A Life Coach is a person who works on a one-to-one basis with clients to help them determine and achieve personal or professional goals.
Life coaches use several specialised techniques in the process of life coaching that assist and support clients with the process of setting and reaching their goals.
Once the domain of wealthy executives and aspiring management types, life coaching is becoming more and more widely used as a proactive means of achieving a variety of personal or professional goals in one’s life or career.
Working as a life coach involves three main processes. The first is working on a one-to-one basis with a client to help that person examine their life and career objectively and gain a new perspective on themselves. The second step is to support the same client as, with the benefit of greater self-awareness, they decide what their goals in life really are, and the third part of the process is to use specialised techniques to coach the client on how exactly they might achieve these personal or professional goals.
Often confused with management consulting or even therapy, life coaches are neither counsellors nor business consultants, and it is important that both the life coach and client know exactly what to expect from the partnership from the outset.
Being a life coach involves using a set of specialised skills – including values assessment and goal-setting – that support and train a client to recognise what they want from life, and then how to make genuine steps towards achieving that goal.
As a career, life coaching is one of the most flexible job types in the market today. A life coach can work from any location, so long as it is relatively private and free of disturbances, and the hours of work can be as long as you need them to be for each client.
What this means in practice is a normal working requirement of meeting each client once a fortnight for a coaching period of three months in total. The amount of clients you have will be arranged by your employer, or, if you are self-employed, a good benchmark to adhere to is a minimum of 5 clients per week with a maximum of 20 clients per week. A life coach may also provide supplementary sessions if required.
As a coach you have to be connected to your client. Most life coaching companies will endeavour to ensure a ‘good match’ between coach and potential client. This is important because coaching is a partnership between coach and client, where both parties focus on the future and on guiding and motivating the client to achieve. If this partnership is incompatible from the off, then it is unlikely that either the client or coach will succeed in their aim.
Although life coaching is driven by a passion for helping people, it is vital for each life coach to receive coach supervision or mentoring before, or during, client coaching as this will help them deal with any challenging situations or emotions that they may be experiencing based upon the work they do with their clients. The most important rule of thumb is to make sure that as a life coach, you do not take on your client’s issues as your own.
Training to become a life coach prepares a potential coach for these kinds of problems as well as teaching them the multiple skills and techniques necessary to help clients with the process of setting and reaching goals.
The methods used by a life coach include mentoring, values assessment, behaviour modification, behaviour modelling, and goal-setting
Above all else, a life coach is a person who is passionate about helping others achieve happiness and contentment in their life and careers.
However, working in such a rewarding and fulfilling job has the added bonus that you will achieve in your own life and career too!
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Most life coaches are self-employed, though some are employed by large public or private institutions.
If employed by an organisation salary usually ranges from £50K-£85K per annum.
As a self-employed life coach, pricing can range from £65 to £500 per hour depending on your individual contract with the client.
- A life coach works with a client for a period of 3-6 months helping them achieve their goals.
- You will work on a one-to-one basis or in a group format.
- You are required to be confidential, and create a safe and trusting relationship with your client.
- Once a relationship has been established, you will work in partnership, meeting once a fortnight or once a month.
- You will assist the client to discover what it is they want to achieve. These goals need to be realistic and tailored to each client.
- You will support the setting out of a personalised programme to achieve the goals and then helping the client achieve it.
- You will monitor and mentor the implementation of the programme, making amendments if and when they arise.
Life coaching is not regulated; however, a formal qualification is essential to becoming a life coach.
Ideally a life coach will have been trained in an International Coaching Federation accredited programme such as the Certificate in Professional Coaching Practice.
A life coach has two main sets of skills.
The first set is inter-personal, analytical and communications skills. These are as follows:
- A passion for helping others achieve
- Excellent listening and questioning skills
- The ability to motivate and inspire others
- The ability to be supportive, discreet and no-judgemental about your clients’ lives and aspirations
- The passion and confidence to drive a dynamic, powerful and motivational conversation where the client will learn about themselves and establish how they want to live their lives and what they want their lives to be like in the future
The second set of skills required are professional. These include the following:
- Time management skills
Working conditions are variable as a life coach can work with a client in a variety of locations.
The most common location for a life coaching session would be a quiet central location such as a coffee shop or hotel lobby.
Each meeting with the client will take approximately one hour where the client will talk openly about their lives to the coach.
From this initial conversation, the life coach begins the process of helping the client stand back from their lives and find clarity, understanding and self-awareness.
The hours of work will vary with each client but on average a life coach will work with the same person over a period of three months in total, meeting with them on average every two weeks.
A proven track record in working with people in a coaching relationship, for example in business or training, would be the ideal prerequisite to a career in life coaching.
However, most life coaches would agree that you don’t need to have a formal background as a life coach’s work is not to be an expert in a particular subject matter or field, but rather to be the expert of the process of life coaching.
Importantly, the one main requirement that most life coaches agree on is that it is essential to have life experience, good or bad, as these personal experiences will enable you to help your client move through their own personal challenges.
There are more and more employers looking to hire coaches within their organisations.
Large public sector and private sector organisations tend to hire internal coaches or coaching directors, who work with staff from all departments as their clients.
However, the majority of coaches are self-employed and will advertise on the internet or in local press for clients.
Working in human resources is the natural move from a job as a life coach.
However, with the inter-personal and training skills gained, a life coach could go on to pursue careers in executive training or teaching a variety of skills.
Also known as…
- Life coach
What’s it really like?
Life coach, Gillian Brown, left a successful career in Human Resources after a coaching experience changed her life forever. She now runs New-U Coaching in Edinburgh and London. Here the successful entrepreneur shares her experience….
What I have learned through coaching is that nothing is impossible. If you dare to dream and follow your heart you will achieve what you set out to do.
I chose to be a coach because I had been coached myself and it completely changed my life.
I left my previous 12-year career in Human Resources and took the plunge and set up New-U Coaching.
I now employ over 21 people and have offices in Edinburgh and London but work all over the UK and Europe. In the future we are planning a European operation and eventually a US one.
The majority of life coaches are women as it is easier for women to coach women. I have found nine times out of ten that a woman will prefer to be coached by a woman.
Working as a life coach can be one of the most rewarding jobs of all time because you get to work with people who are focussed and committed about making changes in their lives.
But another advantage to being a life coach is the flexibility and freedom this career entails.
The hours of work can be as long as you need them to be and I can do my work from anywhere.
My day usually involves meeting my clients in a central location such as a coffee shop or a hotel lobby.
Being able to work from any location really helps in a business because you can keep your overheads low.
We will usually talk for an hour where the client will talk openly about their lives.
What I do is help the client find clarity, understanding and self-awareness as they talk about themselves, their life and what they want from the future.
As a life coach, your work colleagues are your clients and this is why working as a life coach can be one of the most rewarding jobs of all time.
If you are interested in being a coach my advice would be to make sure you find the right training provider, one who can demonstrate high levels of integrity and professionalism and is of course accredited with the International Coaching Federation(the leading body for best practice in coaching world-wide).
At New-U our core values are respect, honesty, trust, integrity, fun, realising potential and choice.
Our job is about enabling a life that is living and working at your best.
Being coached can be a life-changing experience, it completely changed mine!