What is a Life Coach? (and Why You Need One)

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In a perfect world, you’d wake up every day and live the life of your dreams. Unfortunately, however, this is easier said than done. Sometimes, you need the support of a professional such as a life coach to achieve your unique goals.

From young professionals to leading athletes, people from all walks of life often hire life coaches to help them live their lives to the fullest.

So what exactly is a life coach, and can you benefit from one? Let’s dive deeper into the answers to these questions.

What is a life coach?

A life coach is a wellness professional who helps all types of people succeed in their personal and professional lives. They will work with you to identify and overcome obstacles and make the most of your strengths based on your particular goals and needs. A life coach may also help you improve your relationships at home and in the workplace and excel in various aspects of your life.

It’s important to understand that a life coach is not the same as a therapist. While a therapist is a trained mental health professional who can diagnose and treat mental health conditions, a life coach focuses on personal development, motivation, and empowerment to meet your goals.

If you’re living with a mental health disorder like anxiety or depression or wish to heal from previous trauma, a therapist is likely the better choice. On the contrary, if you’re feeling “stuck” and wish to live a meaningful life you’re proud of, hiring a life coach could be a good option.

Life coaching may be particularly beneficial if you wish to clarify and achieve certain personal or professional goals. Life coaches can also help you become more financially independent or achieve a healthier work/life balance. You’ll find that working together with a life coach can motivate and inspire you to live a better life and achieve your desired results.

Types of life coaches

Not all life coaches are created equal. In fact, there are a variety of life coaches available. Some are holistic, while others specialize in one or a handful of areas. Here’s a brief overview of the types of life coaches to consider for your individual needs.

Holistic Life CoachA holistic life coach can help you improve your life as a whole, not just the individual parts.
Career CoachWith a career coach, you can meet your short and long-term professional goals. They can assist with career planning, interviewing, and negotiating to optimize your professional life.
Divorce CoachYou can count on a divorce coach to support, motivate, and guide you as you go through the process of divorce and emerge stronger and more confident in your personal life.
Executive and Leadership CoachIf you’re an executive, manager, or business leader, executive life coaching can unleash your potential and show you how to steer your team or organization toward success.
Family Life CoachA family life coach can assist with relationship issues between parents or parents and children. They can also help you with a healthy work/life balance.
Financial CoachWith a financial coach, you can receive the support you need to develop smart financial habits, meet your financial goals, and enjoy life more with less money stress.
Fitness CoachIf you wish to improve your diet and establish a sustainable workout routine, a fitness coach may be an invaluable resource to help you achieve your desired results.
Health and Wellness CoachA health and wellness coach can help you achieve and maintain a healthy lifestyle and improve physically, mentally, and emotionally.
Life Skills CoachWith a life skills coach, you’ll gain personal development skills, learning how to manage day-to-day tasks, and become more independent.
Recovery CoachA recovery coach can support you in your recovery from alcohol, drugs, or related addictions.
Relationship CoachThe goal of a relationship coach is to assist you with a personal relationship such as a marriage. They offer advice to deepen intimacy and pleasure between you and your spouse.
Spiritual CoachA spiritual coach can help you find your inner peace through various metaphysical and spiritual tools.

Life coach certifications and qualifications

There are no formal education or certification requirements for life coaches. Many of them rely on their own life or professional experiences to help clients meet their goals. Some life coaches, however, do take the time to earn certifications. A few of the most popular designations include:

iPEC Certified CoachAn iPEC Certified Coach has received the hands-on training they need to help clients focus on the root of a challenge and shift the energy that feeds their thoughts, words, and actions.
ISSA Certified Fitness CoachAn ISSA Certified Fitness Coach has completed various exercise science courses such as Group Exercise, Bodybuilding, and Yoga.
FFC Financial Fitness CoachAn FFC Financial Fitness Coach has undergone specialized training to help clients create healthy financial habits and implement realistic action plans for their finances.
Spencer Institute Certified Holistic Life CoachA Spencer Institute Certified Holistic Life Coach has mastered holistic philosophies that allow clients to meet their personal fulfillment goals.

What is it like working with a life coach?

If you decide to move forward with a life coach, you’ll likely meet with them three or four times a month. Depending on your particular needs, however, more or fewer sessions may make sense. As you begin to meet your goals, you may reduce the number of sessions you originally signed up for and work with your life coach periodically.

Thanks to video conferencing tools, most life coaches offer virtual sessions. These may be a great option if you lead a busy life and don’t have the time to travel to meet with your life coach. They can also be a good choice if you wish to work with a life coach that lives far away from you. If you prefer an in-person relationship, rest assured that in-person sessions are almost always an option.

While each life coach has its own rates, most charge anywhere between $200 to $1,000 per month for several sessions. A specialized life coach such as a career or financial coach will likely charge more than a general holistic life coach. Also, virtual sessions tend to be more affordable than those performed in person.

It usually takes at least a few months of sessions to reap the benefits of life coaching. Therefore, life coaches often require that you commit to them for at least three to six months. Fortunately, they’ll usually allow you to stop working with them without a penalty if you don’t find value in their services.

To make the most out of a life coach, you’ll have to do more than show up to sessions. It’ll be your job to follow your coach’s advice and incorporate what you’ve discussed in your day-to-day life. It’s also imperative that you do your homework in between life coaching sessions.

We asked Allison Task, a Career & Life Coach based in New Jersey, to describe her homework expectations from clients:

“I tell my clients to plan for 5-10 hours of coaching homework per week for optimal results. That way, we focus on strategy in our in-person sessions, and clients will accomplish more faster.”

Homework assignments will depend on your unique goals. In most cases, however, they’ll be fairly simple and straightforward. Your life coach might ask you to keep a journal of things you’re grateful for or create a list of experiences if you’d like to check off your bucket list. Homework is typically designed to encourage you to think about your current life and future goals proactively.

One financial life coach shared his thoughts on what to expect when you start working with a coach:

“Financial concepts might seem simple at first, but they can be hard to implement on your own. A financial coach is here to help you implement these concepts into your daily life. When hiring a financial coach, you should expect to learn about how to manage your money better, how to create healthy financial habits, and see financial results within your first meeting.” – Marco Carreira, Carreira Finance.

Another coach who specializes in helping women going through divorce offered an additional perspective:

“When professional divorcing women hire me as their financial coach, we work together for six months. I help them make wise financial decisions during this very emotional time. The work is very individualized based on my clients’ unique needs. I cover both the practical financial steps they need to take, and also address the emotional and mindset issues so divorcing women can permanently improve their relationship with money.” – Christine Luken, Certified Financial Counselor with 7 Pillars, LLC.

Should you hire a life coach?

There are several reasons you may benefit from working with a life coach. Maybe you’re searching for someone to guide you to reach your personal goals or achieve your full potential in your career. Or perhaps you’ve experienced a major life event and are unsure of how to move forward. Here are several situations that may warrant a life coach.

  • Getting married: While tying the knot is exciting, it also comes with new financial obstacles that you may not know how to navigate. For example, a financial coach can help you decide if you should combine your finances after marriage and address money topics like debt and spending that may be difficult to bring up on your own.
  • You landed a new job: Whether you just received a major promotion or recently lost your job, you can work with a career coach to thrive in your new professional situation. Your coach can help you develop a plan to succeed in your new position or find an ideal role for your education, experience, and preferences.
  • You want to improve your physical health: A fitness coach or health and wellness coach may be well worth your time if you’re looking for a customized nutrition plan and workout routine individualized for you.
  • Getting divorced: With a divorce coach, you can get through your divorce’s stress and chaos and start fresh. If you have children, they may help you pinpoint and fulfill their needs.
  • You’ve completed an addiction treatment: If you’re transitioning back to everyday life after an outpatient or inpatient addiction treatment, a recovery coach can connect you to resources so you can reenter the workforce, resolve legal issues, and meet other goals. They may also empower you to identify and overcome common relapse behaviors.
  • You have a mental disability: A life skills coach can help you develop the skills you need to integrate into your community, pursue employment opportunities, and lead a higher quality of life.
  • You recently become a part of a blended family: If you’ve remarried and are now a part of a blended family, you can face your unique challenges with the guidance of a family life coach.

How to find a life coach

Since there are countless life coaches out there, it’s important to do your research and evaluate all your options. Here are some things to ask yourself while you’re looking for the right professional.

  • What type of life coach are you looking for? If your main goal is to improve your finances, a financial coach is likely your best bet. If you’d like to lead a healthier lifestyle, a health and wellness coach can be a good fit.
  • When do you want to start? You may want to work with a life coach as soon as possible or wait a few months or even a year from now. It all depends on your current state and how soon you’d like to accomplish your personal goals.
  • How much time can you devote to life coaching each week? Take a close look at your schedule so you can figure out how often you’d be able to meet with a life coach. If you’re a busy professional and parent, monthly sessions rather than weekly ones may be more realistic.
  • What is your budget? Figure out how much you can and want to spend on a life coach. If you’re on a tight budget, a specialized coach with in-person sessions may be unattainable. Many life coaches will offer a free introductory session to help you both decide if you’re a good match.
  • How will you measure success? Consider what you’d like to get out of a life coach. Do you wish to begin a new, fulfilling life after your divorce? Is your goal to lose X amount of pounds or have more energy during the day? The word “success” means different things to different people, so figure out exactly what it means to you.
  • Would you like to meet in-person and virtually? Your schedule, preferences, and comfort level will dictate whether you’d like your life coach sessions to be in-person or via video conferencing. If you opt for virtual sessions, you’ll have more life coaches to choose from. You may decide on a life coach that’s thousands of miles away yet has the experience and tools you’ll find valuable.

Hiring a life coach near you

There are many reasons you may prefer in-person life coaching sessions. If you’re easily distracted or have difficulty building trust online, an in-person life coach probably makes the most sense. In-person life coaching sessions may also be a better fit if you have a chronic health condition or don’t want to worry about technology malfunctioning. Here are some resources that can help you find a nearby life coach:

Hiring the best life coach for you

While you may be fortunate to find your perfect life coach where you live, you’re more likely to find the best life coach for you by broadening your search. Since most life coaches regularly meet with their clients virtually via Zoom, Google Meet, or telephone, you might discover that your perfect life coach lives hundreds or even thousands of miles away!

To find life coaches based on your unique interests and individual needs, consider the following examples of online resources to find your perfect match:

  • Financial Coach: The Wealthtender Financial Coach Directory is a top resource to find a financial coach who understands your unique circumstances and can help you achieve your financial goals.
  • Relationship Coach: Relationship CoachFinder is a great place to search for a relationship coach that can help you improve your marriage or other romantic relationship.
  • Health and Wellness Coach: Wellness Coach Connect is ideal if you’re on the lookout for a health and wellness coach who can support your journey to a healthier, happier life.
  • Career Coach: GetFive has created a resource you can use to locate coaches from various professional backgrounds who can help you achieve your professional goals.

Questions to ask a life coach

Once you’ve narrowed down your options and found a few life coaches that pique your interest, don’t hesitate to call or email them with questions. By doing so, you’ll find it easier to make an informed decision for your unique situation. Feel free to ask questions such as:

  • What is your background? Determine whether a life coach holds a special degree or certification if they don’t find out what experience they have, that makes them qualified to support you with your goals.
  • How long have you been a life coach? Life coaching is a fairly new industry, so many coaches may only have a few years’ experiences in the role. However, what you should look for is someone well-versed in a topic you’ll need help with, such as fitness, resume writing, or employee motivation.
  • Where can I find reviews or testimonials? A life coach can praise themselves for days, but reviews and testimonials from their clients are far more reliable. Find out where you can find them. For example, you’ll find ratings and reviews on profile pages for financial coaches featured on Wealthtender to help you decide which coach is best for you.
  • What is your philosophy? A quality life coach should have their own philosophy that helps guide their sessions. Ensure you understand and agree with a coach’s philosophy before you decide to work with them.
  • How much do life coaching sessions cost? You don’t want to receive any surprise bills in the mail. So it’s your job to clarify a coach’s pricing structure. Inquire about any hidden fees and acceptable payment methods. Also, ask if they offer a free introductory call to decide if you’re a good match.
  • What can I expect from your sessions? Get an idea of what will happen if you do decide to work with a specific life coach. Is there a certain structure their sessions follow? Will you have to do homework in between sessions?
  • What is your cancellation policy? Sometimes, life happens, and you can’t make an appointment. Ask the coach how their cancellation policy works and whether you’d have to pay a fee for canceling.

A life coach can change your life for the better

You only get one life. So why not live it to the fullest and become the very best version of yourself with the help of a life coach?

No matter your age, income, or occupation, you may benefit from one of these professionals who can help you achieve your goals.

This article originally appeared on Your Money Geek and has been republished with permission.

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Article Author:
Picture of Brian Thorp

Brian Thorp

Brian Thorp is the founder and CEO of Wealthtender, a leading personal finance website helping thousands of people each month find the best financial advisors, coaches, and educational resources to enjoy life with less money stress.
Article Author:
Picture of Brian Thorp

Brian Thorp

Brian Thorp is the founder and CEO of Wealthtender, a leading personal finance website helping thousands of people each month find the best financial advisors, coaches, and educational resources to enjoy life with less money stress.