How to Choose a Life Coach

Choosing to work with a coach can be a simple decision or one that takes significant consideration. The following are some factors you may want to think about as you make your decision about coaching.

FOCUS
The greatest benefits of coaching come when you know what you want from coaching. Most people approach coaching from one of the following three perspectives.
Goal Specific
Some people come to coaching because they are focused on a specific goal. You should at least know generally what you want from coaching even if the goal is to find the most appropriate goal for you. Determine if what you want is significant enough to motivate you to take action towards that goal and invest in the coaching process.
Sounding Board
For some people, the main focus of coaching is to have someone listen deeply and without judgement to the various challenges that they are facing in their life. Sharing thoughts out loud and responding to powerful questions can result in more balanced decision making, clearer strategies, more purposeful actions, decreased isolation and perhaps more courage to face life’s challenges.
Growth Direction
For others, personal growth and insight is the main focus for coaching and it is not attached to specific accomplishments. The value of a coach is in the stimulating conversations, discovery activities, and shared insights provided by your coach. Your results will be an increased sense of self-awareness or personal development rather than external achievements.

ACCOUNTABILITY
Most of us have things we want to do but don’t seem to quite get around to them. There is something that happens to our commitment level when we say out loud to someone what our intentions are. With a coach, you will design an action plan that will help you stay focused and clear on your goals. The coaching relationship provides you with the consistency, structure and feedback that results in more accountability. Keep in mind that it is not the coach’s job to supervise, direct or manage you. It is your goal and your plan so you must take responsibility and take action.TIMING
As well as having a focus for coaching, it is important for you to consider if you have the personal resources and proper environment to use coaching effectively right now. This includes being able to dedicate an appropriate amount of time to coaching. The average coaching relationship extends over a period of between four to twelve months with two or three sessions per month. Your financial resources will also have to be considered. The typical fees for coaching services can range significantly. Group coaching can offer a more affordable option. Other resources you may want to assess are your energy and attitude, and the support of the people around you.VENTURING INTO THE UNKNOWN
Coaching is a fairly new profession and you may not be familiar with this type of relationship. People are starting to hear about coaching, but few have actually experienced it. In any new relationship, we all typically anticipate that the other person is expecting something from us and we don’t know how much we can trust her/him. The first coaching session should confirm that the coach is completely on your side, is not judging you, will keep things confidential, and believes in your capacity to find solutions.  If you decide to go ahead with coaching, you will be venturing into something somewhat unknown, but similar to many explorers, the adventure of new discoveries can be amazing.

One of the incorrect beliefs about coaching is that it is for people who need “fixing”. Most people don’t see themselves as broken, nor do coaches see their clients this way. Most coaches come from the point of view that no one needs coaching but everyone could  benefit from coaching as they go a lot further a lot faster towards their potential and life possibilities.

RIGHT COACH

You will want to choose a coach whose style and skill fits best with you and your goals. It’s a good idea to contact at least a few coaches to choose your best fit. Coaches will usually offer a complimentary coaching session to spend some time with you to explore your goals and determine if there is a good match for coaching. Many coaches have a specialty or a particular approach and this may help you in your search for the right partnership. You may also want to know if the coach has received coach training from a program accredited by the International Coach Federation.
RIGHT SUPPORT
There are a variety of professions that can also offer support to a person who wants to make changes. These services are often confused with coaching but can also be combined with coaching.
CONSULTING:
If your main focus is to get advice or have someone design a plan for you, you probably want a consultant. Consultants have a specific area of expertise and believe their approach is highly effective. While coaches may also be highly knowledgeable in a particular area, they will only offer solutions as options and only when given permission to do so.  A deep value of coaching is its power to bring forth your own fantastic insights and solutions that inspire you to take action and get results.
TRAINING:
A trainer teaches specific technical skills and through a process of instruction and practice, passes on their knowledge. The focus is on skill acquisition and little, if any, effort goes into determining how to apply the skills into everyday living. As you and your coach work together, you will also discover many new skills for healthy living. In addition, your coach will explore options for incorporating those skills into your current life circumstances.
THERAPY:
Therapy comes in many different forms but its primary focus is to help those who are having difficulty overcoming the emotional or mental symptoms that are standing in the way of of healthy, daily functioning. Many counsellors, therapists, and psychologists are trained to provide a coaching approach in their practice. However, few coaches are trained to treat people with significant psychological or emotional issues and should make a referral to an appropriate service.

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