July 21, 2022 by Amanda Reill
If you’re ready to make some big changes in your life and take things to the next level, you may be struggling with taking the first steps. This is perfectly normal. And the old adage is true: change is difficult. So is holding yourself accountable. Doing it alone is one way to go, but sometimes it can be easier to have a partner. This could be a friend, a family member, or maybe someone in a more professional relationship. If you’re feeling like you could benefit from a professional partner in the process, you might be considering hiring a life coach.
Life coaches specialize in helping you develop your self awareness so that you can clearly define where you are now, where you want to be, and how to bridge the gap. They can help you envision and create a plan for your future and provide support along the way. Think of them as someone who climbs in the passenger seat and journeys with you as you drive to your self discovery.
A niche refers to a specialized area where a coach may have some additional expertise. While some coaches serve as general practitioners with a wide range of clients, others are very specific in the services they offer. You may ask yourself the following questions:
If you know anyone who has been coached, consider interviewing them about their experience and exploring if a referral to that coach makes sense. There are also many different online directories and life coach matching services that offer listings of life coaches for any niche.
Most life coaches offer free consultations to see if they are a good fit for you. It’s a good idea to set up a consultation with several different life coaches so that you can determine which one will be able to best meet your needs.
What credentials should you look for in a life coach? Life coaching is not regulated like other professions, so licensure is not required. An unlicensed coach shouldn’t necessarily be a “red flag,” however, the certification process provides extensive training that certain coaches may not have. Life coaches who have gone through accredited programs tend to have advanced tools, strategies, and knowledge to help you work through difficult problems which may prove to be more beneficial to you and your journey than someone else’s.
One caveat is specialty coaches. If you’re hiring a specialty coach who has years of experience in a particular area, you may not be as concerned about certification. Similar to a recruiter who would consider years of work experience in lieu of an education, you may feel that their experience outweighs their lack of credentialing.
Still, it’s important to weigh all of your options. As you’re exploring potential coaches, take a look at what they’ve accomplished and what about them inspires you. If credentialing matters to you, you should make sure your coach went through an ICF or board-certified coaching program.
In addition, you should take some time to determine how well you might fit with a particular coach. Does their website make you feel connected to them? Why or why not? Do the testimonies they’ve shared resonate with you? Don’t be afraid to ask a lot of questions when you are considering a potential coach.
When you enter into a coaching relationship with a life coach, it’s important to know what you’re getting into. Many coaches include their personal coaching philosophy on the “About Me” pages of their website. This is a great first step in getting to know how your coach may approach the coaching partnership and what you can expect from their personal coaching style.
Boundaries in the relationship are key for both you and your coach. As mentioned previously, the consultation that many coaches offer is a great place to discuss these boundaries. Since you will be sharing personal information about yourself, you may want to ask questions surrounding the way your coach files notes, their philosophy on confidentiality, and any information they may be required to share based on other positions they may hold (i.e., a coach who volunteers with Child Protective Services may be required to report certain information they hear in a coaching session).
Another area to ask proactive questions is your coach’s approach to communication. While some coaches offer frequent between-session communication, that’s not always possible with every coach. Consider asking both how and how often your potential coaches communicate with their clients. Consider whether their availability and communication preferences work for you. Clear communication is key, and it’s important to find out up front if you and your potential coach are on the same page about how much they will or will not be available to you during your coaching relationship.
If you don’t feel well-matched with the first coach you talk to, try not to be discouraged. There may be a bit of a “dating” process involved with finding the right coach, but doing your due diligence on the front end is a worthwhile endeavor. You don’t want to be three months down the road (and hundreds of dollars) into the process with someone that still doesn’t feel like a good fit.
Keep your eye on the goal and trust that there is a life coach out there who is a good match for you.
In the end, your wants, needs, and boundaries are what is important when it comes to considering a life coach. Be sure to consider those things as you find your life coach match.
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