What is a Life Coach, Really?

Does a life coach follow you around all day yelling encouraging instructions like “Get in there!”, “Make a difference!” or “Run! You can catch that bus!”? Or is a life coach someone who tweets you inspiring quotes throughout the day? Is a life coach supposed to make sure you keep on schedule and carry out tasks properly?

The term ‘life coach’ certainly can seem confusing when we think of it in terms of traditional definitions of each word separately. The stereotypical college football coach persona does not come into play when speaking of a life coach. This is a person whose job it is to encourage your choices and spur you on during the good and bad of everyday life. On the other hand, a life coach is not a therapist or psychoanalyst. They are not a personal assistant, a best friend or a pseudo-parent. It is not the job of a life coach to remind you of upcoming birthdays or offer preliminary diagnoses on possible mental disorders. Additionally, a life coach is not a business coach. While the two genres do exist independently of each other, they are not the same thing.

Let’s take a good look at what a coach is. What does ‘coach’ actually mean? Is it as simple as encouragement and training? The first known instance of the word ‘coach’ being used was at Oxford University in 1830. It was applied as a slang term for a “tutor who carries a student through an exam”. The following year brought the use of coach into the sports world. Today, the Merriam-Webster Dictionary identifies the meaning of coach as: a) a private tutor or b) one who instructs or trains. As applied to life, a life coach is someone who tutors on the decisions of life. To be clear, the life coach does not make decisions for you in even the smallest way.

It takes courage and clarity to set goals in life; especially when self confidence is not necessarily at its best. Sometimes we get so locked in the routines of providing a means to live that we forget to actually do the living. Even professionals with well developed skills in problem solving and critical thinking can become locked in a dull cycle of work-sleep-eat. The job of the life coach is to ask the hard questions and make sure they not only get answered, but get completed. Where do you see yourself in a year, two years or five years? What is your inspiration for those goals? Do you have enough inspiration to reach the goals? Those are not easy questions to answer, but a life coach can help break them down so they are not so daunting.

Think about the things that inspire you. What influences your thoughts and feelings most often? What makes you want to go further and do more? What excites you? It may be hard to hear those questions, even a little shocking. Some of us who have become far too entrenched in ‘what needs to be done’ instead of ‘what should be done’ may see those kinds of self-examination questions as self-serving or selfish. On the contrary by asking these questions of ourselves we are forced to confront our true wishes, dreams and desires. All three of those things are not self-serving; they are stepping stones on our path to being the best we can be. Through knowing what makes us happy, we can make those around us happy and are more likely to succeed in everything we do.

A life coach will make you look within yourself by enquiring about your fears, weaknesses and perceived faults. By identifying these things they can be turned around or even obliterated altogether. A life coach is meant to help you be the best you can be. There is no judgement on their behalf. You are not being judged as a good, bad or ugly person. The life coach provides encouragement and advice on being the best you can be, according to your own goal setting. More importantly, the life coach helps you to be happy with who you are.

Letting someone you do not know, into your most private and honest parts of your inner self is a brave thing to do. Some of us may feel it is easier with a stranger because there is no judgement (either felt or implied). Others may want to know as much about the life coach as they themselves are offering. In other words, trust is huge and it goes both ways. The life coach trusts you to share everything asked of you so that a real and accurate assessment can take place. As the client, you trust the life coach to have the insight and skills to assist you on your road to success. When either side compromises that trust, then the whole system breaks down.

If you are feeling stuck, then consider a life coach. If you have a life goal in mind, but just cannot see a way to get to it, then consider a life coach. No doubt it is a profound step that requires giving up a piece of ourselves, but when the goal is met the sacrifice will be more than worth it.

HLC offers certification courses for life coach training and spiritual counseling. HLCs curriculums have been developed upon 10-years of clinically-tested research that have been proven to work on thousands of people. HLCs life coach certification courses are developed for students who want to receive a customized, clinically proven, one-on-one professional prep education.

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