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You, Only Better Why you need a life coach now

Can a life coach really help?

You, Only Better Why you need a life coach now

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You’ve been stuck in a rut and you don’t know what to do about it. Solution: Turn to a skilled problem-solver like a life coach who can help you reach your potential.

“A great coach can do three things: Help you see your situation in a new way, help you unearth your own solutions to challenges and help you hold yourself accountable for the changes you want to make,” says Sarah B. From, a workflow and executive coach for nonprofit leaders.

Why would I want someone to tell me how to live my life?

People use life coaches for all sorts of reasons. Maybe you want to become a better boss and leader, run a more effective business or team, create organizational processes to maximize your limited time, find the love of your life or make a career move and lose weight. Just about any situation can benefit from a clear-eyed, objective person who’s on your side and willing to be frank.

Far from being an admission that you’re not capable of navigating life on your own, getting a coach means you’re serious about improving your situation and being the best you can be. “As a coach and diversity consultant, one of the things that I have found is that many women of color, lesbian women or other women who are perceived to be ‘different’ often do not want a coach initially because they do not want to be perceived as ‘needing help’ or ‘lacking something’ in any way,” says Tanya Odom, global diversity and inclusion consultant and executive coach. “Once some realize that the senior men [at the office] have coaches, the perspectives often change.”

Watch out for phonies

Before you book your first session, be aware that there aren’t clear standards for who can call themselves life coaches. In an industry that pulls in an estimated $2 billion in revenue per year, there can be some duds out there. Finding a good coach can be tricky, says Kate Forest, a licensed clinical social worker and relationship coach for Master Matchmakers. “Unlike therapists, coaches are not licensed by the states,” Forest says. “I would look for someone with a background in a related field, such as social work or counseling, preferably someone with a master’s degree in that field.”

Sarah From agrees. “I advise coach seekers to look for either a graduate-level credential in a coaching-related field (mine is a master’s in organizational change management; there are also graduate certificates in coaching) or a certification from an accredited program.” In addition, adds From, look for a coach with specific professional experience in the area you’re seeking help. Even the best love coach, for example, may not be able to help you with being a better workplace manager.

Forest adds that some coaching organizations that provide certification have spiritual bases or philosophies that are not mainstream, so make sure if the coach has a belief system that influences his or her work, that it matches your own.

Got it. So how should I go about finding a coach?

One good way to locate a coach is through word of mouth, From says. “Ask friends, relatives, colleagues and neighbors” for referrals. Have an initial conversation with a potential coach. This should give you a “clear understanding of the coach’s approach and process,” adds From.

She advises that you ask questions such as, “How do you view your role as a coach?” “How will the goal-setting process go?” “How will you help when I get stuck?” She also says to consider how well the coach listens to you. “Is he able to reflect back to you what you’ve said? What is the quality and depth of the questions he asks? Do you feel heard and understood?”

No, a life coach isn’t your psychologist

Be aware that a coach should not venture into the realm of therapy, Forest says. “Coaching is not a substitute for mental health services. Someone with a mental health diagnosis should see a professional licensed to treat those illnesses.”

A life coach will help you identify goals and decide how to reach themA life coach will help you identify goals and decide how to reach them.Stay focused to get your money’s worth, Forest adds. “If you go in wanting to change your career, then your conversations should be focused on your skills, your educational and employment background, your goals in terms of a career. Don’t get sidetracked into other areas. Don’t let the coach set the goals, though a coach will assist you in identifying those goals. A coach asks questions and doesn’t provide answers. Although sometimes, coaches offer advice.”

An effective coach will help you home in on what you want and how to get there. From, for example, works with clients to track their goals with two simple one-to-10 measures. “The first is, on a scale of one to 10, how important is it to you to achieve this goal?” she says. “And second, on a scale of one to 10, what is your current level of mastery of this goal?” Then she and her client revisit these two measures throughout the coaching engagement to track progress, note the shifting importance of goals and add new goals as they emerge.

Okay, how long and how much?

There’s no hard and fast rule for how many sessions you and your coach will need in order to make the changes you want to see. As Forest says: “A good coach coaches his or her way out of a job. There should be a clearly defined end point. Once you reach those goals, coaching is over. Ultimately, it’s up to you how long coaching lasts. If you’re actively working, then it shouldn’t take more than a few months. A coach doesn’t even need to be there for the end result. If you can keep the motivation going, the coach merely needs to help you at the front end.”

Forest says that coaches may charge anywhere from $50 an hour to $400 an hour, but “because someone charges $400 doesn’t mean they’re any better.” When you discuss rate, also ask if the coach includes a certain number of phone calls or emails along with the in-person or Skype sessions.

Elaine (who prefers to keep her last name private) worked with a life coach to help deal with personal issues regarding a family member. “What worked for me and what I liked a lot was that [my coach] was more direct in conversations with me than traditional therapists had been in the past,” Elaine says. “It wasn’t one of those things that was set up to take years for me to finally figure out on my own. Her approach was centered on the idea that we will all solve our relationship problems by being ‘authentic’ in how we interact and react to each other. It took a lot of practice for me to live this way, and now that I’m better at it, I feel free from the worry, guilt and sense of obligation to react a certain way to people.”

For the next best thing to a life coach, try these popular self-help books:

Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, by Jane Pauley
Your Life Calling: Reimagining the Rest of Your Life, by Jane Pauley ($11.47 at Amazon)
This just-released book by the former Today show anchor is aimed at baby boomers who want more out of life.

 

Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep and Understand a Man, by Steve Harvey
Straight Talk, No Chaser: How to Find, Keep and Understand a Man, by Steve Harvey ($17.95 at Books-A-Million)
For those women looking for a love coach, Steve Harvey gives it to them straight.

 

The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg
The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business, by Charles Duhigg ($10.01 at Amazon)
The award-winning business reporter explains why habits exist and how they can be changed.

 

Life Coaching for Dummies, by Jeni Purdie
If you’ve thought about being a life coach yourself, pick up Life Coaching for Dummies, by Jeni Purdie ($18 at Books-A-Million).

 

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