WTF is a Life Coach?

Life coaching is all the rage lately. If you’ve heard of life coaches before but wondered if hiring one was right for you, then wonder no more! We’ll go over some of the basics of what life coaching is and is not, and some of the basics you might be wondering about what happens when you hire one.

Life coaching is not:

  • A new best friend. While people have different expectations for friendships, a lot of people come to friendships expecting a friend to be … well, nice. To always comfort them when they need to be comforted and to usually agree with them when they need to vent. A life coach, while certainly there to support you and be on Team You, isn’t there to listen to your feelings as much as she is to guide you on the path to actionable change, and she might sometimes push you out of your comfort zone more than an average friend would.
  • A therapist. While a therapist, depending on what kind of therapy they practice, might listen to you talk about what you’re dissatisfied and unhappy within your life and ask, “Where is this coming from?”, a life coach is not concerned with that. A life coach is only concerned with, “What can we do to take you from dissatisfied to satisfied?”
  • A guru or mystic. Maybe it’s because life coaches are a relatively new phenomenon, or maybe it’s because the term “life coach” just sounds so intimidatingly vague and big, but lots of people have the misperception that life coaches are sort of like spiritual guides. While there might be some individual life coaches that sell themselves this way, the profession as a whole does not see itself that way; it’s more practical and goal-oriented.
  • A boss. You might want your life coach to tell you what to do, but he probably isn’t going to. As Robert Pagliarini writes for a CBS News report on life coaches, “Coaches help their clients explore and come up with the best choices for them based on where they are and the client’s vision for their future. Coaches are experts at the process of changing behavior, which is much more valuable than giving instructions.”
  • One uniform thing. There’s actually a wide variety of kinds of life coaches, including general life coaches, life balance coaches, health coaches, small business coaches, executive coaches, personal finance coaches, relationship coaches.

Life coaching is:

  • A supporter. If you have a skilled life coach, then she’s going to be good at listening to you and getting to the bottom of what’s making you dissatisfied and unhappy. Lots of people who contact life coaches haven’t even yet figured out what their goals for change are. A life coach can help you by listening attentively not just to what you’re saying but what might be between the lines of what you’re saying.
  • A motivator. Many people have specific goals that they want for their lives but they come up with a lot of excuses or sometimes even valid concerns that prevent them from pursuing them. A life coach will help you see past your excuses and figure out how to move past obstacles that are stopping you from getting started.
  • An accountability expert. Unless you’re a person who’s blessed with great will power, it can be really hard to stick to goals that you make all by yourself. This can especially be true when you’re talking about big life goals because you might tell yourself things like, “I’m not getting to see my family enough” or “This is putting up a barrier between me and my S.O.”, and then you have what sounds like a pretty good excuse to slack on your goal. But a life coach will regularly check in with you and hold you accountable for what you’ve said you’ll do.
  • A guide. While a life coach won’t tell you what to do, she will guide you through the process of accomplishing the things that you yourself state that you want. This guidance can come in forms like helping you set up a schedule, motivating you to act now rather than later, and checking in with you regularly on your progress.

Life Coaching Considerations

Are you wondering if you’re the kind of person seeks life coaching? Don’t, because the answer is pretty much always “yes.” Experienced life coach Kenji Oshima says, “My clients include housewives, managers, administrators, and grad students.”  In other words, his clients come from basically every walk and stage of life.

Wondering if you’re the type of person who would enjoy or profit from life coaching? Oshima provides some helpful questions that he tells his clients to ask themselves when they’re trying to figure out whether they want to work with him: “Are you ready to focus on yourself and nurture your personal development? Are you prepared to work toward your goals? Do you feel collaboration and accountability will help you become unstuck? Are your commitments to yourself and others out of balance? Are you willing to let go of limiting beliefs and negative self-talk? Would you like to increase self-confidence and resilience?”

Wondering if you can afford a life coach, both in terms of money and time? Life coaches aren’t the most affordable service in the world, but they do come at a wide range of prices, with the most expensive usually being the ones employed by big corporations for employees. explains, “Most life coaches working with individuals charge about $300 to $700 per month for a 30 to 60 minutes call 3 or 4 times a month.” The financial element might be restrictive for you, but most people are surprised at how not restrictive life coaching is on their schedules.

Wondering how to spot a skilled life coach? You should indeed be concerned about this! Because there is no regulating body or licensure for life coaches, anyone can decide to call themselves a life coach and start taking clients. Though it may not be a guarantee of a highly skilled coach, you should still check that the coach is accredited by the ICF, the International Coach Federation, or a certified by a life coaching program accredited by ICF. That way you’ll at least know the coach has specific training rather than just being a rando who listened to one podcast on life coaching and decided to become a life coach, too.

Ultimately, the decision about whether you should work with a life coach or not depends on whether your goals are compatible with what a life coach does. Stay tuned for an upcoming post that will explain when life coaching might not be the right choice for you.

If you’re trying to figure out whether you’d benefit more from a therapist or a life coach (or both), you can call us at (305) 501-0133 or click here to schedule a free 20-minute Clarity Consult.

Envision Wellness is a private practice that offers psychotherapy, psychological testing, and life coaching in Miami, FL.  Our team has a passion for helping others achieve happy, fulfilling, and change-making lives that make the world a better place.  Each therapist has their areas of expertise.  Not sure who you’d like to work with?  Click here to schedule a free 20-minute phone consult to help you decide.

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