What is Life Coaching?

Life Coaching is a strange concept, isn't it?  Who wants some know-it-all "coach" telling you how to live your own life? Before I knew exactly what life coaching was, I thought it sounded like a pretty stupid idea.

Turns out, the word "coaching" is misleading, because life coaches don't much resemble the athletic kind.  A life coach isn't a beefy guy in a warm-up jacket blowing whistles, barking orders, and yelling at you when you screw up.  Nor will a life coach ever make you drop down and crank out push-ups when it's 100 degrees outside.

Life coaches, in fact, have no interest in telling you what to do.  Instead, they help you explore where you want to be in life and how you're going to get there.  They ask thought-provoking questions, help you discover your values and your strengths, give you straightforward feedback, empower you to find solutions, help you to move forward with your goals, and nag hold you accountable for the promises you've made to yourself.  But setting the agenda and making the decisions? That's your job.

Life Coaching is not psychotherapy.  Coaching is not designed to diagnose, treat, or otherwise fix you.  Typically, coaching clients are already functioning at a high level, and they can manage life just fine without any sort of professional assistance. But some people want more than a life that is "just fine." They want to take control of their destiny, make conscious choices, and live their lives in alignment with their values.

Because coaches are not health care providers, and are not treating clients for mental disorders, coaching can be feel less formal and more relaxed than therapy. Coaching can happen over the phone, by email, while walking on the beach, or while you're lounging in your pajamas on a Saturday morning.

On the other hand, coaches are like psychotherapists in that they will abide by a code of ethical principles.  Professional life coaches keep client information confidential and do not gossip. They avoid conflicts of interest, and will not offer advice they are not qualified to give.  Unlike a sibling or friend, a life coach will not spend a big chunk of the conversation talking about their own problems, or ask you to call back later because a new episode of "Glee" is on. 

Life coaching looks towards the future, not back into the past.  The focus of life coaching is on solutions, not problems. Rather that figure out "why" you're stuck, the emphasis is on "how" you're going to move forward.

Life Coaching Requires Commitment, Creativity and Courage.  The great thing about life coaching? It empowers you to find the path that's best for you, and puts your needs, desires, and dreams first.  The challenging part?  You have to do the work!  While your coach will help you discover your values and goals, explore your options, and turn your insights into action, YOU will have to set aside time to ponder, plan, experiment, and persevere.  Coaching isn't magic--but you may be surprised to discover how resourceful you are when you are challenged to focus your energies on what's truly important to you.