Updated: Apr 28
Life coaching can enable you to be more, do more and have more by working smarter instead of harder. If you find the right life coach, that is.
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Do you have Unfulfilled Dreams?
Do you have dreams or desires that are unfulfilled because you can’t find time for it in your jam-packed schedule?
It may surprise you to know that life coaching can enable you to be more, do more and have more by working smarter instead of harder. If you find the right life coach, that is.
If you think the best way to achieve your goals is to work on them yourself, you are carrying a Lone Ranger Mentality in an era where Team Work makes the Dream Work. Further, reaching out to a professional does not indicate your inability to achieve your goals. Indeed, most people who choose coaching are strong and capable of handling their problems, but opt to hire a life coach so that they achieve their goals faster, easier and with better results than they could do on their own.
Ask Bill Gates, Oprah Winfrey, Serena Williams, Hrithik Roshan, Virender Sehwag, and countless other celebrities who availed the services of life coaches to reboot their careers.
What is Life Coaching?
The International Coaching Federation defines Coaching as partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximise their personal and professional potential. In other words, Coaching is a co-creative approach to working and interacting with people so that they develop their unique capabilities, interpersonal skills and ability to understand and emphatise with others.
A Life Coach addresses specific personal objectives, work goals, general conditions and transition in a client’s personal or professional life. He examines what is going on with the client, discovers the obstacles or challenges, and chooses a course of action to overcome these barriers and achieve the objectives. A good life coach doesn’t provide you advice or solution, but enables you to arrive at your own solution. In that sense, Life Coaching is different from Consulting, Mentoring, Therapy and Counselling.
In this blog post, the term Life Coach is used in a generic manner to cover three types of life coaching niches- domain-oriented, outcome-oriented and title-oriented coaches. It encompasses Executive Coaches, Career Coaches, Business Coaches, Relationship Coaches etc.
Who Needs Life Coach?
Everyone, if one goes by what business billionaires like Eric Schmidt and Bill Gates have to say. In his viral 2013 TED talk, Bill Gates said, “Everyone needs a coach. We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”
The who question is also closely related to the why question-‘Why need life coach?’ and when question-‘When to get a life coach?’
Not sure whether you can benefit from a life coach or not? Take the free quiz to find out the answer.
You need a Life Coach if, when or because:
1. You feel lost, unfulfilled or stuck at work or in your personal life, and are at a point where you don’t know who you are or what you want.
2. You are unsure of yourself, have some fears that hold you back, and consistently think you are not good enough to achieve your goals.
3. You have self-destructive habits that sabotage your own success. E.g. you may eat healthy on weekdays only to binge during weekends. Or spend too much time on your mobile screens rather than reading, thus taking one step forward and two steps back.
4. You can’t seem to focus and are all over the place trying to address too many things vying for your attention at once. You invariably find it difficult to focus on things to be done at the moment.
5. You have a vision without a plan. Great ideas sometimes get lost owing to a lack of organisation or clarity. You may have a goal or a vision but are clueless about implementation or need support on what it will take to achieve it.
6. You are facing a significant transition. If you have high career ambitions and want to take a leap of faith to transition to a new career, change jobs, move to a new country, or get out of a toxic relationship, you will benefit from hiring a life coach.
7. You are prone to stress or anxiety and are frustrated because things are not going the way you want them to go, trying to do things on your own without any support will only add to your frustration. You will conserve your energies and prevent burnout by hiring a life coach.
8. You have low self-esteem, and your confidence can do with a boost. A life coach will work with you to assert yourself and support you as you take risks to create the life you dream of.
9. You are a procrastinator and don’t tend to follow through. Reaching your goals requires discipline to get things done on time and keep to a schedule. If you tend to underplay or give up on essential obligations to others or yourself, you need someone to hold you accountable.
10. You tend to waste a lot of time. If you tend to spend too much time on one task, neglecting or rushing up others in the process, then you are not being productive. Going around in circles only takes up more of your precious time than you have to give.
11. You need to make more money without being dependent on your job forever. It may seem challenging to convert your passion into a profession when you are dependent on the steady income of your current job. Many people go through life hating their job but sticking with it for the money it brings. A life coach will direct you to the resources and insights you require to pursue your passions in a meaningful way.
12. You want to enhance your health and well-being, and your mind and lifestyle could do with some attention and renovation, you will benefit from the services of a wellness life coach to achieve holistic wellness.
Anyone who wants to achieve more tomorrow than they are doing today should consider hiring a life coach.
What Can Life Coach do for me?
A life coach will empower you to visualise, verbalise and manifest your best life. You will be able to:
Identify, clarify and articulate your vision
Use your coach’s expertise to modify goals as needed
Embark on self-discovery and growth
Develop a plan of action to realise your vision
Elevate your productivity and confidence
Create personal and professional growth plans
Your goals will determine the exact niche of a life coach you need to go to- a career coach, wellness coach, relationship coach, personal empowerment coach, business coach etc. Irrespective of their niches and domains, life coaches enrich their clients’ lives in three broad ways:
1. Goal identification and prioritisation
Most people have ambitions but suffer from a lack of clarity. Caught up in the rat race, we often go through the motions every day, chasing a vision of success handed down to us instead of the one we have created with love and care. While working with a life coach, you begin to connect to yourself fully and prioritise new goals in a way that makes sense, allowing yourself to create the life you choose based on your expectations. That might entail becoming a full-time entrepreneur, starting a side business or embarking on a creative passion project in your free time.
2. Cultivating and Transitioning to a New Identity
In times of overwhelming transitions, a life coach is a tremendous support. From career shifts like changes in the industry to personal shifts like divorce, a life coach helps you remain grounded amid massive changes.
One of the reasons for a change to be difficult is because it challenges the stories that we have created for ourselves. Who am I, outside of working for this organisation? What is my identity outside of this marriage or relationship? These kinds of questions can be scary when faced alone, but a life coach will help reframe your personal narrative in an empowering way.
3. Support and Partnership
Life Coaching is a partnership, and as with any partnership, both partners must pull their weight. A life coach holds you accountable to your goals and challenges you to set and meet goals with courage and conviction. A coach is not a yes man or healer and is not supposed to fix your life. Instead, a strong coach reflects his clients’ inner brilliance back to them and motivates them to manifest the same into reality.
Working with a life coach enables you to maximise your productivity in any area of your life. Some specific benefits of working with a life coach include gaining financial independence, achieving work-life balance, communicating more persuasively and effectively, starting a new business or expanding an existing one and managing a significant life or career transition.
Life Coaches around the Globe
Between 25 per cent and 40 per cent of the Fortune 500 companies use the services of a life coach for their executives. In 2001, the International Coach Federation (ICF), the international accrediting body for coaches, had 4,691 members. As of August 2020, that number stands at 42,786 members across 147 countries.
The tremendous growth of life coaching can be attributed to increasing levels of “job insecurity” and “workplace pressures” to people today being more “open to the idea of being in charge of their own lives.” The prolonged pandemic has added to the stress and anxiety levels of individuals, fuelling the need for expert guidance pertaining to careers, wellness, finance, relationships, communication and confidence building matters.
Life Coach in India
India is not insulated from the rest of the world, and people here suffer from similar pressures, insecurities and anxieties as the rest of humanity. In fact, our country’s social and cultural milieu can sometimes augment the personal and professional pressures. As a result, life coaching is gaining traction in India, with the country accounting for 766 out of ICF’s 42,786 members as of August 2020.
Emotional intelligence, relationship building, goal setting and realisation, finding life’s purpose, locating the path to inner peace and happiness, and personal finance management are some of the personal challenges of professionals in India. Regarding careers, efficient team management, achieving career goals, conflict management, communication prowess, the decision-making process, and dealing with failures are the major issues the Indian workforce is grappling with.
Organisations also acknowledge people as their greatest assets and biggest differentiators and want to help their executives grow by investing in their skill development. Executive Coaching is one such tool available for organisations to support their managers improve their skills. In a VUCA world, when the corporate sector in India is highly competitive on the one hand and witnessing a Great Resignation on the other, an executive life coach helps an individual stay focused and increases his awareness levels.
How to Hire the Right Life Coach- Your Ultimate List of 23 Coaching Questions
How to find the best life coach for me? How to find a reputable life coach near me? These are some pertinent questions that would be in your mind.
The credibility of the coaching process depends on the coach, and it is imperative that you pick the right one for you to derive the full benefits of coaching.
Below is a list of 23 questions you need to ask your prospective life coach before deciding to go with him/her or to look elsewhere. I have mentioned these questions in chronological order and organised them into distinct buckets. However, apart from the last two questions, you may shuffle the order of the other questions as per your comfort.
Questions around Credentials, Expertise and Experience of the Coach
1. What life coaching certifications and credentials do you have?
Coaching is an unregulated industry, so technically, anyone can call themselves a coach. And unfortunately, some people do. For you to derive the full benefits of the process, it is crucial for your life coach to possess the right blend of expertise and delivery. Inquire about the certifications and credentials of your coach, as these indicate what level of formal, professional training a coach has undergone. It is important to note that all certifications are not equal; some require no more than a few workshops, whereas others are much more intensive.
ICF, EMCC and CCA are the three major international coaching certification bodies. In India, we have the Coaching Federation India. Ask your life coach if she is accredited to any of these bodies before hiring them.
2. How many client coaching hours do you have?
Instead of simply asking your coach how many years they have been coaching, ask about the number of one-on-one coaching hours they have completed. They may be a coach for five years but only completed fifty coaching hours during that time. The more client coaching hours the coach has, the more experienced they are.
3. Have you worked with people similar to me?
This should be one of your first questions. Ask the life coach whether they have worked with anyone in a similar situation, from a similar background or anything else you feel characterises you and your situation.
A coach need not necessarily know anything about your sector or industry. But it is still an advantage if she has worked with people similar to you, as it indicates that the coach is more likely to appreciate your mindset, pressures and situation. For instance, if you are going to a life coach for career-related problems and work in the corporate sector, a coach from a corporate background would be able to appreciate your case better.
4. What kind of goals/challenges do your clients typically have?
You should expect a life coach to have a range of clients with differing challenges revolving around either a stage of transition or decision such as promotion, career change, feeling stuck, new team, stress management, work-life balance, having a vision etc.
However, what you are really listening for is HOW the coach describes their clients because this is how they might talk about you! You would want to be talked about in a straightforward yet compassionate and non-judgmental way.
5. What measurable results have your clients seen?
Being able to produce measurable results is important for a life coach. You are looking for a coach who will identify clear goals for you at the beginning of the coaching relationship – the specifics of how you want to think, feel and behave differently. You would also expect your coach to regularly check in about HOW things are working and adapt to your feedback and expectations. Much before the end of your coaching relationship, you and others around you should be able to see the changes in you- both at home and work.
Ask your coach what changes his clients have undergone after working with them, and how will you both measure the success in your coaching association.
6. Can you show me the testimonials from past clients?
This is linked to the previous two questions, except that testimonials are proof of the pudding; they demonstrate the coach doing a great job with their past clients.
Given the sensitive nature of coaching, not all clients feel comfortable publicising their full names and their picture online, and that is fine. But if you can read some success stories with even the first names and brief descriptions of the clients, that gives the coach a lot of credibility and trustworthiness.
Getting to Know the Person behind the Coach
7. What did you do before you became a life coach?
Coaching is an equal partnership, and it would be better for you to know the person behind the coach for a fruitful association. Understand what was their professional background before they embarked on the coaching journey.
A coach should have some background in his niche for a productive and beneficial relationship. E.g., an executive coach who was a doctor or teacher earlier will be a misfit while coaching executives in the corporate world.
8. Why did you choose life coaching as a career?
You wouldn’t think this was an important question, but here’s why it is: Knowing why a coach got into the business shows authenticity. Based on the reasons they provide and their approach to explaining it, you will be able to ascertain if the life coach would be a good match for you.
9. What are your strengths and talents?
Great coaches are self-aware and understand how to leverage their own strengths for the benefit of their clients. Listen to the what as well as the how of their answers.
Does a life coach practice what he preaches when it comes to offering solutions for time management? Coaches must be good at managing their own lives and work before providing recommendations on behavioural changes for others.
Professional Intent and Integrity of the Coach
10. Are you a full-time life coach, or coaching along with your day job?
Many coaches, including the certified ones, hold another full-time day job and coach during their time off from work. While such coaches may be proficient in coaching, it also reveals that coaching is a hobby or fall-back option for them, and they might not be taking it seriously as a career. Further, it also indicates a certain lack of confidence on the part of the coach in his process and results.
While it is great to have a side hustle, you are a real individual with real problems looking for real solutions. You deserve to have a coach who will give serious consideration to your issues and provide you with the deserved attention.
11. Are you the right type of life coach for me?
Ask your coach what areas they specialise in. There are three categories of life coaching niches, and your choice of domain and niche should depend on what problem are you looking to address at that particular time. If you want help in coping with your divorce or managing as a single dad, a career coach or a business coach won’t be able to help you, while a relationship coach will be your go-to person here. And, a good life coach will be honest and direct with you on this.
12. What separates you from other life coaches?
Understanding what sets your life coach apart from their competition will help you determine the specific skills you can benefit from when choosing them. A good coach would answer this question succinctly, precisely and unhesitantly.
13. Do you have a coach or mentor yourself?
If you have faith in something, you will practice what you preach. Everyone can evolve, become better. A good coach also has a great coach or mentor. Coaches become better at listening, asking questions and trusting their instincts while working with more senior and experienced coaches.
Even if they are not working with someone currently, they would have started as a beginner at some point in time. Ask your life coach if they had hired a coach to hold themselves accountable at the start of the journey. That will tell you if they have faith in coaching to produce the results they want or wanted for themselves.
14. How has your coaching style and method changed since you had your first client to date?
Notice that I have purposefully not asked about the number of years since the coach has been coaching. Coaching is not about the number of years since the coach has been certified, but about learning and growth. You would expect a good life coach to invest a sizeable portion of their income each year in self-development and development of their practice. Their choices will give you insights into their priorities, focus, and personality.
Listen for the WAY they talk about their experience. The answers will give you insights into their priorities, focus and personality. Is coaching still their passion? Are they still in learning mode?
Specifics on the coaching sessions and program
15. What is your coaching method? How is your program structured?
A skilled life coach takes the time to craft a framework or a structured program rather than going with off-the-shelf or one-size-fits-all coaching methods and being expensive sounding boards. Ask your life coach what methodology she or she employs and determine if it is robust. Next, ask them why they chose that methodology and what shaped their decision. You must also ask the coach about his commitment to ethical practices.
Listen for the answers to understand whether the coach’s principles and objectives align with your values, needs and goals. Your life coach should have a plan and way to guide you.
16. How long will the coaching engagement last?
Quick fixes like one webinar or one session will not give you the results you want. A good life coach will offer a certain number of coaching sessions (six to eight at a minimum) to reflect the level of change you want to achieve. The total package duration may vary based on the coach’s methodology and the client’s goals, but there would always be an end goal in mind at the end of the duration.
Other than the length of the programme, try to get an impression about the frequency of the session. Ideally, a good coach would have different tier packages per your needs and budget.
17. How do the coaching sessions take place?
A good life coach offers a mix of platforms and is flexible with the virtual tools based on your convenience. Some coaches only work face to face, some on the phone, and some over virtual platforms like Skype, Zoom or Teams. Make sure you select a coach who works in a way suitable to you. It is best to get clarity around the logistics of the sessions sorted before the commencement.
18. Will there be an agreement of our coaching association?
Coaching is a professional engagement. Like any other business engagement, it should be well documented with the scope of services, program duration, fees and other terms and conditions governing the arrangement to be executed by both parties.
Ask your prospective coach if there will be an agreement to document the coaching association if you decide to enter into a coaching relationship. This will also give you a chance to ask about other terms and conditions that may not be otherwise apparent.
19. What are the add-ons to my coaching sessions?
Every coach will offer a coaching session- that’s a given. An experienced coach will differentiate herself by going beyond what others provide by offering specific value-adds to the coaching session. The nature and extent of these add ons will depend on your problem statement and the type of package you opt for. A leadership coaching package, for instance, might come with a customised leadership assessment, a detailed leadership plan, and access to helpful career tools and resources. Other packages may include extras such as a mock interview, phone support, email support, customised reports by your coach, or specific assessments and tools.
20. Will you be accessible to me in between the scheduled sessions?
Some coaches will only be available to you during sessions. Others will make themselves available for between-session feedback, sometimes via email or WhatsApp. Some may be available for a phone call with you on exceptional cases.
The level of access with the life coach will also depend on the package you opt for. There is no right or wrong here, but if you except additional help in-between sessions, don’t assume that they come as part of the package. Check and clarify that the coach actually provides what you are looking for.
Final questions to be asked before commitment and closure
21. Can I take a sample session before committing?
After you are satisfied with the answers to all the previous questions, ask for a sample session. A sample session is a perfect way for you to learn more about the coach, their process, whether you are a good fit for each other and how you could work together.
A good life coach would invariably be offering a half-hour to one-hour discovery session, strategy session or coaching consultation to his prospective clients, either completely free of charge or at a nominal cost of $5-$10 per hour. Even the most incredible life coach of our time- Tony Robbins- offers a half-hour complimentary session before the commencement of his coaching program.
A pertinent point to note is that the complimentary session is with coaches affiliated with Tony Robbins, and not Tony Robbins himself. A coach with a full client roster may not be able to offer a sample session- because of bandwidth and time constraints. And that may be a good sign. But that doesn't stop you from asking, and understanding the reason if the answer is a No.
22. What are the results we can expect by the end of the initial program duration?
No, this is not a repeat question from one of the previous sections but an important reiteration.
You are looking to work with the coach to achieve certain goals, and it is best for the coach and the coachee to arrive at a common understanding of the problem statement, challenges and results. You may be aiming for the moon, but a good coach will honestly share how much ground you will cover during the duration you are signing up for. Coaching is an equal partnership between two parties, and this question helps in establishing trust and respect between you and your coach, besides minimising the chances of any unpleasant surprises later.
23. What is your professional fee structure?
Yes, you should definitely ask this question. After all, you will be putting your hard-earned money into this relationship, so there is no reason for you not to ask this question. However, this should be the last question to ask after taking the sample session, once you are sure that you will like to work with the life coach.
The fee range of a life coach varies depending on domain, niche, background, expertise and experience. And you are the best judge of your budget. But do consider a few pointers regarding the structure of the fees.
A good life coach will not charge fees on a per session basis. The reason is that coaching is a process that takes time, and you won’t achieve the results after one session.
That said, some coaches do provide an option to pay per one or two sessions in advance, with a lock-in clause in their contracts. And most coaches will offer an upfront discount on the overall package costs if you pay for all the sessions in advance. So, paying for an entire package upfront makes more economic sense if you are able and willing to pay.
However, ensure that the lock-in period or the minimum program duration does not exceed three months. While achieving your goals take time, some progress should be visible in the first couple of months. Besides, you should have the freedom to shift gears and reconsider without feeling stuck in a long-term commitment.
Before you hire a life coach, consider and evaluate the prospective life coaches on these twenty-three questions outlined above. Have a grasp on your goals and working style so you can select the right coach who will work alongside you on your growth path. If your coach has additional qualifications, like an NLP Practitioner, that's a further bonus.
Common Excuses to Avoid Working with a Life Coach
The three most common excuses that people give to themselves to not work with a Life Coach, even after they consider them suitable to help them towards their vision, are:
I can’t justify spending the money. Investment is always an outflow before it starts generating returns. And coaching is an investment that you are making in yourself. Do you want the same life that you have now? If the answer is no, you have to make that investment to attain a more compelling future. Coaching clients from all walks of life consistently say that it is the best investment they ever made because it enabled them to achieve their goals faster, quicker and with better results.
I have to do the work on my own. Coaching is a partnership where both partners have to put in the work. A life coach will do the work of providing you the expert guidance and holding you accountable to your goals. You will have to complete the focus goals from your coaching sessions to achieve what you want. Potential will not convert into output if you don’t put in the necessary effort.
I don’t have time to do the work. Why are you not making yourself your priority? You cannot help others without helping yourself. There is always something in your day that you could replace with the time for coaching sessions and doing your focus goals, such as binge-watching or social media. Until you try, you don’t know what you can’t do.
It is not enough for you to say you want things to be different. The intent needs to be backed by a decision and purposeful action towards what you want. When you put your money where your mouth is and invest in a coaching program, you demonstrate your commitment to your future.
The Last Word
Deciding to work with a life coach is an important decision. But deciding which coach to work with is even more critical and can make the difference between a successful partnership and a frustrating association.
Use the above 23 questions as your ultimate guide to find the best life coach for you. Finding the right life coach takes time and effort, but the rewards will be transformative and enduring.
Not sure if you are ready for life coaching right now? Take the free quiz to find out if you can benefit from life coaching.
Smita Das Jain is a Personal Empowerment Life Coach, Executive Coach and NLP Practitioner. Smita’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Coaching Program enables people to create a career they love, find time to do all they like, and live the life they choose. You can learn more about Smita’s ‘Empower Yourself’ Coaching Programs by visiting www.lifecoachsmitadjain.com
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