I like the metaphor of two people climbing two different mountains, each can see something very different about the mountain that the other is climbing. A life coach has been trained to carefully observe the mountain their client is on, through questions and exercises, to help the client take the most effective route at that point in their life.
A coach will give you new perspectives and help you see new possibilities
Unfortunately, I think that ‘life coaching’ is a terrible name for what almost always is an amazing process. The first problem seems to be that the term ‘life coaching’ isn’t really understood by most people, and secondly, a lot of people wonder why they would want to be coached on their life, by a stranger.
Life coaching is a detailed process led by a qualified coach. There are a number of skills that a professional and experienced coach will use, including specific questions, the ability to zoom in and out of the topic being discussed, maintaining a focus on the clients topic, helping the client handle difficult emotions that may come up, listening carefully for limiting beliefs, fears and motivations, exercises to elicit values and direction as well as providing the client with an increased ability to see their situation, behaviours and goals from new perspectives. An experienced coach is able to challenge and support the client in clarifying their goals and achieving their ambitions, in a way that the client themselves, even with support from their family and friends, often cannot. One of the most powerful things to come out of coaching is clarity and focus for the client.
The objective is to help the client achieve what it is they want to achieve. There are a number of reasons why someone might want coaching, such as taking different perspectives or the chance to run ideas by an unbiased independent coach. In general people will always have some ambitions that they don’t achieve. This isn’t necessarily a problem, and if people are living a fulfilling life, there isn’t a need to achieve everything they ever wanted to. However, for many people, there are goals and ambitions that they really would like to achieve, given the motivation and half a chance.
Making the choice to live a fulfilling life can be difficult, a professional coach will support and challenge you
Examples of why someone would choose coaching include getting a promotion at work, change careers, improve their relationships, go travelling, become an artist or change the world. For some, coaching is about getting unstuck, getting themselves out of a rut and finding a sense of direction and fulfilment that is lacking, or has disappeared from their life. Although many people are quite content with their lives and their direction, almost everyone can benefit from taking a step back, and having a professional coach help them to take stock of their situation and their opportunities or their challenges and worries. One thing that confuses some people is that coaching is not about the coach giving advice, although sometimes a coach has some points of view. Coaching is about helping the client to access their own wisdom, and deep values, to create a plan that will work for them and for their ambitions in life.
In terms of coaching vs counselling, at the far end of the spectrum are those of us who are deeply stuck in a problem situation, or completely stuck in a non-functional perspective about their life. In this situation, especially when the situation is deeply negative and having a serious impact on that person’s ability to live a meaningful and fulfilling life, counselling may be a better option than coaching. However, it’s always worth a free consultation with an experienced coach, to determine if coaching will be successful or if a counsellor would be a better option.
The sense of fulfillment from achieving your goals, or simply having clarity and focus, is enormous