What do you think of when you hear the words life coaching? You might be wondering if it suits you, or how much it costs. Perhaps you imagine the US fad of someone jumping up and down on a podium, telling their enraptured audience to, “Carpe that diem!” Or maybe you’re thinking the exact opposite, two people in a room, one lying on a chaise longue monologuing about their troubles while the other takes notes. In reality, life coaching rarely uses either of these approaches. Knowing if life coaching is right for you starts with understanding what exactly life coaching is, so let’s dig a little deeper…
What is life coaching?
“Coaching, of course, has been around as long as humans have been around – even if it went by other names, like parenting, teaching, mentoring, or consulting.” – Thomas J. Leonard.
It’s only right to start with a quote from the father of life coaching. In the 1980s, Thomas J. Leonard was busy working as a financial planner when he got into coaching. His job was to build people’s assets, but he recognised that most financial moves people make are rooted in bigger life decisions. By helping his clients realise what was truly important to them in life and determining how they could achieve their goals, Thomas was already acting as a life coach. Within a few years, he set up a company to teach others how to provide life coaching services.
What is important to take away from this short trip down memory lane is that Thomas was a financial planner. This means that it was his job to devise strategies for people to reach their financial goals. This is where life coaching fundamentally differs from seeing a psychologist or simply practising positive thinking. Life coaching is goal-oriented.
People suffering from mental illness or psychological issues go to a psychologist or psychiatrist to come to terms with their negative emotions, often by revisiting past traumas. This is not what life coaching does. Life coaching is for people who are stuck in a rut or unhappy with their current situation. It’s for people who recognise that for some reason or another they don’t have the tools to move forward. Life coaching is not about the past. Instead, it is about where you are right now and how you are going to get to the future you desire.
How does life coaching work?
We all seek out life coaching at some point or another but rarely do we ask for it from a professional life coach. We ask family, friends, colleagues or even the person sitting next to us at the bar! If you’re fortunate, you have people around you who want to help, but that doesn’t mean that they necessarily have the appropriate skills to bring about actual change. Sometimes all you need is a generous ear while you blow off steam, and that’s OK. But if you want real results, then you will greatly benefit from a goal-oriented strategy and regular one-on-one coaching sessions that a professional life coach is trained to provide.
“Each person holds so much power within themselves that needs to be let out. Sometimes they just need a little nudge, a little direction, a little support, a little coaching, and the greatest things can happen.” – Pete Carrol.
The life coach’s toolkit
The professional life coach draws their expertise from numerous disciplines, including psychology, sociology and various forms of solution-based counselling. But most importantly they are doers and strategists who understand how fundamental micro-goals are for reaching end-goals.
This doesn’t mean a life coach is going to barge suddenly into your life and start ordering you about. Instead, life coaches keep all the control in your hands. With personalised coaching sessions, a life coach will help you discover what is important to you, what your strengths are, where there are areas for improvement and how to pave the way towards your vision of success.
It sounds simple, but many people struggle to align themselves with their personal goals and instead waste time being “too busy” for self-improvement. Life coaches have the training required to successfully coach you to be more decisive and purposeful in how you live your life. Your life coach will be your motivator, your guide, your accountability partner and your confidant.
“Coaching is unlocking a person’s potential to maximize their own performance. It’s helping them to learn rather than teaching them.” – W. Timothy Gallwey.
The difference between life coaching and business coaching.
Life coaching is actually just one type of coaching, with business coaching also being a very popular choice. The two often get lumped together under the umbrella term “life coaching”. But it is worth understanding the differences between the two.
Life is complicated. We all have our personal aspirations. But keeping up the motivation to pursue those dreams can be exhausting if you constantly feel as though you are getting nowhere. Key to successful life coaching is the breaking down of any barriers that are holding you back from reaching your full potential. This is your life and ensuring you’re the captain of your destiny is crucial for peace of mind and overall happiness. Life coaching brings what is important back into focus.
A life coach will help you determine what success looks like to you, whether that is to become a more successful athlete, a stronger leader, a better socialiser or something else entirely. With regular sessions, your life coach will motivate and support you to become more aligned with your goals. Obstacles will be considered on a case-by-case basis and included in your personal development strategy. Life coaching is grounded in continuous two-way communication, which means valuable feedback and support every step of the way.
Whether you call it corporate coaching, executive coaching, career coaching, career counselling or business coaching, they are all more or less the same thing. As you may have guessed, business coaching is about tackling your professional development head on. You might own a business or be reaching for the next rung on the corporate ladder. In either case, business coaching fosters increased performance through goal-oriented, one-on-one coaching.
Business coaching provides a structured, collaborative environment for you to uncover new insights, set professional goals, receive feedback and gain a fresh sense of clarity. In the same way, a sports coach prepares their players for victory. A business coach gets you primed for professional success. Are you considering a career change? Do you need to hone your leadership skills? Or maybe it’s your networking skills that require improvement? No matter what your ultimate goal is, if you’re ambitious but not sure how to progress to the next stage, then business coaching is right for you.
Getting started with life coaching
Now that you know what life coaching is, it should be easier to know if it’s right for you. People who decide to get a life coach are serious about achieving their aspirations and reaching their full potential. It’s easy to be distracted by tedious day-to-day tasks and keep putting your ambitions on the long finger. But the moment you sign up for life coaching the negative cycle stops because you have made a conscious investment in yourself and your future.
Ready to break the cycle? Find your coach today and start shaping your future.