Unfortunately, some therapies and ideas have become pigeon-holed, like life coaching. Many people assume that you only need a life coach when you are emotionally unwell or life is failing. But this is not the case. So who is life coaching for?
The short answer is everyone.
Life coaching is a powerful process and works for anyone at any stage of their life or career. And yet, it carries a reputation that it is only for use when someone is floundering or struggling.
Even when the going is good, you may need someone impartial to sit and listen, to work through a plan of action with and to remind you why you are doing this and making changes.
Life coaching is not counselling but it is, for many, a form of informal therapy. Life coaches are trained to use and teach techniques that can change the direction of your life.
If you want continued growth, success and prosperity, they are the people to turn to. Just like they are the person to turn to if you need to make changes to get your career or life back on track.
Each life coach will have a particular set of skills and they use a variety of techniques to do so.
#1 Open-ended questions
Do you like soup?
Which is your favourite soup? Why is that? What about another flavour?
The first question is a closed question that doesn’t invite further explanation. But the other three questions are open-ended.
The idea behind an open-ended question is to elicit more information, and that means you need to think through what it is you like about a certain flavour of soup, why you like it and what other flavours you would try.
Now apply this to your life.
Are you happy in your relationship?
What do you like about being in a relationship with your partner?
Life coaching is the art and skill of giving you permission to explore areas of your life and career that hitherto, you may not have talked about or even dreamt about. The open-ended question is powerful.
Not all life coaches use meditation but there are many that believe it is one of the most beneficial practices for anyone.
Meditation is widely known for its ability to help the human mind focus on the good stuff such as health, minimising stress and can, say some, add years on to someone’s life.
This can’t be proved but it is proven that meditation releases the inner angst and tension that can cause us physical distress such as poor sleep and hypertension.
It also promotes something else that is important: sleep. When the mind, body and soul are rested and rejuvenated, we make better, more rational and logical decisions.
There are various meditation techniques which a life coach can introduce you to. From here, you can continue this practice of meditation on your own.
Can you imagine the difference a calmer mind would make to your decision-making process? Is this something you need.
Again, this is not a new concept but one that fell by the wayside for some time. It is a technique that some life coaches use with their clients and can be a powerful tool and force for change.
In essence, visualisation is about identifying blocks to success or to change. What is stopping you from enrolling on a home study course of your choice? Why isn’t your business growing as you thought it would?
Visualisation not only allows you to identify blocks by ‘seeing’ them, it also helps you to ‘see’ what success looks like.
Have you come across the visualisation technique before? It isn’t for everyone but why not see if it something you feel comfortable with?
#4 Positive affirmations
The team building and positive affirmation framed photos are in many offices. The framed landscape photo of the sun peeking through grey stormy clouds or a restful scene are sometimes the butt of many jokes.
And yet, there is evidence that positive affirmations do work.
Many life coaches use these as personal mantras. In other words, you have identified your desire and you more or less chant to yourself every day the goal for which you are aiming.
But they need to be big and bold, and specific too. They can be anything from ‘I will make a million pound this year’ to more general ones such as ‘I am successful in everything I do’.
#5 Question and shift perception
What is your perception of yourself? How do you see yourself?
Do you see yourself as frumpy and middle-aged or as someone who has a lot to offer?
Our thoughts work against us. And it seems that real life affirms this. For example, you’ve been made bankrupt in the past and so you are no good with money and you can’t run a business.
A life coach can help us shift from negative and belittling perceptions and thoughts to positive ones. Admitting mistakes and moving on is one thing but changing our perceptions of our self can be a lot harder.
#6 Refocus our thoughts
With negative thoughts clouding the mind, it can be difficult to see the light at the end of the tunnel, ‘it’s probably an oncoming train anyway’ is what you may think.
But there is another saying about clouds having silver linings, suggesting that by being the eternal optimist, you will find good in bad situations.
A life coach is the person who can help you identify what this silver lining is or that the light at the end of the tunnel is that: a light showing you the way.
But a life coach doesn’t identify the good things for their client because they need to do that themselves.
We live in a busy world with seemingly relentless pressure to do and say the right things, to be all things to all people.
But we just can’t do it. Such high expectations of others and of ourselves can only lead to disaster and unhappiness.
And this relentless pursuit of perfection prevents us from appreciating what we have and what we have around us.
When we appreciate things more, no matter how small, we are happier, something that experienced life coaches know all about.
#8 Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP)
Many life coaching courses make a distinct link to NLP, a form of coaching and therapy that helps clients to manage stress levels, improve communication skills and break down negative patterns of thought and behaviour.
Not everyone agrees that NLP works but there are those that say by challenging their behaviour and thought patterns in this way, they were able to finally deal with a long-standing phobia.
#9 Cognitive behaviour
Cognitive is a word used to describe thinking patterns. We have touched loosely on how we think in previous points but therapy that looks at cognitive behaviour takes this a step further.
Negative thinking locks us into a pattern of thought. And many of these thoughts are irrational too. For example, bad things always happen on a Friday or bad things happen in threes.
Because we have this notion fixed in our head, we go looking for and identify the bad things that happen on a particular Friday or we search out the other things to go wrong.
These kinds of thought patterns can place us in a negative space that fills us with anxiety. But changing these thought patterns take commitment and concerted effort. We are so used to thinking in this way, that thinking positive thoughts can be nigh on impossible.
But a life coach could change that with you. It may surprise you the number of successful people who are plagued by self-doubt and anxiety, symptomatic in part of how and what they think not just about themselves but the world around them.
For anyone, everyone and at any time
Some people work with a life coach at a specific time in their life. They may have decided that they want a career change for example, or that they need help to release inner anxiety which is stopping their entrepreneurial dreams from flourishing.
But it isn’t something that is used just when times are bad, something that many people associate with counselling and similar therapies.
Life coaching as a career
To be a life coach, you need to have a broad understanding of what the process is all about. Not all life coaches deliver the same service in the same way. For example, not all life coaches practice NLP, preferring instead to look at cognitive thinking and how to make changes.
Acting as a mentor and a listener is incredibly powerful but it is not without its pitfalls. Life coaches need to understand where the boundaries are between what they do and counselling and other therapies.
But it is a solution that many people have turned to and found the process inspiring, enjoyable and fruitful. Is this the career for you? Do you need a life coach to help you?