Not everyone needs a coach nor wants one. If you are struggling with some unresolved issue and have a problem to resolve, you can just enter a search on the internet and you will find, in no time at all a book, a YouTube video, an article, a blog, or an online course telling you exactly how to solve your problem. There is no doubt that you can DIY your own path to success and your own self-development. If you can do this on your own, well done. Keep doing what you are doing.
But for those who are struggling with an overload of information and are getting confused with all the well-meaning advice that populate social media and other platforms, and who end up not knowing who and what to believe, hiring a coach or a mentor can be a smart decision.
What exactly is a life coach?
A Life coach is not a therapist. Therapists focus on healing past issues, whereas coaching focuses on implementing changes to create a new future. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership.
Life coaches work with individuals who are looking to create a pathway to reaching set goals. Whether it is work, personal, or family, coaches act as unbiased thinking partners and hold their clients accountable by typically having regular meetings and guiding them throughout the process.
How do you know that it is time to hire a life coach? How do you trust it will benefit you? Albert Einstein gave us the perfect answer to this question.
“Problems cannot be solved by the same level of thinking that created them”.
Have you ever been in a situation where you think of a problem over and over going round in circles without going anywhere? Sometimes you need a new approach, a new level of thought, in this case, a third party to sound your ideas off and help you see things from a different angle, challenge your way of thinking or open you to some unexplored possibilities.
Another question you may ask yourself. Is it worth the money? Rates vary enormously. Choose a life coach/mentor that you like and can afford and see if it works for you or not. It’s that simple. Life coaches who charge enormous rates are often too busy dealing with their high-profile clients and are inaccessible anyway.
When hiring a life coach or mentor may be a good idea
Do you lack a clear vision or your vision is so big you are feeling overwhelmed? Are you irritable, defensive, or prone to knee-jerk reactions? Are you facing a life transition and are having difficulties adjusting to your new circumstances? Do you have a pretty normal and pleasant life, but you are feeling a bit off anyway? If the answer to all those questions is yes, maybe it is time for you to consider hiring a life coach or mentor who can provide you with a safe and compassionate place to vent your feelings, put things into perspective and guide you. Perhaps you keep trying to improve your situation and nothing seems to be working. To achieve the results you want, you will mostly need to change your attitudes or underlying beliefs.
Transitions bring up stress, anxiety, and uncertainty, all of which have the tendency to set us on edge and make us feel we need to talk things through with someone who is not a family member, or a friend. Family and friends have great intentions, but they are not impartial. Being too close to your situation can limit their vision and the advice they may give you.
Perhaps you need help in figuring out what’s next? A coach will stand next to you and guide you in this exploration process. They can ask powerful questions that break through your old defenses. When you learn to be curious about your life, you will become more willing to take on challenges that once seemed scary.
Fear of failing is the biggest killer of plans and ideas. Most people don’t dare to think big and follow their dreams because of the fear of failure or being ridiculed and rejected. The end result is that their dreams will always remain just that, a dream. The dream made them feel good while it lasted, but their ideas will remain known to them only. Their songs will only ever be sung in their heads, with no audience to listen to and no one else to appreciate them. The books they could have authored remain only thoughts. Most people won’t even reach for their dreams because they are unwilling to feel uncomfortable, to have their limits tested, to live on the edge, to be outside their comfort zone, to be criticized, to be let down, and to be challenged.
Wayne Gretzky once said, “You miss 100% of all the shots you don’t take.”
What could be the worst outcome if you did take that shot? Failure? A bruised ego? Loss of money? And what might you gain? Knowledge? New connections? Insights and experience? People should not focus so much on how often they fall, they should instead focus on learning, having new experiences, picking themselves up, and seeing how far they can go. And if you can’t do this yourself, or with the help of a book, a YouTube video, or an online course, maybe it’s time to ask a coach or a mentor to help and guide you.
The biggest motivator of all for hiring a life coach or a mentor, life regrets.
When people come towards the end of their life and look back to reflect on the choices they made they are often filled with regrets. Bronnie Ware a hospice worker and the author of The Top Five Regrets of the Dying: A Life Transformed by the Dearly Departing described in the book conversations she had with senior citizens who were filled with regrets about their life journey and for taking the easy way out, rather than tackling challenges in a self-fulfilling way.
1. The number one regret people voice on their way out, according to Bronnie Ware is that they did not live a life true to themselves but did what other people expected of them. We often follow a path that has been traced for us by our parents, society, peer pressure, etc… don’t get me wrong, it is honorable and commendable to provide for yourself and your family, but once our basic needs are fulfilled (see Maslow pyramids of needs) spend some time and energy on your own self-actualization.
2. The second regret people voice while dying is working too hard on someone else’s dream and not their own. This goes along the same vein as the first point but there is an extra dimension to it. Time is of the essence. There is nothing wrong with being an employee and getting paid for the time and effort you spend working for someone else, but once your employee work is done, do not neglect to work on your own project/dream/side hustle, etc… Time is of the essence, you can never get time wasted away. It is gone forever. Days, weeks, months, years pass, and just like that your life is nearly over. Instead of lazing around on the sofa every night after work watching Reality TV, why not use this time to further your own dream?
3. The third most cited regret Bronnie Ware offers is that people look back and wish they had had the courage to express their feelings. We can all relate to this one, no matter our age. We owe it to ourselves to clarify how we feel, what we feel, and how to effectively state our feelings. You don’t have to be inconsiderate when doing this, you can do it honestly and gently. For more on this you can check the article I wrote on this subject. Voicing our feelings can also help us identify how our expression affects others as well as ourselves.
4. The fourth regret Ware includes is a desire to have stayed in touch with old friends. Loneliness is rampant in contemporary culture. Life is busy and too often it gets in the way of maintaining and nurturing connections with our friends. Friends come and go you gain some and you lose some, but true friends who you can really count on when the going gets tough are rare and it is definitely worth spending time maintaining that connection.
5. The final item Ware cites is that people regret not having let themselves be happier! Are you shocked by this? But how can we let ourselves be happy if we are not mentored in the art of developing our happiness? Where are those rare individuals who are living out their own visions? What does authentic happiness look like and how does it show up for each one of us? We’ll only have the answers to those questions through personal trial and error and maybe a life coach or mentor can help you do just that.