Life Coaching 101: What it is and what you should know
By Cator Sparks
Coaches can help you set goals... and challenge you to keep them...
Is your job giving you the blahs? Is your to-do list growing to biblical proportions? Struggling to be heard by your partner?
Working with a certified life coach (via FaceTime!) may be just what you need to center yourself, get things moving, and to set/accomplish some personal goals. Full disclosure, I am alife coach!I have been working with one for nine years and when I was ready for a career shift after 20 years as a writer/editor, the work really resonated with me.
Once I dove down the coaching rabbit hole, I learned that the industry isn’t strictly regulated, so anyone can call themselves a life coach and set up shop. Because of that I decided to get my certification throughCTI,one of the oldest and most respected coaching programs around the globe. The training is a full year of in-person and online classes working with some of the best coaches in the business.
The number one question I get asked is, “How is coaching different from therapy?”. The simplest response is that therapy often focuses on the past, while coaching is more about focusing on the future.
As a coach I ask clients empowering questions because in truth, we all have the answers, we just need a little coaching to pause, reflect and listen to ourselves. Coaches can help you set goals (ex: Come up with five changes you want to see in your relationship) and challenge you to keep them (ex: Speak to your partner about these by next Friday).
Clients tend to feel more comfortable calling from their own home, office, or even favorite coffee shop.
We also work on discovering your values, your life purpose, and even inner allies that can help quiet the inner critic that lives inside all of us. Finally, coaches often give homework that can be discussed in the next session. This gives clients time to process the discussion and dig deeper to find the answers they are looking for.
I mentioned FaceTiming earlier. This is the most common way many coaches meet with clients, along with Skype and Zoom. That way clients can connect with so many more coaches around the globe instead of limiting themselves to their local community.
Even if you do work with a local coach, connecting via your computer or mobile device helps alleviate traffic, parking drama (hello, Charleston!) and all around awkward office visits. Clients tend to feel more comfortable calling from their own home, office, or even favorite coffee shop.
Some helpful hints on coaching:
► When looking for a coach, be sure to look for or ask about their certification.
► Coaches usually offer a 30-minute complimentary session.
This is so you can feel each other out and see if this is the right person for you.
► What kind of coach would you relate to?
While I have a diverse group of clients, I really love working with men and the q ueer community. I have found men tend to open up more when speaking to another man. At the same time, as a gay man, I can relate to the LGBTQI+ community on a deeper level than a straight coach may be able to. The same could be said for people of color, single mothers, etc. Just google away and see what you find. Sadly, there isn’t one simple directory of life coaches just yet.
► A good coach will be open and honest when they are in over their head.
Therapists have a much deeper knowledge and understanding of severe depression, bi-polar disorder, bulimia, mental illness, etc. If you are looking for guidance with these challenges, therapy may be a better fit. That said, coaching can be a great addition, too! I have clients who work with their therapist on some things and work with me on others.
► Once you have booked a coach, come ready to be open, honest and focused!
We are here to listen, offering a place to be vulnerable, safe and open. Witnessing clients’ growth in self love, self respect and honesty with others has been a beautiful thing!
If you are interested in trying a session or have any questions about life coaching, feel free to give me a holler! Cator@CatorSparks.com
I am here for you.