A life coach is someone who aims to help and empower others to make, meet and exceed personal and professional goals. This can include excelling in the workplace, becoming happy and fulfilled at home, exploring your potential and achieving ambitions.
By harnessing techniques based on core psychological principles and intuition, life coaches provide clients with the tools to confidently face difficult situations and push past emotional barriers.
A life coach will never try to be an 'agony aunt' - he or she will never attempt to tell you what to do. Life coaching is about objectivity, structure and empowerment, not instruction or indoctrination.
At the heart of it all lies the idea that clients must be given the power to help themselves. Offering advice, opinions and judgements would undermine some of the basic principles behind life coaching, which include:
A) Subjectivity: we all have different perspectives of the world - no one perspective is 'right' or 'wrong', but some perspectives are restrictive and can stop a person becoming who they want to be.
B) Empowerment: it is within everyone's capability to adjust the limits of their own perspective. With the help of life coaching, anyone can learn to open their mind if they wish.
C) Guidance: there is a difference between an instructor and a guide. An instructor shows a person exactly what to do, whereas a guide provides the tools and support a person needs to do something for themselves. A life coach is a guide, not an instructor.
Where can I find out more about the life coach industry?
How did life coaching become an industry? How successful is the life coach industry today? To find the answers to these questions and more, head over to our history of life coaching page.
What happens during a life coaching session?
Life coaching sessions will typically last between 45 minutes and 60 minutes (depending on the life coach you choose). Sessions can be conducted over the phone, face to face, over email, via Skype and occasionally through instant messaging.
During the session, your life coach will ask you a number of questions, such as what you want to get out of life, what areas you're unhappy with and where you'd like to see yourself ending up. Although a life coach will work with you, it’s often up to you to challenge or reflect upon certain ideas to help you move forward with your life. You will never be forced to make any decisions you don't feel comfortable with and all sessions will be confidential, allowing you to explore your thoughts and feelings privately.
Life coaching is often seen as a partnership between you and your life coach, who will gently encourage you to explore how to make positive changes in your life. A life coach should also offer support and feedback to help you to stay focused on your goals.
What can a coach help me with?
Life coaches utilise techniques to help their clients in all aspects of life. If you've ever struggled with something - whether it be sticking to a diet, learning a language, moving out of your comfort zone, standing up for yourself at work, then consulting a life coach could help you.
A life coach will approach things pragmatically. Through questions and exercises, he or she will try to get a good idea of how you look at the world. From this they will be able to identify the most effective route to your goal. Some people feel intimidated by the idea of change and so need to take things slowly to fulfil their goals. In this situation a life coach might divide ultimate goals into smaller bite-sized pieces. Other people may get impatient and lose interest. In this situation a life coach might suggest introducing stronger reminders and incentives to keep them on track.
However you approach life, your life coach will be able to tailor your sessions to fit. Subjects life coaches deal with include:
Love life - Do you wish you had the confidence to approach someone you have your eye on? Do you struggle with commitment? Are you struggling to cope with a divorce? Whatever the problem, a life coach could help you to understand your love-life and work towards improving it.
Business life - Starting and running a business is tough work. Sometimes we get so absorbed in hard work we neglect ourselves. Life coaches can help with confidence, leadership, decision-making and work/life balance.
Personal life - Do you feel like you're not making the most of life? There's so much to see, do and learn in this world, but often a lack of confidence, time and will-power can cause us to stay inside not doing anything. Life coaches use specialist skills to motivate their clients to do the things they want to do, so they can finally fight the urge to procrastinate.
Performance - Improvement is at the heart of life coaching. Whatever your skill, life coaching could help improve it. Whether you're an athlete, an artist, a writer, a performer, or a musician - adopting specialist techniques will help you to push your limitations and exceed expectations.
For a full list of subjects life coaches deal with, please head over to our Life Coaching Areas section.
How many life coaching sessions will I need?
You can have as many or as few life coaching sessions as you like. Because many life coaches operate over the phone or via the Internet, the sessions can easily fit around your schedule. Some people hire a life coach once every few months, some people have a session once a week. Often, it is entirely up to you to decide.