To most people, the words “life coach” brings to mind a flighty person burning incense and talking about how to put order into the universe. This may be the preferred style of some life coaches, but many of them are all business, helping their clients to put order into their lives, careers and activities.
I worked with a life coach for several months over the last year, and was certainly pleased with the results. We focused primarily on improving my time management skills, as well as setting goals and sticking with them. Most importantly, however, she provided me with support and encouragement when I was trying to make big decisions about my life.
Most people seem to turn to life coaches when their lives are in transition, like I did. I had just graduated from college, and was doing AmeriCorps, a decidedly temporary occupation. I was depressed, per say, but I had no idea how to structure my life outside of the conveniently organized academic system. I was in a sort of malaise that didn’t require psychological counseling—there was nothing wrong with me; I just didn’t know how to get my life on-track.
The most important aspect of my life coaching was certainly gaining the tools to implement a structured life system of my own. Replacing the structure of college life with goals, timelines and deadlines that I created myself was difficult, yet rewarding. My life coach acted as a pseudo-deadline, encouraging me to reach my goals and implementing a time-based structure created through our weekly phone calls.
She also helped me with career-based necessities like reading my resume, cover letter and other business documents, making sure that they were polished to send away. She encouraged me to create calendars and other web-based reminders so that I would finish my goals. She had me make lists of universities and possible careers, something I could have done on my own, but having someone with who to talk these things through was extremely helpful.
Perhaps people find the idea of having a life coach embarrassing, some sort of signal that they have failed or underachieved in some way. I think the opposite is true. Life coaches take people in transition—perhaps people who are currently unhappy or underachieving in their circumstances—and help them to better parse out their true desires or career ambition.
A life coach may not be permanent, but she also helped we recognize that my current situation didn’t need to be, either.