What Is a Life Coach, and Do I Even Need One?

Ms. Baldwin, my high school field hockey coach, was full of energy and spunk. She had a bouncing blond ponytail and wore leather high-top Reeboks in different colors that always matched her leggings. Ms. Baldwin embraced all the characteristics of a true coach. I can still see her running up and down the grassy field, holding her whistle and shouting “Go get ’em!” from the sidelines. She would literally jump two feet in the air when we scored.

But what do we do when high school is over and we still need help getting focused and winning our own game of life?

Getting to the Next Level with a Life Coach

If you had a personal life coach, what area of your life would you most want to work on? Do you feel ready to commit to transforming that area of your life? It might be time to consider hiring a life coach.

Great coaches don’t provoke you; they evoke. They guide you and help you clarify your life vision, set seasonal goals, and stay motivated as you make progress. What my coaching clients find is that it isn’t the goal that changes them; it’s WHO they become once they accomplish the goal. When Ms. Baldwin jumped up and down, it wasn’t just about the goal. It was about us changing, engaging in teamwork, and leaving the field with higher self-esteem based on seeing the results of practicing our craft.

Good coaches aren’t doing this work to make a sale. They are genuinely curious about people and want their clients to live their lives to the fullest. They want to collaborate and learn from their ideal clients, and while they are getting paid to coach them, the love they have for their clients is free.

Coaches are partners who remind you of your long-term vision and short-term seasonal goals. They point out who they see you becoming with authentic compliments that help you see that, every day, you are moving toward an improved version of yourself. You are investing in the new you by trusting the coaching process and knowing that you will have ongoing support and accountability, targeted at helping you get to that next level in your career or personal life and become something greater in the process.

You shouldn’t hire a life coach because it’s trendy. You should hire a life coach because you’re excited about a life that is bigger than the one you are currently living and want support as you strive toward it.

Find a Life Coach Who Fits Your Niche

Life coaches have different niches. For example, I hired a dissertation coach to help me complete my dissertation (Sally Jensen). There are coaches for people who might want to start or grow their business (I worked with Jill Berquist when I opened my practice). Others might need a coach who really understands their struggles, such as an ADD coach or grief coach (Iris Arenson-Fuller is a great one).

I talk frequently with Amy Cotter, my amazing life coach. While we’re working on my goal of getting published in the fiction space, we aren’t working specifically on landing a book deal. We are working on WHO I am becoming as I take action toward my goals. That is what I strive to do with my clients as well.

Once you know your vision, look for a coach who is within that niche. Then look through the International Coaching Federation’s website and consider hiring a certified life coach. Certified life coaches will have an ACC, PCC, or MCC after their name to show they have received some sort of coach training. There are several coaching schools; I received my training from Coach U online.

Interview one to three coaches to see if you have chemistry with them and if they are within your price range. Some newer coaches will be less expensive than MCC coaches with many years of experience, but if you invest what you can in your personal and professional development, I know you won’t be disappointed.

I like to share my passion for the coaching process and help potential clients find the right coach for them—and if that isn’t me, that is totally okay. Not everyone I talk with is an ideal client for me. If I don’t think we’re the best fit for each other after the first coaching session, I make a referral to another coach.

I love working with women who are seeking to create balance in their lives as they work to live to their full potential. I find that the common denominator with my ideal clients is that they come to their coaching sessions with an open mind, ready to roll up their sleeves and do the work. They aren’t expecting me to “perform.” Instead, they allow me to listen actively and ask them strategic questions such as “Who do you feel like you would be if you lost that weight?” I let them self-direct their coaching. I am there as a partner and guide, not a consultant or expert.

Make Sure You Need a Life Coach

Sometimes, people sign up for coaching when what they really need is a personal trainer, a tutor for help passing a professional exam, or a therapist. Therapists look at a client’s past, while coaches look at what the client wants to attract in the future. So in my first session with clients, I try to explain the differences between coaching and therapy and make sure the client understands that coaching is a process; coming to one life-coaching session won’t yield tremendous results.

Clients need to be committed to creating a transformation in their lives. And while clients may come to coaching with one presenting issue (running a marathon, getting promoted, improving their marriage), once they work with a coach, they will experience a transformation that will present itself in all areas of their lives. That is why I love the coaching process.

I invite you to connect with a couple of coaches and choose the one you have the most chemistry with, the one who will motivate you to move quickly toward that best version of yourself. If you have a life coach, leave a comment and let me know how having a coach has helped you achieve more and, more importantly, become a better version of yourself. I’m pretty confident that it will.

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