements should they arise.

Incorporating Your Business

Woman sitting with laptop, looking away

For many life coaches, operating as a sole proprietor is a sound approach. You may never decide to incorporate your coaching business, and that’s OK. This decision looks different for everyone, and has a lot to do with your financial circumstances, local laws, and personal tax status.

The main thing to understand is this: if your business is not incorporated as a separate legal entity, you are personally liable for all financial obligations associated with your business. You’ll also need to report business income as part of your personal tax return.

Your fiscal responsibilities as an individual includes any legal judgements made against your business. While such occurances are rare, this is important to know if you are sued as a result of any of the scenarios discussed in this article.

In contrast, once your business is incorporated, none of your personal assets (such as your house and retirement accounts) are tied to the fate of your business.

To explore what approach may be right for your situation, check out “Is It Time to Set Up an LLC?” in The Coaches Legal Library.

Regardless of which direction you go, make sure you understand your location’s laws regarding small business operations. Even if you don’t legally incorporate, it may be necessary for you to obtain a business license.

Liability Insurance

Insurance is available to life coaches from a number of companies at reasonable annual rates. A few providers to check out include Alternative Balance, CPH, or Hiscox. You’ll want to explore what’s offered, and decide if this is something you might need for your business.

Be aware that insurance itself is not a substitute for incorporating your business. Liability insurance is simply a payment source in the event that you are sued and there is a monetary judgement against your business.

Put another way, insurance is a good backstop, but it’s not a replacement for having sound business practices in place.

Ready to Be A Life Coach?

Launch your coaching practice right! 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.

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

The Business of Life Coaching
Create a Podcast in 5 Easy Steps
Guest blog by Jill Vanden Heuvel
Team JRNI
Nov 29, 2021
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The Business of Life Coaching
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Guest blog by Jill Vanden Heuvel

Coach Jill Vanden Heuvel

Jill is a Business and Life Coach who is passionate about helping new coaches gain confidence and start their practice in a way that feels authentic to them. She believes in the power of creating a business that lines up with personal values, and also stretching beyond the rules and limits that are learned over time.

As an enthusiast of the coaching industry, Jill loves supporting other coaches on their journey and encouraging them to fulfill their desire to make a difference for others. She works with coaches 1:1, and also runs the podcast called “There’s a Coach for That” to share the variety of amazing coaches in the world. Jill Vanden Heuvel is a 2019 graduate of the JRNI Coaching Intensive. You can follow her work on Instagram/Facebook @jill.vhcoaching or by visiting www.jillvh.com.   

How To Start A Podcast In Your Life Coaching Niche

Hosting your own podcast is a cost effective marketing strategy, and also a fantastic way for your audience to get to know your style and personality. As a coach your authenticity and brand message are deeply personal, which makes podcasting a great way to share your passion and deliver value to your listeners.

If you’ve been interested in creating your own podcast but don’t quite know where to start, the 5 steps I’ll be covering below will tell you everything you need to know! However, before we begin, there is one important question that needs to be asked:

WHY do you want to create it?

While increasing your audience and ultimately gaining clients is a goal to keep in mind, if that’s the only reason you have, you may want to reconsider. Running a podcast takes time and effort, so including your own personal enjoyment in the process is a must!

  • Does it sound like a fun project to maintain over time? 
  • Are you a great conversationalist? 
  • Do you have a lot to share with your audience and really enjoy speaking about it? 

If the answer is yes to these questions, then let me be the first to welcome you to the world of podcasting! This is an exciting decision, so take that energy and bring it with you during the following steps to get started.

1. Develop Your Show’s Personality

I know this is a podcast, and not a living being, but it WILL have character. It’s up to you to create its personality, and also to ensure that it doesn’t give off unintended vibes! It all starts by asking yourself:

What is the main theme and general purpose of this show? 

Listeners need to know what to expect when they tune in, and will be more loyal if you can maintain a consistent thread. Content will also be easier to come up with if you have your own guidelines to follow. 

Once you have an idea of your theme, create a name that is short, easy to remember, and makes sense for your show. You’ll also want to design the cover art. Canva is a great program to use for this - it’s very user friendly, and they already have tons of templates for you to build from.

At this point it would also be helpful for you to determine how frequent you’ll be publishing your episodes. Consider, too, the ideal length of time per episode that you’d like to stay within.

2. Planning the First Episode

Once your overall show theme has been established, it’s time to think about individual episodes. You can record the intro and outro messages that will be published with all your recordings. Since these will repeat for each episode, try to keep them around the 30 second time frame. 

You can also add background music to your intro and outro to create brand recognition as listeners hear it each week. You can find great options for instrumental music through PremiumBeat.com. There are many other options to find music, and some are even available for free. As you consider all the options, remember to keep the sound consistent with the show personality you developed in the last step! For instance, classical piano may not be the right fit for a show about current pop culture.

If you plan on having guests, schedule at least 5-6 interviews to start off. If you aren’t already familiar with your guests, it can be helpful for both you and the guest to have a short pre-interview call to get to know each other better and answer any questions they may have. At this point, I recommend creating a spreadsheet to keep track of your guests, deadline dates, and any other information you need to reference along the way.

In terms of equipment needed, there are a lot of options out there for headphones, microphones, etc. To keep it simple, the minimum requirement for quality audio would be to purchase a microphone. In the beginning you don’t need the top of the line brand, and you can always upgrade as you go along as desired.

3. Time for the Big Show!

Now that you have everything ready, you can start recording your first episodes! Programs like Skype or Zoom are great for this. I personally use Zoom and I’m able to download audio only recordings after the interviews take place.

Whether you’ll be recording a solo episode and talking with a guest, it can be helpful to have an outline to follow to make sure you get your points across effectively. As a courtesy to your guests, you may also want to send them a list of questions or the topics to be discussed ahead of time.

A few other tips when it comes to working with guests...

Ask them to write up how they’d like to be introduced on the show as well as what  contact information they would like shared. You may also want to request a headshot photo if you plan to use it for advertising the episode.

Something to remember when interviewing is that you’ve invited this person to speak on their topic and share their expertise on your show. I personally give my guests a lot of space to talk, and don’t run off with my own agenda during the interviews. I’ve received more positive feedback about this than any other feature of my show, so I highly recommend that you do your best to allow your guest to speak for most of the interview. As a coach, think of it almost like a coaching session. You should be listening more than talking!

4. Tidy Up the Recording

Editing your podcast can be as simple or as detailed as you want to make it. Some people hardly do any editing, while others do so extensively. I recommend holding a balance between the two, always keeping in mind the listener experience.

You want the people who tune in to experience each episode with a high degree of authenticity, but still keep it easy on the ears so they’ll listen to the full episode. This means allowing for some nuances in the conversations (like slip-ups in speaking, some throat clearings, laughter, etc.), but editing out distractions (very long pauses, or most of the “ums” if there are a lot of them)

When it comes to editing, you’ll have to use your own judgment with this piece. When in doubt,  put yourself in the shoes of your listeners.

There are different software options for editing. I use GarageBand and find it very simple to use. If you’d like to find other options, a simple Google search can help you out with that as well. Generally, whatever program you use should have tutorials or help sections to get you started.

Don’t forget to add the intro and outro to the beginning and end of each episode before publishing, and add any other features you would like to make the show your own. For instance, I also add a little blurb from the episode to the very beginning (before the pre-recorded intro) to hook the audience a bit. Find what you like by listening to your favorite shows and getting inspiration from them.

5. Publish and Advertise

Publishing is one of the more simple parts of the process. You have choices for programs to use, and can search around if you’re looking for specific features. Anchor.fm is free to use and will send it to the major podcast platforms on your behalf.

After uploading your audio to the platform of your choice, enter in the show details which will include a description of the show and also any relevant links for people to reference.

Once the episode has been published, you can advertise on your website and also social media platforms. Be sure to tag your guests so they can also share on their platforms as well. (That’s another benefit from including guests on your show - it extends the reach of your Podcast!) If you add episodes to your own website, you can also use a transcript service to increase your SEO, but this isn’t a requirement. You can always add that part later.

That’s a Wrap!

This may seem like a lot to absorb at first, but as you go through the process you’ll find it’s actually not too complicated. Plus, most of the steps above are part of the initial creation. Once you’ve completed the setup, you’ll only need to repeat some of the steps for each episode.

Now remember how you confirmed in the beginning of this article that podcasting seems like an enjoyable project? Don’t forget about that, and have fun with it! You can make adjustments as you go along, so feel free to experiment a bit if things aren’t feeling quite right. Changing is better than quitting!

Are you ready? It’s time to start planning and putting your voice out there for the world to hear! And one last time for good measure... Have Fun!

Looking for more tools to help you achieve liftoff as a coach? Check out: Tools of the Trade: Resources To Jump Start Your Coaching Practice.

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Jill ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

Inspiration
The Symbiotic Dynamic of the Client-Coach Relationship
Guest blog by Coach Dawn Williams
Team JRNI
Nov 17, 2021
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Inspiration
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Dawn Williams

Guest blog by Dawn Williams

Dawn grew up with a deep curiosity about human nature. Her family of origin offered extensive case studies, which led her to discovering the world of psychology and self-improvement. It became her lifelong passion to understand what makes us who we are, for better or worse, and how we can alter our course to create a more satisfying, meaningful life.

With true compassion, irreverent humor, and decades of both formal and informal study and training, Dawn has been coaching since 2017, and now serves in the areas of emotional mastery, depression prevention, trauma coaching, and building happiness. Her Beat the Winter Blues group launches December 1st.

Dawn Williams is a 2019 graduate of the JRNI Coaching Intensive. You can follow her work on Instagram @dawnwilliamscoaching or by visiting https://selfpoweredchange.com/.   

The Symbiotic Dynamic of the Client-Coach Relationship

“I just want to feel like I matter again,” my new client said in our first coaching session. “I just want to feel like something I’m doing is making a difference.”

I could already see the passion and drive she felt she’d lost somewhere along the way. Like any good coach, though, I needed to see life through her eyes. I needed to understand the meaning behind the language she used, and the context in which she experienced her stated needs.

The need for meaning in one’s life and avocations is essential. Dr. Martin Seligman, considered by many to be the godfather of Positive Psychology, included meaning as one of the five elements that flourishing individuals have in common. 

Meaning is specific to the individual, aligns with their values, and creates a sense of purpose and self-worth when a person uses their strengths to achieve something that benefits others.

My client had a difficult time naming meaningful activities or efforts, beyond raising her children, working with her husband in their business, and fulfilling community expectations for a woman of her position. Yet she took little pride or satisfaction from these interactions. We had some exploring to do.

The coaching partnership exists for the benefit of the client. It is about her goals, her obstacles, and her answers. But something deep transpires when coach and client connect. 

The dynamics aren’t difficult to understand. To coach effectively, one must come to the partnership with a figurative blank canvas. Not as a blank slate, but as a human with experiences and insights that guide your intuition and approach to coaching. We bring in curiosity, compassion, and an openness to connection.

As coaches, we’re adding to that canvas with every session, with every out-of-session reflection, with every new understanding our client gains. We fill in some of the white space with context as the client’s story unfolds. We go back and add in detail and nuance as the meaning of that story becomes clearer. That portrait stays with us whenever we record session notes, or think about something that was said but glossed over, or when we become curious about certain expressions or mannerisms that suggest another layer of belief underlying the ones already on the canvas.

That exchange, both verbally and energetic, triggers pieces of our own experience. Sometimes those pieces are relevant to the client and can help move the work along.

And sometimes those pieces are meant for us, not to be shared in session, but to be considered and applied to our own way of being.

We’re adding to the client’s canvas with every session, with every new understanding our client gains. And in ways we might not even be aware of, the insights our clients reach often change our own canvas.

My client’s story slowly created a picture of a courageous young woman, one who spoke her mind and worked to change the anti-feminist mores and practices in her community. She would not remain silent and accept a value system that she felt was morally wrong. Her strong sense of justice was evident as she spoke of her early years. 

She stayed that course as long as she could. Until discouragement smothered the spark of righteousness and the hope for change. She married, had children, and began living the very lifestyle she’d fought for years. And while she embraced her responsibilities as best she could, the color gradually faded from her life. 

Bouts of depression and self-destructive behavior began to occur. She’d gotten help and overcome those issues. But the spark never came back.

I admit she was on my mind quite a bit between sessions. We all change as we claim our place in the adult world. Our sense of what is important or appropriate takes on a different flavor. We shed some interests in favor of ones that align with the more mature individual we’ve become.

But most of us don’t lose that vital spark. That’s what my client meant when she said she wanted to feel like she’s making a difference.

I looked back on my own timeline, searching for any experiences that would help me understand my client’s world better. 

I recalled an incident when I realized my efforts to change my dysfunctional family were futile. They focused on anger, blame, and drama. I focused on what made some people lash out, judge, and lose control of their emotions. I carried the same blood in my veins, but I felt like an outsider in my own home. I remember that last attempt to reason with my father when he was in a rage. As always, he shut me down. Stole my voice. My power. My spark. I became a bit of a trouble-maker after that, instead of the rebel with a cause I’d hoped to be.

Why did my client give up her crusade? It hadn’t seemed important before, and she didn’t speak of it often. I asked about this at our next session.

She actually laughed and rolled her eyes at my question. “Oh, I was such a rebel back then”, she said. “I figured it was time to grow up and put all that behind me.”

I help space, letting her hear the words she’d just spoken. After a beat, she began to fidget and seemed uncomfortable. She wasn’t laughing anymore.

“And how does your inner rebel feel about that decision today?” I asked.

My client had written a story in which she played the bad guy for speaking her mind and fighting for a cause. The more we talked about that integral part of her value system, the part of her that valued social justice and contributing to the greater good, her spark returned. She realized killing off the rebel wasn’t what she’d intended to do. It only seemed like the way to gain the acceptance of her community. 

As our work together came to an end, she was already talking about other causes she held great passion for. Several years later, I learned she had written a book about environmental issues and the ways we can slow climate change by making small changes in our way of life.

Her journey to regain her passion for life changed my canvas, too. That long-ago day when my father stole my voice and my power began to heal. I realized, in truth, no one can take away our power to be who we were meant to be.

I’m reminded of a quote from Viktor Frankl’s book, Man’s Search for Meaning

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms — to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's own way.”

This, ultimately, is what we as coaches help our clients understand. And as we shine a light on their circumstances that created obstacles in the first place, that light helps us change our own canvas to reflect our ongoing growth.   

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Dawn ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

Podcast
Holding Difficult Things As A Coach, Without Getting Overwhelmed
Strategies for practicing healthy detachment and maintaining balance
Team JRNI
Nov 19, 2021
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Podcast
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The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we explore strategies for practicing healthy detachment. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

How to Hold Difficult Things As A Coach (Without the Overwhelm)

Whenever we’re working closely with other human beings, it's inevitable that we’ll pick up on difficult feelings that necessarily don’t belong to us. As coaches, some of the difficult things we find ourselves holding for our clients include:

  • Moving through a relationship ending or divorce
  • Regret and shame
  • Pressure, anxiety and stress
  • Isolation and loneliness
  • Challenging new ideas and perspectives that the client hasn’t grappled with before

It is a gift to feel and care deeply for the people we serve. And for helping professionals, all this might also feel like a lot to carry at times. For those who identify as highly sensitive or empathic, navigating these waters can be particularly overwhelming if we're not maintaining strong energetic boundaries.

As coaches and stewards of the hopes and dreams of our clients, it’s important to understand how hanging onto difficult things impacts us and our clients:

  • Occupational stress leads to an estimated 120,000 deaths each year in the U.S. alone. 
  • Those who struggle to find a balance between home and work are four times more likely to show signs of burnout. 
  • With more people than ever working remotely, it has become very difficult to “switch off” and leave the stresses of work behind when we have literally moved it into our house.

It is possible to maintain your energetic boundaries, showing up for your clients fully without having these difficult things stay with you after the session is complete. Doing so successfully requires three things:

  1. Managing the way you experience your emotions
  2. Giving yourself enough time to process
  3. Sorting out what isn’t yours to carry

Another way of thinking about this is that as coaches, our role is to hold space for our client’s experience, rather than holding the person

So how do we do that? 

Psychological Detachment

If you regularly find yourself lying awake at night thinking about a client’s situation, grappling with anxiety and pressured to keep “cranking out content”, or just never feel that you can completely turn your work-brain off and take a real break… cultivating your capacity to detach will help. 

But isn’t our job as coaches to connect and relate? 

You bet it is! 

When we hear the word “detached”, it’s often equated with cold or unfeeling. But as you might imagine, that’s not at all what we mean! Psychological detachment refers to an “individual's sense of being away from the work situation” (Sonnentag et al., 2010).

In other words, you can remain caring, compassionate, and engaged without taking on someone else’s stuff. 

The ability to mentally detach assists us in recovery from work-related stress, reducing burnout and emotional exhaustion. Using detachment as a tool is shown to improve overall well-being, job satisfaction and goal achievement. Strong utilization of psychological detachment also enhances relationships outside of work and reduces conflict between the demands of work and family. 

At the organizational level, a healthy work-life balance reduces employee turnover, improves performance, and lowers the incidences of lateness and absenteeism. In our view, this is something that managers and leaders need to be paying more attention to. Leaders take note! You must not only hold healthy detachment as a standard for yourself, but also give permission and encouragement to your team members to take steps to truly create separation between their work and home life too.

As coaches, it’s important to be aware that the majority of our clients struggle with maintaining healthy detachment. 

But it’s not just them! We need to recognize that we ourselves are not immune. In fact, we may be even more susceptible to the risks of imbalance and burnout. Why? Because as coaches we are tasked with holding space for the difficult things that our client’s bring to us in addition to navigating our own challenges in life.

How to Detach

As we move into the “how to” of psychological detachment, it is essential to identify the behaviors, beliefs, and conditions that create metaphorical “holes” in our work-life barrier. The first step is to simply listen to what your body is telling you. Pay attention to the level of suffering or discomfort that you’re actually experiencing.

The behaviors that create overlap between work life and home life must be brought to the forefront of our consciousness for consideration before we can effectively work with them.

Ask yourself: What behaviors cause you to get stuck in "work mode"?

Need an example? Actions like not taking sufficient breaks, or believing you must be available around the clock for work-related issues, will puncture holes in your barrier. In this case, you might want to consider questions like:

  • What is your relationship like with taking breaks?  
  • What’s your work culture and norms around 24/7 availability?

Reflection Exercise

A simple exercise you can use to explore this for yourself or your client is grab a pen and paper and reflect. Consider what punctures holes in the barrier between your work and personal life in the following areas:

  • Behaviors (the things you do)
  • Beliefs (what you think is true)
  • Conditions (your circumstances) 

Make a list to help draw these things into your awareness.

Next, turn to reflection around your home life. What behaviors, beliefs, and conditions at home create holes in your barrier between work and personal time? 

Turning Insight into Action

As coaches, we know that awareness without an action plan to course correct is an  incomplete process! It takes thought and planning to strengthen the barrier between your work, the difficult things that belong to your clients, and your private life.

Want to find ways to fill the holes so that a healthy balance can be restored? Once you have identified the behaviors, beliefs, and circumstances that puncture holes in your work-life barrier, identify potential solutions to fill them.

  • For example, a hole created by checking work-related emails at all hours can be filled by designating clear time boundaries for “work” and “home,” and turning off notifications or turning off your phone after work hours. 
  • Alternately, feeling stressed at home because of your workload will likely pierce a hole in your work-life barrier. To fill this hole, you might practice saying ‘no’ to additional communication with clients when you feel it is right to do so. 

For each solution, small steps must be created and included in your regular schedule.

For practitioners, this is a great exercise to run with your clients or work team to make sure that everyone is putting barriers in place to protect mental health. Talk about what those might be. If you are in a position of leadership, make sure that the people who report to you have clear guidance and transparency around creating work/life barriers to decrease burnout and increase satisfaction. 

As a coach, you will need to communicate these barriers to your clients and really hold yourself accountable for scheduling breaks and flipping the “off switch” in your brain. We are facing a new reality in the way that we work with and serve clients. The old model of “on-demand” productivity can become very damaging if we let it fester in our lives. By championing a different approach in our own lives, we model what's possible and offer more impactful coaching to our clients.

A few things to keep in mind along the way:

1. Work-life balance does not mean an equal balance of time spent on each area!

2. Work-life balance is not defined by hours, but by outcomes. Moreover, psychological detachment is about mentally switching off from work-related issues during your personal time; it is not about caring less about your work.

3. Ensure that you and your clients understand that there are no perfect, one-size-fits-all solutions! Work-life balance choices are different for each of us because we all have different priorities and lives.

4. The mind can be easily distracted, which is completely normal. When putting solutions into action, the mind is likely to wander back to work-related issues. The key is to acknowledge that one’s attention has shifted and then refocus on the task at hand.

5. Ritual is helpful here - we are pavlovian creatures and can set up behavioral cues in order to help shift from one mental embodiment to the next. Remember we are dealing with three sets of data: behaviors, beliefs, and real world circumstances. Some rituals that can support detachment include:

  • Designating a space for work and stepping out of it when you need to shift
  • Putting on a “shifting to home life” playlist
  • Popping a piece of gum or a mint when it is time to focus and dive into work

For more on this topic, you might like to explore Creating Boundaries Within the Coaching Relationship and The Real Impact of Burnout and Stress.

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

The Business of Life Coaching
Second Act: Making A Mid-Career Transition into Life Coaching
Is it possible to launch a successful coaching business in midlife?
Team JRNI
Nov 11, 2021
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The Business of Life Coaching
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How to Become A Coach, At Any Age

The world of work has changed dramatically over the past few years. As the media continues to report on “The Great Resignation” that’s sweeping the globe, you may be feeling inspired to join this growing movement of successful career changers.

Maybe you're longing for professional reinvention, or just want a greater sense of balance in your life and work. In any case, what you know for sure is that it’s time to step away from business as usual.

You're just not sure how

Unlike earlier in your career, there’s potentially more at risk now. 

  • You may have achieved a level of expertise or income that feels difficult to walk away from. 
  • You likely have more responsibilities to consider: a mortgage to pay, kids in college, planning for retirement, or other weighty obligations.
  • Perhaps you’re flying solo, without a partner to financially assist with your dreams.
  • Maybe you’ve always worked for an employer, and the idea of starting your own business is daunting.

At midlife, it can feel like the very idea of trying something new is foolish, or a fantasy. If so, you’re not the only one who has felt this way. 

But here’s the truth: every day, people are making this leap successfully.

According to the Harvard Business Review, mid-career professionals are leaving their jobs at a rapidly increasing rate. The reasons are simple: changing work/life priorities, the ease of working remotely, and a longing for more meaningful and satisfying work. 

Coach Rena Martine
“I transitioned from a 14-year career as a Deputy District Attorney to working full-time as a women's intimacy coach. It has been the most difficult (but rewarding!) life change I've ever made. Being an entrepreneur isn't for the faint of heart. But if you're committed, brave enough to ask for help, and willing to push outside of your comfort zone, true career fulfillment exists on the other side.” - Rena Martine, 2021 JRNI graduate www.renamartine.com 

At JRNI Coaching, we work with aspiring coaches who’ve been exactly where you are. Longing for change, but caught in a web of self doubt or uncertainty. In this article, we’ll address the most common questions and concerns that arise during a mid-career transition, and how to navigate them.

  • Is a career change at my age realistic?
  • Am I actually qualified to coach?
  • What does it take to become a life coach?
  • Is now the right time?
  • What about the risks?

Is A Midlife Career Change Realistic?

“Midlife and beyond is when the authentic self emerges through layers of family and cultural conditioning to find answers to questions of ultimate concern: who am I, why am I here, and what should I do with the rest of my life?” - Nancy Anderson, author of Work With Passion In Midlife and Beyond

At midlife, you’ve built yourself a track record. You’ve tasted both failure and success, and know that one feels better than the other. You’ve also come to know yourself more clearly. With a portion of life already in the rearview mirror, you may be feeling less inclined to waste your time. You want to focus on your truth, and pursue the things that make you feel most alive.

These facts can lead to competing (and confusing!) impulses within the mind. 

As human beings, we're wired to fear the unknown.

An ancient section of your brain, known as the limbic system, is charged with keeping you safe. That’s the part of us that calculates risk and seeks to avoid pain. This is your fight or flight mechanism, and it’s likely working on overdrive. It tells you to play it safe, and dreads the idea of “failure”.

Many of us are ruled by this voice. It breaks down our dreams, and narrows our options. But it’s not the only truth.

Another part of your mind, the prefrontal cortex, holds a more expansive perspective. It has the capacity to feed our big ideas and bold ambitions - if we let it. Just as one part of the brain avoids risk, another has the capacity to make connections, and generate creative solutions.

If you’re thinking you may be too old to make a change, or that it’s “too late” to step into a new career, odds are that's your limbic system talking. It’s doing its job - and it’s most likely lying to you.

The reality is that people successfully transition into a second act all the time. In fact, there are many advantages to entering coaching at midlife, or as a supplemental activity in retirement. 

Here’s just a few of the ingredients you can bring to the table as a coach:

  • Expertise 
  • Lived experience
  • Perspective
  • Wisdom
  • Intuition
  • Empathy
  • Emotional Intelligence

It’s critical to not underestimate the value of these “soft skills” - they are essential to achieving coaching mastery. Odds are the perspective and insights that you’ve cultivated thus far in life will give you a leg up as a coach.

JRNI Coaching co-founder John Kim
“I'm a licensed therapist turned life coach and have worn both hats for nearly a decade. I broke out of the cage I guess you can say. I hopped the fence.
I got my clinical hours. I took the exam. I had a full therapy practice. But then I started burning out. And I realized this wasn't how I wanted to help people. I felt like I was limiting myself and my creativity. I don't want to be stuck in an office or behind a computer on Zoom with clients all day. I want to live. I want to experiment. I want to play. And that's how I want to help people.
My heart and intention has never changed. But my definition of how to help people has. With how fast the world is changing, it will be limitless how you choose to impact and help others. You can either embrace it and evolve as a truly powerful catalyst with endless potential or reject it and feel left behind.” - JRNI co-founder John Kim, The Angry Therapist

Am I Qualified to Coach?

This is a common concern for career changes at every stage of the game. So common, in fact, that there’s a name for it: Imposter Syndrome.

Ever found yourself thinking: 

  • “Who am I to think I can coach other people?”
  • “I’m not qualified enough, I have no business being a life coach.”
  • “I’m not sure I’ll be able to deliver the results clients are looking for.”
  • “I’ll never be nearly as good as (insert another coach’s name here).”

If so, you’re in good company. Across all industries, 70% of people experience imposter syndrome at some point in their lives (International Journal of Behavioral Science).

How and why these doubts creep into our thoughts can be difficult to pinpoint. It’s a little different for everyone, but the likely culprits are often related to: family expectations, anxiety, depression, or our relationship with educational institutions. It may even trace back to skewed ideas of what people in given roles are "supposed to look like" based on cultural expectations, the media, or social comparison.

What happens when we experience imposter syndrome? 

  • Feelings of inadequacy and insecurity
  • Wondering if you are a fraud
  • Self-sabotaging behaviour that can manifest fears into reality
  • Stunts creativity and originality - as you look to others for feedback or modeling, you lose trust in your own ideas
  • Slows productivity with second guessing and fear

The effects of imposter syndrome can be devastating. Left unchecked, it can even result in a failure to launch. Prospective coaches never start, or worse, they leave a field where they are genuinely talented and could have made a real impact.

We see this inside the coaching industry all too often, especially amongst aspiring coaches. It’s important to recognize the difference between situations where you may legitimately need to build up some new skills, and times when your mind is simply echoing limiting beliefs and voices of diminishment.

For more information on how to navigate imposter syndrome, listen in as JRNI Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux discuss it in their podcast: How to Handle Imposter Syndrome As A Life Coach.

There are several antidotes to imposter syndrome. The first is professional training. Let's talk about what that looks like next.

What Does It Take To Be A Coach?

Coach Dawn Davis
“Everything I’ve done up to this moment has prepared me to be a Confidence Coach for Women, but first I had to leave my 16-year career as a public school teacher. The thing is, I am too big for the box! Terrified and exhilarated, I took a leave of absence. I am embracing the risk and stepping through the fear.” - Dawn Davis, Women’s Confidence Specialist

The fact is that you don’t need any special training or licensure to become a life coach. But if that’s the case, why does anyone invest in a life coach certification program? 

It comes down to impact and confidence. 

The best life coaches out there deliver consistent, meaningful results for their clients. To do so requires a strong grasp of how people learn, create, grow and change.

While we've all experienced growth and evolution in our own lives, translating that into a workable process for other people is both an art and a science. Change theory is not something most of us just "know", but it can certainly be taught!

In JRNI’s coach training program, we draw upon the field of positive psychology to help our life coaching students better understand the workings of the human mind. And because each client is unique, we provide a wide range of evidence-based frameworks to use in your coaching practice. 

As a professional coach, it’s also important to have a clear understanding of your scope of practice. It’s crucial to know both what coaching is… as well as what it ISN’T! ⁠Untrained life coaches are far more likely to blur the lines between advising, mentoring, and actually coaching others.

A reputable life coach certification program will provide you with guidance on what effective coaching is, and how to do it well. You’ll learn a variety of frameworks, interventions, methodologies and coaching techniques to help get you started. You'll also receive ample peer coaching opportunities to solidify your learning by putting it into practice. 

With that said, not every training program is equal. Some are accredited by the International Coaching Federation, and offer a pathway to ICF credentialing. Others don’t. Both have their place, and one isn’t necessarily better than the other. The important thing is to know which route YOU want to take, and why.

For more resources to help determine what level of training is right for you, consider: 

Is Now The Right Time?

Coach Remi Gibbs
"When someone elects to make a mid-career change it's usually in pursuit of their purpose. At 18, we are too young to know what we want to do with the rest of our lives and often make the decisions our parents want us to. This should NOT be our life sentence! When we are awake enough to recognize what our passion guides us to do and bold enough to follow our dreams, that is when we are truly alive and that is what drives a mid-career change." - Remi Gibbs, Career and Small Business Coach with Renovated Realities 

According to the International Coaching Federation, there are currently more than 71,000 coach practitioners worldwide. That's a whopping 36% increase in coach practitioners over the past five years alone! 

With this many new coaches entering the field, you might be wondering: “Is there room for one more?”

Absolutely!

Coaching is currently a $2.85 billion dollar industry, and consumer demand for services is on a decidedly upward trajectory.  

Over the past few years, 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 desired future state, and crafting a well thought out plan for achieving it. We're also skilled at holding the plan while the client proceeds with designing actions and experimenting with new ways of being until their goal 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.

What About the Risk?

Let’s get straight to it. Whenever you try anything new, there’s a possibility that you might fail. This simple fact keeps many of us from taking the bold actions necessary to create a more satisfying life.

The reality is that all of life is change, and navigating risk. Our minds just try to pretend otherwise, reaching for certainty in an uncertain world.

Remember the limbic system we mentioned above? If you're caught in a loop of “what if” scenarios that's leading you in circles, it bears investigation. Fear can hide in plain sight. It often sounds like the truth, or a “practical assessment of risk”.

When it comes to a mid-career transition, there are very real barriers, considerations, and financial realities to navigate. There are also pragmatic and responsible ways to address and plan for them.

If your mind is telling you changing careers at this point is “impractical” or “impossible”, chances are you’re in the Fear Zone. This is not a helpful place to be, and it’s not where you’ll make your most aligned and authentic decisions.

If fear is preventing you from moving forward, consider hiring a coach to help you clarify your intentions, evaluate risk, and develop an actionable plan to achieve your goals.

It’s also helpful to have real world data to counterbalance those voices of fear. If you’d like more information about realities of the coaching industry, here’s a toolkit of resources that can help:

What Our Career Changers Are Saying

Coach Bonnie Phillips Blackstone

“At the tiptop of my former career, my world was rocked by the pandemic lockdown. After spending several days curled up in a ball feeling lost and deflated, I realized that I was more than my job! I had a story to share and a purpose to fulfill so, at the age of 55, I took a leap of faith, left my 20-plus year corporate career behind and answered a long ignored calling to become a certified life coach.

Today, I help women over 45 learn how to have healthier relationships in all areas of their lives by rediscovering their inner selves and every conversation I am blessed to have lights me up inside and teaches me something new!” - Bonnie Phillips Blackstone, Blackbird Whole Life

“Moving from being an oncologist who loves her patients to a coach who loves her clients. The medical model is disjointed, face-paced, time-limited, and assumes the doctor is the expert. Coaching is evocative, client-led, slowed-down, deeply compassionate. Deep listening takes time, which most oncologists don't have. Love my new life.” - Dr. Jennifer Griggs, Transforming the Narrative

coach Laura Russell

“To choose the uncomfortable of the unknown so you can bring more joy and fulfillment to yourself and others is such a beautiful, but scary thing. After living in corporate for 17 years and many years of juggling both worlds, I’m currently navigating such a transition from IT learning & development into Self-Improvement Coach/Confidence Catalyst.

The beauty of such a change is that even though you leave one world, you bring all the knowledge, experiences, and skills learned during that time with you, wherever you choose to land. I am blessed to be able to combine those with my innate strengths to create my new path, guiding my soul clients, spirited but struggling moms, out of the daily struggle and into a life on their terms, filled with more confidence, flow, and happiness, even in the mess. - Laura Russell, The Joyful Uprising

Ready to Step Into Your Future?

A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. If you’d like to talk with a member of the JRNI team to explore whether coaching is right for you, we’d love to talk. Why wait? Schedule a call to get your questions answered today!

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

The Business of Life Coaching
How To Build A Coaching Business With Purpose
Guest blog by coach Jody Tom
Team JRNI
Nov 10, 2021
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The Business of Life Coaching
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Guest blog by Jody Tom

Coach Jody Tom

Jody is a working mother, an organizer of chaos, an introverted lover of dance, and a champion of the dream seekers. Jody works with all shapes, sizes, and textures of leaders and their dreams. Again and again she has found that great business has little to do with business at all. She created True North Solutions, LLC to support those ready to think and do things differently.

Jody is both a Design & Direction Coach and a Business Systems Consultant with a Masters in Organizational Management and over twenty years of experience in traditional business. Today, Jody’s passion is Life and Business Design centered on purpose, impact, and goodness. She is an intentional coach invested in helping her clients get to their True North. Jody is a 2021 graduate of the JRNI Coaching Intensive. You can follow her work on Instagram @truly_jody

Building A Life Coaching Business With Purpose - Why It Matters

Before we start creating our Building-My-Business To Do List, let’s take a step back and think about this differently. My favorite part of business is when the most effective solution comes from a place that doesn’t seem like business at all. Purpose is one of those types of solutions, and now we have data to prove how purpose builds our business. 

Purpose = Business Growth

Let’s face it, without clients, we have little business and stagnant growth. As new coaches we hope to get clients who are satisfied with our coaching, however, to build our business we need our clients to be able to have greater impact.

The 2020 Zeno Strength of Purpose Study tells us that 82% of consumers took action to support a business when they believed in its purpose. 

Clients are asking for businesses to have purpose.

The study of 8,000 global consumers and 75 business brands validated that consumers are inspired and motivated to support businesses with their heart, time, voice, and money when those businesses have a clear mission, honorable intention, and ethical impact. 

When clients understand that we have a strong purpose they are:

  • 4 times more likely to sign up for our services
  • 6 times more likely to be our advocate against any nay-sayers 
  • 4.5 times more likely to recommend us to friends and family  
  • 4.1 times more likely to trust us 

With purpose we can dream bigger!

Our clients can do more. When our business lives and breathes with a strong purpose, our clients aren’t our customers, they are the champions of our services, advocates for our growth, and promoters of coaching as the valuable and essential service that it is. 

“But… I think I am doing fine without a purpose…”

Let me say this: We live in a cancel culture where it is too easy for the displeased to express themselves. 75% of consumers said they have taken negative action against a business they disagreed with including:

  • no longer buying from the business
  • switching to a competitor
  • discouraging others from buying or supporting the business

By having a strong purpose we are not only setting up a strong foundation, but we are also being transparent about what we value and what our business genuinely stands for. This prevents potential misunderstandings and miscommunications right from the start. Start strong and build a loyal clientele.

“I think I have a Strong Purpose. How would I know?” 

Imagine asking your favorite client the following questions:

  • Do you know what I hope to achieve with my coaching business?
  • What role does my coaching business have in society? In the world?
  • What values do I hold so dear to me that you can see it demonstrated through my business interactions?

Would your client know the answer? 

You may think you have a strong purpose, but if it isn’t shouted from your virtual business rooftop you might as well not have one. Creating that next level client means that everything you do and say oozes the answers to those questions!

”OK. Where do I start?” 

The Three V’s to Purpose

Vision Values Voice

VISION

Take some time to write your vision statement. Your vision is your map to the ultimate dream of your business. It includes your long-term aspirations and their meaning to the world. Your vision statement will be future-focused and simple and will evoke feelings of inspiration, energy, and impact on something greater than yourself. 

 Once you’ve written your vision statement, read it from your client’s perspective. 

  • Is it transparent and authentic? 
  • Does it energize and inspire? 
  • Would your client know what the legacy of your business is after reading it?

 Examples of Inspirational Vision Statements

TED: Spread ideas

Ben & Jerry’s: “Making the best ice cream in the nicest possible way”

Zappos: “To provide the best customer service possible. Deliver 'WOW' through service”

VALUES

List the core values you plan to live and run your business by. Values serve as a guiding compass or your North Star. They represent what you stand for and your reason for being. Just like a good coach, our core values help us create solutions and make decisions in the right direction towards our vision.

Once you’ve identified your core values, read them again from your client’s perspective. 

  • Would your client understand what each value means?
  • What does each value mean to your client specifically?
  • What kind of service would your client expect after reading your values?

Examples of Core Values:

Ben & Jerry’s: Human Rights & Dignity, Social & Economic Justice, Environmental Protection, Restoration & Regeneration

Zappos: Deliver WOW Through Service, Embrace and Drive Change, Create Fun and A Little Weirdness, Be Adventurous, Creative, and Open-Minded, Pursue Growth and Learning, Build Open and Honest Relationships With Communication, Build a Positive Team and Family Spirit, Do More With Less, Be Passionate and Determined, Be Humble

VOICE

If Vision is your map and Values are your guiding compass, then your Voice is where the rubber meets the road. Voice is the proof that you believe in and are living up to your Vision and Values. Actions speak louder than words. Here are some ways to begin with your Voice: 

1) Be proud of your vision and values. Speak of your vision and your values often and display them everywhere. 

2) Embrace your vision and values in business strategies. Make sure your “big picture” planning is in alignment with your vision. 

3) Integrate your values into your policies and everyday practices. Walk in your client’s shoes as they walk through your intake process and see if your values are present. 

4) Use your vision and values. Whenever you need to solve a problem, create a solution, or make decisions, revisit your vision and values. 

5) Test them often. Just as humans do, businesses ebb and flow and react to our ever-changing world. Don’t be afraid to shift and refocus when necessary.

Now that you’ve established the three V’s it’s time to celebrate! Every time you make a decision in alignment with your purpose, celebrate. Celebrate that you are building your business one road at a time. Celebrate that you are heading in the direction of your vision. Celebrate your willingness to connect to your clients. Celebrate the impact you are making in your business, in your clients’ lives, and in the world. 

Purpose is how we set our direction. Everything else follows. 

Want to Be A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Jody ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

Podcast
Getting Comfortable with Showing Up Online
How to make social media work for you instead of the other way around
Team JRNI
Nov 5, 2021
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The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we explore how to make social media work for you - on your terms. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

If the idea of developing an online presence has you running for the hills, we’re here to help! In this episode, our resident online expert John Kim (@theangrytherapist) coaches JRNI’s CEO - the social media skeptical Noelle Cordeaux - on how to dip a toe in and develop her online presence authentically.

How to Use Social Media In Your Life Coaching Business

Social media itself can feel like an ever-changing carnival ride. Just when engagement strategies start to get dialed in, hot new online platforms pops up or the algorithms change. There’s two ways to approach this reality: with frustration, or a spirit of exploration. 

We’re recommending the latter. 

If you would like to dip a toe in, here’s some tips to help make establishing your social media presence more comfortable.

Be Clear About Your WHY

The first thing to consider about your social media presence is simply this: What are you doing there? 

Do you want to:

  • Stimulate audience growth?
  • Join a community?
  • Build a community?
  • Create a sales funnel for your coaching business?
  • Create content for the public, or for a select group of people?
  • Build a personal brand?

If you’re not sure yet, it’s perfectly fine to hold as an objective something simple, such as “trying out” using your voice online to see how it feels for you. An experimentation stage can help clarify whether or not social media is where you actually want to dedicate more of your business marketing time and resources.

If you discover along the way that social media isn’t your jam, that’s OK! There are many life coaches who don’t use it at all. The fact is you don’t HAVE to make social media a major part of your marketing strategy. Many coaching businesses thrive without it. 

Understand Your Blockers

What are the challenges and concerns that make showing up online feel difficult for you? For some people, this may look like wanting to be perfectly put together whenever you hit “record” to create a video. For others, it could be trepidation about dealing with potential online meanies and trolls. And most of us wonder how much time it will actually consume… and if it’s actually worth it.

Most likely, there’s more than one fear that’s weighing on your mind. If so, consider yourself completely normal! Showing up online and being seen is a vulnerable process. It also takes time and practice to get comfortable. Bring a healthy dose of self compassion to the process. 

For resources on how to take care of yourself as you step outside your comfort zone, check out Self Compassion is a Coaching Superpower.

Know Your Boundaries

“If it’s not empowering, it’s not sustainable.” - John Kim

Yes, social media can be a time suck for life coaches… but only if you allow it to be. Having clear social media strategies in place can help to put you on the right path from Day 1. If you go into it knowing it’s going to be a balancing act, you’re less likely to get burned out.

So what does this look like in practice?

  • Limiting the amount of time you spend online
  • Posting content at your own pace
  • Taking breaks when you need them
  • Giving yourself permission to not respond to every comment 
  • Not engaging with negative or critical comments if you are sensitive or just don’t want to take it on
  • Blocking and deleting trolls
  • Ignoring the “rules” about how to show up online if they don’t resonate with you
  • Hiring a social media coordinator if you'd like to establish an online presence but don’t actually enjoy it

There’s a lot of advice for life coaches on the importance of “engaging” your audience, and there’s certainly value in it! With that said, if managing followers and developing an online community is depleting rather than enjoyable, it’s OK to pull back. 

“Social media has become a giant ‘should’ in many industries. Figure out a way to peel that ‘should’ away. Use social media to have fun and find your voice. When you use it as a tool, it can be really potent. That’s when you can start building communities, get traction, and create something real.” - John Kim

We’re willing to be you didn’t set out to become a life coach in order to torture yourself with tasks and obligations that don’t actually light you up. As a small business owner, you’re pulled in a lot of directions. When you consider how you want to use social media for your business, take into account both what you have time for and what feels right. 

This is your business, and your life. There’s no one “right way” to do it - just your way. 

Want more social media strategies and tips for life coaches? Check out:

Are You Ready for Liftoff?

Grab your copy of our guide: 6 Steps To Start Coaching Today!

Guide: 6 Steps to Start Coaching Today

This free publication, written by JRNI Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, will give you the tools to discover your niche, find clients, and get started on your path to becoming a successful life coach.

Plus, when you sign up -- we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.

So, what're you waitin' for? Let's get started!

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

The Business of Life Coaching
How to Choose the Best Life Coaching Niche for You
Strategies to uncover your area of specialization as a coach
Team JRNI
Nov 4, 2021
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Strategies to Find Your Coaching Niche

If you’re thinking about starting a life coaching business, one of the questions you’ll inevitably be asked is: “What’s your specialty?” It’s a topic that gets a lot of attention in coach training programs, and can quickly become a source of anxiety if you don’t have a ready answer. 

The fact is, it can take time and experience to narrow in on a coaching niche. So why do we focus on it so intently right out of the gates?

The simple answer is that nobody hires a “life coach”.

Why do people invest in life coaching, truly? 

Do they hire a coach because they want to spend an hour talking to someone once a week? Not usually!

People work with life coaches because they want something – they have a goal in mind, a problem to be solved, or they want a specific end result. 

With that in mind, let's consider this niche thing from a practical point of view. If you’re unable to articulate what results you help people achieve, potential clients are likely to choose another coach who can.

The Niche Advantage

Having a niche allows you to get clear about your message, and the transformation you want to help others achieve. It’s a way of clarifying and bringing focus to the work you do.

Selecting a coaching niche can feel like a monumental decision, but it doesn’t need to be a difficult one. In this article we’ll take a look at what it means to niche, why having a specialization can help grow your coaching business, and how to go about selecting the right one for you.

What’s A Coaching Niche, Anyway?

The purpose of a niche is to differentiate your product or service. From this perspective, choosing a coaching niche is essentially a marketing decision. A niche helps your ideal clients find you, and allows you to sell your services as a life coach.

Let’s take a look at a few examples to see how this plays out.    

Life Coach - A generalist that is trained to help clients accomplish goals/actions (this describes pretty much everyone who graduates from a life coach training program!)

Confidence Coach - Specializes in building confidence/confident mindsets in clients

Women’s Empowerment Coach - Focuses on helping women take life into their own hands and on their own terms

Career/Leadership Coach - Helps clients achieve goals in their current careers, or guides them towards identifying their ideal careers

Love & Relationship Coach - A life coach that specifically focuses on helping clients achieve goals in their personal relationships

As you can see from the examples above, you can specialize in a wide range of areas! For even more ideas about what’s trending in the coaching industry now, check out 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches.

Do You Need A Niche?

If you're not sure where you want to focus, serving as a generalist is a fine place to begin.

As a life coach, you’ve been trained in the foundational principles and methods to help clients get from Point A to Point B. With this knowledge, you are well positioned to support a range of clients towards taking aligned action in their lives.

The reality is that you are more likely to discover your coaching niche rather than “choose” it.

The most important thing to focus on in the beginning of your coaching career is NOT nailing down your specialization. It is to actively practice coaching!

As your experience grows, you may find that you naturally gravitate towards a certain type of client, or a particular topic that you are most excited about. You may also notice that you are most effective when serving clients in one particular area versus another. 

Your coaching specialization is likely to shift and change over time. Sweating over the perfect niche has stalled out many new coaches before they even get started. Don't let that be you! Breathe easy and just begin.

“When I first started as a coach, I knew I wanted to help clients with Passion & Purpose, Empowerment, and Relationship Recovery. Over time, I found that Purpose Driven Personal Branding became more rewarding. Thus over time, I have focused more on pursuing that niche because it continues to resonate with me and I am able to serve my clients at the highest frequency.” - Joyce Chen, JRNI graduate and Coaching Instructor

Pros and Cons of Niching

There are long term advantages to having a niche, and most of these ladder towards helping you build a sustainable coaching business over time.

  • A niche offers you further differentiation as a life coach
  • Makes it easier for clients to seek your services (and easier for you to identify the clients you want to work with!)
  • You can develop a more distinguished specialized practice for yourself
  • Can help strengthen your personal brand and offerings
  • Allows you to focus on your ideal clients

There aren’t a lot of explicit "cons" to having a niche. With that said, there are some things to be aware of as you are starting out. 

  • If you niche too early, you might be limiting yourself to a narrower client base than you intend to
  • If untested, you may discover that your niche is too narrow or not of interest to the general public
  • You may specialize too soon in an area you are not an expert in or truly passionate about

Define Your Coaching Themes 

To narrow in on coaching specializations that may be a good fit for you, consider where your background and experience line up most naturally. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has identified a set of broad Coaching Themes that provide us with a place to begin. They include:

  • Communication Skills
  • Health/Wellness
  • Interpersonal Relationships
  • Career
  • Organizational Development/Leadership Development
  • Personal Growth
  • Self Confidence
  • Team Development
  • Work-Life Balance

While these represent a wide swath of coaching topics, comparing broad categories against one another is a reasonable place to start. Ask yourself: Which do I feel most drawn to? What areas might I eliminate from consideration?

In addition to the themes identified above, you can also become certified in specific techniques or theoretical practices. For example, you can be a Positivity Coach with a practice rooted in Positive Psychology. Or you can become a Character Strengths Coach with a practice informed by the VIA Strengths Assessment.

The great thing about the coaching industry is that you have the freedom to define a niche any way you like. So long as it is in service to an audience that will benefit from what you offer, and falls within your training and scope of practice, you’re good to go!

Pathways To Your Niche

New coaches often put a lot of pressure on themselves to figure this all out immediately. However, we like to think of it like “declaring a major” in college. Some people enter university knowing exactly what they want to do. But many more take their time, trying out different possibilities before settling on a course of study. 

Give yourself the grace you need to explore, and try to enjoy the process along the way!

Coaches drill down into their niches in a variety of ways. They either:

  • CLAIM - niche based upon existing skills & expertise
  • CREATE - develop an area of specialization based upon an unmet need in the marketplace
  • DISCOVER - start as a generalist and uncover what niche naturally develops over time

Elements of A Profitable Coaching Niche

If you’ve developed a list of specializations you'd potentially like to explore, the next step is to pressure test them. There are four key components that a rewarding and profitable niche should satisfy:

1. Clearly serves an existing audience 

  • Who will you serve and how would you describe this audience?
  • What life stage are they in? What help do they need and what’s holding them back?
  • What attitudes, beliefs and thoughts do they have?
  • What’s in their heart and what are their deepest desires in life?
  • Who are the people that will "win" after working with you?

2. Offers a return on the client's investment

  • What are their needs mentally, emotionally or in life?
  • How will your ideal client benefit from working with you?
  • What challenges will you help them solve? What dreams will you help them achieve?
  • Do you have a track record (or can you reasonably develop one) of achieving these results for your clients?

3. Leverages your strengths and skills

Take inventory of your skill sets and signature themes from your life and career that can serve your audience:

  • What unique combination of skills, talents and certifications do you possess?
  • Are there subject areas that you already have expertise in that allow you to better connect with your audience?
  • What skills do you have that others have come to you for over and over again?

4. Makes you excited to serve your clients 

Do you get excited, fulfilled and inspired to serve a specific group of people in this area? If not, move on to other ideas that will light you up.

How To Evaluate If A Niche Fits

Once you've generated a list of possibilities, use these filters to discover if it makes sense to move forward.

1) PASSION & ENJOYMENT - “Is this fun for me?” Does this topic conjure energy inside you? Is it an area you are passionate about and would enjoy developing?

2) POSSESS TALENT, SKILL OR EXPERIENCE - “I have the skills to serve here”  Can you point to expertise & experience based upon lived, learned or cultivated skills that you’ve acquired over time in this area?

3) CONTINUE TO TRAIN & LEVEL UP - “I am committed to continual growth in this area” Are you interested in ongoing learning and improving your skills within this specialization?

4) IS OF SERVICE TO A CLIENTELE BASE OR COMMUNITY - “I feel good about serving humanity with this skill” Do you have a defined audience or ideal client that you know would benefit from working with a coach in your prospective niche area?

If your answer is yes to all of the above, you are on your way!

Communicate Your Niche 

To connect the dots for your potential clients, identifying the specific area of transformation they can expect from working with you. In other words, what will you help your ideal client achieve? Ideally, this is clearly stated in 12 words or fewer, using language that resonates with the audience you want to serve.

This is the simplest framework to start out with:

I help _____ with _____.

I help (IDEAL CLIENT PROFILE) with (NICHE/SPECIALIZATION).

EXAMPLES

Niche: Hope & Empowerment Coach

Specializations: Finding your voice, Self-Confidence

I help individuals who seek to embolden their futures with self-empowerment through building confidence.

Niche: Fitness Coach

Specialization: Holistic Health, Healthy Mindset & Nutrition, Functional Fitness

I help individuals seeking holistic health with Fitness Coaching.

Niche: Relationship Coach

Specialization: Helping women build healthy relationships

I help women seeking healthy emotional relationships with Relationship Coaching.

Define your message and begin to share it

Building a flourishing coaching practice requires an ability to connect with the right clients - those people who will be profoundly moved by your message.

Narrowing in on a clear specialty helps you keep the marketing messages simple. Whether you're into empowerment coaching, or are most skilled at assisting others to find clarity, tell people exactly what problems you can help them solve. Specificity will get you better results than casting a wide net. 

As you discover what makes you unique as a coach, you will find it easier to share your message. And as you share, you will get the feel for who that messaging is attracting. From there, you can decide if this is the niche you want to pursue... or not.

For more resources on how to weave messaging and storytelling into your coaching practice, check out:

As you’re doing the work, remember that this is a journey. There is no finish line, and no “right” way to do things. There’s just your way. Allow yourself the room to experiment, iterate, learn, and evolve.

As you find your own unique path, let these four final principles help guide you:

  • Walk the walk 
  • Tend to your own corner of the universe
  • Beware gremlins of comparison
  • Have fun and enjoy the ride

READY FOR LIFTOFF?

Grab your copy of our guide: 6 Steps To Start Coaching Today!

Guidebook: 6 Steps to Start Coaching Today

This free publication, written by JRNI Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, will give you the tools to discover your niche, find clients, and get started on your path to becoming a successful coach.

Plus, when you sign up -- we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.

So, what're you waitin' for? Let's get started!

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

The Business of Life Coaching
Don’t Fail to Launch that Coaching Business!
Guest blog by Remi Gibbs
Team JRNI
Nov 1, 2021
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Guest blog by Remi Gibbs 

Remi Gibbs

Remi is a 4x entrepreneur with over 20 years in sales, marketing and event planning/management. She currently runs two solopreneur businesses: Creative Marketing Avenue, a boutique marketing and special event company, and Renovated Realities, a coaching practice that specializes in helping people jump start their businesses as well as navigate life and career transitions. 

Remi is a 2021 graduate of the JRNI Coaching Intensive. You can follow her work on Instagram @remi.gibbs, on Facebook @renovatedrealities or by visiting www.renovatedrealities.com.   

Don't Fail to Launch!

Are you ready to jumpstart your business, but find yourself getting caught up in “Analysis Paralysis”?

  • You know, when overanalyzing or overthinking causes forward motion or decision-making to become "paralyzed", meaning that no solution or course of action is decided upon?
  • Or maybe you keep thinking you need to learn more in order to feel confident in what you have to offer, which stops you from working with that first client? 

If you answered yes to either or both of these questions, and we were in the same room, this is the point I’d give you a hip bump and tell you to get out of your own way! You will master your trade as you go. Just. Start.

“Man improves himself as he follows his path; if he stands still, waiting to improve before he makes a decision, he’ll never move.” - Paulo Coelho

Business Basics

Getting a coaching business started really only requires three things:

  • A contract
  • A way to take money
  • A place to deposit said money 

Most reputable coach training programs offer a simple contract you can start with. Paypal is a super easy solution for taking money and allows you to make an invoice. And you probably already have a bank account. As a sole proprietor, using your personal account is fine, as long as you keep track of your income for tax purposes. 

No, you don’t need to be overly focused on your niche to get started, as it will flush out and define itself as you begin working with people. Though, it is helpful to know the type of people you’d prefer to work with, so you know where to find them.

It’s a good idea to know how much money you’d like to make and price your services accordingly. That said, if a person comes to you that needs your coaching services before you're sure, a simple conversation about what they are willing to pay to get on track will take care of that.

If you’d like a rundown of business system recommendations and resources, check out JRNI’s guide: Tools of the Trade: Resources To Jump Start Your Coaching Practice. 

Where to Find Coaching Clients

The burning question of new coaches is always, “Where do I find clients?”  

The simple answer is to start talking to people. Talk to your friends and family about what you are doing, ask them to make referrals. Post about it on all of your social media.  Don’t forget LinkedIn. 

Send personal notes to everyone on your social media and in your phone and email contacts letting them know what you are doing and that you would love referrals. 

Find online groups that cater to your ideal client and start conversations. 

Join an organization or two locally that caters to your ideal client, go network with people, if it helps the community or appeals to one of your passions, even better.  

Figure out where these folks shop and hang out. Make connections with business owners and see if they will let you display business cards or will refer you. Yoga studios and therapists are great referral sources for life coaches.  

If you are a writer, write blogs that will connect with your ideal client and post everywhere you can: your website, social media, Medium, Google My Business, etc. Think about what they read and send in articles.

The Business Plan

First things first...Create a 1-2 page business plan. This will help you get your mind wrapped around where you want to go and how you want to get there. This should be a living, breathing document that you change and update as you go. If you graduated from JRNI’s coach training program, they offer a simple template to get you started. You can also search for sample business plans online to get the juices flowing.

It’s likely you’ll want to start out doing 1:1 appointments, but you may add classes, retreats, writing a book, group sessions and/or any other number of things to your business model. However you decide to structure your business from here will determine what you need to do next.  

Getting an accountant to help you decide if you need an LLC and to help you set up your taxes is a brilliant idea. Getting insurance to protect yourself is smart. Now that the business is outlined, you can start thinking about your marketing.

Where to Start with Marketing

Spend some serious time thinking about your clients. 

  • What are their pain points?  
  • How can you help them?  
  • How will working with you benefit them?  

Once you have that figured out, you can build a website and your social media pages. They feed each other. Everything you write should be written to your ideal client and appeal to their needs. 

There are so many avenues you can take with social media. Do some research to decide which ones appeal the most to your clients. Then figure out the best ways to share your messages. Is it videos or memes? Or a combination of both? In the end, consistency is the most important thing with social media.  

Your website gives you credibility. It should be fairly simple, easy to understand who it appeals to, and have your contact information pasted all over it. Do you want to attempt building one yourself, or find someone to do it? If you want help, consider your budget. If you want to do it yourself, there are some great, simple platforms out there such as Wix, Squarespace and Wordpress. For additional guidance on what to include, check out: 6 Things Every Coaching Website Needs.

Design yourself a 90-day marketing plan that’s easy to follow. Stick to it and results will come.

Now you know, it is quite easy to begin. It’s just a matter of taking action and starting to have conversations. Take the leap. Don’t fail to launch. Get out of your own way and get started!  

Want More Tools for Liftoff?

Grab your copy of JRNI's guide: 6 Steps To Start Coaching Today!

This free publication, written by JRNI Coaching co-founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, will give you the tools to discover your niche, find clients, and get started on your path to becoming a successful coach.

Plus, when you sign up -- we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.

So, what're you waitin' for? Let's get started!

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

Podcast
What Makes A Good Life Coach?
John and Noelle discuss the components of coaching mastery
Team JRNI
Oct 29, 2021
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The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we explore what it takes to achieve coaching mastery. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

How to Achieve Coaching Mastery

As you've undoubtedly discovered, the topic of "How to Be a Great Life Coach" is incredibly subjective! In our view, better questions to ask might be “How can I be an effective coach?” or “What do I need to explore in order to achieve coaching mastery?”

The good news is that we have a framework for answering those questions!

Life coaching is a scientific discipline, governed by a globally recognized body. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) has developed a set of standards that govern the field of coaching, which is a great reference against which to measure our progress and effectiveness as coaches.

To develop and refine your skills as a coach, we recommend using the ICF’s Core Competencies as your guide. In this episode, we’re taking a closer look at seven standards that we believe are particularly relevant to the topic of how coaches can continuously work toward higher levels of coaching mastery. 

1. Demonstrates Ethical Practice

Coaching clients need to know they can place their trust in you. Ethical practice invites us as coaches to release the ego, and turn our dial instead toward being a conduit for someone else’s growth. 

One phenomenon we’ve observed in the coaching space is that practitioners who haven’t gone through a certification program such as JRNI's Life Coach Training may be unaware of the standards of ethical practice, including the legal parameters and privacy laws that govern our work as coaches. 

The behavior markers for this standard include:

  • Demonstrates personal integrity and honesty in interactions with clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders.
  • Is sensitive to clients’ identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.
  • Uses language appropriate and respectful to clients, sponsors and relevant stakeholders.
  • Maintains confidentiality with client information per stakeholder agreements and pertinent laws.

2. Embodies a Coaching Mindset

According to the ICF, a coaching mindset is one where we are open, curious, flexible and client-centered. This standard embraces intersectionality, and challenges us as coaches to see the world through our client’s eyes. It also encourages us to take care of ourselves so that we can in turn show up in full presence for our coaching clients.

The behavior markers for this standard include:

  • Acknowledges that clients are responsible for their own choices.
  • Engages in ongoing learning and development as a coach.
  • Develops an ongoing reflective practice to enhance one’s coaching.
  • Remains aware of and open to the influence of context and culture on self and others.
  • Develops and maintains the ability to regulate one’s emotions.
  • Mentally and emotionally prepares for sessions.
  • Seeks help from outside sources when necessary.

3. Establishes and Maintains Agreements 

In brief, this standard is all doing what you say you will do! 

The behavior markers for this standard include:

  • Understands and effectively discusses with the client the guidelines and specific parameters of the coaching relationship (e.g., logistics, fees, scheduling, inclusion of others if appropriate).
  • Reaches agreement about what is appropriate in the relationship and what is not, what is and is not being offered, and about the client’s and coach’s responsibilities.
  • Determines whether there is an effective match between his/her coaching method and the needs of the prospective client.

4. Cultivates Trust and Safety

Great coaching extends well beyond coaching models, questioning techniques and goal attainment strategies. At its core, the coaching process isn’t so much about the tools you use. The catalyst for lasting change comes from inside the coaching relationship itself. To cultivate safe space for our clients, we seek to understand the client within their context, which may include their identity, environment, experiences, values and beliefs.

The behavioral markers for this standard include:

  • Shows genuine concern for the client’s welfare and future.
  • Continuously demonstrates personal integrity, honesty and sincerity.
  • Establishes clear agreements and keeps promises.
  • Demonstrates respect for client’s perceptions, learning style and personal being.
  • Provides ongoing support for and champions new behaviors and actions, including those involving risk-taking and fear of failure.
  • Asks permission to coach the client in sensitive, new areas.

5.  Maintains Presence

What we strive for within this standard is to be fully conscious with the client, employing a style that is open, flexible, grounded and confident. This takes WORK and PRACTICE!

The behavioral markers for this standard include:

  • Is present and flexible during the coaching process, dancing in the moment.
  • Accesses own intuition and trusts one’s inner knowing—”goes with the gut.”
  • Is open to not knowing and takes risks.
  • Sees many ways to work with the client and chooses in the moment what is most effective.
  • Uses humor effectively to create lightness and energy.
  • Confidently shifts perspectives and experiments with new possibilities for own action.
  • Demonstrates confidence in working with strong emotions and can self-manage and not be overpowered or enmeshed by client’s emotions.

6. Listen Actively

As a professional coach, an overarching expectation is that you’ll keep your own judgment, solutions, emotional responses, and new ideas at bay so that your clients can “walk around” and explore themselves within the space you are holding. Throughout the process, you also act as a mirror, reflecting back what the client is expressing (both verbally and nonverbally) in order to help them achieve insight and clarity.

The behavioral markers for this standard include:

  • Attends to the client and the client’s agenda and not to the coach’s agenda for the client.
  • Hears the client’s concerns, goals, values and beliefs about what is and is not possible.
  • Distinguishes between the words, the tone of voice, and the body language.
  • Summarizes, paraphrases, reiterates, and mirrors back what client has said to ensure clarity and understanding.
  • Encourages, accepts, explores and reinforces the client’s expression of feelings, perceptions, concerns, beliefs, suggestions, etc.
  • Integrates and builds on client’s ideas and suggestions.
  • “Bottom-lines” or understands the essence of the client’s communication and helps the client get there rather than engaging in long, descriptive stories.
  • Allows the client to vent or “clear” the situation without judgment or attachment in order to move on to next steps.

7. Evokes Awareness 

This standard points to our ability to integrate and accurately evaluate multiple sources of information, and to make interpretations that help the client to gain awareness and thereby achieve agreed-upon results.

The outcomes of working through all these best practices is that we’re cultivating learning for both ourselves and our clients. In so doing, we can:

  • Integrate new awareness, insight or learning into their worldview and behaviors.
  • Design goals, actions and accountability measures that integrate and expand new learning.
  • Consider how to move forward, including resources, support and potential barriers.
  • Celebrate progress and successes!

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

The Business of Life Coaching
The RISE of Coaching in the Workplace
An interview with Juilann Wiese, PCC
Team JRNI
Oct 27, 2021
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The Business of Life Coaching
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The RISE of Coaching in the Workplace

An Interview with Juliann Wiese, PCC and JRNI Coaching Instructor

While there are differences in the details of what comprises life coaching, most people in the profession would agree that the key element is one-to-one conversation aimed at helping individuals to improve and change their current situation, develop their own abilities, enhance self-awareness, and expand their options for dealing with challenges as a way to overcome them. 

Though these basic concepts have been around for millennia, it emerged as a formal endeavor during the 1980s, when Thomas Leonard, an American financial planner, became the first person to develop coaching as a profession. Since then, coaching has grown in scope to encompass relationships, finances, careers, health, and overall well-being.

In 1992, Leonard established Coach U, the very first school for professional Life Coaches. Over the next decade, the concept was expanded to include business coaching, executive coaching, leadership coaching, relationship coaching, health coaching, and career coaching. In 1994, he founded the International Coach Federation (ICF), now the global standard for coaching certification, with over 130 chapters worldwide.

“I think the key concept in coaching is recognizing that people already have the answers they need to improve their lives within themselves,” says Juliann Wiese, a goal achievement coach with more than 20 years of corporate experience in organizational development, talent management, team-building, retreat facilitation, and skill training. 

“It’s a focus on inquiry, rather than advocacy. You can help people discover their goals and reach them better by asking than by telling.” - Juliann Wiese

When it comes to navigating the intersection of corporate culture and coaching, Wiese knows firsthand how to walk the talk. She has provided personal coaching to hundreds of individual clients and corporate coaching to a wide diversity of companies around the world, including Blue Cross, Xanterra Parks and Resorts, Bloomberg LP, the Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association, and the National Association of Corporate Directors.

In Wiese's observation, “people are looking for more than a paycheck when they go to work. Now more than ever, employees at all levels are looking for a sense of belonging, for a feeling that their opinions and efforts make a real difference. They want managers they work for to acknowledge their labors, their thoughts and ideas, and to help them reach their full potential, rather than just giving them orders or directions. Employees want to feel engaged with the companies they work for and to feel they’re a part of its success.”

Well-known business leaders and celebrities like Bill Gates, Eric Schmidt, Oprah Winfrey, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Barack Obama have all used personal coaches to help them clarify, plan and reach their goals. “Coaching can help people give meaning to their work and their lives,” she adds.

According to Wiese and many other industry experts, making coaching part of the everyday workplace is becoming even more important with the stresses brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. “At a time when you might think people would be even more concerned about job security" she says, "we’re actually seeing millions of people leaving their current employment.”

Recent data from the US Department of Labor reveals that resignations have remained abnormally high this year, with a record-breaking 10.9 million open jobs at the end of July. More than 4.3 million people in America alone quit their jobs in August 2021. 

These resignations were felt in almost all business sectors. But as might be expected, resignation rates were highest among employees in fields such as health care, where extreme increases in workload and pressures, due specifically to the pandemic, caused 3.6% more employees to quit their jobs than in the previous year.

A survey of 11 million workers narrowed down three reasons for the Great Resignation, as the current crisis has been dubbed. Each relates to how companies treat their employees and the overall work environment, but the preeminent problem seems to be a lack of meaningful communication in manager-employee relationships.

“Employees and their leaders have to interact with each other and with clients throughout the day. That’s why it’s so important that they can identify the emotions of those they are interacting with," Weise states.

She goes on to say, "employees want and need to be engaged in the work they’re doing. Coaching can improve this aspect of employee engagement by teaching individuals the proper ways to read nonverbal signs of communication. Coaching can also help them ask the right questions of their managers and can help managers ask the right questions of their employees. This ensures that both parties understand the situation and how it impacts the other person, increases the likelihood of both parties being engaged and happy with the relationship, leading to productivity and engagement”.

What It Takes To Build A Coaching Culture

In order for companies and managers to take full advantage of what coaching can bring to the workplace, Wiese suggests that there are several tenets that need to be focused on:

1. Coaching Mindset

Help everyone understand that the nature of coaching isn’t the same as giving feedback. While feedback has an appropriate place in manager/employee communications, coaching is more of a proactive approach. It involves talking about what matters to the employee, letting them drive the conversation with the manager primarily in the role of asking questions.

2. Building Empathy

Empathy is at the heart of coaching. It is essential because it levels us. When we pull from empathy, we operate from a place of two humans who are trying to understand one another at the feeling level, rather than from a task or job level. We are hard-wired to want to connect with other humans from this place. When we feel misunderstood, or worse - that no one cares about our feelings - we feel abandoned, lonely, resentful. Such feelings do not entice us to do our best work.

3. Structure

Coaching conversations follow a path; it's going somewhere, but it’s flexible. The structure is reliable and simple. It can take 10 minutes or an hour.

  • It begins with asking what’s important to the persons being coached. We stay curious and interested in how the “coachee'' thinks and feels about the topic they selected. We stay away from giving advice of any kind, so that the coachee can generate ideas and weigh pros and cons on their own. In doing so, the coachee comes to realize they are both capable and resourceful, and this builds confidence and empowers the person. 
  • We then move the dialogue toward an outcome that the coachee has identified as being helpful to them.
  • And finally, we ask them to share what they’ve noticed about themselves, what insights the conversation has brought forward, and what steps they will take after the conversation. 

Wiese imagines a world where these ideas are institutionalized and the ethos within every company. "The benefits of bringing coaching to organizations has never been more significant. By engaging in these kinds of conversations, companies are demonstrating their interest in their people, they are communicating how much they value their people, how important people and their ideas are. It empowers everyone to do their best work because they feel visible, valued and appreciated.”

Juliann Wiese

Juliann Wiese is an Instructor and Mentor Coach with JRNI Coaching. She has over 25 years of corporate experience in a variety of capacities including: organization development, talent management, leadership and executive development. Juliann has worked across a wide variety of industries and sectors including health care, hospitality, manufacturing, retail and service industries, and call center environments. She has provided coaching, training and consulting around the world in over a dozen countries. To learn more about Juliann and her practice, visit: www.juliannwiese-goalachievementcoachconsultant.com.

Want to Add Coaching Skills to Your Professional Toolkit?

Coaching is a rapidly growing field that is continuously evolving. Even for seasoned coaches and managers, there’s always more to discover. If you’ve not already earned your ICF coaching certification, there’s no better time than now to get started! Come 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.

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

Inspiration
Understanding "The Masculine" In the Process of Coaching
Guest blog by Mikey Brackett
Team JRNI
Oct 26, 2021
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Guest blog by Mikey Brackett

Mikey Brackett

Mikey is a Therapist, Coach, and Yoga teacher located in Denver, Colorado. He helps Seekers find their path by leading them further into their own healing process.

In his work, Mikey takes people deep within themselves and into the vast reality that is their stories so that they can emerge stronger, more confident, hopeful, and vibrant. In this blog he dives into the deeper reality of who we are through the lense of the Self and its composite parts of the masculine and feminine as supported by Depth Psychology and the work of Carl Jung. 

Mikey is a 2018 graduate of the JRNI Coaching Intensive. You can follow his work on Instagram/Facebook @mikey.brackett or by visiting www.mikeybrackett.com.

Understanding "The Masculine" In the Process of Coaching

We live in a time where the polarities of masculinity and femininity are becoming even more divided and disconnected. 

As our culture has evolved, our understandings of masculinity and femininity have become greatly confused and blurred, yet we are all deeply and personally impacted by the dynamics of the masculine and the feminine. 

The masculine essence exists in the world through what is seen, and how those elements get manifested into reality. These qualities are often defined as structural, developmental, hierarchical, and creative.

On the other hand, the feminine essence exists in the world through how elements interact with one another, and how they remain sustained in relationship. These qualities are are often defined as nurturing, connecting, flowing, and dismantling. 

(For the purposes of this blog, I'm keeping the definition of these archetypes brief. If you are interested in diving deeper into these concepts, I recommend checking out the authors Robert Moore and Maureen Murdock). 

Integrating Our Inner Masculine and Feminine

The realm of the Self is the first place where we encounter these dynamics—as each of us is an inherent carrier of both the masculine and feminine. 

As we seek to show up in the coaching space, it is essential that we do our work around integrating and healing the aspects of ourselves that are both masculine and feminine. Even though each of us has both energies deep within our true selves, it is often that through our wiring, conditioning, and environment that we lean heavily on one side or the other, especially in moments when we experience shame. 

To integrate these aspects of ourselves, we must first get curious and seek to see them in action through our thoughts, feelings, sensations, and behaviors. Questions to initially ask yourself are: 

  • What in you feels driven? (M)
  • What in you feels passive? (F)
  • Where do you find inspiration? (M)
  • Where do you find rest? (F) 

What do these quick prompts bring up for you? Are there ways in which you feel like you lean more into one essence than another? 

As a therapist & coach, I work with people from all walks of life and in all spheres of preferences, identities, and needs. However, as a man who works with a lot of men and women in the world of coaching, I often see so many people struggling with identity—seeking to know who they are, what they are supposed to do, and how they are supposed to do it. These are inherently masculine questions.

Knowing your purpose or vision begins with knowing yourself; knowing yourself is a process of ever-evolving observation and celebration of what truly makes you come alive. 

As this applies to the overarching masculine essence, what I propose is that knowing who we are or what we want to do springs forth from a deeper, more internal understanding of what truly inspires and connects us to the world.

Self-discovery from the masculine perspective is all about following desire and taking risks; it is about adventure and exploration. 

Understanding the masculine in the coaching process is a vital reality to grasp, not only for your clients but for yourself as a coach.

So what does this mean?

In looking at the depths of life - nature, relationships, the cosmos, lived experience and human dynamics - you will see an undercurrent of the interplay between interconnected opposites. From electrons to sexuality, we see polarity and energies at work—these are the realities of the feminine and the masculine. 

As we live and grow, we continually experience a push and pull of happenings and sensations that ultimately creates the reality of what we call life. And again, at its core, this is the masculine and feminine at play with each other. 

  • When something unexpectedly happens in your life, how do you respond? 
  • When you are seeking to grow or heal,  what does that energy feel like? 
  • When do you notice that you run into places that keep you stuck and you struggle with knowing what to do next? 

Again, each of these questions helps you see the way in which you experience the masculine based on the ways that you experience and engage in your life on both emotional and energetic levels. 

Coaching Applications

As we think about coaching, we are inherently showing up in a masculine manner: we ask questions, we seek solutions, we build on strengths and provide an initiation of momentum through our processes. We take a masculine posture. 

In every coaching conversation, we are seeking to take someone from a place of ‘pain’ to a place of action. For example, when you see a client struggling to find direction, you could now begin to see that client as someone struggling with their own inner masculine. On the other hand, if you have a client who is overly directional, maybe even compulsive or violent, you could see them through the lens of someone taking on a different variation of an unhealthy masculine posture. 

Learning about the masculine and more importantly, your own inner masculine, will empower you to create a more holistic manner of engagement and support as a coach.

Conversely, if you also seek to learn about the feminine, you will then find yourself with a greater ability to shift and maneuver within the realm of coaching, in a way that feels more dynamic and responsive. 

Understanding the masculine and how it manifests within yourself will enable you to see who you are and how your relationship with these deeper dynamics looks in real time, further empowering you as a coach to be able to recognize these same patterns in others. 

We reclaim our masculinity by learning to see ourselves as people who embody an essence, an essence that when harnessed properly enables us to show up in the world in ways that we can feel proud of. We can also better pinpoint the moments in which we truly stepped into a place of leadership and mastery. 

By reclaiming the beauty and power of the masculine in the world of coaching, we open the door for our clients to see themselves differently and find a path toward tangible wholeness. 

If you would like to dive deeper into this reality or are curious to learn more, please reach out. I would be so happy to connect with you as you seek to heal and grow! You can find me at www.mikeybrackett.com and on instagram @mikey.brackett.

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Mikey ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

Podcast
Belief Systems: What Are They, And How Should We Navigate Them As Coaches?
The importance of understanding your (and your client's) beliefs
Team JRNI
Oct 22, 2021
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The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode, we explore where personal belief systems come from, and how to navigate them in a coaching relationship. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

Belief Systems: What Are They, How Do They Rule Our Lives?

Belief systems are the principles that guide us through our everyday life. They’re unique to each of us, and consist of a set of principles and facts that help us interpret our reality. Often they are codified in large societal structures such as religious, political, and philosophical systems. 

Our beliefs have a profound impact on our identity. And yet, many of the beliefs that form our very foundation reside in the unconscious. That’s not so surprising when you think about it! Our brain is exposed to a vast amount of information over the course of our lives, but we’re only consciously aware of a fraction of it. 

Over time, our personal beliefs are shaped by a variety of factors: 

  • Our knowledge on a certain topic
  • The way we were raised
  • Peer pressure 
  • What we’ve learned about concepts of right and wrong, proper and improper, and other ideas we may have picked up about “The way we do things around here”

Our subconscious mind tucks away so much, absorbing messages from the world around us. As a result, most of us end up with a grab-bag of beliefs that have been heavily influenced by forces outside our direct control. In addition to what we take in from our family and community, this includes factors such as where we happened to grow up, and the physical body we were born into. 

In the early part of our lives, there isn’t a lot of choice and free will around the messages and beliefs we are exposed to. It’s only as we mature and become adults that we develop more conscious choices around what we want to believe.

We are living through a time where people are having seismic shifts in their relationship to deeply held beliefs. Coaches can be of real service to this process, walking together with our clients through these massive - and often difficult - changes.

How to Navigate Beliefs In the Coaching Space

Coaching is a place where our clients gain self-awareness in order to move forward with goal accomplishment. In this process, core belief systems are often challenged. When a client discovers that certain things they held as true may instead be based in faulty belief systems, things can get uncomfortable. 

In coaching, it’s important to be aware of how our clients are experiencing their own belief systems, especially during times when those beliefs may be under fire. This can happen both as a person questions their own beliefs, as well as when a strongly held belief is being challenged from the outside. 

A great example of this on the collective level that's been unfolding in real time is the shift in public perception of employers and corporations. In 2020, the British think tank WelltoDo published the results of a study showing that the general public in Western society held more trust in corporations and corporate leaders than in governmental or religious sectors. Their findings at the time revealed that consumers expected transparency, and that employees expected their employers would serve as a stable and protective force. 

In 2021, those beliefs completely changed. As the pandemic raged on, trust in employers sunk to an all time low. And as we record this podcast episode, the corporate sector is reeling from the “Great Resignation.”  

“Workers aren't just looking for higher pay, more time off, or more days at home (though those things would surely help in the short term). They're actually questioning the whole meaning of the daily grind. Why do we put so much of ourselves into our careers? And are we getting a fair deal from our employers in return for all this stress and heartache?” - Jessica Stillman, Inc.com 

This is just one example of a rapid and massive belief system shift, and one you may be encountering directly in your work with clients.

Practice Tips for Coaches

As you’re thinking about how to incorporate an understanding of belief systems into your own coaching practice, consider the following.

1. When someone’s core belief is challenged, anger is a normal response

This is where coach training comes into play - we learn to allow for strong emotions in session. When held properly, processing big emotions like anger, fear and regret can result in increased gains in self-awareness.

When a coach shies away from the Big Feels, this does not serve the client. The right way to handle it is to hold space. Allow your client to vent, clear, experience and work through all of those feeling. This is a necessary part of opening up internal space for a new way of being.

Clearing and venting is only one part of the coaching process, however. The following step involves exploring the question: “What next?” When it comes to moving from processing to action, the standard for coaches is to work at the pace of the client. If your client is not ready to start exploring what’s on the other side of that anger, it isn’t your role to push.

2. Take your own feels out of the equation

We are all in this collective cognitive meltdown together. It would be faulty to assume that we as coaches are not challenged by the very same issues that our clients might be experiencing at this time.

As helping professionals, we need to be hyper-focused on this so we can become part of the solution. If you are not actively aware of your own belief systems - and how those may collide with your client’s own beliefs - that's a problem. Strife, disappointment, conflict or sadness are likely to result.

One of the core International Coaching Federation standards of coaching is to employ a coaching mindset. What this asks of us is to consciously work to identify personal triggers alongside holding space for a client’s personal response. This is an art, and a core competency of coaching that is essential for all coaches to master.

This is one reason why formal coach training is so important.

Without proper training, it’s much more likely that your unconscious beliefs and views will enter into the coaching space. For more on how to hold space effectively as a coach, explore: How To Hold Space for Others.

Here's how to manage your own triggers as they arise in a coaching session (and you're human, so they will!):

  1. Observe any feeling of “ouch,” judgement or anger that comes up.
  2. Note to yourself: “This is mine.”
  3. Put a pin in it mentally so you can return for further reflection at a later time.

Do take the time to reflect and take care of yourself. This might look like journaling on what came up for you and considering any of your own core beliefs that may have been challenged. It may involve a follow up conversation with your client. If you feel this is a trigger point that has potential to become recurring, seek guidance and support from a mentor, coach or therapist.

This is an ongoing process and something that helping professionals have to be very aware of, and especially at this time. 

3. Check in with your client

Before diving in, find out if they are ready to start exploring what's arising for them as a result of new awareness. Not everyone is ready to immediately dive in and get to work when a really big belief system is first challenged. As a coach, you might be more ready than your client to move to the next level of awareness, but the pacing is not up to you. In coaching, we always follow the pace of the learner.

Above all, be gentle with yourself or others. The past few years have been a challenging time collectively. Assume that every single person you encounter is carrying a heavy internal load. We are in this as one big human family, and the only way out is through.

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

The Business of Life Coaching
How to Set Your Rates and Create Coaching Packages
Explore pricing formulas and industry benchmarks to help set your fees
Team JRNI
Oct 21, 2021
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Determining what to charge for your services is one of the biggest decisions you’ll need to make as a professional coach. Set a coaching rate that’s too low, and your business won’t be sustainable. But if you overshoot what your ideal clients are willing to pay, that’s not a long term recipe for success either!

In this article, we’ll explore how to confidently set your coaching fees. In the sections that follow, you’ll learn:

  • How to find industry benchmarks and average life coach rates 
  • Why you need to think beyond an “hourly rate”
  • How much YOU need to earn to be viable
  • The way most coaches really earn a living
  • How to establish a Signature coaching program

Coaching Industry Intel

The good news is that you’re not operating in a vacuum. There are tens of thousands of coaches successfully doing business today, which means we’ve got some serious market data to work with! 

There are many sources online that publish life coach salaries. From the Bureau of Labor to PayScale, you’re going to see a wide range of figures. It's not that average coach salary data is difficult to find - the challenge is in deciding which figures are most credible. 

In our view, the International Coaching Federations’s ICF Global Coaching Study is THE go-to source for industry information and analysis. Conducted once every four years, this expansive research study analyzes responses from more than 22,000 coaches worldwide. In this article we’re referencing the ICF’s most recent results, published in 2020. 

We’ve poured through its contents to simplify what the survey reveals, and how those findings relate to you.

Here’s how the numbers break down by coaching specialty:

  • Life coaches average $130 per hour
  • Business coaches average $330 per hour

Now let’s check out coaching rates by years of experience:

  • >1 year experience = $128 per hour
  • 1-2 years = $152 per hour
  • 3-4 years = $194 per hour
  • 5-10 years = $256 per hour
  • 10+ years = $321 per hour

Benchmarking data can be a useful starting point, and for many people knowing the averages can feel helpful. With that said, it’s also only one factor in determining what rate makes most sense for YOU to charge. Let’s take a look at what else you’ll want to consider.

Do you have an Entrepreneur Mindset?

Is starting a life coaching business your first foray into self employment? If so, charging your clients $100 or more for an hour-long session might feel like a big leap at first! Feeling tentative about this is perfectly normal. The important thing is that you don’t transfer that uncertainty onto your clients.

Many who are just starting out wonder, “Am I really worth it?”

If that’s you, chances are you may be wrestling with Imposter Syndrome. If you need some tools to help overcome it, check out this resource: How to Handle Imposter Syndrome (As A Life Coach).

Our best advice? Price your services correctly from the start. For many new coaches, this may require a mental shift from an “employee” mindset to that of a professional service provider. 

Here’s a quick example to illustrate the point:

The average annual coach salary in North America is $66,500. If that translated to a standard 40 hour a week job, your “rate” would break down to $31.85 per hour. 

So why are even brand new coaches charging 3-4 times that amount?

Simple: for every hour you spend with a client, there are several hours required behind the scenes to run your coaching business. As a new life coach, the way your energy gets divided may surprise you at first!

Diagram "How most new coaches actually spend their time"


Many life coaches spend 40% of their time doing marketing, 20% handling business and administrative tasks, and 20% of their time in client sessions. The rest of the time may be devoted to other services they offer.

As your coaching practice and reputation grows, these ratios will most likely shift away from business administration and sales to more direct client hours. Even so, you’ll always need to dedicate a certain amount of time toward running the business and attracting new clients (or hire someone to handle this for you!) 

As a business owner, you’ll want to separate the idea of an “hourly rate” from what you charge for a coaching session. What life coaches charge reflects the market value of the coaching services being provided. Your fee should be at a level that ensures your coaching practice is sustainable. 

So, with all this in mind - what’s the right way of pricing a coaching service?

What’s Your Ideal Client Willing to Pay?

When it comes to pricing a coaching package, your mindset isn’t the only thing that figures into the equation. You’ll also need to consider the mindset and realities of the clients you are planning to serve.

As you no doubt noticed above, there’s a big spread between what different types of coaches are charging. Can you guess why that is? 

A great deal depends on who is paying your fee, what results the client expects from working together, and how they perceive the value of those outcomes.

Business coaches have a direct impact on a company’s bottom line, and can help drive higher performance and earnings. There’s often a clear return on investment from dollars spent on coaching. The benefits of “life coaching”, on the other hand, are equally real… but may not be as easily translated in such quantifiable terms. 

If you know a business investment is likely to pay itself back several times over, the cost/benefit is simple to measure. But when it comes to personal transformation, what evidence might your client need to be assured that the investment they are making to work with you will be worth it?

To discover what people might be willing to pay for your coaching services, consider the following:

  • What’s the outcome you’re offering, and how can you prove you’re able to deliver it?
  • Do you have a sense of how much disposable income your ideal clients might have to work with?
  • What are their attitudes and beliefs about making a large financial investment in themselves?
  • Is the coaching you’ll provide primarily for personal or professional growth? Will their employer be sponsoring the coaching fees?

Not sure who your ideal clients are? If you haven’t decided what your coaching speciality is, you’ll want to do that! For insight into what’s trending, check out our guide: 20 Hottest Life Coaching Niches.

How to Set Your Coaching Fees

Let's start with some basic math. You may have experimented with some of these calculations already, but if not then now’s the time! 

FORMULA: Desired Net Income + Expenses + Taxes ÷ Annual Hours = Hourly Rate

Here's how to get to the numbers you'll plug into your formula:

  • What’s your desired NET income? (How much you’ll "take home" after taxes & business expenses)
  • Estimate your annual business expenses. (Website, scheduling tools, software, equipment, space, insurance, etc.)
  • Identify a flat tax rate based on your personal situation. (28% is a standard place to start if you’re not sure)
  • What’s the number of hours you want to work? (Include however many holidays, “paid vacations, etc. you want so you can calculate the actual number of days you intend to actually work per year!)

EXAMPLE:

  • I want to earn $75,000 NET
  • I think my expenses will be around $8,000
  • I'd like 10 national holidays, plus 4 weeks of vacation
  • I plan to work 5 days a week, with 4 billable hours per day

This comes out to 230 days of work, which translates into 920 billable working hours.

Now let's plug those numbers into the formula to calculate the hourly rate you'll need to average in order to meet your net income target:

$75,000 net + $8,000 expenses + $21,000 taxes/ 920 = $113/hour

Know How Coaches Really Make A Living

Remember that ICF coach salary survey? It reveals another fun fact that’s useful to know as you're considering how to make a sustainable living in the coaching industry. Check this out:

More than half the coaches surveyed have more than one income stream.

In other words, the majority of professional coaches are doing something in addition to working with clients in one-on-one coaching sessions.

Other income pathways include:

  • Group Coaching
  • Membership Programs
  • Podcasting
  • Guest lecturing
  • Courses
  • Retreats
  • Writing
  • Consulting
  • Products

Combining 1:1 coaching with other offerings doesn’t just increase your annual revenue. Diversification is also a smart strategy for buffering against the natural ebbs and flows in your coaching roster. Sometimes you may be working with 15 clients at once. Other times, you might have just 2 or 3 people on the books. Having multiple revenue streams can help even out that ride. 

Many of the "other services" that coaches offer act as a pipeline for attracting new 1:1 clients. One or two low priced entry offers can lead to high ticket coaching package sales down the road.

Points of entry services include e-books, pre-recorded classes, online workshops, webinars, and membership programs. Done well, these products can provide you with “evergreen” income while also building an audience for your other services.

Looking for other ideas on how to put your coaching skills to work? Check out Careers in Life Coaching: Options and Opportunities. This handy guide includes a list of companies that hire life coaches.

How to Create a Signature Coaching Package

Beyond bundling coaching packages into sets of 5 or 10 consecutive sessions, a “Signature” coaching program offers participants a clearly defined experience. We're talking now about programs designed to help clients achieve a particular outcome. Your Signature offer is about guiding people through the process of transformation within your particular coaching specialty or niche. For this reason, Signature programs command a premium price.

So how do you create Signature coaching services?

1. Define the result

What will you help your ideal client achieve? To create a coaching program that sells, begin by identifying the transformation participants can expect from your program. Ideally, this is clearly stated in 12 words or fewer, using language that resonates for your potential client.

Sample offer statements:

  • “I help women overcome stress and anxiety, naturally.”
  • “I help singers transform into extraordinary artists.”
  • “I help professionals and businesses break through career plateaus.”
  • “I help exhausted women take their energy back.”
  • “I help LGBTQ+ folks become rejection proof.”

2. Develop the structure

Consider what components you plan to include in your program, and how long will it take to achieve the desired results. 8-12 weeks is considered the “sweet spot” for many coaching programs. That's generally long enough to achieve results, but not so long that people begin to lose focus and momentum.

Come up with your weekly themes or topics, along with exercises and homework that will stay constant for all participants. Throughout the program, expect to also layer in action steps that are uniquely tailored for each client.

Decide what the experience looks like inside the program. 

  • How will the weekly lessons be delivered? 
  • Is it a live experience, or will you be providing a pre-recorded online coaching course?
  • Will it consist of 1:1 sessions with you, or group coaching?
  • Is it meant to be an individual experience, or will there be a community component such as group calls or an online discussion forum?
  • Will you be enlisting other experts to contribute content and add to the overall experience for your clients?

Remember that whatever you come up with today isn’t set in stone. Don’t be afraid to mix things up and make changes to the program as you go. 

3. Pricing

Transformation has value, and a Signature program that delivers on the promised results is worth more than the sum of its parts! In this sense, there isn’t a standard formula for figuring it out. Programs in the 8-12 week range are priced anywhere from $1,000 - $5,000 (and beyond).

Some factors to consider when setting your price point:

  • What expertise do you bring to the table?
  • How much experience do you have coaching people within this niche?
  • Is your program still in BETA testing?
  • Do you have a track record of helping clients achieve the transformation you’ve described for the program, along with testimonials to back it up?

If you haven’t already done so, consider doing some market research at this stage. Are there similar services out there in your niche? What do they entail, and what’s the pricing look like?

Adding It Up!

Whether you're delivering one on one coaching, or plan to offer a Signature coaching program, remember that your initial pricing isn’t set in stone. This is one reason why some coaches choose not to publish coaching rates. As you learn, adjust and grow your approach or program, and accumulate client success stories, you may quickly decide to adjust the price.

READY FOR LIFTOFF?

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6 Steps To Start Coaching Today booklet

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Plus, when you sign up -- we'll keep you up to date weekly with coaching techniques, and the occasional much-needed kick in the pants to keep you motivated on your coaching journey.

So, what're you waitin' for? Let's get started!


Inspiration
Play: The Essential Ingredient To A Thriving Life
Guest blog by Sharon Calderón
Team JRNI
Oct 20, 2021
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Inspiration
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Guest blog by Sharon Calderón

Sharon Calderon

Sharon is no stranger to taking chances and living a life she loves on purpose. She is an emotional wellness and resilience coach as well as a play activist. Through her own life experiences with adversity, she has discovered how the power of reclaiming play and recognizing the importance of emotional nourishment are keys to helping overcome even life’s most challenging situations. 

She embraces the vibrancy of what life has to offer, and makes radical authenticity a non-negotiable in every venture she takes on. She will dare you to dive head first into your dreams and aspirations with equal measures of courage and love, all the while being a warm support to hold you through your own process of self discovery.

Sharon Calderón is 2021 graduate of the JRNI Coaching Intensive. She would love for you to connect on her internet playgrounds on Instagram @shar.ingcreations or by visiting her website https:/linktr.ee/shar.ingcreations.  

How Returning to Play Shaped My Path as A Coach

For as long as I can recall, I’ve enjoyed seeing people shine in their self expression and helping others grow to their fullest potential. You might say that was a positive side effect from childhood trauma, but that's another story for another day.  

What I remember vividly is wanting to help friends communicate their differences to find understanding and empathy. As you might imagine, this made me an excellent playground friendship mediator! In high school, I enjoyed guiding and supporting others into their confidence and skill in my role as the alto section leader for our choir. 

But could I make a career out of these naturally emerging skills?

Throughout my childhood and even well into adulthood, I never identified with just one job as an answer to the prevalent question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?” It seemed like a daunting (and honestly boring) undertaking to pick just ONE thing to do for the rest of my life. 

I have many unique passions, and as a self proclaimed multi-hyphenate, I knew I needed variety to help me feel most alive. Only problem was, I listened to other people’s advice on what path I should take. This led me down some interesting roads, but they never felt quite my own.

Fast forward a few years. With the advent of the pandemic, I - along with the rest of humanity - was given the opportunity to spend a portion of time in a vortex to ponder the significance of my life. There’s nothing like a bit of daily existential dread to help wake up to the longings of one’s heart!

I asked myself a question I think many of us were asking ourselves at that point: 

“What do I want to do?”

As I got still in the silence, I found my answer:

 “I want to do FUN!”

I had no logical explanation at that point of what “fun” as a career looked like for me. No path ahead saying, “Here’s what’cha do and who to talk to next to live out your purpose”. I simply remembered the feeling of joy during my time as an early childhood educator. I wanted to recreate the fun, but bring in my drive to make an impact with it in an even greater way. 

Instead of trying to figure it all out at once, I allowed myself to open up and receive whatever came up as my truth. I followed that feeling like a compass, on a quest to locate my true-north direction. During the process, I developed a deep trust in myself as I realized that this journey was mine to experience. 

I would never have guessed what would come next. Little did I know that within the next year I would be helping others do this exact same thing as a coach! 

Why Play? 

I will shout this till the cows come home: Play is for ALL.  

Trust me, I get it - as an adult, you may not necessarily subscribe to the word “play”. Just hear me out! If you’re already sensing some resistance to this idea, that’s an interesting thing to get curious about. I’ve found that what we resist or cast a skeptical light towards is often the thing that helps us find deeper meaning and self awareness. 

Play can be identified in many ways and is called many things: 

  • Passion
  • Desire
  • Pleasure
  • Art
  • Joy
  • Fun
  • Indulgence
  • Learning
  • Enjoyment
  • Excitement
  • Exploration  

You get to define it. Play is anything that aligns with the creation of positive experiences in life that don’t require a specific “result”. 

And who doesn’t want a healthy dose of all of that goodness?

The Power of Play

My mission as a play activist is to help make the concepts of play not only accessible but achievable. I like to think of this work as a homecoming, a vital component to rehumanizing humanity. It’s time to reframe the way we value play in society, to help us evolve from survival and oppressive states to truly thriving within ourselves and in our communities.

Play is the sacred process of learning how to become a human being. And I’m here to suggest that most of us have had or are suffering from an epidemic of different proportions. Our culture suffers from an emotional and spiritual malnourishment known as play deprivation. 

Dr. Stuart Brown, the granddaddy of modern day play research and the founder of the National Institute for Play, identified the consequences of play deprivation as a “lack of vital life engagement; diminished optimism; stuck-in-a-rut feeling about life with little curiosity or exploratory imagination to alter their situation; predilection to escapist temporary fixes…alcohol, excessive exercise, (or other compulsions); a personal sense of being life’s victim rather than life’s conqueror.” (source: Consequences of Play Deprivation). 

I believe every person deserves to live a joy-filled life, in whatever way they wish to create it for themselves. 

That being said, in order for each of us to truly enjoy those freedoms, there must be acknowledgement and discussion of the oppressive systems that perpetuate societal issues of disconnection and suffering. I acknowledge that the thought of play can seem like one of privilege. This is my “why” for committing to serving others and standing in agreement that play is a human rights issue.

Play and Coaching

In my world, these two concepts go hand in hand. Coaching is the vehicle, and play is the highway to get my clients where they want to go and who they want to be.

My work as a Play Coach involves being curious and asking questions that allow my client’s deep inner wisdom to shine as a beacon to illuminate their personal path. Through this process, clients experience the freedom to express and discover themselves in a new and expansive way. Sometimes it feels like magic - an evolution taking place before my very eyes!

Lasting results take intentional work. But that work doesn’t always have to be difficult! 

As coaches, we help our clients explore the unconscious mind. We assist them in figuring out where they may be on “autopilot” and repeating patterns that keep them feeling stuck. Doing so opens up a mental doorway, allowing them to more purposefully choose actions that support their desired life goals. 

We’re learning more about the power of play every day. With the advancements in research across a whole host of multidisciplinary studies such as positive psychology, emotional intelligence, performance science, neuroscience/neuroplasticity, trauma-informed care and somatic experiencing, the long-lasting positive effects play has on our daily lives has never been more evident.

As simple as it is to say “play more and you’ll feel amazing!”, there is more nuance to adding purposeful play that needs exploring.

Coaching Tools

Here’s a few simple questions that you can use for yourself or your clients to help find the joy.

1. What is getting in the way of you choosing joy for yourself daily?

2. What would you do/be/have if nothing got in the way of that daily joy?

Time to daydream! Envisioning helps us create the embodied emotions of what we want to feel in the future right here in the present. By simulating the feelings during a coaching session, your client can gain access to a full body recognition when they are outside of session. That is the real “ah-ha”! 

3. What would your play look like to you? 

Identifying anything we used to be passionate about or interested in during childhood gives excellent clues as to what we may want to try now.

4. What would help you maintain play as a part of your daily life?

Play for Thriving

“We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything than when we are playing.” - Charles Schaefer, American psychologist and "Father of Play Therapy" 

By supporting and embracing a play-full life, you are helping to develop a counter culture that has the ability to break so many barriers. When we’re operating from joy, we’re:

  • Promoting a more consciously aware society that’s able to generate equitable, cooperative, and creative solutions to both large and small scale problems
  • Reducing trauma related symptoms due to improved emotional intelligence and relational skills such as empathy, compassion, and self-awareness
  • Increasing holistic healing in order for the collective to live in a more aligned way

Play is the epitome of a thriving life. It is not just our birth right, it is the foundation of our expression and evolutionary process as humans. And I would say, that is no trivial matter indeed!

Want to Become A Coach?

One of our values at JRNI is that we dare to be different. Our coaches like Sharon ignore the expectations society tries to impose on them, and seek to live from their own truth instead. If you are ready to step into your power and you’d like some partners in the process, come check out JRNI Life Coach Training. Grounded in science, our ICF accredited program features authentic instructors, a robust curriculum, and business instruction to prepare you for liftoff.

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

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