What is a Life Coach?

A life coach helps their clients focus on what's going on in their present life, make necessary adjustments (big or small), and encourages forward momentum by establishing positive goals both in their personal and professional life.

Whether a client is going through a major transitional phase in their life, or is just needing some motivation and encouragement to reach a specific goal, a life coach can be an invaluable professional mentor. They are experts at providing the questions, framework, exercises, and accountability needed to help their clients discover and initiate positive change in their lives.

What does a Life Coach do?

A life coach giving their client a high five.

A life coach doesn't act as a therapist, does not give 'expert' advice, and does not tell their client what to do. Instead, they strive to be great listeners and communicators, and use their positive energy, motivation and inspiration to help their clients see a fresh perspective regarding certain situations.

The assumption is that an individual is more than capable of generating their own solutions, and by asking specific and targeted questions, the life coach can provide a discovery-based framework that will help the client see things clearly and honestly. There is strong emphasis put on an individual's action, accountability and follow-through. Together, the life coach and client will discover a sense of purpose and a direction to go in.

It is sometimes very difficult for people to make the necessary changes to move forward to bigger and better things, and they may feel stuck in a certain area of their life. A life coach can help a person to take an introspective view of their situation, sort out their feelings surrounding it, acknowledge any fears or trepidations that may be holding them back, attain mental clarity, and make a doable plan to forge through with attainable goals and a positive attitude. Life coaching supports professional growth, personal growth, and development that is future-focused and based on individually-initiated change.

According to the Coaches Training Institute, there are four cornerstones to the co-active life coaching model:

1) People are Naturally Creative, Resourceful, and Whole - the client has all the answers within them; it is the job of the life coach to get the answers out

2) Coaching Focuses on The Whole Person - everything is connected, therefore making a shift in one area will make it easier to make a shift in other areas

3) Coaching Evokes Transformation - the client is in charge, the life coach will act as a guide to bring forth the client's desired life with more balance and fulfillment

4) Dance in The Moment - the life coach will embrace where the client is now as they begin to move towards their desired life vision. The client will always take the lead in this process.

Here are a few areas in which a life coach can help a client:

  • Advancing or planning a (career, life, business
  • Dealing with a divorce
  • Losing weight
  • Helping to start a healthy lifestyle
  • Making financial goals (financial security)
  • Help with setting up goals and objectives
  • Help with forging through barriers or fears
  • Balancing life (personal vs business)
  • Starting or growing a business
  • Getting out of a funk, or rut
  • Finding time to enjoy life more
  • Getting pointers on how to get promoted at work
  • Finding an ideal partner
  • Learning to become a better partner
  • How to become successful
  • Help with making a life transition
  • How to become a better communicator
  • How to find more fulfillment in life
  • Becoming more organized (home, life)
  • Fulfilling personal, emotional or monetary needs
  • Identifying your passion

Are you suited to be a life coach?

Life coaches have distinct personalities. They tend to be artistic individuals, which means they’re creative, intuitive, sensitive, articulate, and expressive. They are unstructured, original, nonconforming, and innovative. Some of them are also enterprising, meaning they’re adventurous, ambitious, assertive, extroverted, energetic, enthusiastic, confident, and optimistic.

Does this sound like you? Take our free career test to find out if life coach is one of your top career matches.

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What is the workplace of a Life Coach like?

A life coach can work out of an office, out of their home, or even coach their clients over the phone. Coaching over the phone has the added benefit of allowing the life coach to work with their clients regardless of the country, city or state in which they live.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are Life Coaches happy?

Life coaches rank in the 95th percentile of careers for satisfaction scores. Please note that this number is derived from the data we have collected from our Sokanu members only.

Life coaches know better than to expect their external situations to create their internal feelings. They do not expect their job or the people they work with to make them happy. Instead, they work on creating happiness from the inside out by changing the way they perceive their job and the work they are doing.

Should I become a Life Coach?

It is important to know what type of life coaching you'd like to do. Life is very broad. If you say you coach everything, you won't be significant to anyone. Pick something that you believe you will be able to coach someone in. For example, self-esteem issues, career changes, business success, relationships, finding one's purpose, etc. What have you overcome in your own personal life? What are your gifts? What are you passionate about? Remember, you can’t just coach life.

The Pros of Being a Life Coach Life coaching is the perfect career for those that really want to help others and are excellent communicators. Some of the benefits include:

  • Running your entire business from home
  • Coaching clients over the telephone
  • Earning quite a bit of money once established
  • Starting your business while still in training
  • Making a difference in other people's lives
  • Coaching one-on-one or groups
  • Developing products that complement your services for extra income

The Potential Challenges of Being a Life Coach

  • Investing in expensive formal training and certifications
  • Being trustworthy, respectful, non-judgmental and having a high level of integrity
  • Being excellent at communicating and listening
  • Spending most of your time on the phone or in meetings
  • Needing to be patient, compassionate and encouraging
  • Needing to be 100% positive and committed for every client regardless of what is happening in your own personal life
  • Spending an immense amount of time on the business, marketing, and administration aspects - sometimes more than on actual coaching
  • Being an entrepreneur - not everyone is cut out for it
  • Overcoming the difficulty of building up a client base when just starting out

How long does it take to become a Life Coach?

The standard length of time for life coach training is approximately two years, however, there are programs (of varying quality) that claim to do it faster. How quickly you learn the skills you need to become successful depends on your own level of personal development, and also on how much time you spend actually coaching. If you've done very little personal development work, you will learn more slowly. You also need to be coaching on a daily basis in order to become a good coach.

While it isn't necessary to have a university degree to become a life coach, and life coaching isn't a major in itself, it would still be a good idea to have a university degree (three to four years) in psychology or counselling, as well as a certificate in life coaching. Interestingly, many well known universities are now offering life coaching classes (UC Berkeley, Yale, Harvard, Duke, NYU, Penn State etc).

If university is not your preferred route, it is also possible to take life coaching classes through an accredited program or school. The ICF (International Coach Federation) and IAC (International Association of Coaching) have partnered with schools that are worthy of their certification. The ICF's minimum training program puts you through 60 hours of coach training and 10 hours with a mentor to build you as a professional. You then need 100 hours of experience coaching actual clients before earning certification. Many training programs demand more (up to 300 hours).

It would be advisable to make sure that the school you are considering goes through one of these organizations. Certification in life coaching is imperative, as no life coach can really succeed without it. This certification coupled with education will be of even greater benefit.

Life Coaches are also known as:
Certified Life Coach