Life coaching is all the ‘new rage.’ I provide life coaching over the phone and via video platform and find that people enjoy life coaching more than counseling. It’s less intimidating and doesn’t deal with as serious of issues. If someone has a major emotional struggle such as severe anxiety or depression they typically need to see a counselor, but a life coach fills in those grey areas between life struggles and big questions and solutions. They provide a place to talk through a big decision, stress management tools, relational stress, and a variety of other topics. Life coaches do not have extensive training like counselors but they are sometimes less expensive, especially if they do not have counseling degrees, but they are trained to ask open-ended questions that help you sort through and find your own solutions to any life problems. Talking to a life coach can be a similar experience to talking to a counselor at times but it is much more goal-oriented and future-focused.
The Coaching Experience
When you start your life coaching experience, the coach will ask you what your goals are. Throughout the weeks or months that you talk with them over the phone or sometimes in person, they will help you stay focused on those goals which can be nice in our busy and fast-paced society. You can always add new goals, but you have that accountability that no one wants to provide for themselves or even their friends. Your life coach may also email you during the week and ask if you got to accomplish that goal you mentioned in the session before.
My Coaching Experience
I used a life coach when my cousin unexpectedly passed away due to a tragic motorcycle accident. I found that their support and open-ended questions helped me stay focused during a time that was sometimes foggy. It was one of those grey times like mentioned before where a counselor is not definitely needed but could be used, but this is cheaper and felt more like real life to me. Now if I had lost a sibling or a spouse I do not believe a life coach provides emotional support for something as close to home, but those in between matters that do upset you but where you can see your way through them are a great excuse to talk to a life coach. This person helped me keep my priorities straight during grief and thrive in my life. Maybe I could have done that on my own but I thought it was an excellent opportunity to test out the services that I offer so I would know what it is like from the other side. I really appreciated the opportunity to explore decisions and opportunities with someone who was not living my life. I would suggest it not only from the service side but from personal experience also.
As life coaches are goal oriented, they may help you clarify a goal that you want to work on and action steps to get there. During those six months after I lost my cousin unexpectedly, I think I met with a life coach over the phone from months four to six, and maybe once or twice right when it happened. The goal I worked on may have had something to do with my work schedule or my physical health or something, but it helped me make sure I was taking great care of myself during a time that was emotionally draining. Whereas a counselor may help you with the goal of overcoming grief, the life coach may have the goal of thriving in a new job during an emotional time. It is not nearly as serious but still very effective to have someone outside of your friends and family to help you stay focused.
Here is an example of a dialogue I may have with a client:
Coach: Hello. What is your goal for the session?
Client: I would like to decide whether I want to leave my current job for the job offer I got last week.
Coach: (coaches use reflective listening skills) So you have been offered a job. How do you feel about the job offer?
As the conversation goes on the coach does not lead you to your goal. They just provide a dialogue that helps you search for the answer yourself. Rather than dwell on some big decision for days or weeks or months in your own thoughts and never arrive at a conclusion, you can talk to an unbiased party who can provide a conversation that helps you explore the topic until you have peace with the situation. This may sound like no big deal but it is extremely helpful for big decisions that could alter your life. The coaching session may only last thirty minutes, but you may come to a conclusion in just one session for the pressing issue.
Your friends or family may enjoy not having to help you make big decisions. They may care about you but appreciate you utilizing another avenue that is not emotionally invested in your life. If someone talks to me about a decision they are making that does not affect me I am not likely to sway them one way or another based on my opinion. I am a neutral listener while they use this information they already have to choose their own way.
I have helped people talk through job changes, relationships, their future, and all for a great deal less than counseling. As a professional, life coaching is not as weighty. When I am not concerned about someone’s emotional well-being, and just helping them with their future career choices, this does not mean that I do not think what they are doing is important. However, it doesn’t take as much out of me emotionally so I can charge them less money and can schedule appointments back to back without thinking about my own self-care. It will be interesting to see if the life coaching movement grows in the future.