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Can life coaching help you reach your goals?

If you have trouble setting and reaching personal, professional or health-related goals, working with a life coach may give you the extra boost you need to get “un-stuck.”

What is a life coach?

“A life coach is similar to a counselor, but they have different approaches,” explains Dennis Buttimer, M.Ed, CEAP, RYT, CHC, a life and wellness coach at Thomas F. Chapman Family Cancer Wellness at Piedmont. “Counseling is largely focused on the past and how it’s affecting you now. Coaching focuses more on reaching future goals. Coaching sessions tend to have more structure and homework than counseling sessions.”

There are various types of coaches:

  • A life coach helps you determine which aspects of your life you want to improve and then set goals for making progress in those areas.

  • An executive coach focuses on your career goals, such as getting a promotion, starting a business or changing industries.

  • A health coach helps you achieve your health goals, such as weight loss or blood pressure management.

Who can benefit from coaching?

“I think anyone can benefit from coaching because we all have behaviors, habits or blind spots we may want to address,” Buttimer says. “A coach can help you determine specific ways you can improve your quality of life so you feel more reasonably happy. We can’t be perfectly happy in this world – there’s no such thing – but we can all be more reasonably happy.”

You can work with a life coach to:

  • Improve a relationship

  • Build healthier habits

  • Understand how you may be sabotaging your goals

  • Talk through what it would take to achieve your goals

How to find a reputable life coach

If you decide to try coaching, Buttimer says it’s important to ask the coach about his or her certifications and experience. Ideally, it is recommended your coach have training approved by an International Coach Federation-accredited program.

What to expect in a coaching session

Every life coach has his or her own process. Buttimer says a typical coaching session lasts about an hour, though some sessions are longer, depending on the agreement with the client. They may take place in person, over the phone, or by live video.

“We will talk about why the client started coaching and help them prioritize their goals,” he says. “As coaches, we spend a lot of time asking questions and listening. Then we help the person narrow down the scope of their goals so they can make realistic progress. I might ask a question like, ‘What seems to be getting in the way of the goals you want for yourself?’ or ‘Why shouldn’t you keep doing what you’re doing?’”

Good questions help you understand your “why,” so you are motivated to pursue your goals. Perhaps the answer is, "If I keep living this way, I might end up having a stroke or getting divorced." Getting clear on the why is key because the why is what drives you forward when things get challenging.

Knowing the potential consequences of your current choices can help you make realistic changes.

Coaching can also help you challenge your own negative mindset. Sometimes you have to change what you believe about yourself.

“Coaching isn’t about undergoing a personality overhaul and becoming someone different,” Buttimer says. “It’s about working on specific areas so you and the people around you are more reasonably happy.”

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