What is Life Coaching?


What is life coaching?  Often when I tell people that I am a life coach, they give me a blank stare or say something about the purpose being for me to tell them what to do.  I love to share what life coaching is.  The questions people ask, “what does that mean?” or “what does a life coach provide?” are fantastic.  They give me a chance to tell them about the magic of life coaching and the power of the tools that the coach/client relationship provides.  And even better is when it turns into a chance to give them a sample session, so they can see for themselves what it is really all about.

The Purpose:

The purpose of coaching is to provide you with tools and conversation to move you forward to make the changes in your life that you want or to move through a time of struggle or a change in a way that addresses and meets your needs.  We all have those times in our lives that challenge who we are or what we want or when we feel stuck.

I’ll be honest.  Sometimes I know a change I want to make, but don’t know the best way to get there.  Or I start making the change but get stuck because of my own thoughts or the hard parts of getting there.  That is where a coach comes in.  I love this definition from another coach, “a life coach is someone who helps you to make changes without telling you what to do.”

An Example:  

Let me share with you an example.  I have a coach that I meet with regularly.  This week when we met, I wanted to come up with a plan to deal with all of the sweets that are around during Thanksgiving and Christmas.   I want to eat them in moderation and not gain 20 pounds over the holidays.  I really thought I would go back to a way of handling it that I had tried before, but have had marginal success with.  However, through various questions and techniques, I saw another way of handling the struggle that has the possibility of being more successful.  This happens all the time.  Life coaching sessions that I have with my coaches provide me with insights that I would never have guessed.

The Sessions:

What is life coaching as it plays out in the sessions and in between sessions?  Life coaching is a mutual relationship between the coach and client.  Most of the coaching, I do, is done over the phone, read here to see the benefits of this. Coaching focuses on the future and what the client is able to change or rework in their lives   Neither one of us has all of the answers.  And I will confess something.  As a beginning coach, there have been times when I have made assumptions about what the client needed or where they were going with a line of thinking and I was wrong.  It’s a good thing that I let them lead.  That is part of the magic of coaching.  When a coach and client meet together, it is the role of the client to decide what issue they want to work on, what they want to accomplish, and what homework they will have at the end of the session for the next session.  You may be saying to yourself, what?  Are you saying, I am paying you to help me and you are saying I have to lead the session??  The answer is yes.  The magic comes from the client sharing their desires and thinking.  The coach delves into those so you can move even further and be in the place you want to be.  As the session wraps up, the coach and client work together to determine what actions will be put into place in the week following the session to meet the goal.  

Let’s make this really practical:  What is life coaching? What reasons have my clients come to life coaching?

  • increase emotional closeness and intimacy in relationships

  • make a decision about whether to move or not

  • eat less snack food and form healthier habits

  • move past being stuck in business goals

  • find the best way to draw boundaries with his ex-wife

  • increase focus and structure to improve work as a small business owner

  • get unstuck from trying to lose weight

  • find the best path to take in career and whether a career change would be good

  • increase balance with family, life, work

  • seeking to be healthy as a family caregiver

  • manage the time in their day to fit in the desired activities

Do you see yourself in any of these desires or efforts to make a change?  Life coaching is a powerful way to stop you from wandering on a frustrating path and move you to a focused path to achieve what you want.

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