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YOU’VE PROBABLY HEARD of “life coaches” and “wellness coaches” – individuals who inspire people to shift their behaviors and habits, realize their potential and propel their personal and professional well-being. People often hire life coaches to get advice and guidance on big life decisions.

But before you recruit a professional, there’s a catch: They can be expensive. If you’re contemplating hiring a life coach, you may be wondering whether professional help is worth investing your time and money.

To help you weigh your options and decide for yourself whether guidance from a professional will help you thrive and achieve your long-term goals, consider these factors.

Factor in time and pricing. You have the option of working with a life coach continuously or for a limited number of sessions, depending on your needs and budget. According to the website CostHelper.com, which offers information on pricing for various services and products, consumers spend an average of $75 to $200 per hour for a life coach.

Martin Grohman, a business owner in Portland, Maine, and a state representative, hired two life coaches. “Particularly with the second one, Emily Chipman, I felt like I got a good result. It was $2,300 for 10 telephone sessions with assignments in between,” Grohman says. “She coached me on what was standing in my way – mentally – in a decision running for higher office, and now I’m doing it.”

Know what to expect from each session. You can anticipate helpful advice and a sounding board for the ideas you are thinking about executing. And if you think the life coach you work with is smart and intuitive, you may feel you’re getting a lot for your money.

Responsibilities to Yourself

As a life coach, you are solely and completely responsible for your life. It must be authentic and well ordered. Your own life absolutely must be in order for you to be an effective coach. If you are coaching someone on how to keep her or his office in order, yours cannot be a study in messy chaos.

Do you hold yourself to a realistic standard? This means that you need to be reasonable in your expectations of yourself. By setting impossibly high standards, you are bound to fail and you will discover that your clients will fail, too.Your responsibilities to yourself include your vision to be larger than just yourself and your life. Most of us are caught up in day-to-day living without any clear sense of a purpose, a calling, or a passion.

You must evaluate what gets you excited and enthusiastic. There is a saying that you should find what you would like to do for the rest of your life without making money at it. Many volunteer programs are successful for this very reason. People volunteer because something about the cause speaks to them and they are willing to do big jobs without money. Not every volunteer experiences this, but put a volunteer to work using his or her specific talents and abilities appropriately and you will have given that individual a very powerful start on life.

What would you do if you never had to worry about money ever again? Look beyond the obvious answers like travel, a new house, car, or boat. The novelty of material things eventually will wear out. Here is the question is to ask: “What would you do?”

If the answer is to coach people, you are in the right class.

Responsibilities to Your Client

You have established that you have an overwhelming need, passion, and desire to coach. What do you need then to bring to your coaching clients?

A coach must be cheerful, encouraging, and optimistic. You have to be able to put your own worries aside, even pretend that you have no worries, so that you can really be present to your client.

Of the characteristics needed in a coach, being attentive is the most important one. Being attentive to your client means you must clear your mind of absolutely everything that could interfere with the coaching session. You cannot think about what you are having for dinner tonight, whether your husband is irritated with you, or whether that check is going to clear.before or after a payment goes through.

If people come to you for advice, motivation, and inspiration, then perhaps life coaching is the right career path for you. Working as a life coach has a significant impact on your life, not just for your clients, but to yourself as well. The changes that you make on their life impacts yours in more ways than one every single day. Your job isn’t like any other day in the office. Albeit challenging, it’s also life-changing.

1. You get to help others

Nothing is more fulfilling than actually having the opportunity to help other people improve their lives. Giving help to others isn’t only limited to a financial sense. There’s also ways you can improve other people’s lives through sharing your gifts, talents, and skills. And, life coaching is one of these.

It takes patience and a good heart for you to work as a life coach. Not every day at the office is going to be easy, as you’re going to be faced with some of the most challenging clients at times. But, remember that they approached you because they need your help. And, when you can serve them, it gives you so much more meaning and purpose in your life as well.

2. Your self-confidence increases

Working as a life coach isn’t easy. You need to believe in yourself, and you need to claim it, and to know you can make a positive difference in the lives of your clients, through your career. Hence, if you started in the job with little to no confidence, chances are, by the time you finish training as a life coach, you’ll have plenty of self-confidence built. In life, you know how important it is to have a strong sense of self-confidence.

3. Your listening skills develop

Apart from academic or career skills that you can learn in life, another advantage that you can gain through working as a life coach is the development of your listening skills. Having excellent listening skills isn’t just important in your job, but it’s vital in any person’s life, in general. 

Whether you’re a parent, a sibling, a child, a friend, or whatever relationship. Because listening is important, it’s also one of the hardest to develop and to learn. Sometimes, relationships can suffer because one party has lousy listening skills.

When life coaches like yourself go to work, you listen to people every day. Hence, it’s natural that your listening skills are also going to improve. With this, your life will change for the better as well. Relationships surrounding you will be better, and conflicts can be resolved better as well, now that you have mastered the art of listening.

As you work to develop your listening skills, you can also go through learning neuro-linguistic programming or NLP. These skills are connected with listening, and you’re going to end up as a  more empathic listener as well.

4. You get to be your own boss

This may seem very trivial, but in reality, it does make a massive impact in your life when you’re in control of your time and your freedom. Lack of time for other aspects of their lives is one of the most common complaints of busy young professionals. They may be earning, but they’re stressed, and other parts of their lives have suffered as well.

If people come to you for advice, motivation, and inspiration, then perhaps life coaching is the right career path for you. Working as a life coach has a significant impact on your life, not just for your clients, but to yourself as well. The changes that you make on their life impacts yours in more ways than one every single day. Your job isn’t like any other day in the office. Albeit challenging, it’s also life-changing.

The relationship between professional counselors and life coaches is sometimes akin to that of stepsiblings. They are loosely connected because they share the same family name — “helping professional.” And because of that name, those outside the “family” sometimes link the two (like it or not).

However, like stereotypical stepsiblings, although counselors and life coaches are familiar with each other and even share some similar traits, they are sometimes prone to less positive feelings of competition and, at times, distrust.

There is, however, often a larger divide when the discussion turns to how coaching and counseling are defined and what each profession offers.

Coaching advocates say they provide a distinct service that helps clients work on their goals for the future and create a new life path. They say counselors spend more time examining the past, looking for solutions to emotional concerns and seeking a diagnosis required by insurance companies. Coaches suggest that the relationships they establish with clients are also more collegial in nature. Coaches and clients work in a less structured environment as a team rather than setting up a “doctor-patient” relationship.

The International Coach Federation (ICF), which claims to be the largest coaching credentialing and support organization in the world, defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential. Professional coaches provide an ongoing partnership designed to help clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives. Coaches help people improve their performances and enhance the quality of their lives. Coaches are trained to listen, to observe and to customize their approach to individual client needs. They seek to elicit solutions and strategies from the client; they believe the client is naturally creative and resourceful. The coach’s job is to provide support to enhance the skills, resources and creativity that the client already has.”

Ever since Machiavelli first advised a young prince, leaders have sought the counsel of outsiders. After all, it’s lonely at the top. At many small companies, chief executives are the only people who truly understand their organizations, and every major decision falls on their shoulders. And since the CEO is the one who signs the paychecks, it’s tough to find employees brave enough to provide honest feedback. Seventeenth-century merchants turned to “cunning men,” or wizards, for guidance; entrepreneurs today turn to their more modern counterparts: executive coaches.

Executive coaches are not quite business consultants, whom you’d hire to address a particular operational or technical problem. And they’re not psychotherapists, whom you’d tap to work through emotional issues. Coaches generally focus on one thing: improving your performance as a leader. They do this in much the same way sports coaches work with athletes: by helping you make the most of your natural abilities and find ways to work around your weaknesses. A good coach will make sure you meet your commitments, behave like a grownup, and otherwise stay out of your own way–things nearly all of us can use a little help with.

There certainly is no end to the number of people promising such greatness. The ranks of executive coaches have swelled from 2,000 in 1996 to some 10,000 today, and sorting through them is not easy. Different coaches work in different ways. Some work only over the phone; others come to your office; and a growing number work in group settings, coaching dozens of business owners simultaneously. Some provide tough love; others coddle and cosset. There’s no standard fee structure, either: Rates can range from several hundred to several thousand dollars an hour, and a few coaches will even ask for a piece of your business. Some demand a commitment of a certain length of time, others are pay as you go.

Adding to the chaos is the fact that despite a few noncompulsory credentialing efforts, the coaching profession is completely unregulated. Anyone, with any amount of experience, can crown himself coach and start offering advice. Hairstylists face more stringent licensing procedures.

To understand what they do to merit that money, HBR conducted a survey of 140 leading coaches and invited five experts to comment on the findings. As you’ll see, the commentators have conflicting views about where the field is going—and ought to go—reflecting the contradictions that surfaced among the respondents. Commentators and coaches alike felt that the bar needs to be raised in various areas for the industry to mature, but there was no consensus on how that could be done. They did generally agree, however, that the reasons companies engage coaches have changed. Ten years ago, most companies engaged a coach to help fix toxic behavior at the top. Today, most coaching is about developing the capabilities of high-potential performers. As a result of this broader mission, there’s a lot more fuzziness around such issues as how coaches define the scope of engagements, how they measure and report on progress, and the credentials a company should use to select a coach.

Do companies and executives get value from their coaches? When we asked coaches to explain the healthy growth of their industry, they said that clients keep coming back because “coaching works.” Yet the survey results also suggest that the industry is fraught with conflicts of interest, blurry lines between what is the province of coaches and what should be left to mental health professionals, and sketchy mechanisms for monitoring the effectiveness of a coaching engagement.

Bottom line: Coaching as a business tool continues to gain legitimacy, but the fundamentals of the industry are still in flux. In this market, as in so many others today, the old saw still applies: Buyer beware!

There’s no question that future leaders will need constant coaching. As the business environment becomes more complex, they will increasingly turn to coaches for help in understanding how to act. The kind of coaches I am talking about will do more than influence behaviors; they will be an essential part of the leader’s learning process, providing knowledge, opinions, and judgment in critical areas. These coaches will be retired CEOs or other experts from universities, think tanks, and government.

Life coaching and mentoring are booming fields.

They are popular professions worldwide and show no signs of decreasing. Certification programs abound, but as you will read, this is an unregulated field. Certification is not required. Testing and licensing do not exist.

Unlike people trained as psychologists or counselors who are licensed, life coaches are not therapists. A life coach could have no, some, or extensive education in almost any field and still hold the title of “life coach.”

Knowing this, why do people hire a life coach? Education does not equal wisdom, but experience often does in the minds of many.

A life coach can help a person to identify strengths, develop them, and identify personal and professional goals. Their role is to assist the coachee throughout the change process. As you will discover, this happens in several ways.

A mentor’s focus is partly on compatibility with the mentee. The mentor and mentee might engage with each other through social or professional events to determine ‘fit.’

Most of the session involves the coach listening, and then asking powerfully focused questions. Moore and colleagues offer several examples. Among them are:

Life coaching is aimed at helping people meet goals in their personal or business lives by guiding them in the right direction — much like a sports coach might do for a sportsperson — although the methods used by individual life coaches will vary greatly.  

It might seem that the concept of turning to a coach outside of a sporting context is something that many people would shy away from — but the more you think about it, the more you may realize that people have been turning to friends and family for help and guidance for years. Life coaching is just a professional extension of that help.  

Most of us turn to a friend who we consider to be ‘wise’ when it comes to certain circumstances such as making key decisions or overcoming problems. But our friends may not always have the answers or may not be sufficiently objective about a situation to give decent advice. This is where life coaching has role to play, by helping people see their life from a different perspective and giving them the confidence to move forward.

Life coaching is a form of counselling…to help people solve their problems and achieve ambitions.

Steve Mitchall

Life coaching is a form of counselling which uses a series of individual sessions — which are sometimes carried out over a telephone or even via e-mails, as well as through face-to-face sessions — to help people solve their problems and achieve ambitions. It draws from a number of disciplines, including sociology, psychology, and numerous forms of counselling.

While life coaching is frequently associated with the business world, there are also coaches who deal with individuals and their personal lives by helping them to explore the underlying causes of their problems as well as helping to find routes to success. This more personal kind of life coaching is frequently done face-to-face.  

The secret to having a long-term healthy, happy relationship with your spouse, as well as your business partner, family and friends, is to understand your personal and emotional needs and learn how to fulfill them in healthy ways. This also happens to be the best way to avoid toxic, energy-draining people and relationships. It all boils down to getting crystal clear on what your emotional needs are, how specifically you want those needs to be satisfied, and then putting in place firm and clear personal boundaries to protect you from those toxic relationships—the people who won’t respect your boundaries and have no interest in fulfilling your personal and emotional needs.

Easier said than done, true, but also not rocket science either. The first obvious step is to get some real clarity around your personal and emotional needs.

The late psychologist and researcher Abraham Maslow came up with a handy pyramid of personal growth.

At the base of the pyramid is our survival needs. And in a crisis, we revert right back to survival, stockpiling essentials to weather the storm. This is normal behavior as our need for safety, food and shelter will always come first. Once we’ve gotten survival under control, we scout around for our emotional needs, which include the emotional needs to be loved, cherished, appreciated, heard, understood, included, accepted, as well as the personal needs for balance, peace, order, control, to be right, independence, freedom, to be touched, held fondly, and so on.

There are over 100 different personal and emotional needs and about 21 that are very common. 

Can you clearly articulate your top four personal and emotional needs?

Most of us realize that we have some version of the need to be loved, but other than that, we can be pretty clueless even about our own needs. Yet, we enter love relationships fully expecting our partner to not only intuitively know what our own emotional needs are but also to fully satisfy them. Not really fair given most of us can’t articulate what we actually need.  You can begin to see why relationships break down and fail over time. In the initial stages of love, both bend over backwards to accommodate and please their partner. However, over the years, you might feel a burden of having to fulfill all your partner’s various needs, especially since you don’t even know the expectations. 

You may have noticed on many of the social media platforms that contributors have been urging us to consider our personal development and learn a new hobby or skill whilst we are in lockdown. If this urge resonates with you, go for it! And at the same time how about stopping. Yes, stopping. These are unusual times, and our usual ways may not provide us with the best outcomes. 

Our minds are working with lots of new and unfamiliar information.  We are considering our own mortality in ways we perhaps never have. Our basic foundations have experienced a seismic tremor that has reverberated through every facet and field of our extended lives. We can no longer simply walk out of the house whenever we want, as often as we want. Pasta and flour have become like gold-dust in some areas, as everyone stockpiles and bakes like their lives depended on it – perhaps they do?

in a meeting

Now that you have a list of your present ‘life areas’, here are a few questions you can consider for each area in turn:

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