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What Can Life Coaching Do For You?

A Client's Perspective on Coaching
by Jennifer Bilek


Would you like to improve your relationship with your boss, end a long-term relationship that is going nowhere, improve your productivity as an artist or manage a team of professionals more effectively? Perhaps your kids are running all over you and you are exasperated. Maybe you want to know who you are as a spiritual person, but have no idea how to find out.

Life Coaching can literally transform any area of your life that you want to improve, any problem you feel you have. All you need is the desire to change and the willingness to seek help from a professional.

Sounds like a magic bullet, right? You may even be wondering, what exactly is Life Coaching?

Life Coaching is still a new profession and one that is growing fast. Most people, just like me when I first heard it described, think it is like psychotherapy. The process is actually closer to any other kind of coaching than it is to therapy.

Think of a sports coach. If you are a figure skater that needs to improve their abilities, your coach will direct you in every way possible to assist you in that goal. That is their sole purpose, to help you improve your abilities.

The process of skating well is broken down into elements that are perfected one at a time. You concentrate on getting each element right – the way your foot turns out when you make your turn, the way you shift your weight in the wrong direction when you are about to jump. Your speed, your carriage, all the little nuances are tackled one at a time. After you get the steps right, your coach guides you and reminds you of how to bring them together to improve the whole.

Life Coaching is exactly the same. Any issue, desire, goal or problem a client has is tackled by the coach by breaking it into small steps, examining the nuances and improving each element in a steady, practical manner, together with the client.

Life Coaching relies on a belief that the client already has all the answers within them to any problem they incur, or to meet any unmet desires they have. Then, you are guided by your coach to implement these improvements into a cohesive whole – an improved life, if you will.

A skating coach knows a lot about skating, but they begin coaching skaters that already know how to skate well. Life Coaching starts out with a coach that knows a lot about living and a client that already knows how to live well. Unlike therapy that often start with a client who has hit rock bottom emotionally or psychologically, Life Coaching's ideal client is one that is doing well, but seeks real improvement.

Three years ago, my life felt "stuck in a groove." I was in a profession I enjoyed, but a job I hated. I'd been working as a hairstylist in the same salon for 10 years. I am also a portrait painter, and though the portraits I was painting were great, I felt like I didn't have enough time to paint. I was eating too much of foods that weren't any good for me, and I would commit and recommit to exercising on a weekly basis and still fall short of my desired goal.

On top of that, I was in a relationship that wasn't working, that I also couldn't let go of. A friend of mine, after hearing me complain about my life for months during our few-times-weekly walks to the local gym together, mentioned Life Coaching to me. I did an Internet search for information and liked what I was reading.

Basically, there are as many different Coaches for as many different issues as you could hope for. There are Life Coaches all over the country, but one of the main advantages of Life Coaching is that it can be, and often is, a process that takes place over the phone.

For me, Life Coaching seemed like a very practical approach to breaking down the resistance I always feel toward change. I had already engaged in psychotherapy when it had been popular for almost everyone to have a therapist and didn't find it very valuable. I was very open to the idea of tackling my resistance to change through a more pragmatic approach.

I hired Sharon Good, of Good Life Coaching, because she practiced in the New York City area where I lived, and she offered a half-hour free consultation. During our initial conversation, I understood immediately that this process was going to work for me.

Though we decided on sessions by phone, I knew that Sharon also gave workshops around the city that I could attend if I wanted to. Sharon also offered Whole Life Coaching, a type of coaching that appealed to me personally, examining all areas of my life and how they intersected with each other.

Mirroring the concept that Life Coaching is for people who already enjoy success at many levels of their life, Sharon says, "Many smart, accomplished people beat themselves up, because they feel they should be able to figure out what they want and achieve it on their own.

"But we live in complex, confusing times, and we all need someone to talk to. A Life Coach helps you get the swirling thoughts out of your head and make sense of them. Once you know where you're going, it's a lot easier to find the motivation to get there."

Sharon and I worked together for the next two years, and my growth as a person, both individually and professionaly, felt highly accelerated through our process.

When I first began working with Sharon, my main areas of focus were a desire to improve my health through a better diet and working out, a wish to either improve or end a relationship I was in, and most importantly, I felt a need to reclaim myself as an artist, to get back to painting and writing, which had fallen to the back burner of my life. As each of these areas improved – and they did improve greatly – my priorities began to shift radically.

As I began to work out more, with encouragement and having someone to answer to regarding my expressed commitment to take charge of exercising, my smoking habit announced itself as a serious impediment to feeling really good. Sharon talked about the smoking as an obstacle to my own expressed desire to get healthier. She suggested a professional Hypnotherapist for smoking cessation, but she didn't push me on the issue. She gave me gentle reminders over the course of weeks where other things were more of a priority in our conversations.

When I was ready, I called Dr. Marianna Lead, a certified Hypnotherapist, and went to see her for smoking cessation. After an hour and a half, my addiction to smoking was lifted, and I have not had a cigarette in over three years. More importantly, I have not even thought about smoking, and my overall health has improved dramatically.

Along with smoking cessation, Life Coaching helped me reclaim time for my art. Initially, this felt imperative, but as the process of Coaching continued, I became frustrated with trying to balance making art against my need to move forward on a professional and financial level.

What I discovered in the process – and it didn't take long – was that I had spent a good deal of my adult life making time for art, but that my financial life had suffered in the process. I was sick of the "starving artist" cliché. It was time to have art take a back seat to my financial and professional life.

At 44 years old, I started educating myself about money. Life Coaching suddenly zeroed into Career Coaching. I made an executive decision to stop working in a salon where I was a hairstylist for children and to build my own Home Hair Care Serivce.

The process, much to my surprise, was very creative, and though I wasn't painting, I didn't miss it. I felt unburdened and exhilarated, and scared to death at the same time. It was the good kind of scared that you get from making changes that you feel are wonderful, but are rearranging your world at a fast clip.

Sharon assisted in every aspect of my transition – she helped me set goals, design a plan, encouraged follow-through and supported my successes. She made referrals to agencies, books and all manner of other support that were geared to my transition.

Two years later, I am the proud owner of a business that is growing rapidly and gives me great personal satisfaction. I left the intimate relationship I was in that was causing me so much grief and have had an intensely fulfilling dating life, meeting lots of interesting, fun and successful men. My family and friends barely recognize me. I went from someone who was always griping about things not going my way to someone filled with joy and aware of all the potentials for a terrific life.

Life Coaching really has been a "magic bullet" for me. It completely opened me to the awareness of my own capabilities. I learned so much about myself and honed every life skill I have, as well as gaining new ones. I have gone from feeling like my proverbial wheels were stuck in the mud to not wanting to waste a minute of my precious life.

So, if you are wondering what Life Coaching might do for you, don't just sit there, go and find out!


© 2007 Jennifer Bilek. All rights reserved.

Visit Jennifer's website at www.getcoiffed.com.







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