What is a Life Coach? Do You Need One?
- What a life coach is
- What they do and don’t do
- The benefits of having one
- Why life coaching works
- Tips for finding the right coach
What Is a Life Coach?
So, what is a life coach? A life coach is a professional who facilitates “life coaching.” Their job is to teach the relevant skills, strategies, and approaches required for achieving maximum potential. Coaches analyze how to motivate a client to consistently play to their strengths. Additionally, they educate and develop people in areas that can increase success in life.
What Does a Life Coach Do?
A life coach starts the process of life coaching by asking questions about the client’s ideal vision for their life, then helps refine this picture, goal-set, and create a strategy. During this process, their help equips the client to navigate the road to achievement.
Yet, oftentimes, life coaching isn’t straightforward. Roadblocks like limiting beliefs may pop up when a person is working toward their goals. A life coach can help their client shift away from beliefs that have held them back in the past. Additionally, because life isn’t a linear journey, the unexpected can occur and affect the strategy. When this happens, the coach is there to teach ways to adapt so the client can continue to move forward.
Additionally, life coaches help their clients with:
- Having more work-life balance
- Increasing belief and confidence needed to pursue big goals and dreams
- Shifting out of a fixed mindset and into a growth mindset
- Developing positive daily habits for better productivity and mental health
- Working through the fear of failing or stepping outside of comfort zones
- Identifying unique gifts that speak to a person’s specific purpose
- Exploring their purpose in life and what brings them joy
- Establishing a life vision that speaks to this purpose
- Creating goals that help achieve their vision
- Being a source of accountability and motivation
- Overcoming obstacles that hinder them from reaching their objectives
What a Life Coach Isn’t
While there are different types of life coaches, they are not mental health professionals, such as therapists or counselors. Mental health professionals receive accreditation and training specifically for mental health purposes. If you are struggling in this way, understand a life coach is not as well-trained or equipped to handle mental health problems. Additionally, they are not legally allowed to perform therapy without a license.
Although there’s a difference between life coaching and therapy, life coaching still provides plenty of benefits. Below, find information on the role of a life coach and how they can help you. Also, discover five key factors that indicate which type of person you might need to work with.
Benefits of Having a Life Coach
Working with life coaches and receiving life coaching is about improving and growing oneself. During a session, you’re finding the sticky areas that need development. This can be a long and challenging process if you’re trying to transform alone. A coach can help decrease the time spent learning tough lessons through trial and error. As Eric Schmidt, former CEO of Google once said about coaching: “The one thing that people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.” An experienced, trained coach expedites the process of self-mastery by pinpointing strengths, which builds confidence. Yet, they also identify the places a person needs improvement. This increases the person’s self-awareness about bad habits, fixed mindset, limiting beliefs, and other roadblocks that have kept them from reaching their potential.
Other top benefits include:
- Identifying blind spots that prevent goal achievement
- Feeling more empowered to create and work on challenging objectives
- Reducing anxiety and overload with better time management and productivity skills
- Increasing performance by learning to focus on work that achieves results
- Developing leadership qualities that advance business or career goals
- Improving emotional intelligence
- Making better decisions that work in favor of envisioned life
- Experiencing a sense of balance between work and home
- Finding more happiness, meaning, and purpose in life
Why Coaching Produces Positive Results
There’s a scientific reason so many people experience transformational results with things like life coaching and therapy. Barbara L. Frederickson’s broaden-and-build theory of positive emotions offers a concrete explanation for why working with a life coach can significantly impact a person’s life in a positive way. In summary, Frederickson theorizes when a person feels positive emotions, it not only “[signals] optimal functioning,” but also “[produces] optimal functioning, not just within the present, pleasant moment, but over the long-term as well.”
In her research she found, “Individuals who experienced more positive emotions than others, over time became more resilient to adversity, as indexed by increases in broad-minded coping. These enhanced coping skills, in turn, predicted increased positive emotions over time (Fredrickson & Joiner 2002). These findings suggest that positive emotions and broad-minded coping mutually build on one another.” She calls this process an “upward spiral” of positivity and positive outcomes.
There is a distinct correlation between life coaching and Frederickson’s theory regarding the psychological effects of positivity. Life coaching is about creating positive outcomes—it is a coach’s job to generate real results in a person’s life. This is done by helping a person move away from negative habits, traits, behaviors, and mindsets, and toward those that positively affect a client’s life.
What to Know Before Hiring a Life Coach
With all the evidence that life coaching can have a massively positive impact on a person’s wellbeing and life, you might be ready to make the leap and hire someone. Before doing this, here are a few pointers before investing in a coach:
1. Consider What You Want From the Experience
Write down three to five major goals you want to accomplish over the next year. This will help jumpstart the process of coaching. It’ll also help you realize in what areas you need life coaching so you can select someone with experience in improving these parts of life. Check out this article on goal setting to learn more about this process.
2. Visualize Your Life Coach
Develop a clear picture of the type of person you want to work with. What is their specific area of expertise? Are there personality traits or qualities you envision for good synergy between you and them? How do they drive results? What does each session look like? Write down your visualization and keep refining it until you’re clear about who this person is.
3. Look for Someone Who is Certified
You wouldn’t want to go to therapy unless the therapist was qualified to help you. The same goes for life coaches. They should have a certification that shows they have invested in themselves first before asking others to invest in their coaching services. One of the most trusted and well-known organizations for coaching certifications is the International Coaching Federation (ICF). A major plus is finding a coach with certification or training accredited by the ICF.
4. Set Aside a Specific Amount of Money to Invest
Many coaches offer various priced tiers of programs that range from in-person sessions to online group coaching. Deciding the amount you want to invest is important because it determines who you will work with and the type of coaching you receive.
5. Research a coach before making an investment.
Many life coaches market their services online through social media. While the results they tout may sound appealing, do your research. Don’t just take their word that they perform services “just as good as therapy.” Start by checking online for testimonials, case studies, and other evidence a person has really helped improve their coaches’ lives. Additionally, never sign up to work with a coach without first speaking to them. This introductory conversation helps both parties know if they’ll be a good fit. Also, you can ask a coach for references from their current or previous clients.
Author: Hannah L. Miller