Life coaching is a booming industry, and certification programs are pumping out hundreds — if not thousands — of brand new coaches, every year. If you love the idea of empowering people to improve their own lives, coaching can feel like a very attractive profession.
But is it really the right career for you?
If you’re thinking about becoming a life coach, here are five questions to consider… before you enroll in a demanding (and expensive) certification program:
1. What will I be able to offer my clients, besides a coaching certification?
The world’s most successful life coaches all share one thing in common:
They’re not “just” coaches.
Marie Forleo began her career as a Nike fitness trainer, and starred in several successful DVD workout programs. She brings an athlete’s mindset and a passion for fitness and dance into her coaching programs and webTV series.
Susan Hyatt has a background in real estate sales. She was a savvy businesswoman long before she started her coaching practice, which makes her better able to support her clients — many of whom are business owners, themselves.
What kinds of skills can YOU offer, aside from a coaching credential?
Are you a nutritionist? A marathoner? A Broadway singer? Do you have a background in teaching, counseling, crisis resolution or project management?
Most successful coaches have more than just a coaching certification on their résumé. They bring something “else” to the table.
2. Do I have the stamina to listen to people’s problems, day after day?
People generally don’t hire coaches when they’re already happy, bursting with joy and full of creativity.
People hire coaches when life is feeling heavy, depressing and overwhelming.
It takes a lot of energy and patience to be able to listen to people’s problems without interrupting or tuning out.
If you get annoyed or overwhelmed when people are being “negative,” coaching probably isn’t for you.
3. How do I want to be of service? (And is coaching really the best way to do it?)
There are so many ways to serve people and help them to feel happier.
You could become a massage therapist. You could open a bakery. You could create paintings that fill homes with light, color and joy.
Spend some time thinking about the exact flavor of “happiness” that you want to bring into the world, and ask yourself, Is coaching really the best way to accomplish that?
There might be some other pursuit that’s even more exciting for you, right under your nose!
4. Do I have the temperament to be an entrepreneur?
A life coaching practice is a business. To be a full-time coach, you’re essentially saying, “I'm ready to run my own business.”
Being an entrepreneur means calling the shots and savoring a considerable amount of freedom (yay!).
But it also means… managing a website and/or physical office space, setting prices for your services, dealing with invoices, soothing unhappy customers, and quite possibly learning a lot of new skills (like how to use blogging software, record a conference call, or run an online class) ... and of course, learning to live with a certain degree of uncertainty about the future.
If the notion of running a business feels like a big drag, you might want to reconsider the idea of becoming a professional coach. Or, you might want to adjust your expectations a bit. (For example: maybe you’ll keep your full-time job while coaching part-time, on the side. Best of both worlds!)
5. Why do I want to become a life coach?
This is THE most important question of all — and surprisingly, it’s one that many aspiring coaches skip over.
“Because I want to help people” is a good answer, but not specific enough.
Dig deeper. Do you have a specific desire that you’re hoping coaching can satisfy? What is it?
- I feel stagnant. I want to learn something new.
- I feel isolated and lonely. I want to find my tribe.
- I feel constricted by my current career. I want more freedom.
- I feel stressed about my finances. I want to make more money.
- I feel like I’m not enough of an “expert,” yet. I want to add another credential to my toolkit.
Take some time to explore the desires that are driving you to become a coach.
Is there another way — a simpler or more effective way — for you to satisfy those desires?
For example: if you feel isolated and lonely, throwing a weekly dinner party might provide the kind of connection you’re craving (no coaching credential required!). If you feel like you need to “prove” your value and expertise, maybe what you really need is a good, long pep talk with yourself ... not another certificate or degree.
If you feel called to serve humanity through the practice of life coaching, I applaud you. As a professional coach with 25 years of experience in the industry, I can tell you that it’s an incredibly rewarding career.
But remember, too, that coaching is just one of an infinite number of ways that you can be of service.
If coaching is truly right for you, you’ll know. If it’s not, you’ll know that, too.
No matter what, you can serve. Greatly. Deeply. With your heart full of grace.
Just by being you.
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