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What is Life Coaching?

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Learn about the process of life coaching

life coaching

There comes a time in almost everyone's life when they feel the need for a change. It's an unsettled feeling, a time of confusion about which direction to go, a time to talk with someone knowledgeable, someone who listens well and has many positive insights.

Life coaching is for people whose lives are in transition. Coaches are trained to work with people in any situation, such as those who have lost jobs or who are contemplating a job change, students who are graduating from college and planning a career, or people with health and lifestyle concerns who need motivation and exercise regimens – even entrepreneurs planning small businesses.

Working with a life coach is a commitment to success. The combination of coach and client is an alliance that helps individuals consider many more options. Life coaches try to bring out the best in their clients, challenging them to change their habits and think in new ways.

What is Life Coaching all About?

The purpose of life coaching is to plan, develop, and execute a program that will not only bring about change, but also success. Clients normally hire coaches because they know they need an outside expert to provide both a framework and the motivation to help them accomplish their goals. But just as importantly, clients are looking for validation for themselves and their ideas.

Partnering with a life coach gives individuals access to another point of view. In fact, one of the most enjoyable aspects of having a life coach is the opportunity to brainstorm or explore all possible options. The collaboration stimulates innovative thinking and helps clients gain confidence in their own abilities.

As clients tell their stories, they may be hearing themselves for the first time. Thoughtful questions by a coach shed new light on ideas and issues. This helps clients see the flaws in their own logic and allows them to make adjustments. Conversations such as these help clients further refine and describe their preferred futures and outcomes.

Life Coaching Process

Life coaching is not therapy, but instead it employs techniques from many areas - the fields of Management Consulting, Leadership Training, Career Counseling, and the self-help industry. An individual’s personal needs determine the techniques the coach uses. Also, some coaches specialize in particular specialties, such as career and leadership coaching.

The process itself is generally based on behavior modification. Coaches will occasionally address deeper psychological issues so that past behaviors aren’t repeated, but these professionals predominantly stay focused on current attitudes and behaviors. Clients learn that by altering their behaviors, they change their outcomes – and their lives. This technique also helps them as they go forward and encounter other life challenges as well.

Developing a Plan

A personalized plan lays the foundation for accomplishment. A good plan must reflect all the relevant issues in order to determine the right tasks and milestones along the way. If, for example, individuals want to lose weight but haven’t considered how to alter their lifestyles after weight loss, they could easily regain it all. Coaches help people see all the different aspects of their projects.

A plan to help individuals who are stuck - either personally or professionally - is really a plan to get energy flowing back into their lives. Assignments that help kick-start new growth and energy include health and exercise regimens, meetings with other professionals, and activities that expand perspectives and encourage new ideas.

Clients benefit from the motivational and organizational advice of coaches as they create project plans together. Typically, coaches are experienced at designing a mixture of activities and assignments that are engaging, encouraging, and fun along with others that require more attention and work.

For instance, a woman who wants to start her own business might enjoy luncheons with other businesswomen, motivational meetings with community leaders, or volunteering at local charities and fundraisers as a way of getting to know more potential clients. But she also has to attend small business seminars, and spend time instituting her incorporation papers, licensing agreements, accounting procedures, and contracts.

Setting Goals

Goal setting is integral to the life coaching process. It gives the process specific direction, purpose, and a sense of accomplishment. Each goal is clearly defined, measurably described, and has time targets. Goals make complex paths clear, reduce distractions, create skills in persistence and follow-through, and provide opportunities for course adjustments as the project proceeds.

Goals methodically determine weekly activities with each sequential step soundly tied to the final outcome. Often plans have several goal tracks, such as one for personal growth, one for family financial planning, and a third for a second career idea. A typical entrepreneurial plan could include several activity tracks.

Core Values

Clients might not be clear about their core values. In fact, most people never examine these deeply held inner beliefs, even though they're fundamental to their decision-making processes. But recognizing interior values and beliefs guides them toward their true desires, and often changes their final goals.

Unclear core values are also tied to clients' motivational problems, preventing some individuals from growing. Self-judgment and fear-based inertia, for instance, are paralyzing, stemming from demanding the unachievable - absolute perfection.

Few also realize how damaging self-deprecating talk is to their motivations, or how fears of failure are really childish reactions to grade-school experiences. Self-respect, increased personal courage, and a more mature perspective often start to grow after a few sessions of life coaching.

Other core values, such as family, love, nurturing environments, artistic expression, freedom, and recognition, give clients a greater appreciation for their lives. In turn, they help establish more fulfilling criteria for new jobs.

For businesses, core values might include community interaction, sustainability, environmental awareness, or innovation. These values help businesses determine their priorities and make decisions that are more consistent with their overall goals.

Fast Results

Consulting with a coach on a regular basis gives clients great encouragement and most see changes immediately. As goals are reached, clients discover that they have learned a process they are able to repeat on their own. They have a better grasp of what is important to them, allowing them to make better decisions both personally and professionally. They understand how to set smaller goals in achievement of larger goals, and they know that changes in behavior will lead to different outcomes.

If you desire to help individuals with planning life changes, business and career decisions, relationship issues, and personal growth concerns, consider life coaching.

Life coaches practice in most states with certificates although there are no state licensing requirements. Contact schools for more information on life coaching certificates or related psychology degree programs before entering the field of life coaching.

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