What is a life coach, and do I need one?
Been feeling disconnected lately?
Maybe a bit discombobulated?
If so, you may have wondered if a life coach could help. Perhaps they could get you back on track and moving forward in whatever areas feel a bit wonky at the moment?
It's a fair enough thought. We have coaches for other areas of our lives where we need help: sports or business coaches, for example. We have personal trainers and tutors too… so why not a life coach?
But what exactly is a life coach? What do they do? And – perhaps more importantly – how can they help?
What, exactly, does a life coach do?
Coaches are professionals “whose job is to teach people to improve a skill.”
Rather than focusing on a particular sporting skill or business goal, however, life coaches help you to gain skills and set goals for your life overall. They work with you to help you improve a particular area of your life, such as creating a healthy work-life balance.
Generally, they do this by:
- identifying the areas that need support
- helping you to set goals in those areas
- defining the steps you need to take to reach those goals
providing accountability as you take action to achieve them
A 2016 literature review found that, “the life coaching process can lead to: a stronger sense of self; the life of one’s dreams; behaviour change; and better quality of life.”
What areas of your life can a life coach help with?
If you’ve already tried a variety of diaries and planners but still struggle to find balance, a life coach might help. They can help you to get perspective on what's important to you, then devise goals with you to manage the balance in a way that works for you.
Health and wellness
If you have stress-induced brain fog or want to boost your energy, a life coach might help you set goals and create a plan to achieve them. They can’t provide health advice (eg. a meal plan that incorporates the best brain-healthy foods), but they can help you to implement a plan designed by a qualified nutritionist.
Additionally, if you have specific dietary issues, you’ll need to talk with a professional dietitian.
Stress and motivation
If you’re finding life overwhelming, or your mind just needs a bit of motivation coaching, a life coach might help you create stress management strategies. These could include helping you to work out the root causes of the stress, as well as informal mindfulness practices.
However, again, it’s important to recognise that life coaches aren’t trained psychologists. If you’re struggling with mental wellness, speak to your GP, who can refer you to the right professional.
Do life coaches need qualifications?
In a word, no. However, there are accredited life coaching courses in Australia. Accreditation shows that a coach was willing to invest time and money in their career. You can also ask about any other qualifications they may have, such as degrees or certifications.
But if you feel you’d benefit from life coaching for a specific issue, we recommend first considering whether other specialist professionals could be better placed to help.
For example, the dietitians and psychologists we mentioned above are licensed and monitored by their respective professional bodies. They need high levels of training to qualify in their discipline, and are held to rigorous standards in their practice.
Depending on your personal situation, these types of qualified professionals might be more appropriate. But no matter what kind of support you choose, make sure you do your research and ask for recommendations from friends and family.
Are life coaches a waste of money?
As with any kind of support system, you get out of life coaching whatever you put into it. Life coaches can’t solve your life problems for you. They’re more like a brainstorming mentor who helps you to realise what’s going on, plus an accountability partner who helps you to create the future you desire.
That means you need to be willing to do the work yourself. It also helps to find a life coach you gel with - if you don't get along with them, you’ll likely be wasting your money.
So is a life coach right for me?
At the end of the day, only you can know whether you’ll benefit from life coaching in a particular area of your life. What works for someone else may not work for you, and vice versa. It’s also important to ask yourself whether you’d be better getting support from a qualified professional in that area.
Regardless, though: if you want it to work, you’ll need to put in the effort to see any rewards.
- How does alcohol affect my health
- What is stress and how can you manage it?
- What to do when you hit a life speed bump
Reviewed by the healthylife Advisory Board August 2, 2021.