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What is a Life Coach?

If you are looking for solutions to help you change your life, you might consider hiring a life coach. Here we examine what a life coach does and if one can help you.

Kara Large

The last few years have allowed opportunities for deeper reflection. When everything shut down in 2020, maybe you took some time to think about what you want in life. Was your career where you wanted it to be? Were you happy at home? If anything was off in your life, this was probably a time you really started to pay attention. 

Maybe you felt so stuck you started looking for help. There are tons of solutions out there. You could try a self-led approach by reading books and watching videos or tutorials. Or, if you feel like you need more support, you might consider taking a class. You might have also thought about investing in a life coach to get you back on track. 

Before you sign up with a life coach, it is important to understand what a life coach is and what they do. This will help you better understand if a life coach will be a good fit for you.

At MacklinConnection, we help people who feel stuck - in their careers and in their personal lives. We understand that it can be overwhelming to ask for help - especially when there are a lot of options available (the paradox of choice is real!). While we aren’t life coaches, we do offer similar guidance to our workshop participants. We also help with similar issues that you might go to a life coach with - like how to create more meaningful relationships or how to move forward in your career.

Here we will discuss these questions so you have a better idea of what to expect with a life coach:

What is a life coach?

What does a life coach do?

How can a life coach help?

What are the problems with life coaching?

What is a Life Coach?

A life coach helps with making progress in life - this can be your career, relationships, or overall sense of fulfillment. This can include helping you identify your strengths and weaknesses or figuring out what roadblocks might be in your way to success. Life coaches can also assist you in planning how to achieve your goals and establishing what steps you need to take in order to reach your goals. A life coach can focus on a variety of concerns with you, including life planning, career, finances, relationships, self-discovery, and overall well-being.

Life coaching is a fairly new field. While its formal beginnings occurred during the 1980s, it has become much more popular in recent years. It encompasses personal development, education, learning leadership skills, and also draws on various aspects of psychology (although life coaches are not mental health counselors).

Types of Life Coaches

Life coaches can keep sessions broad, or they can focus on more specific areas. Some specialized types of life coaching include:

  • Career coaching
  • Executive coaching
  • Dating/relationship coaching
  • Fitness coaching
  • Health coaching
  • Life skills coaching
  • Spiritual coaching

If you think you might just want to work on one aspect of your life, you might want to consider a life coach who specializes in that area.

What Does a Life Coach Do? 

When you work with a life coach, they can help you figure out what your goals are. Your life coach can also then put together a plan with you to see progress. This is usually what a life coach does - identifies the desired outcome and then establishes a plan for success for you. 

Usually, this begins with taking inventory of your current situation. According to Oprah’s life coach, Martha Beck, “Every act of creation begins with the destruction of the status quo.” In order to create a better life for yourself, you first need to see where you are. Your life coach will help you understand what might not be working for you now. You’ll then work together to develop new habits, routines, and strategies for establishing a life that’s more aligned with what you want.   

Keep in mind, a life coach is largely a brainstorming partner. They don’t actually do the work for you. Instead, they help you determine the best course of action and can provide accountability as you take the steps you need. 

In addition to helping keep you accountable, a life coach can also provide motivation and encouragement for you. Sometimes, when something seems insurmountable, it can be beneficial to have someone cheering you on and helping you find ways to overcome obstacles.

This can be specific - like with your career. For example, you might go to a life coach when you want to change careers. Your life coach can discuss with you what you are looking for in a career and help you identify your strengths. Then, you’ll work together to come up with actionable steps you can take to make the switch. This could include putting together a new resume, reaching out to colleagues in the field you want to pursue, and maybe taking a class to add new skills to your repertoire. Along the way, your life coach will check in with you to see if you are putting the plan into action. If you run into any roadblocks, your life coach can assist you in troubleshooting and coming up with new strategies.

Who Needs a Life Coach? 

You might start looking for a life coach if you are considering making a change in your life or feel like you need support with your goals. Perhaps you are thinking about switching careers. Or maybe you aren’t happy with your relationships and looking to make an improvement in the way you relate to others. A life coach can also help you understand what you want out of life and how to get it.  

If you aren’t completely sure if you need a life coach, you might need to inventory your current situation to get a better feel for if a life coach is right for you. If you regularly experience any of the following scenarios, a life coach could help you make a positive change: 

  • High levels of stress 
  • Procrastination
  • Dissatisfaction with your job
  • Unable to move forward with your goals
  • Feeling creative blocks
  • Wanting more out of life
  • Not having meaningful relationships
  • Unsure of what your strengths are
  • Feeling lost

How Can a Life Coach Help?

Perspective. A life coach can provide you with a new way of thinking about your life and your perceived challenges. You’ll have access to neutral feedback that can shift your way of understanding yourself and your life.

Navigating obstacles.
A life coach can help you identify your own patterns that are holding you back. Oftentimes, we are our own worst enemy when it comes to actually getting what we want. A life coach will help you see where you might be blocking yourself from succeeding. And, if there are external problems, your life coach can guide you in strategizing how to overcome them.

If you are working to achieve your goals or commit to a new way of doing things, a life coach can keep you accountable. You are more likely to actually make progress if someone else knows what you are trying to accomplish. You’ll be less likely to hold yourself back if your life coach is going to be checking in with you about your plan of action.  

Because you (usually) meet with a life coach on a regular basis, you’ll have someone who can monitor your progress and help you recalibrate or make a plan if you get stuck. Because of this, you are likely to achieve your goals more efficiently than you would on your own. 

Better self-esteem.
Working with a life coach can help you feel more confident in yourself. Instead of keeping yourself in a negative feedback loop, you’ll have another person who can help you understand your own value. Some life coaches even specialize in self-empowerment. 

Additionally, working with a life coach can help you with: 

  • Creating better routines;
  • Tapping into your creativity;
  • Self-awareness;
  • Establishing work/life balance;
  • Developing more meaningful relationships;
  • Finding your passion;
  • Changing careers; and
  • Reducing procrastination.

What are the Problems with Life Coaching?

Even though a life coach can add a lot of value to your life, there are some potential downsides you want to consider. 

Life coaches are not a replacement for mental health practitioners.
If you are looking for assistance with a mental health condition, a life coach will not be able to diagnose you, prescribe you medication, or offer any kind of psychological therapy. 

Every life coach is different.
It’s not a one size fits all approach. You might have to try a few coaches before you find one you really connect with. Some personalities may not work with what you are looking for, so it’s ok to take your time finding the person you want to work with.

Immediate results are not guaranteed.
It takes time and effort to achieve goals. Some changes might happen overnight (like a change in your mindset, for example). But, for the most part, a big transformation requires consistent effort. If you sign up with a life coach thinking it is going to be a quick fix to all of your problems, you might end up disappointed. 

You are doing all the work.
While your life coach can help you iron out your plans and problem solve with you, you are ultimately doing all of the heavy-lifting. A life coach is not going to come into your life and fix everything with a snap of their fingers. You are going to have to be the one to implement changes and stick with it in order to see progress.   

What are Other Options Instead of Life Coaching?

If you feel like you are stuck in some aspect of your life, you might feel like you need some help to figure things out. (See this article for more on being stuck.) And you might be considering hiring a life coach as one of your potential solutions.

A life coach can help you set goals and hold you accountable. If you’re feeling a little lost in your life, talking with a life coach each week might help you feel more sure of yourself and where you’re going (or where you want to end up). 

There are also other ways you can start making changes in your life. At MacklinConnection, we offer a transformative workshop that will allow you to discover:

  • How to understand yourself and others;
  • How to actually communicate;
  • How to find and create meaning in your life; and
  • How to start living your best life.

If you are interested in learning more about our course, check out these articles:

Or, if you feel like you are ready to sign up, you can schedule a discovery call with one of our session leaders to learn more about how you can get started.