Supporting your most fulfilled life.

Is Life Coaching What You Think It Is?

Clearing Up Confusion

If you’ve wondered, “what exactly is life coaching?” you’re not alone! If you think you know what life coaching is but have never worked with a coach, I’m guessing you’re not exactly spot on—it’s a commonly misunderstood service. And, it’s an incredibly powerful service, which is why I’ve chosen this work and why I have my own coach. It’s why Oprah had a coach, why Brené Brown, and countless successful, brilliant people have coaches. 

I encourage you to spend a few minutes reading more about what life coaching is and see how it can make a big, positive difference in your life. It may not be at all what you think it is and it just may be what’s missing from attaining your most fulfilled life.

Most often, people become curious about life coaching when they’re at a crossroads in life: considering a new career direction, choosing between jobs, making decisions that will have a big impact on their lives, pursuing a big goal, aspiring to peak performance or to increase courage or confidence. The support of a coach will substantially increase your likelihood of success in these situations, but there are so many powerful ways your life benefits from working with a coach.

Qualifications Matter

Life coaching is becoming more widely-known and used. My two quibbles with the profession are:

1.The title of “life coach” is ambiguous and mistakenly confused with the role of consultants and sports coaches. Many consultants call themselves coaches.

2. Anyone can call themselves a life coach, regardless of their credentials or methods. Some coaches have formal training and ongoing education requirements, some do not.

Let’s clear up the confusion so you don’t miss out on a life-changing opportunity!

In this post, I’m describing the benefits of working with a life coach who has been formally trained and certified by an accrediting organization such as the International Coach Federation (ICF). 

My training and experience have been exclusively with ICF-accredited training, ICF-certified coaches, and the ICF core competencies and code of ethics. The ICF provides professional standards, oversight and evidence-based approaches that add credibility and quality to the profession.

ICF-certified coaches have continuing education requirements in topics such as neuroscience, psychology, positive psychology, strengths-based inquiry, evidence-based interventions for personal and organizational development and behavioral science, just to name a few. Coaching is one of the best, if not the best, learning technologies.

Why I’m A Life Coach

I decided to transition from my career from marine biology to life coaching due to my experience working with an ICF-certified life coach (and based on encouragement from people who know me well). I was amazed at how well I navigated a difficult situation with the support of my coach. My results were better than I had gotten without a coach and better than I ever imagined. I got outstanding results and I learned invaluable things about myself that have allowed me to create positive changes in every aspect of my life. 

Before working with a coach, I was successful by convention. I earned undergraduate and graduate degrees in science, was recruited for cool jobs and frequently promoted. I was a competitive athlete in numerous sports, had amazing opportunities to serve, enjoyed terrific adventures and good relationships with my colleagues.

If I had a life coach earlier on, I suspect that I would still be a marine biologist. Because a life coach can help you make any changes you want. I believe I would have seen more opportunities and been more effective at navigating relationships at work and in my personal life. I would have had more tools for preventing overwhelm, managing anxiety and meeting my core needs. I believe I would have been more effective in every regard, and I would have maintained my well-being in a broader range of circumstances. I loved my work, though I found myself trading my well-being for my career.

One of my primary motivations to coach is to be the person I needed when I was crushing it on my projects and assignments, but struggling with my inner-experience—feeling stressed and frustrated while trying to keep everyone pleased with me. In my experience with a multitude of self-development modalities, life coaching is the best tool for invoking awareness to be more and more effective at creating the changes and living the life you desire.

As I’ve gained new knowledge, habits and awareness through my work with coaching, I’ve considered going back to marine biology–it’s still a passion. However, supporting people in expanding their success and well-being is a tremendous honor and feels like my highest calling. My purpose is to be the person I needed when life was testing me beyond a healthy “learning zone” (see diagram)–someone to help me connect with my highest thinking and behaviors to expand the comfort and learning zone and minimize the panic zone.

What are your intentions for May? - 16

Being who I needed is what got me into coaching, witnessing the powerful results and breakthroughs my clients achieve is what keeps me here.

Why I Have A Life Coach

So, life coaching is this tremendous relationship where your coach holds space for powerful insight and reflection. Because you are the best expert on you and your situation, the coach draws out your wisdom and awareness rather than telling you what to do or think. In fact, many people are surprised to learn that giving advice is counter to the ICF code of ethics. 

All of the coaching methods, competencies and ethics are designed to help you know yourself, your strengths, and your wisdom in the most helpful way possible. You come to learn to trust your decisions because you’ve made them with your highest thinking and intuition. You learn to access bigger perspectives that expand your effectiveness and peace. You live with intention and honor your highest core values.

Life coaching is beneficial if you’re making a specific decision, are in transition or pursuing a specific goal. Life coaching also works well for ongoing support in living to your full potential and realizing continual growth. 

I work with clients for a session or two to make a particular decision, though I primarily work with clients over a sustained period. I have been working with my own life coach for over three years now and plan to continue as long as I’m learning and growing. 

Ok. Yes, but why? When I meet with my life coach, I decide what I want to focus on for our time, I choose the result I want in place by the end of the hour. My coach makes sure we stay on topic – if we start to stray, she asks if I want to stick with my initial topic or shift direction. My coach’s goal is to make sure I achieve mine.  

We all want to be seen, heard and understood. In my experience, there’s no other place you will feel so seen and understood as in coaching. Coaching is confidential and one hundred percent judgment-free. Your whole, authentic self (physical, mental, emotional and spiritual) is welcome in coaching.

More Powerful Benefits of Coaching

Certified coaches are excellent listeners. When you’re sharing your experience, we don’t butt in with what happened to us and pull the situation over ourselves. We don’t defend another person’s intentions or offer our assessment of your or anyone’s behavior. We stay curious in a relevant and thoughtful way that helps you see your situation through a new lens with more opportunities and possibilities than you’ve seen before. The time is all about you and making sure you’re seen, heard, understood and moving forward in the direction you want.

A coach draws out your strengths and resources to solve your biggest challenges. A coach encourages you, is a source of accountability, extends belief, and holds space for you to process things that your family, friends and coworkers don’t really want to hear about. (Truth bomb).

A coach is an objective sounding board with no stake in your choices. Our only stake is that it’s the right choice for you according to your values and wisdom. A coach will help you push through your fears and discomfort around creating your desired changes. Working with a coach reduces the probability of being held back by artificial limits. All limits to your dreams are investigated and creative solutions are explored. Ways you may be unintentionally holding yourself back are also revealed so you can correct your course.

With a coach, you explore your motivations for desired change and you’ll be sure that the changes you’re making are truly meaningful to you and not being made out of guilt or someone else’s values and expectations. 

One fun phenomenon I’ve witnessed in myself and others, is that sometimes what we think we want at the beginning of a coaching session, is ultimately not what we want or truly need. Our true needs and wants can be revealed through this safe space to process. These are just some of the exhilarating breakthroughs experienced in coaching.I’ve brought some tricky situations to my coach and many of my clients have done the same. In my experience, no matter how confused, stuck, worried or scattered someone may have been at the beginning of a session, they are always in a more resourceful place by the end of the session. Coaching ensures that you are always moving forward.

Coaching sessions are designed to be constructive, to empower you to be intentional about how you move forward so that you may contribute to your own success, and to the success of those around you, in the fullest way. It’s a refreshing space out of the mainstream of limits, problems and lack. A place to expand what’s possible for you and others. Where your problems become your springboards rather than your pitfalls. Where you strengthen your inner-experience to support you rather than work against you. 

Group Coaching and Individual Coaching

I support clients in group settings and in individual, private sessions. There are advantages to both, depending on the circumstances. 

Group coaching is where several people who share a similar goal, meet simultaneously in an interactive session. The coach sets the focus for the session according to a structure designed to guide participants to their desired results. Participants are prompted with questions to reflect-on and answer for themselves. After some reflection, participants are invited to share with each other in small breakouts or with the full group. Occasionally, a participant may receive individual coaching with that coaching being observed by the other participants. In my groups, information shared in the group coaching sessions is to be held in confidence by all group members. Participants benefit from the sharing of other people on their same journey.

My group coaching clients enjoy the interaction and connection with one another in addition to the insights they gain from the reflective questions. Group coaching is offered at a lower price than individual coaching.

Individual coaching is private and you set the focus for each session. The ICF Code of Ethics requires coaches to obtain permission from a client before coaching them on a new topic. The standard is that the client is always at choice in coaching sessions. Which is perfect, because that’s true in life too, we just sometimes lose sight of that. Individual sessions provide more space and focused attention on your particular situation than group coaching.

Now You Know

“Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.” Maya Angelou 

I hope you now have a better idea about what life coaching is and that you’re seeing how partnering with a skilled listener and change expert can benefit your growth and ultimately, enhance your life experience. 

Now that you know, don’t let your problems become your pitfalls or prevent you from directing your life with intention. Joy, vibrancy and success are yours for the taking and a coach can guide you there in a way that’s uniquely yours.Let me know in the comments if this post shed any changes or insights to your conceptions about coaching. 

Why not start coaching today?

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