There is a lot of mystery today around what exactly personal coaches do. No, they are not personal trainers. Nor are they therapists or psychologists. To the best of my understanding, a personal coach provides support and guidance in helping a person achieve a specific personal or professional goal. So what exactly might that goal be? Naturally, it will be vastly different from person to person. For one it might mean getting a new business venture off the ground. For another it could mean finishing a doctoral thesis amidst an already extremely busy lifestyle. And for someone else it could mean figuring out how to balance an advancing career with having a newborn baby in the home. There are no rules or limits to what sorts of goals people seek support with in hiring a personal coach.
I’d like to begin by telling you a bit about my personal experience with coaching. I worked with a coach for four months in late 2010 after I decided that I wanted to start a new business as a web designer and developer. I found out about coaching because my own mother works as a transitions coach, meaning she specializes in working with people who are going through life transitions of one kind or another. Deciding that working with my mom as my coach would not work because of an obvious conflict of interests – I decided on a man whom my mom had met in one of her coaching classes and recommended highly to me.
So why did I decide to work with a coach? Well, I had a clear vision of what I wanted: to be a highly skilled web designer and developer, in demand with a large clientele, and making a substantial amount of money each month from my web business. But when it came to figuring out how to make that happen, I was drawing a blank. I had never started a new business before – apart from working as a professional musician, which had always come easily and naturally to me. I had no idea where to begin. So I hired a coach to help me figure out how to make my dream a reality.
I’ll admit I was a bit nervous before my first call with my coach. I felt unsure of how it was supposed to go, or what I should say. Luckily, as I quickly learned, coaches are great at asking the right questions. By the end of my first call, we had come up with a game plan for how I was going to get where I wanted to be. When we got off the phone, I felt exhilarated, inspired, revved up, and ready to get to work.
Over the next four months, I had calls with my coach almost every week. During each call we would first check in about how I was doing and what progress I’d made in the previous days. We would also get any doubts or fears I’d been experiencing out into the open and deal with them head on to make sure I wasn’t losing momentum and was staying on track. To make a long story short, fast-forward four months: I was working on my first website for a paying client and had a few other clients in the pipelines. In additional, I had a day-to-day and month-to-month business plan for continuing to expand my network and my business.
Perhaps it’s because my experience with coaching was such a positive one – but whenever I hear one of my colleagues talk about their frustrations in “moving ahead” in their career, or getting out of their present circumstances, or making their goals a reality – I can’t help but wonder if working with a coach might help them. And that’s why I’m writing this blog post. There is much confusion about how a personal coach differs from a therapist, and I think because of this there is a social stigma around hiring a coach. I wish it weren’t this way. Personal coaching focuses on a specific goal. While therapy can continue for years and years, coaching typically ends when you’ve achieved your desired goal. While therapy emphasizes the past, and works mainly with internal issues – coaching emphasizes the present and future and focuses more on external issues.
Choosing to partner with someone who can offer you a completely objective viewpoint and help you get your goals in order and on the path to achieving them is a really cool thing – and something I think many artists would find extremely helpful.
To help you decide if you’re someone who would benefit from working with a coach, I’ve described below five reasons why someone might consider it.
1) You know where you want to be but you’re not sure how to get there.
If you are like I was – meaning your goals are clear but it’s getting there that’s the problem, you are most likely a perfect candidate for coaching. A coach could help you to take your enormous and daunting goal and break it up into smaller, more realistic and manageable goals that will eventually get you to your big one in the end. Additionally, and perhaps one of the most powerful aspects of coaching, your coach will hold you accountable. You will have “homework” every week, and knowing that you will have to check in with your coach at the end of that week and tell them what you got done, will most likely motivate you to keep moving forward.
2) You feel trapped in your present situation or set of circumstances.
Do you feel like change is impossible because you are caught in a cyclical life that can’t move forward? Whether it’s money problems, a living situation, a work environment, or a family issue that you feel is holding you back – a coach can help you to figure out what your priorities are and to face the difficult choices that may be necessary in order to get where you want to be.
3) You’re going through a major transition.
If things in your life have changed in a major way and you’re having a hard time getting your stuff together in the midst of it, coaching might be a good idea for you. Whether you’ve just moved to a new city and are having a hard time building a new network, or you’re just entered a degree program and you’re struggling to manage everything – a coach can help you to brainstorm ways to adjust and get back to feeling empowered and in control of your life.
4) You feel aimless in life or you don’t know what your goals are.
For some people, the goal is crystal clear – but the game plan is clear as mud. For others, it’s the goal itself that is hard to see. This is the case for more people than we realize, and it’s nothing to feel bad about. While a coach can’t tell you what you’re supposed to be doing, or what will make you happy – they can ask the powerful questions that will start you on a process to figure it out for yourself. To figure out what you want your life to look like, and how you get there.
5) Your life feels unbalanced in one way or another.
Maybe you work all the time. Or maybe it’s the opposite – maybe you feel that you spend most of your time socializing and not enough hitting the grindstone. Maybe you feel like you don’t have any time for yourself, or that you don’t set aside enough time for just fun. However your life is feeling unbalanced, a coach might be able to help you figure out where this imbalance is coming from, why it’s happening, and steps you can take to feeling like you are living a well-rounded and balanced life, full to the brim with everything you desire.
You might be wondering at this point: so how do I find a coach? You can definitely find many good ones with a simple Google search (one of the benefits of coaching is that since communication happens over the phone, your coach doesn’t have to live in your city – or even your state!) But if you are looking for a personal recommendation, feel free to get in touch and I’ll see what I can do. I hope this blog entry has been successful in explaining what exactly a personal coach can do, and for whom they might be helpful to work with. If you have any other questions about coaching, please feel free to drop me a line. Over and out!