What the heck is a Life Coach, and do I even need one?

When I think of the phrase “life coach,” I think of my high school field hockey coach, Ms. Baldwin. Ms. Baldwin was full of energy and spunk; she had a bouncing blonde ponytail and wore those leather high-top Reeboks in different colors, her shoes always matching her leggings. I can picture her running up and down the grassy field while holding her whistle and shouting “go get ‘em!” from the sidelines. Ms. Baldwin embraced all the characteristics of a true “coach.”

What do we do when high school is over and we still need help getting focused and winning at our own game of life? Ms. Baldwin would literally jump two feet in the air when we scored. Do you ever feel like you need a Ms. Baldwin to notice when you are winning at life? I do. In 2003, I began cheering on other military spouses who wanted to find their passion and grow their portable businesses for free. I quickly decided to turn my passion into a real business and became certified to be a life coach who could be hired to help another fellow spouse take her life from where it is to where she really wants it to be. Now (probably because I hired a coach) I have been coaching spouses for seventeen years and still love it!   

Great coaches don’t provoke you; they evoke thought. Great coaches guide you along and help you clarify your life vision, set seasonal goals; and keep you motivated as you make progress towards your goals. My coaching clients find that it isn’t the goal that changes them, it’s who they became once they accomplished the goal. When Ms. Baldwin jumped up and down, it wasn’t just about the goal; it was about us changing and evoking teamwork and leaving the field with a higher self-esteem based on seeing the results of practicing our craft. 

Coaches are partners who remind you of your long-term vision, short-term seasonal goals, and point out who they see you becoming with authentic compliments that help you see that you are moving towards an improved version of yourself everyday. You are investing in the new you by trusting the coaching process and knowing that you will have ongoing support and accountability. Coaching aims to help you get to that next level in your career or personal life and become something greater in the process. You shouldn’t hire a life coach because it’s trendy; you should hire a life coach if you are excited about a lifestyle that is bigger than the one you are currently living and if you want support as you strive towards this new life.  

Life coaches have different niches. I love working with military spouses, as it is a community close to my heart. However, you might have an academic goal and need a dissertation coach (Sally Jensen), or you might need to grow your business (I worked with Jill Berquist). There are also ADD coaches, grief coaches (Iris Arenson-Fuller is a great one); frankly, there are all different kinds of coaches these days, so how do you even choose? Once you know your vision, look for a coach that is within that niche. Then, look through the International Coaching Federation’s website and consider hiring a certified life coach. Life coaches will have either an ACC, PCC, or MCC after their name to show they have received some sort of coaching training. I received my training at Coach U, online, but there are several coaching schools. Then, interview 1–3 coaches and see who you have chemistry with and what coaches are within your price range. Some newer coaches will be less expensive than MCC coaches who have been coaches for many years. Invest what you can in your personal and professional development and I know you won’t be disappointed.

Not everyone that I talk with is an ideal client for me. I often meet someone and make a referral to another coach and if I don’t think we are the best fit for each other after the first coaching session. I find that the common denominator with my ideal clients is that they come to their coaching sessions with an open mind, ready to roll up their sleeves and do the work. They aren’t expecting me to “perform,” but allow me to listen actively and ask them strategic questions such as “Who do you feel like you would be if you lost that weight?” This method allows clients to self-direct their own coaching. I am there as a partner and a guide, not as a consultant or an expert.

That said, sometimes someone signs up for coaching and what they really need is a personal trainer, or a tutor to help them pass a professional exam they are stuck on, or a therapist (therapists look at a clients past) versus a coach (coaches look at what the client wants to attract in the future). In my first session with clients, I try and explain the differences between coaching and therapy and make sure the client understands that coaching is a process and coming to one life coaching session won’t yield tremendous results. Clients must be committed to creating a transformation in their life. A client may come to coaching with one presenting issue (losing weight, getting promoted, publishing a book, improving their marriage); however, clients who work with a coach experience a domino effect and wake up and realize that all areas of their life are better. Pretty cool, huh?

If you are interested in learning more about coaching, e-mail me at krista@militaryspcoach.com and we can set up a call to see if coaching is something that will help you reach your personal and career goals more quickly.

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