I did a small poll on Facebook the other week which asked people to say whether they knew what a Life Coach did or not. Just over half of those that answered said ‘no’. I come across this quite a lot when people ask me what I do. They’ve heard of coaching but aren’t too sure what it’s about. So this post seeks to explain what I do as a Life Coach and dispel some of the myths out there.
I don’t need therapy
Coaching is not therapy. Coaching is very different to counselling, and the majority of people that I coach do not need therapy. Rather than focusing on the past, coaching is very much about exploring where you are now, where you want to be in the future and how you can get there. We might explore what is behind your thinking and behaviour patterns but only to challenge and change those habits, rather than discuss at length where they have come from. I often hold coaching sessions in coffee shops or quiet hotel lounges, which highlights the fact that often the conversations I have with clients are not so emotionally-charged or sensitive that they can’t be held in public.
In a nutshell, coaching is about reflecting and deciding on what your ideal future looks like, and what steps you need to get there. It is a very practical, goal-orientated approach to change.
I don’t want to admit that I need help
In this country, we hate to ask for help. Signing up to coaching doesn’t mean that you’ve failed or that things are totally awful. It’s definitely not something to be embarrassed about. Having coaching is simply you acknowledging that things aren’t quite the way you’d like them to be and that you want to get on and do something about it. You should be proud that you’re taking life by the horns and grasping your future. Life is way too short to sit around being unhappy and feeling like you’re wasting your years away doing something you’re not passionate about.
Most of my clients are aware that they are not as happy as they’d like to be. They might have some ideas about what would make them happier, others have no idea; they just know there must be more to life. I am there to ask the right questions so that you can begin to explore, in your own time, what might make you happier and how you can go about implementing the changes you think are needed.
It’s all tree-hugging, mumbo-jumbo, touchy-feely stuff
I do a huge amount of practical work with my clients. They lead the sessions and talk much more than me in them if I am doing my job properly. I use psychology-based tools, exercises and worksheets to explore the issue at hand and yes, we will discuss your thoughts, feelings and emotions, but they underpin everything that you do so it’s important we figure out what’s going on up there. The sessions are always fun, uplifting and positive.
I’m not ready to commit to change
If you’re interested in coaching but just not sure you’re ready to commit, then I would always first discuss your situation and how coaching could help in an introductory session. After that session, there is no obligation to sign up. Most people do book another session though, as it gets them fired up, feeling positive about the future and they want to get started. Some book five more sessions, some just one. It’s always what you feel ready for. The pace of the sessions is also matched to how slow or fast you want to address things.
It’s too expensive
I run my coaching business alongside a two-day salaried role. This second income means that I can keep my rates lower than some other coaches. It also means that I can be flexible about how and when you make payments. My priority is that you get the coaching you need rather than you turning it down because you can’t afford it. Some clients may say sessions are too expensive but when you think about the price of your last night out, or your new jeans or shoes, it seems reasonable considering the impact it will have on your life. You're also paying to benefit from the experience and expertise of the coach, plus their time prior, during, and after the session. Not so bad, really.
OK, so what do you actually do in your sessions?
At the start of each session, I will ask you what you’d like to focus on. We will then work together to explore the issue using various questioning techniques, worksheets and coaching tools that I’ve been trained to use.
Often sessions revolve around one or more of the following challenges:
-Deciding whether to get a new job, and if so, what? (what would you enjoy? should you leave, change department, or become self-employed?)
-How to go about doing the above depending on which route you feel would make you the happiest.
-How to have more fun outside of work (saying no to things you don’t want to do and doing more of what you enjoy).
-How to improve relationships with colleagues, friends and partners/potential partners (communication skills, assertiveness, confidence building).
I hope that clarifies a few things about what coaching is. If you’ve got any further questions, or you’d like to have a chat with me about coaching, then please do contact me. I'd be happy to help.
I could not recommend Alice highly enough. She strikes a great balance of acting as an independent sounding board and confidant but also playing devil’s advocate, which prompts thought-provoking introspection.