In general, the coach-client partnership is designed to inspire the client to maximize their potential, whether in their personal or professional life.
Life coaching, like executive coaching, is concerned with helping people fulfill their potential.
Coaching is not therapy, and should not be sought out as a substitute for therapy. Therapy often requires focus on exploring the client’s past and getting to the deepest roots of psychological problems that hold people back.
Coaching, however, is future-oriented and is about defining goals and creating an action plan within the reality of life as it currently is for the client. Life coaches and career coaches share some commonalities, but they’re certainly not interchangeable. Career coaches focus on your professional life, while life coaches focus on your personal life. Things like career choice, or choosing to change employers or careers may be covered by a life coach, but the life coach is mostly about non-work life.
Getting Your Non-Work Life Together Benefits Your Career
The good news is, working with a life coach can produce a side benefit of improving your career. Bad days at work often stem from problems at home, and while a life coach won’t magically make all your personal problems disappear, they can teach you how to manage your non-work life better so that when you’re at work, you can focus on work.
We have all heard of or read about the high-powered executive whose home life is an absolute disaster. Are they what you would consider “successful?” For most people, career success is less important than having a meaningful life where they give and receive love and can feel like they’re making the world (or at least their small corner of the world) a better place.
Life Coaching May Lead You to Seek Career Coaching
Working with a life coach and experiencing the positive results can cultivate greater confidence professionally. It can help a person feel ready to tackle career goals, change employers, or otherwise step up their professional life. It’s not uncommon for someone who has worked with a life coach to work with a career coach later on (or vice versa) because once you see the power of defining, setting, and achieving goals, you realize how it can benefit many facets of your life.
The career coach may use some of the same tools and techniques that the life coach does, but the context will be different because the goal will be to develop the career you have always wanted. But working with a career coach can produce similar positive results as can working with a talented life coach.
A good life coaching experience may prompt you to work with a career coach too.
Finding a Legitimate Life Coach
You can find “life coaches” just about anywhere. That doesn’t mean they know what they’re doing, however. There is no singular regulating entity that oversees the life coaching industry, and there are many life coaches who are entirely self-appointed, with little to no training. There are, however, accrediting bodies like the International Coach Foundation that grants or withholds accreditation from candidate coaching programs based on specific standards they have developed.
If you seek a life coach, ask to see some evidence. They should be able to show you documented results, and ideally, they should have some past clients who are willing to give references. A great website or an expensive advertising campaign is not the same as a true reference, so don’t skip this step. And if you can have a free, no-obligation conversation with a life coach, whether by phone or email or in person, you should do so. Your inner wisdom can tell you a lot about whether a particular coach is going to be worth your investment.
Having worked as an executive coach for decades, I can tell you that “fixing” a high-level leader’s career is only a temporary fix if that person’s non-work life is in disarray. Sometimes even the most successful-appearing business leaders could benefit from the services of a life coach or a therapist so that they can focus on work while they’re at work, and not the mess they left behind at home.
Whether you’re interested in life coaching or career coaching, I invite you to check out my books. While geared toward the business audience, they’re based on solid research into people’s personalities, strengths, and weaknesses, and they offer plenty of food for thought for the person who is determined to get their life – professional or otherwise – on the right track.