One of the most misunderstood – but growing – professions today is that of a life coach. We see life coaches on reality shows and talk shows, helping folks figure their stuff out. We are prone to wondering how a life coach can help us, too. And which one do I choose?
These are questions I often get in my inbox or on my Twitter feed. Today, I would like to offer some clarity on how to select a life coach and what kind of assistance they can offer.
The main objectives of most life coaches include helping you to overcome an obstacle that is holding you back, holding you accountable for your actions, and encouraging you to excel at living the life you desired. Beyond the training and certifications, each will have their own personal experiences that shape them uniquely and differentiate them from other personal development coaches in the field. Life coaches help their clients navigate major life transitions that may have them feeling stuck.
Here are few things to consider when choosing a life coach:
Examine the life coach’s personal philosophy and values. Do you find that they resonate with you? Do you hold the same ideas or do you wish to embody these principles? I believe this is important because trust is needed in the relationship. A good life coach will push you to do things you have longed to do but have been too scared to attempt.
Expertise matters. Research your prospective life coach’s specialty and the results they have achieved. If you are seeking balance in your home and work life, seek someone who specializes in spiritual alignment and work-life balance, rather than a career coach who may only generalize in this area.
Expect to work. A good life coach will give you assignments with the expectation of completion, unlike therapy, mentoring and consulting where talking and reflective listening are part of the foundational principles. Life coaching is about checking in and taking massive action.
Feel the coach out. Life coaching is a big investment, which, in many cases, leads to a great payoff of personal achievement and breakthroughs that will shift your life. Take the time to read your prospective coach’s books and blog, and watch their videos. This will allow you to understand more about how they work and what they offer.
Know the difference between needing a life coach or therapist. As both a therapist and a life coach, I want you to know there is a difference, although they can overlap. I tend to think of it this way: If you are weepy, not able to function, need medication adjustment or advice, or are paralyzed by trauma, a therapist should be your first call. On the other hand, if you are functioning pretty well but have specific issues at work or in your career, have trouble staying organized, desire getting a raise at work or making more money in your business, seek a promotion, or would like to be more courageous in life, a life coach may be your best choice. Many of my clients share with me that coaching picked up where therapy left off. They feel better but now they want to take their life to the next level. Therapy is also considered a medical necessity whereas coaching is personal development. Your coach or therapist can also help you assess which professional is best for you at this time.
As a life coach, I believe that we ultimately have the answer to all of life’s big questions within us. It is my job to guide you in understanding how to access that information by getting in touch with your spirit. You were designed for greatness…so start living your best life today.
Go for it. Life is about taking chances, so jump in and get started. We can always find an excuse as to why we will not try something new. Allow today to be the day that you go for it.
Melisa Alaba is a life coach, speaker and the author of Live Out Loud: 52 Ways to Reawaken Your Spirit and Live a Life of Purpose. Melisa can be found walking on a trail or celebrating her birthday (every day) with a piece of chocolate. You can connect with her on her website, Twitter or Instagram.