What is a Life Coach? Do You Actually Need One to Be Motivated?
If you are curious about what a life coach is and whether you need life coaching to get more self-motivated in your life, this comprehensive guide is for you.
The idea for this personal, creative and business growth platform of almost 100,000 readers materialized from a series of life coaching sessions that — through clarity and accountability — gave me the motivation to work towards my life goals.
I had already had intensive training in personal development coaching at Stanford via a rigorous curriculum which was heavily centered around high-performance: building values, habits, skills, and routines that maximize the likelihood of you reaching your full potential, finding success in your pursuits, and achieving superior results.
However, when I matriculated I became nervous about not making any money so neglected the life goals I so carefully crafted while at Stanford and ended up in New York working for someone else — the epitome of what I did not want.
In 2013 I started being coached by a fellow business school classmate from Stanford about a year after we graduated, and it was just what I needed to get back on track. Not even a year later I fully recommitted to the pursuit of my purpose, quit my job, went on a one-year sabbatical traveling around the world, then launched a fulfilling blog and business (this website) that allows me to live my ideal life.
In this article I want to discuss why coaching could also be just the catalyst you need to bring about the change you desire in your life too.
WHAT LIFE COACHING IS
My personal example sheds a bit of light on what life coaching (also called personal development coaching) is. The purpose of coaching is to partner with a personal development specialist who can assist you in identifying and achieving goals and making significant changes in your life and work
In this partnership, you get help designing and implementing strategies for figuring out and getting to where you want to be in an efficient, effective, and rewarding way. Your coach also provides a dedicated support system and acts as an accountability partner, motivating you to stay on track and empowering you along the way.
Keep in mind that "Life Coach" is an umbrella term for the many different types of coaches that exist. For instance I'm more specifically a business coach and there are also health coaches, relationship coaches, spiritual coaches, and so on.
WHAT LIFE COACHING ISN'T
Your coach should not tell you how to run your life nor offer their personal advice or biased opinions. Instead, they are focused on helping you uncover what you want to do and providing you with a set of tools and resources to make decisions that'll bring about the change you desire. You will always make your own decisions and fully own your actions.
A life coach is also not a therapist or psychologist and will not counsel you on issues related to mental illness, depression, and the likes. Where a therapist is often past-oriented — working to unpack things that happened in your life and solve deep-set emotional problems — a coach should be future-oriented. They will help you employ tactics that get you from here to there.
DO YOU NEED A LIFE COACH?
When it comes to designing a happy and fulfilling life, there are probably three main challenges that you are sure to face:
You haven’t created a purpose for your life or life’s work so have no clarity or focus.
You haven’t developed a sound process for realizing your purpose so have no direction or roadmap.
You haven’t overcome self-limiting behaviors so you’re stuck and aren’t making progress.
You typically need a life coaching program when you have tried, unsuccessfully, to tackle one or more of the barriers mentioned above. Often times you don’t realize how you are inadvertently sabotaging and hindering yourself, but a skilled coach can identity self-limiting tendencies and help you overcome them.
Moreover, a coach will help you with the following and much more:
Identifying and achieving goals
Navigating life changes and challenges
Equipping you with decision-making tools
Finding purpose and happiness
Improving your interpersonal relationships
Discovering suitable careers
Managing your major life themes
MY COACHING PRACTICE
I decided to draw upon my training at Stanford and respond to frequent reader requests for more personalized support by developing a life and business coaching program for entrepreneurs desiring significant and immediate personal or professional change in their life or business.
My unique approach is inquiry-based, which means I ask you thoughtful questions that help you think about your life in a fresh way. I've also developed a collection of exclusive personal growth frameworks and professional development tools that you can't find elsewhere.
Moreover, I integrate design thinking into my coaching methods. Design thinking is a proven methodology — part art, part science — for solving problems and discovering opportunities designed by renowned Stanford University professors. In fact, I’m also an alumna of the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design (also know as the d.school), Stanford’s popular innovation hub.
Lastly, I draw heavily from my experience running this personal development platform. The information I curate, content I develop, and feedback I receive daily, helps me gather and retain diverse insights that I’m able to incorporate into the individual life plans I help my clients create.
I center my practice around thinkers, creatives, and entrepreneurs — talented individuals like physicians, lawyers, executives, political strategists, business owners, writers, artists, students, or dreamers in general — who want to impact the world with their ideas.
In other words, I prefer to partner with self-motivated individuals to bring forth their potential, get their ideas out into the world, and help them design a life that supports (not hinders) their progress. If that resonates with you then further explore whether my program could be a fit.
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WHAT You Can EXPECT
Coaching is designed to be a structured exploration into who you want to be, what you want to do, and how to get there. In general your life coach should:
start with an in-depth assessment of the gap between where you are now and where you want to be.
craft a custom action plan that outlines a step-by-step process for achieving your goals.
track your progress and support your through each step of the process via the coaching calls as well as useful resources and assignments.
If you work with me here’s exactly what you can expect:
We'll kick off our partnership with a personalized questionnaire that I'll create for you so we can outline and evaluate your specific needs.
Next, we'll schedule a one-hour discovery session, which is a call designed to uncover where you are stuck, and to identify the professional or personal areas you need the most help developing.
From that session I'll develop an initial strategy, or roadmap, so our sessions going forward are focused. I'll send this to you to review and make any necessary adjustments. We can make changes to it at anytime.
We'll then schedule ongoing weekly or bi-weekly calls and follow the roadmap to continuously work on your self-identified goals in the most efficient, effective, and rewarding way.
Each session will wrap up with an actionable game plan comprised of detailed homework (and supporting resources I'll send to you as needed) for you to work on between our calls.
I have a global client base so conduct my life coaching sessions virtually via phone, Skype, or Google Hangouts (or a conference number provided by the client if desired).
There's no specific time frame that you must commit to. Some of my clients solve their challenges in only a few sessions while others devote months or even years to their development.
You can start and stop sessions at anytime but will get the most benefit from committing to whatever it takes to realize your important goals and being serious about the work involved.
HOW TO CHOOSE A LIFE COACH
Life coaching is a thriving industry which is a testament to the demand. The conveniences of the modern world have also led to unhappiness and a sense of discontent, and many people are seeking ways to find more fulfillment in their lives.
Nevertheless, life coaching is an unregulated industry in the United States and many other countries. You don’t have to be skeptical, especially since it is a field that helps so many people, however there are some things to consider when choosing the right life coach for you.
Are they trustworthy? Try to look for signs of credibility that help you gauge trustworthiness. Perhaps, like me, they have a professional or graduate degree and training from a reputable or revered academic institution, or they gained a certificate from one of the non-profit bodies that voluntary seek to self-regulate the industry.
Are they experienced? A potential coach should be able to show some proof of their experience as a personal growth or professional development specialist. Perhaps they have a thriving blog or platform where they showcase their knowledge. Or maybe they can provide references as proof of their work with others.
What is their focus? Life coaching is an umbrella term for many different areas of development. My practice specializes broadly in life design — elevating your life by crafting a clear vision and creating an intentional plan to execute that vision. While others may focus on career counseling, health and wellness, personal finance, or relationship building. You need to have some sense of your challenges to decide whether you need more of a generalist (like me) or someone who is in a niche area.
Is it a good fit? Your coach should offer an initial call so you can speak, learn more about each other, ask questions, and determine whether it feels like it could be a good fit. Ideally this call should be risk free. For instance, I provide an instant refund if after my discovery session either I or the client don’t feel that coaching (or coaching with me) would be right for them.
Do they cross the line? If you ever get the sense that your life coach (or potential coach) is veering into the world of psychotherapy you should walk away. This is where the industry gets murky. I ask my clients to agree to clear terms that outlines the scope of our coaching relationship and my commitment to staying within the realm of those terms.
Are you seeing progress? This question should be asked further down the line after you start working with your coach. However, you should definitely gauge your own progress to make sure that your life coaching sessions are worthwhile. I incorporate milestones and check-ins into the personalized roadmap I help my clients build so they are prompted to reflect on their progress.
How to find a life coach
I'd be thrilled if you considered partnering with me as your coach. However, I recognize that some individuals may be looking for someone with a specific area of focus.
If that's the case, there are three ways you can go about doing this:
Conduct a Google search on different variations of the term "life coach" if you are looking for someone who has a local practice. Google will return local recommendations at the top of your search page.
Conduct a Pinterest search for terms related to your interests such as "personal growth", "self-motivation", or "life planning". Pinterest will serve up top content and you can follow the link to interesting content. Often times, individuals who create compelling articles around these topics also have a coaching service.
Conduct a directory search using aggregator tools that list coaching practices from all over the world and allow you to browse based on your specifications.
If you know you need to make a change in your life or business but don't know what it should be or how to pull it off, don’t despair. My personal, creative and business coaching program could be right for you. Learn more and book a free strategy session.