Everybody needs a little help in life. Maybe you’ve got into a rut at work and you’re not sure which direction your career should go. Maybe you’re struggling in a relationship or you find it hard to make friends. Maybe you just can’t seem to break a bad habit. What can you do? You can ask family or friends for advice, or you can search online for ideas, or you can look at the lives of people you admire and try to be more like them. But friends might not give you good advice, the internet is full of contradictory information, and however much you try to be like your role model you’ll still encounter difficulties. The answer is to use a life coach.

What is a Life Coach and What Are the Benefits of Hiring One?

A qualified and certified life coach is an expert in helping other people to achieve their goals. A life coach gets to know you and helps you make the changes that are important to you. They might give you advice – for instance, about exercise or nutrition – but they’re more interested in finding out what you need and then supporting you to get it. A life coach can benefit you in three ways: by being impartial, by being personal and by being responsive.

A professional life coach won’t make judgments about your life. Of course, they’ll warn you if you’re doing something harmful, but they won’t think you’re an idiot for considering it. Their goal is to find the right solutions for you, not to impose their own ideas. Suppose that you are having difficulties in a relationship. You no longer feel attracted to your partner, but you’re not sure what to do next. If you ask your friends for advice, their responses will depend on their own feelings about your partner (or their own relationships). If they never liked your significant other, they’ll probably tell you to move on. If they’ve been hurt by rejection, they might tell you to work things out.

 - Martha Beck

A life coach, on the other hand, will put aside their own feelings about what’s right in a relationship, and concentrate on what’s best for you. Their job isn’t to tell you to stay together or to split up, but to help you understand and manage your own expectations about relationships. They might work with you to find ways to communicate more effectively with your partner. They could help you to create a plan for your future. They might help you explore new ways to improve all your relationships. Whatever help you require, a life coach will be guided by what you need, not by what they expect.

A good life coach will be impartial, but that doesn’t mean they’ll be impersonal. On the contrary, they’ll probably spend more time getting to know you as a person than they spend listening to your problems. If you browse personal development blogs or read self-help books you’ll certainly learn one thing: a big chunk of their content consists of vague general platitudes. You might be told to be true to yourself or to find what makes you feel alive, but books and websites only succeed if they appeal to many different people. A life coach doesn’t peddle bland inspirational quotes. They will help you to find a way forward that’s achievable, that’s clear and, most of all, that’s personal.

Many life coaches specialize in career and business development. They will work with managers and employees to maximize everyone’s strengths or to find new markets and directions. That doesn’t mean that every life coach has built up a flourishing business from scratch, or that they will retire with a fortune at age 35. A life coach’s skills are about helping you (or your company) to find and bring out your positive skills and attributes. A life coach is not a role model. They won’t expect you to behave in exactly the same way they do, or to make precisely the same decisions.

That’s not to say that role models aren’t important: it’s natural to have someone you admire and want to emulate. But unless you’re incredibly fortunate and have your role model as a mentor, then a role model won’t give you feedback. If you make the same choices as them but get a different outcome, they won’t help you to work out what went wrong. A life coach, on the other hand, will not only help you to decide the steps to take towards your objective but will help you to get back on track if things go wrong.

It’s natural to want help with careers and relationships and personal development goals. A certified life coach will help you find ways to tackle problems; they won’t lecture you or judge you. A life coach will get to know you and will work with you to create a way forward that’s unique to you and your circumstances. A professional life coach isn’t a role model; rather than giving you a blueprint to copy, they will help you find your own strengths and give you feedback that helps you to grow and move forward.

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