Are You Skeptical of Life Coaching? Here’s How Life Coaching Works
Are you skeptical when you hear about life coaching and life coaches?
I know right!. Here I am about to tell you how great I am, how great Life Coaching is and how it changes people’s lives.
But actually, I’m not going to blow my own horn here, or even the horn of the profession. Rather, I want to educate you a little about life coaching so that you understand the ways it can really help you or someone you know. It can even help you decide if you’d like to train to become one.
It’s very easy to dismiss coaching because, well, frankly, everyone and their mother are calling themselves life coaches. It used to be that when I was at a networking event or even a party in the early 2000’s, if I told someone I was a life coach, they’d lean forward interested to listen with open ears?
Not anymore. Now, they often roll their eyes and comment, “ Who isn’t?”
So let’s see what I can tell you that will help you understand it better.
Life Coaching helps you build a bigger and better life.
Let’s say you bought Ikea’s electronic Sit/Stand desk because you read that sitting was the new smoking. But you never actually press the button to stand while working.
Or, you get your annual physical and your doctor tells you to lose weight, you are overweight, actually obese which, although only a few pounds above overweight, sounds a lot scarier.
Maybe you are just plain not as happy as you want to be, or used to be and need to make some changes but don’t know how, what or even if you can.
What are your options to solve these problems?
- You could go it alone. You know, bite the bullet, read a book, get online and sort it out on your own.
- You could hire an expert. You could find someone who specializes in helping people create healthy habits, or is trained in overcoming procrastination. This expert has the solution to your specific problem and tells you what to do, like WW for losing weight.
- You could hire a coach. You realize that solving one problem is just the tip of an iceberg and you could use help in a number of other areas also like finances, job satisfaction, relationships!
All of the above can work.
However, life coaching can take you further. It not only helps you solve your initial problem, it helps you build a bigger and better life.
How did life coaching develop?
Life coaching does have a history. Unlike Athena, it didn’t just appear fully formed from the head of Zeus.
Its current incarnation stems from the early human potential movement of the 1960s. This was a time when people drenched in the Freudian philosophy of human psychology rebelled. Instead of seeing the dark and traumatic reasons for self-defeating behavior, they looked to the amazing potential in humans to achieve greatness.
By the 1980s a new approach to personal change called Solution-focused Brief Therapy appeared. First, brief because the traditional therapy models, even of the human potential movement took forever. You were in therapy for a lifetime. And second, solution-focused because these therapists believed people could make changes and feel better quicker when they focused on the solution rather than getting bogged down in the problem.
Then along came Robert Leonard, a graduate from the early Landmark program and a financial planner. Leonard is considered the founder of today’s Life Coaching profession.
He saw that his financial clients needed more than just financial help.
Often, he found finances were just a small part of the problem, and what people were really craving was advice about their lives in general.
Along with Timothy Galloway’s work from his Inner Tennis book, where he focused on the thoughts, beliefs, and inner dialogue of the athlete, we just get this amazing mashup of skills, ideas, philosophies, and techniques that inform Life Coach training and hence the graduates we see today.
Currently, we are seeing a lot more ideas from spiritual and wisdom traditions entering Life Coaching. See the work Lora Lisi and I do in our Life Coach Certificate Program through BlissOm Yoga studio and holistic learning centre.
What I hope you get from this drive down history lane is that Life Coaching isn’t a fad.
It was a step-by-step progression developed by thoughtful, educated people who saw more effective and efficient ways to help people make their lives better.
How exactly does life coaching help to make people’s lives better?
I thought you might ask that. There are many ways life coaching helps improve people’s lives. Here are a few of my favourite things:
- Talking: Similar to talk therapy, talking to a coach can help a client feel better by shifting the focus on the purely emotional quality of the problem, to using their rational part of their brain to discuss it. Research shows that talking things over does indeed shift a person from the emotional response to a more rational response. Check out Science Daily.
- Self-Discovery: We can’t change what we don’t see. Life Coaching has a myriad of exercises and strategies that help a client get to know themselves better. For example, with the Core Values exercise, a client can discover what makes them come alive, what matters most to them, and how aligning their life with their values, gives their life more meaning.
- Visioning and Visualization: Here is where Life Coaching meets sports coaching. Athletes are trained to see themselves at their best. They run that race a hundred times in their heads. And there is a reason, the brain doesn’t know the difference between real and imagined events. Just ask a five-year-old who sees something that isn’t there in the closet! Life Coaches help clients to create the vision of their life at its best. They sort out together what the world of the solution looks like. It’s very future-focused, even if it’s an interview that the client has tomorrow. And it’s positive. The positive vision simply takes the place of any negative or fearful one. It’s powerful brain science and personal motivation. It builds confidence in the future.
- Goal-setting: Life coaches want their clients to move their lives forward by taking action. But first, clients need to know where they are going. Life Coaches help clients use their Future Visions to build a present-day plan that will help them realize that future. It’s not actually rocket science! Humans do this all the time. Just thinking about what you want for breakfast and then making that happen is using the same strategies of goal setting and achievement. Life Coaches just show clients how to make those achievements much bigger than breakfast.
- Support: Perhaps the most powerful way Life Coaching helps make people’s lives better is the Unconditional Support they offer. Really, who wouldn’t want someone who is totally on your side and there to help you have, be and do everything you’ve ever imagined. Really, who wouldn’t want that?
When is it right to work with a life coach?
Here is when it’s helpful for you to see a life coach:
- You want to get ‘unstuck’ and set goals you will actually achieve.
- You want to move to the next step in your career.
- You believe you can achieve more.
- You want to create healthy habits.
- You have a very annoying inner voice and would like to quiet it down.
- Your life is lacking purpose and meaning.
- You need some help deciding on what is next.
- You get a sense that something is missing but not sure what it is.
- You want help achieving a really big goal that you’ve had for a while.
- You need some structure and accountability to help you do better.
- You continue to put others’ needs ahead of your own.
- You’ve heard about self-care but have no idea what it is.
- You’re tired of trying to do everything on your own.
Well, I could go on. People come to my coaching practice for a million reasons. But you can boil it down to one: change. People come to coaching to change something. It might be themselves, their jobs, their habits, their relationships, their mood. They just want change. And that’s what life coaches are expert in, helping people change…for the better.
Who wouldn’t benefit from life coaching?
Mental health issues are best left to the professionals in that industry. But it’s perfectly common to coach someone with mental health issues as long as the client is seeing a professional who deals with those issues.
If you have a diagnosis, you will want to seek professional help first.
How is coaching different from counseling or therapy?
As mentioned above, if you have a diagnosis or are worried that you have a mental health issue like depression or panic disorder, make sure you talk to your doctor and see if therapy is right for you.
To help with this analogy, if you sprained your ankle as an athlete, you wouldn’t go to your sports coach for help. You’d go to the doctor.
A therapist generally works on the medical model theory that the client, called a patient, has something wrong with them, and the therapist, as the expert has ways to fix them.
Life Coaching is very different. One of life coaching’s core principles is that you are a whole person, and have all the inner resources you need to succeed and to be happy. Basically, you don’t need fixing; you need coaching to bring out your best. It’s assumed that your best already exists.
I guess you could say, like the human potential movement before them, life coaching is based on a wellness model. And so, just as an athlete who wants to jump higher or run faster would go to a sports coach, you who wants to excel in their life would go to a life coach.
Why did I become a Life Coach?
First of all, I am in love with the human potential movement. I was a kid in the ’60s. I was very much aware of the cultural constraints of the ’50s. They stunk. They felt like jail. I felt like the world wanted me to be an automaton.
I just didn’t fit in. I was a girl who didn’t play with dolls. I preferred sports and cowboys. I didn’t conform to the religious norms of any religion. My mother, bless her heart, was an early adopter of feminism. And I was just like a racehorse who felt the constraints of tightly pulled reins.
All that to say, I was always educating myself on self-improvement, living my dreams, and living a really big life. I had a really big vision.
I ended up doing all that.
But I found I felt empty and disappointed by my life in my thirties.
I decided to enter university where I literally found myself. And I’ve been committed to helping people find themself ever since.
First, as a therapist. I have my Master’s Degree in Counselling Psychology. And finally, over twenty years ago as a Life Coach.
I see many people, mostly women, and mostly moms’ who feel a little empty or lost. Usually, it’s because they’ve been putting everyone else’s needs above their own. I help the heart-centred woman who feels a little lost to connect with her joy and her purpose.
I just love it.
And now, after all these years of experience, happily and humbly I teach students to become life coaches themselves.
Should YOU become a Life Coach or just hire one?
I have to say, I think I have benefited the most from all my life coaching training. And I benefit greatly as the coach in every session.
- I have been trained in an amazing array of skills, techniques, and strategies that I can employ for my own personal growth.
- I am surrounded by people who are excited about and committed to their personal growth.
- As a fundamentally social creature, I get to have conversations for a living.
- As a professionally trained listener, I have improved every single relationship I have ever been in. People love how I listen. And I love to listen.
- My coach training taught me a lot about connecting with people, showing empathy, and just plain loving them as they grow. This is good for my heart and soul.
- My life coach training pointed me in the direction of my purpose. I am fundamentally happier than I ever was before I found coaching.
What should you look for in a coach if you decide to hire one?
- Someone who inspires you and gets you excited about living your best life.
- Someone who has gone to Life Coach training.
- Someone who uses effective strategies proven to improve your life.
- Someone with who you can feel comfortable being vulnerable and open.
- Someone you like. (I know, that’s not very scientific but in truth, research studies have shown that in counselling, the theory the counsellor uses is less important in predicting good results than the connection the client has with the counsellor. I believe that is true for coaching too.)
If you are excited about what you’ve learned about Life Coaching, I am starting a Certification program on February 2nd, 2021. All the classes are on Zoom so you can join from anywhere in the world.
This certification program is in partnership with Lora Lisi, Spiritual Life Coach and BlissOm Founder. BlissOm is a holistic learning centre in Vaughn, Ontario Canada.
Our 100-hour Life Coaching Certification program combines proven life coaching techniques with transformational wisdom to bring about personal growth and confidence to help you and others on their life’s journey to wholeness.
Our course provides:
A robust curriculum delivered in a step-by-step methodology that fits into your busy schedule.
A caring, calm, and serene environment to enjoy your own transformational journey.
An opportunity to empower your own life, gain clarity, create balance, find purpose, attract abundance, grow spiritually and feel connected to a community of other like-minded souls.
A safe place to walk your personal and spiritual path freely, authentically, and consciously to transform your life and world.
To learn more and to register, please go to
Both Lora and I will be happy to talk to you more about it and to help you decide if this is for you.
Just so you know, our graduates find this to be a life-changing course as they learn to apply all they are learning to themselves and in other areas of their lives.
Finally, I think it’s really helpful to remember that no serious sports person would expect to get very far in their chosen sport without a coach. To succeed, athletes need someone who can guide them towards their personal best. Why should sportspeople get all the luck? Life coaches can do the same for us.
I always say, having a life coach is like having a personal trainer for your soul. Imagine the possibilities.
Hoping you are less skeptical now,