If you’re like most people, you probably have goals you want to accomplish or changes you have thought about making at one time or another. It may be you want to lose that last 10 pounds, or are thinking about changing careers. You may have thought about getting started, or even taken the first steps. Maybe you haven’t been sure where to begin. You might also have fallen into thinking that goes like this: “Someday, when (fill in the blank), I am going to (fill in the blank again… “) Despite really good intentions and for whatever reason, your goal, your dream, keeps going on the back burner. Sometimes life, with its competing priorities, comes between you and your aim. Or you may start out with enthusiasm, only to find yourself getting bored, or losing motivation, at some point. These things happen to most everyone at one time or another, especially when contemplating making a significant change or starting out on a new path. If you find yourself in any of these scenarios, it may be time for you to consider hiring a personal coach.
What does a coach do, and how might one benefit you? Coaching is sometimes confused with therapy or counseling, but it is neither of these. It isn’t consulting or advising. These are different approaches with different skill sets and, even though there may be some similarities, there are also important distinctions. Personal coaching is a process which is sometimes referred to as a designed alliance between client and coach. It is a professional relationship that is based on the client’s agenda – his or her interests, goals and objectives. Coach and client work together to focus on the client’s goals and develop a structure from that starting point to move the client forward.
Clients generally come to coaching because they have experienced difficulty achieving an important goal on their own, or wish to attain greater fulfillment in some area of their life that has remained elusive to them. There are lots of reasons why a person may hire a coach – to be more effective in their career, or to start a new one. They may wish to lose weight, improve their health and fitness, their relationships, or to gain more control over their time and level of stress. Some coaches specifically work with women or men who want to start a business for the first time, write a book, become more effective parents, or plan for retirement.
The International Coach Federation (“ICF”) which sets the standard for professional coaches, defines coaching this way: Coaching is partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.
A professional coach uses various techniques to help clients identify personal, business and/or relationship goals, and develop action plans for their attainment. The client takes the action and the coach assists with positive support and feedback to help the client improve his or her personal effectiveness and ultimate achievement of their aim. This assistance can take a variety of forms, including:
- Assisting a client in defining and clarifying goals, and a vision. Helping a client identify their readiness to change, as well as the supports and structures they may need to have in place.
- Helping clients target their strengths and values which, in turn, can assist the client in using resources they already possess towards achievement of their aim.
- Assisting the client in identifying the larger goal and then developing an action plan necessary for the interim steps on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
- Holding the client accountable for their agreed-upon actions.
- A coach may also help the client identify possible challenges or roadblocks along the way, and strategies to deal with these, as well as provide the client with possible resources and tools to accomplish objectives.
- Support the client in devising ways to maintain the desired change or goal once it is reached.
In the world of health and wellness, wellness coaching has emerged as a new role. It is now recognized that true wellness is much more than an absence of disease. Health and wellness coaching is becoming recognized as an important way to help individuals proactively manage their health, along with learning ways that a holistic lifestyle can impact chronic illnesses and conditions. As a society, we are now living longer than ever before, and we want to enjoy our lives in optimal condition, to thrive as we enter our later years. A wellness coach can assist a client in assessing and designing a healthier lifestyle, weight loss and maintenance, stress management, creating a healthier environment, or a more fulfilling life. Wellness coaches work with clients to bring about desired change with special skills and techniques that help clients discover how to live more fully, to flourish rather than just get by.
A professional coach can be a powerfully ally in the process of moving towards more of what you want in life. If you have that one goal (or maybe that Big Dream) that you have always wanted to make happen, having a coach might be just the thing to finally get you there.