I’ve been listening to the Life Coach School podcast for some time now and I’ve decided that I want to be a life coach when I grow up. I’m still not sure when that will be, exactly – but when it happens, please call me if you need a life coach!
In all seriousness though, I could see myself doing this job. I long to make a positive impact on the world – to help others, shine some light, share my positivity and make a difference. Life coaches do all of that and so much more. They help people get unstuck and live their best lives.
I first consulted with a life coach personally back in 2003 after a devastating, unexpected job layoff. I felt wrecked, cast adrift and terrified. Luckily, my severance package included a generous stipend for training and coaching, so I got hooked up with a wonderful life coach. She and I are still Facebook friends to this day – she’s remarkable and truly helped me to find my mojo, get back on track and land my next professional gig.
Since that time, I’ve often thought about finding another coach but I honestly get so much out of the free coaching podcasts and webinars that are available, I can usually coach myself out of a hole to some degree of success. I think ultimately, I’m waiting until I find the right coach again – someone who really speaks to me and sparks a desire in me to make the investment in order to “level up.”
Life coach vs therapist?
If you’re new to life coaching, it can be a little hard to understand the difference between this process and traditional therapy. This article does a great job differentiating the two – and my own experience has been that the two practices are miles apart.
I first went to therapy in my early 20s over family issues and continued on and off well into my 30s and 40s. I’ve had good therapists, a great one or two and possibly even a few not so fantastic ones – but bottom line, therapy looks a lot at the past and can feel slow and time consuming. Often you feel like you’re the only one working, and the work is s-l-o-w. It can feel frustrating. You may have insights, breakthroughs or “aha moments” one week, and then absolutely nothing for months.
Plus, I’ve often found therapy is like Chinese food – often you’re hungry again within an hour.
Many times, the insights or breakthroughs don’t last or are easily forgotten. Looking back, I’d say my results with therapy were a mixed bag at best. I guess my issues have more staying power than my results!
Coaching, on the other hand, is far quicker, more direct and action-oriented. While many therapists sit back and let you do all the talking, perhaps with a bit of gentle guidance – coaches are far more likely to be prescriptive and give you advice and concrete next steps. This, I really like!
Why it works
Whether therapist or coach, it makes perfect sense that an outsider can have more clarity on our personal, family, work or relationship issues than we can ourselves. We all have our blind spots and inability or unwillingness to look at things head-on that are painful, uncomfortable or make us feel bad. Therapists and coaches can be wonderful for rooting out those things in our life that are not serving us – like ways in which we’re hiding, numbing, avoiding or covering up our most authentic selves.
There are many articles online about why you should or should not hire a life coach. And while there are certainly skeptics, my personal experiences tell me that life coaching is a phenomenal tool for people who are ready to dig in, do some hard work, change their lives and be more self-aware and true to themselves.
Now the real question is – if I do decide someday to take the leap and get certified as a life coach, should I specialize in a particular niche? There are so many kinds of coaches – executive, career, business, health and even parenting coaches. I guess I have a lot more research to do before I decide.
But that’s okay – since I show no signs of growing up anytime soon.
Have you ever met with a life coach, and what was your experience like? I’d love to hear in the comments below or over on Facebook.