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Plans fail for lack of counsel, but with many advisers, they succeed. – Proverbs 15:22

We don’t always have all the answers we need, no matter how smart or wise we may be. It’s one of the ways God keeps us humble through needing other people to speak into our lives or even to give us clarity about what’s in our hearts and minds. Instead of stumbling in the dark on our own, we can look to other people with the skillset that can help us to reach our goals and improve our lives.

It used to be the case that only business executives had access to people who could help them overcome obstacles and achieve success. In recent years, “life coaches” have gained prominence in the popular lexicon as more and more people have made use of them and made a lot of gains in their lives. But what are life coaches, what precisely do they do, and might you benefit from engaging one?

What do life coaches do?

One definition of what a life coach is would be to think of them as an individual whose skill enables them to look after the wellness of people and help them achieve their full potential. Life coaches address a broad range of personal and professional concerns. What they do is more specific than mentoring or getting advice, as typically life coaches will help people with specific transitions, projects, and goals.

You can find different types of life coaches who specialize in certain areas, such as career, relationship, fitness, financial, life skills, and spirituality coaches. Depending on what goals you’re trying to meet you can find the right type of life coach to help you meet that goal.

A helpful analogy to understand what a life coach does is to look at the coach of a sports team. The coach doesn’t enter the game to play it for the players. A good coach can take in the state of play, knows the strengths of the player and the obstacles they face.

With the player, he develops a strategy that the player implements and he’s there all the way to support the player. When you make use of a life coach, the aim is for you to be empowered and encouraged to become your own champion and meet your goals. As professionals, they are trained to ask the right questions and discern the issues at stake.

A life coach is not someone who will do the work needed for you to achieve your goals. They typically don’t solve your problems for you; they just help you think through things, take inventory of the tools you have, strategize how to use them effectively, and keep you accountable as you do the work to implement the plan.

There are a wide variety of things that a life coach does to help a client reach their full potential, and these include the following:

  • A life coach can help you analyze your current situation. They help you assess where you are, which is important when you want to figure out where you want to go and the tools you have on hand to get you to your destination. Being able to do an in-depth inventory of the current situation is thus invaluable.
  • Strategize. Having assessed where a client is, a life coach can help a person by creating strategies to help them improve their careers, day-to-day lives, and relationships.
  • Life coaches help give you a fresh perspective on issues you’re facing. By inviting a discerning, objective outsider to think through things with, you gain a fresh and clear perspective.
  • Life coaches can help you identify negative patterns of thought or behavior that negatively affect your success. Perhaps if you engage in negative self-talk or sabotage your career prospects, a life coach can help you identify those patterns.
  • A coach can help you to clarify your goals, set out steps to achieve them, and provide you with problem-solving skills to address the challenges that may come up along the way.
  • A life coach provides accountability. Sometimes we may set goals but don’t achieve them because we don’t apply ourselves consistently, and no one can ask us the tough questions that will keep us on task.
  • Lastly, a life coach can help you find your skills, passions, and ideal potential career paths so that you can maximize your potential. Sometimes, we don’t thrive in the situations we find ourselves in because we’re not in the place we ought to be. Our skills may be better used in a different job or workspace.

Do I need a life coach?

A life coach helps people to move from where they are to where they want to be. You could use a life coach if any or all of these apply to you:

  • You’re unable to break unhealthy habits that prevent you from meeting your goals.
  • You are feeling dissatisfied and unfulfilled at work, and your creativity feels stunted.
  • Perhaps you’re thinking of a career change or another similar significant life change, and you need guidance. A life coach can help you assess the situation and strategize with you how to make and manage the transition.
  • You need accountability to keep you on track to meet your goals. Some people procrastinate and struggle to meet their goals because of it. Having a life coach helps with accountability, as each new session will follow up on progress made from the last time.
  • If you want help to achieve your goals, like a better work/life balance, more financial security, enhanced communication skills, stronger and more meaningful relationships, deepened creativity, getting rid of fears that have held you back, getting a life coach may help you meet those goals.

When thinking about the work that life coaches do, there are some areas of overlap with what therapists do. However, they’re not like therapists – life coaches can’t treat mental health conditions such as depression and anxiety, and they have different ethical standards that apply to them, such as health privacy laws.

If you have mental health concerns that are preventing you from meeting your goals and reaching your full potential, finding a mental health professional is the way to go, because a life coach isn’t the right person for the job.

Finding the right coach for you

Once you have decided that a life coach is the right person for the right job to help you meet certain goals, there are a few important questions you can ask to find the right coach for you. Take the time to find out how your prospective life coach works. Some coaches prefer to work in person, while others may typically use an online platform.

It may be more convenient for you to use one platform over another, due to location, cost, or other factors, but you must go with what works for you. Additionally, different coaches will bring a certain philosophy to the sessions.

Their personality and style will also affect how they do their coaching, and you need to ask if that style resonates with your personality and your goals. If you have your first session and it just isn’t working for you, keep looking for a coach with whom you will work well.

Lastly, you need to do your research. As coaching does not require a degree to practice (a degree is one of several minimum requirements for therapists), not all methods and the training hours required for qualification as a life coach are the same.

This means there may be a variance in the quality of coaching you receive, as well as the methods that life coaches will use. Doing your research lets you know what’s out there, what the general standards are in the industry, what most people have found useful, and what will likely be a good fit for you, and what you want to accomplish by getting a coach.

Finding the right life coach might just be what you need to help you reach your goals. Go to the next level and book an appointment with a life coach to reach your full potential and get you where you want to go.

Photos:
“I feel like makin’ dreams come true”, Courtesy of Peter Fogden, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Smiling Woman”, Courtesy of Mateus Campos Felipe, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “Difficult roads…beautiful destinations”, Courtesy of Hello I’m Nik, Unsplash.com, CC0 License; “The Sign You’ve Been Looking For”, Courtesy of Austin Chan, Unsplash.com, CC0 License

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