Several years ago, I found myself in my early thirties, unsatisfied with where I was in life. Sure, life was good according to your standard living metrics. I was healthy, I had a stable job, my incoming cash was positive and accumulating.
Yet, still I felt unsatisfied and bored. I was surviving, but there were so many experiences I still wanted. I wanted to play in a band, I wanted to meet an amazing woman, I wanted to feel more alive. First world problems these may have been, but that did not quell my appetite.
So, what did I do?
I hired a Life Coach
Well, I hired a life coach. It’s not something I’ve told many people, and it’s probably because it felt somewhat embarrassing. I felt like people might judge me. After all, it’s difficult for most people to openly admit to working with a therapist or counselor, even though the stigma is beginning to lift.
But, life coaches aren’t really as recognized as therapists or psychologists. And, it makes sense. To become a licensed therapist, or counselor there’s a regulated certification process. You have to get a degree, complete supervised hours, and take a licensing exam.
To be a life coach, you more or less just self-anoint yourself as a life coach. This does inherently create some problems, and is one of the reasons life coaching is often criticized, and life coaches are sometimes seen as quacks and con artists.
However, I think there is a place for life coaches, and a very separate role they play from therapists and counselors. And, if you find the right life coach, it can actually help you out quite a bit. I speak from experience.
So, if you’re thinking about hiring a life coach right now, but you’re not sure if you should, this article is for you. I won’t answer the question for you… but I’ll try to offer some insight based on my own experience.
What Does a Life Coach Do?
The role of a life coach is unique. And, to understand it, it’s best to look at the word “coach”.
To understand what a life coach does you first have to understand what a coach does. So, if you’ve ever had an athletic (or otherwise) coach, think about this for second.
What does a coach do?
An effective coach does a lot of things. But, at the core of their skills…
- They are focused on goals
- They are strategic in identifying the paths to reach those goals
- They identify road blocks and provide support to overcome them
- They provide accountability
Let’s apply this framework to an athletic coach as an example.
An NFL football coach may have the ultimate goal of taking his team to the super bowl. To reach that goal he has to develop a strategy to make it to the play offs, and to win the divisional championships. But they also need to recognize the strengths, limitations, and challenges their team will face. Once these limitations are recognized, the coach can address them and provide support to strengthen them. Lastly, the coach provides accountability. Every day at practice, there’s someone making sure you show up. Because, strategy and ability only work as long as you show up.
Okay, with that said, what does a life coach do?
Similar to an athletic coach, a life coach is there to help you reach your goals. They’ll help you to strategize and work through your limitations to reach those goals you’ve been struggling with. Then they’ll keep you accountable to making forward progress.
Working with a life coach is all about reaching your goals. For most of us, we have some pretty ambitious goals. And, when we reach for them we can run up against some pretty serious self-limiting beliefs, our focus can stray, and an unfulfilling cycle can develop.
A good life coach can help you break that cycle, keyword being YOU. No one can reach your goals for you, but a little one-on-one support can go a long way.
Do I need a Life Coach?
When I hired a life coach, I was feeling stuck. I had goals and desires, but I felt like I was standing still as time ticked by. I didn’t want to be 35, 40, 50 and not have reached some of my goals. I had already been staring the same goals down for 15 years.
I had to act.
If your in a similar boat, you might benefit from a life coach. In particular, I found it helpful for challenging my limiting beliefs, and keeping me oriented on my goals.
I realized that I often got in my own way with limiting beliefs. Rather than developing strategies to reach my goals, I was stuck thinking “I’m not good enough”. For me, my life coach helped called me on my bullshit, and get past those limiting excuses. They helped me orient myself based on my goals, and take action.
And, as I took action I also began to evade some of these limiting beliefs that had plagued me for so long.
Things to Work on With a Life Coach
Everybody probably has slightly different things they probably want to work on with a life coach. A big piece, as I outlined above, is often oriented around defeating self-limiting beliefs. But by defeating those, I worked toward specific goals, like the following examples.
- I started a band, booked shows and recorded an album – a lifetime dream.
- I met the woman of my dreams and now am married to her.
- I spoke up for what I wanted in my career, and relationships.
These are just a few things to work on with a life coach. For me, they were the big things I gained from my experience.
How to Find a Life Coach
Times have changed a bit since I hired my life coach. Life coaching was a new thing. And, there weren’t many academic programs or certification programs for life coaching.
So, I found my life coach from a podcast I listened to. I liked the podcast, and I found myself learning a lot from each episode. I thought, “what if I hired this guy? Imagine how much I could learn then and put into action.” I scheduled a 30 minute intro call, and the rest is history.
Obviously, you want to find a good fit with your life coach. I’d look for someone you identify with. Maybe they have a blog you like. If you can get some insight into who they are and their approach to coaching, you can get an idea of what it might be like to work with them. This is preferred to hiring someone blindly.
There are also a number of programs now that give Coaching certificates. While this isn’t necessary, it does let you know that they have some sort of training. One of the most well regarded programs I’ve seen is the Catalyst Coaching Intensive.
Life Coaching Misconceptions
There’s a lot of negative information about life coaching. Some people even accuse life coaching as being a con. The reality is that life coaching is not a con, and that it can be incredibly helpful in the right situation with the right coach.
However, some people can give coaching a bad rap. Since there is no governing body, life coaching is accessible to whoever wants to do it. And, with such a low point of entry, yeah, it probably attracts some con artists. That’s not unlike a lot of other industries.
If you’re hiring a life coach you do need to be careful. Pay attention. Steer away from coaches who speak in broad general statements. Talk with them before you hire them. Most legit coaches will offer a 30 minute call to see if you’re a good fit for each other. Use that. If you get any red flags, look elsewhere for someone with a certification and/or reputation.
The bottom line – there are good life coaches and bad ones. Be cautious, and careful with who you choose, but don’t write off the entire service. If you find someone you click with, and you feel motivated to work with, why not give it a shot?