Sometimes, we all get the feeling that we aren’t making the progress we want to in life. Perhaps we don’t have the career we want, the relationship we want or the body we want. Or perhaps we aren’t quite the person we want to be even.
This is a somewhat universal experience but some of us feel it more strongly than others. And when it has been going on long enough, we start to look for help from outside sources. This is where the ‘life coach’ comes in, as someone who promises to help us ‘sort our lives out’ and start making positive progress toward our goals.
But can they really do what they promise? Or are they just con artists?
What Does a Life Coach Do?
Perhaps the easiest way to think of a life coach is as a ‘personal trainer for your entire life’. While a personal trainer might write you a program to help you get in shape and then encourage you to execute said program, a life coach will give you a program that can help you in multiple areas of your life and then give you the same motivation and encouragement.
Ideally, this should mean instilling in you the kind of traits and knowledge that will eventually allow you to outgrow your need for them.
Life coaches often appeal to entrepreneurs, executives, business leaders, creative types and even politicians who have ‘big plans’ they want to carry out. In this regard, a life coach can also be likened to a consultant. Big names such as Bill Clinton, Madonna and Jennifer Aniston have all been said to have used life coaches. Likewise though, they are also popular among the general public and particularly those who perhaps feel they’re ‘in a rut’.
One of the general principles that underlies the value of the life coach is that the biggest change happens when you address multiple aspects of your life. Instead of just trying to get into shape, you’ll be more likely to be successful and happy if you get into shape, improve your personal sense of style and work on your relationships as well. What’s more, doing all those things will give you more energy and drive to use in the gym.
Accreditation and Training
In theory then, there’s nothing wrong with the concept of life coaching. The issue instead comes from the lack of regulation in this multi-million dollar industry.
If you were interested in becoming a life coach, then you could quite easily apply online and complete a course for around $3,000. One course promises that you can become a qualified coach in just six days!
This should be ringing alarm bells for anyone thinking of hiring a life coach. This is someone who claims to have the knowledge to help you in every aspect of your life: from the way you dress, to the way you handle your accounting. One interesting article on the Daily Mail goes even further in highlighting some of the shady business practices employed by these companies and the strong-arm techniques they use to get people to sign-up. Once inside the classes, this particular company teaches pop-psychology techniques (such as the linguistic programming favorite of establishing rapport) alongside very basic counselling (using open-ended questions and avoiding direct advice). Any of this could just as easily be learned doing some basic online-reading for an evening.
There is the counter-argument that a life coach doesn’t need to know anything about fitness or lifestyle. Rather, they need to know how to convince their clients to set about learning those things and committing to their goals. Whether or not this something that you can learn in six days is still questionable.
And even if everything worked exactly like it should, why should you pay thousands of dollars to use a life coach when you could spend significantly less and become one in a week?
Assessing Your Options
None of this means that there is no such thing as a ‘good life coach’. All it means is that there are a lot of bad ones out there and that it’s very difficult to tell them apart from the ones that offer genuine value.
It’s also important to remember that the best life coach in the world can only do so much. Be honest with yourself and ask whether this is really just a way for you to delay taking action in your own life, a way to shift the responsibility onto someone else. This is often the case for ‘self-help junkies’ who use seminars, eBooks and coaches as a way to feel like they’re making progress without actually having to commit to any path in particular.
And you should certainly think twice before spending large amounts of money. Especially if you’re currently unhappy with your financial situation! Don’t sign up for any long courses or commit yourself to recurring fees. Start out with one session or even one free consultation and then decide from there. If they’re not willing to talk to you for free first, then you may want to ask yourself why not.
Finally, consider the fact that there are many professionals with far more qualifications relating to various different aspects of your life. You can hire a personal trainer to help you build muscle, an accountant to help you with finances, a personal shopper to help you pick out your clothes and a cognitive behavioral therapist to help you with emotional difficulties. This will bring about far more profound changes than the vast majority of life coaches can and it probably won’t cost much more!