What is a life coach? A life coach is someone who endeavours to help his or her clients to achieve individual professional and personal ambitions.

These goals may include seeking a promotion at work, reaching a state of happiness in your relationships or examining your potential and achieving other aspirations.

A life coach is future-directed. They don’t spend a lot of time dwelling on the past. They rather examine how to make changes in the present so that desired outcomes can be achieved in the future.

Life coaching, as a process, is client-driven. The entire process is designed around you and your needs, and your life coach is there to help you achieve the goals that you have set for yourself.

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What Does Life Coaching Entail?

Life coaching involves meeting with your coach at least once a week. Your coach will charge your per session, which typically runs for 45 to 60 minutes. Your contact can be in-person, telephonic and may also include emails, voice notes or SMSes between sessions.

Your relationship with your life coach is flexible in that it will respond to signals that you emit: how quickly you adapt to change and the stage of coaching you’re at. The entire process is tailored around you.

Some stages of a life coaching relationship typically include:

  • A life coach spends time listening to a client’s current struggles, their dreams, hopes and aspirations.
  • Setting goals – Everyone reaches a point where they desire to bring about change in their lives – in a relationship, in the workplace or in their personal habits. What the individual needs help with is how to effect that change and exactly what that outcome should be. A life coach is trained to listen intently and to ask insightful questions. These actions will bring the client to a point where they understand their current situation and aid them to set well-defined goals for the future.
  • Assisting to pinpoint obstacles on the road to success and helping the client prevail over these challenges. The life coach then will hold the client responsible to follow through on the intended actions.

Are Life Coaches Qualified Professionals?

In many parts of the world, life coaching is not a regulated profession. Currently, anyone with some training can be deemed to be a life coach. Since there are no real academic qualifications or minimum educational requirements for life coaches, your task to identify one could be quite challenging. When considering to hook up with one, it is important that you reflect on the related experience, education and background of any prospective life coach.

Do you own research. Ask friends and colleagues, if you know any who have used a life coach. Check out online directories to identify coaches who are affiliated to professional bodies and have apt insurance cover. Read any reviews that you can find that will throw some light of the kind of person, you are about to engage with.

It is of utmost importance that you feel comfortable with your life coach. That is why it is a good idea to make contact with him or her before you book a session. Use this opportunity to ask questions relevant to the kind of assistance you require and the possible outcomes that you would like to achieve. Also, probe and find out if this particular coach has advised anyone whose needs and situation closely match your own. Don’t hold back: ask about their qualifications, life- and work experience, their life coaching techniques and the type of coaching they have engaged in, up to this point.

Many life coaches offer an initial session or two free of charge. Make use of this opportunity to try out more than one coach before committing to a working relationship with one. Commit to the life coach with whom you feel most at ease.

man and woman greeting with a handshake
Your life coach will be your partner in achieving your goals. - Source: Pexels

How Can Life Coaching Help Me?

Anyone can benefit from engaging with a life coach. There are quite a number of areas related to day-to-day living, that are not generally know, that a life coach can assist in.

On a cautionary note, it must be said that a life coach is not a medically qualified professional. Therefore, anyone who may be experience issues related to their mental health must seek out the assistance of a certified medical or mental health professional.

There are many areas of life where a life coach can be of assistance. If you are not sure of whether you issue is addressed by life coaches, below are some of the categories that they do engage in:

Family

If you’re raising a growing family, then you will encounter challenges, which are … well, challenging. Children, especially those who get to spend some time away from you (at school, for example), may every now and then throw a curve ball at you which you don’t always know how to play. Kids pick up all kinds of influences when they're away from you and, sometimes, carry those influences back home. Here an experienced parenting/ relationship coach can be a wonderful resource to help you strike the happy medium between being too easy or too harsh on your kids. He or she will help you deal with the “You favour him over me”-idea or the middle child- or the only child synddrome. A good relationship family coach will help you sail through these choppy waters calmly - like an expert.

Relationships

Certain coaches specialise in relationship guidance and can offer support if you desire to improve a particular relationship. You may have found that relationships, that you have been in, fall apart because of something you repeatedly do or say, or you require assistance in terms of how you communicate with others. Your life coach is possibly the mechanic you need to fine-tune your engine. This also applies to someone who is single and requires motivation and guidance as relates to finding somebody to date.

Spirituality

person with outstretched arms
Some life coaches can help you along a spiritual journey. - Source: Unsplash

If you’re in a space where you are questioning your faith or spirituality, you can consult a life coach. If you’re an adherent of a particular faith, you could approach certain fellow-congregants, whom you trust. However, not everyone has the time, experience or expertise to walk with you on this spiritual journey. A life coach, specialising in spirituality can help you find the new space that you would like to occupy.

Health and Fitness

Many people, around the globe, are seeking ways to improve their overall health - be it through weight loss, fighting lifestyle diseases or just wanting to move towards a more active lifestyle. A life coach, who focuses on health, can be an invaluable aide. He or she will definitely help to keep you on track, in terms of sticking to your exercise plan or that new eating plan you want to follow.

Career

Some people nowadays, especially younger folk, change jobs on a regular basis. However, you’re not one of them. The truth is, many people either feel that they’ve reached a dead-end or that a change in their work circumstances is necessary, for whatever reason. A life coach will help you through this transition. Whether you want to step out and start your own little business or apply for that enticing, but intimidating, promotion post, your life coach will advise you every step of the way.

Finances

Some of these professional coaches specialise in assisting people with their personal finances. If you’re someone who battles with being able to save or to stick to a budget, then such a specialist coach can help you get organise and headed towards financial stability and success. It is, however, critical to ensure (in South Africa) that your coach has the necessary certification to provide such advice. Only persons who have undergone the correct financial training, are certificated and, subsequently, become a registered representative under the Financial Sector Conduct Authority (FSCA) are allowed to offer financial advice. As a minimum, a qualified financial planner must have completed the qualification exam of the Financial Planning Institute of South Africa.

Not just anyone is allowed to dispense financial advice.

If you are experiencing problems in any of the areas of life mentioned above, search out a life coach who is an expert or has lots of experience in the particular area you have identified. Some coaches have experience in one or two areas, while others are quite knowledgeable in several. Choose the coach who you believe has specific experience to address your needs and whom you are comfortable with.

We can all benefit from life coaching, whether we are experiencing difficulties or not. Your experience with your coach can help you view a particularly challenging situation from a totally different angle and may positively impact on your life in many ways. A coach, who is good at listening to you and has the ability to help you clearly visualise your goals, could be exactly what you need to feel re-energised and confident about what lies ahead for you. There’s no question about it: everyone can benefit from a listening ear and a hand to guide them in the right direction. Go on, make that call!

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Trevor

Career teacher turned writer. Passionate about family, running, and the great outdoors.