Life coaching is a technique used to help people to achieve their full potential. Through phone calls, video calls, and sometimes face to face sessions, life coaches accompany, guide, motivate and support people past obstacles that can be impeding them from achieving their goals. By having meaningful conversations and asking questions, life coaches help people to evaluate and define their situation and to choose what steps they need to take to make positive changes in their lives. Life coaching helps people to align their life with what they want and who they are, with who and what they want to become.
Life Coaching: What is it?
Life coaching believes that every person has the potential within them to become whatever they want to be and to achieve whatever they choose at both a personal and a professional level. A life coach works with a person in a partnership dedicated to helping them to define themselves and to envision the kind of life that they wish to achieve. Life coaching encourages people to discover their own solutions to problems and obstacles under the guidance and help of the coach.
Life coaching can take place on an individual personal development level, where life coaches help people to stay focused on their life plan and provide motivation and guidance. They give support and encouragement and celebrate with the person as they achieve each step on their path towards achieving their goals. Life coaches accompany the person through the entire process of change, from identifying the problems, planning a strategy, keeping motivation up and keeping focused, and celebrating achievements. They are like personal trainers who help people achieve their life goals, rather than their fitness goals.
Companies often seek the service of life coaches to boost their employee’s performance, productivity, confidence, communication skills, and team spirit.
Life Coaching vs. Therapy
In therapy, the relationship between the therapist and the client is somewhat detached. Clients express their problems to the therapist, who interprets them, usually in relation to past events, and tells the person how to deal with them. In life coaching, however, the focus is on the present and in finding solutions together. The relationship with a life coach is much closer and they are more like a trusted friend with whom the person can communicate freely and discuss subjects in depth. In life coaching, the emphasis is on guiding the person to discover their own solutions by asking the right questions.
How Can Life Coaching Help Cause Change?
Life coaching can help cause change in several ways. It can help people to identify their goals and inspire them to find new ways to achieve them by employing the specific strategies and skills that the coach has been trained in. Life coaching can help people to identify negative thought patterns or actions that are holding them back or causing them distress. It also helps people to stay focused on their goals and motivated to achieve them by providing constant support, guidance. Life coaching can help to get people out of a rut in which they may have become entrenched due to fear, ignorance or to maintain a safe level of comfort. Many people need a bit of a push to make changes that can be beneficial to them and life coaching can do this. A life coach ensures that the person takes responsibility for their actions and behaviors in their life, and they act as the catalyst to help to guide them towards making the right decisions to achieve their life goals. Life coaches do not tell people what to do, they empower them to make their own right decisions.
What Happens in a Life Coaching Session?
Life coaching sessions usually take place over the phone, as a video conference. Sessions normally last 30-45-minutes and occur once a week, usually over a period of about a year. These methods let life coaches keep in contact with their clients, even if one, or both, are traveling, or are not always located in the same place. For group coaching, it is more common for the coach to travel to the workplace of the group to impart the session face to face.
Often coaches will hold a short preliminary session to discover whether the person is suited to life coaching and the see if they establish the essential connection necessary for coaching success.
Some coaches specialize in a particular area, and clients can choose from general life and life balance coaches, health and relationship coaches, as well as personal finance, small business and executive coaches.
Techniques Used in Life Coaching
Powerful conversations are at the heart of life coaching, and life coaches are trained to ask questions which will make the person really think deeply about their answer. This allows them to thoroughly examine different aspects of their life and find out reasons why they are not achieving what they want and to learn how to do so. During this process, both the coach and the client build up a clearer picture of how the person views their life and exactly what their desires and limitations are. This helps the coach to develop plans of action and appropriate exercises to head the person towards their stated goals.
Coaches may subscribe to different processes, but most follow this basic pattern.
- Clarify the goals that the person wishes to achieve. It is important to establish the ultimate, big dream of the person. A life coach will never judge a person’s dream or try to dissuade them from following it. They will do everything in their power to support and guide the person to fulfill their dreams, and a trained coach is able to help a person to interpret their thoughts and dreams in a clearer manner than they could achieve alone. Many people may feel passionate about something, but they don’t pursue this dream for a variety of reasons. While some people may try to obtain a dream using inadequate methods which will never allow them to achieve it. In both these cases, a life coach can help the person to identify and set goals that can be obtained.
- Establish where the person is currently. A life coach can assist the person to evaluate their present situation in an unbiased and objective manner. It is important to have a factual and true base from which to start making changes. At this point, the person’s strengths and weaknesses, personality traits, and beliefs will all be evaluated, and the coach may administer tests which can provide current factual data. This standardized data can help the coach to develop a successful plan to put into practice. The coach can help people to uncover hidden thought processes or patterns which are restricting their development or identify false beliefs which are limiting growth and stunting potential.
- Resources. Next, the coach and the client will brainstorm together all the resources that they have available to use. It is important to initially include even seemingly ridiculous options and later on to pick the ones that are most apt and realistic to pursue. The chosen resources may include reading blogs, or articles written by knowledgeable people that can serve as inspiration or finding a mentor. Books, paintings, music, meditation, exercise, and walks in the country are among the many resources that can be chosen.
- Create milestones. These are like small stepping stones which help people progress towards their overall goal. During this part of the process, the client-coach team will decide what the person is going to do and when they are going to do it. They will consider what the obstacles that might impede them from doing it are, and what support they may need to overcome them. Finally, they will discuss exactly how this action will contribute to the achievement of the overall goals. Life therapy concentrates on the present moment in time and appreciating where they currently are, allows people to create a path towards where they want to be in the future. A life coach helps people to find success, meaning, fulfillment, well-being, and happiness by establishing new behaviors and making small changes in their lives towards their stated goals.
- Homework. Life coaches often. ask people to practice tasks at home which reinforce what has been discussed during the session. These assignments are very specific and the completion of them is measured and recorded.
- Records. Many coaches make a sound or video recording of the session so that both parties can refer to it if they need to remind themselves of what was said. After a session, most coaches ask the person to fill out a follow-up form where what has been decided is put into a written agreement. Putting things into written words is a common practice in life therapy and helps not only to clarify things but also to make them more real. Many coaches also ask the person to keep a journal during the time they are receiving life coaching sessions. This can help the person to strengthen their commitment to the plan as well as to maintain a record of what has been proposed and achieved. Some coaches also create an action item which allows the person to communicate their progress to the therapist between sessions. Life coaching aims to decrease the gap between where the person currently is and where they want to end up and keeping track of the progress along this path helps to keep the person motivated, focused, and able to see that following the selected course of action is having visible results.
- Accountability. Is an important tool used in life coaching which helps people to follow through on the agreed course of action, and so helps them to achieve their goals faster. The coach will hold the person accountable for their progress, or lack of it, in implementing an agreed plan of action.
- Motivation. If the person runs into problems or becomes demotivated, the coach will do everything possible to put them back in touch with their values to keep the positive changing energy flowing. Sometimes the positive changes that need to be made can be daunting, such as ending an unhealthy relationship or starting new job with better prospects. A life coach can provide the strength and support to help people to make these major and necessary changes
- Celebration As each milestone is accomplished and each step toward forming the desired future is completed, both coach and client will join together in a well-deserved celebration which boosts confidence and keeps motivation high.
Does Life Coaching Work?
Yes, life coaching works if the coach is appropriately trained and establishes a good rapport with the client, and, if the person or group is open to serious conversations which can help them to identify problems and is willing to seek solutions to them. Life coaching is a serious commitment between both parties. The majority of people, or companies who have used life coaches, express their satisfaction with the results and affirm that they would use them again
What Kinds of Concerns is Life Coaching Best For?
Life coaching works best for people who are willing to examine their own situation in an honest a realistic manner and who are prepared to commit themselves to an agreed program to make changes necessary to achieve their goals. Life coaching can help people who are both over or under-ambitious, over or under demanding of perfection, lacking confidence, stuck in a rut, and many other situations.
How Are Life Coaching Specialists Trained?
There is currently no standardized training for life therapists, but the National Coach Association offers professional training of life coaches and sets the standard for the profession.
Concerns/Limitations of Life Coaching
Life coaching is not apt for people who are suffering from a mental illness.
Due to the current lack of standardization, some coaches charge excessively high prices and life coaching has become known as a rich people’s option.
Sometimes, people emulate the coach and want to model their own lifestyle on that of their coach. This is not the idea, as while the coach’s lifestyle may serve as inspiration, they are there to help the person to define and achieve their own personal dreams.
Some people want to convert their coach into their best friend. While a coach is there to offer inspiration and support, much as a friend would, the relationship with them is goal focused, and should not be used as a replacement for real personal friendships.
Important Practitioners in Life Coaching
Life coaching started during the 1960s, and Timothy Gallwey was one of the principal developers. Werner Erhard was another important practitioner who developed intensive self-empowerment workshops which promoted personal transformation and wellness as part of a broader movement to increase human potential. In the 1980s Thomas Leonard developed an actual methodology for life coaching in the US, and during the same period, Graham Alexander and John Whitmore were developing Life coaching in the UK and Europe. The 1990s saw a boom in life coaching which has continued to the present day, and now life coaching has emerged as a distinct profession.
How to Find a Life Coach
Life coaches use social media as one of their tools and so many people look for a coach on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram. As sessions are usually held over the phone or with video calls the coach does not need to be located nearby so giving you more freedom of choice.
What Should I be Looking for in a Coach?
Look for a coach who has experience and knowledge in the area where you need help. Find someone with whom you feel a bond and trust with.
Questions to Ask a Potential Coach
Can we have a trial session to see if we are suited?
How can life coaching help me?
How are coaching sessions held?
How often will the sessions be?
How long will the course take to complete?
Life coaching offers a professionally trained person who you can trust, to motivate, guide and support you through the agreed changes you need to make in your life to achieve your personal or professional goals. A life coach is committed to helping you to achieve your full potential and working by together you can achieve this.