There comes a time in all of our lives when we feel stuck. Whether it’s in regards to our relationships, finances, careers, or because we simply aren’t as happy as we’d like to be, sometimes it’s just hard to get to the place we really want to be. Still, even when we struggle, many of us wouldn’t consider hiring a person to help push and mentor us… to help get us unstuck. But why is that?
Mark Langford, a life coach who specializes in mentoring business professionals to discover, define, and achieve their career goals, says, “Every Olympian who goes to the Olympics goes with a coach. And that’s because a coach will be your cheerleader, your inspiration, and hold you accountable.” Even more, he points out those coaches are the ones who find the latest techniques and processes to help you get to the next level.
Of course, most of us aren’t Olympians, but Bonnie Ann Bruderer, a life coach who spent over 18 years on tour with some of the top personal development minds on the planet, says she thinks everyone needs a coach. “Unless you’re growing, you’re dying,” she says. If there’s any area in your life where you’re feeling dissatisfaction, a life coach is there to believe in you, push you, and show you the way. “Every single good football team has a really good coach. And that coach doesn’t get out on the field and play, but he’s making the calls. That’s what life coaching is for. You already know what to do, but you need someone to believe in you. And you need someone to tell you when you’re running the wrong way.”
So how does it all work? Here are 9 things to think about when hiring a life coach.
A life coach can help out with pretty much anything.
Bonnie Ann Bruderer says a life coach can help out with anything. Whether you feel like your life is a complete disaster, you’re getting divorced, were recently fired, or re 50 pounds overweight. It can also be as simple as needing a mentor or wanting someone in your life who is going to hold you accountable and help you achieve a specific goal.
A life coach helps out when your friends can’t.
A lot of people turn to their friends during tough times and that’s amazing as Langrod notes we were put on this earth to share and connect with one another. Still, friends are busy and have their own problems and as he puts it, friends aren’t always equipped to act as a coach or mentor. “They have their own biases,” he says. “And sometimes they have their own agendas; they want us to stay as we are because there’s a fear that if we change, the friendship might change.” A coach, on the other hand, is a non-biased entity who is trained to ask the right questions that you might not think to ask yourself.
Coaching and therapy are different.
Langford says, “Therapy is for recovery and coaching is for discovery.” Of course we could all probably benefit from both, but it’s a good distinction to make when trying to figure out which route you want to go.
You have to listen to yourself to decide if and when to get a coach.
Langford says for the most part, it’s really just a feeling. “You’re seeing a stagnation in your life and you’re thinking, ‘I’ve tried this for so long and it’s just not working.’ When you get to that point of frustration—when the pain becomes greater than the complacency—that’s when you should seek out a coach.”
A life coach isn’t there to tell you what to do.
Bruderer says a life coach is there to identify challenges and goals and figure out what’s preventing you from getting to where you want to be. “It all evolves from really looking on at what’s going on in your life,” she says. She asks her clients questions like:
- How do you spend your time?
- What do you want?
- Where are you right now?
- Why don’t you have it?
Her job is to figure out that last part: the why. And then provide the tools to break old patterns and move in the right direction.
Langford seconds this. “It’s not our job to tell you what job to get; that’s not what we do. You have your internal wisdom. A good coach will help you figure out what you want to do, what’s holding you back, and what you need to work on to get where you need to go.”
A life coach isn’t a life commitment.
Bruderer says she likes to work with people for 10 sessions. “I don’t want anyone to be dependent on me or the coaching relationship; I want them to be self sufficient.” Still, she does point out that it can take time to get rid of old habits and start new ones. Of course, Langford says, “Some people need a Band-Aid and some people need heart surgery, so it really depends on the case.”
Most coaches will give you a study plan.
And it’s up to you to really do the homework. Whether it’s self-reflection exercises, creating a blueprint for your life, or working on the execution, there’s going to be a lot of work to be done. And though it may sound overwhelming, the work you put into it is what you’ll get out of it. Langford says, “You can’t go through a program like that and stay in the same place you started because you’re doing so much work on yourself. You’re finding the patterns and breaking down the issues.” Bruderer agrees. “Each week you’re creating more momentum and moving in the direction of your goals.”
There are a lot of success stories.
Langford has a client who came to him a few months ago. The guy had been a truck driver for ten years, but he wanted to focus on his art—making planters out of metal and mixed materials. Langford says the truck driver did his work diligently—filled an entire notebook full of self-reflection and that because of his hard work, he was able turn his life around and figuring out how to make his entire living as an artist. And he ended his sessions early. “The guidance is about twenty percent,” Langford says. “But eight percent is that sweat equity. Asking what else is possible, getting to the why, and making it happen.”
Still not convinced? Well… even Oprah has life coaches.
Actually, Mark Langford says, she has four. “And if one of the master coaches in the world has four life coaches, why wouldn’t we all want to have one?”
Bonnie Ann Bruderer is an author, host, inventor, and life coach with a multitude of certifications. She is based in New York and offers coaching sessions via phone. You can find her on Thumbtack.
Mark Langford is a life coach and author; he is based in Los Angeles and offers private and group coaching. You can find him on Thumbtack.
In a different state? Here’s how to find a life coach in your area.