Life Coaching. It attracts people as a profession.
And for good reason.
There are a lot of us out there wondering if we are doing it right. We question how we can be better. We seek self-help support and we attend classes and events like Leslie Knope seeks waffles (Parks and Rec Reference – watch it if you haven’t, it’s awesome and hilarious).
We are told we offer great advice and people constantly come to us for our wisdom and support.
We think, “I should get paid for this.” When we look at how it’s possible, the easiest path appears to be Life Coaching:
- Becoming a licensed counselor of any sort requires schooling and there are tons of restrictions.
- Writing a book feels super hard for reasons from the physical writing to the finding a publisher to the dubious path of self-publishing and rejection.
- As we cast about for an option, Life Coaching shows up, because it is truly an open field = literally anyone can name themselves a life coach and so it is.
I get approached on this A LOT. A. LOT. Emails, coffees, “Quick questions” and clients interested. Some are interested in how I did it so they can do it too. I share the same advice over and over, it makes sense to share it here.
Some Facts about the Industry
In 2016 the International Coaches Federation published a Global Coaching Study. This study shared a few facts like:
- More than 53,000 Life coaches are working today
- The average hourly rate for a life coach exceeds $200 and coaches earn an average $51,000 per year
- 99% had some sort of coach specific training and 81% received accredited training to become certified as a coach
I encourage you to read this brief on the study which shares the highlights.
You can download additional information and/or purchase the full study here .
I share these specific facts because it is easy, super easy, to get caught up on the idea that glamorous lifestyle and coaching are synonymous. We aren’t all Tony Robbins or Martha Beck. We aren’t all taking monthly trips to Bali for “retreat” and it isn’t raining $1000s in our living room. That, my friends, is amazing marketing by business coaches. It is tough to achieve in 30 days, or even 1 year. It does take work.
Yes. It is possible to create a successful career as a life coach.
Here is a great satirical look at this phenomenon…good for a giggle ( I LOVE JP Sears work, seriously check out his videos, super awesome):
Six Pieces of Advice
Here is the advice I give to people who ask me about being a life coach:
- Research: Put all your questions into the search engine of your choosing and see what kind of answers spew out. You definitely need to read more than just this post – there are tons of experts out there with more than tons of opinions, information caches and expertise to offer.
- Ask and Answer these Questions: Why DO I want to be a Life Coach? What kinds of Problems do I want to solve?
- Visit the ICF website and consume all you can about the industry.
- Identify how comfortable you are with marketing and sales – you will have to do this as a life coach.
- Talk to those closest to you in your life and see what they say. Take their questions or concerns and research them further. Figure out how you can make this work – and if you still want to.
- Once you have done all of that: engage a life coach.
This last one may seem self-serving. It’s not. Having a life coach gives you the exposure to what it feels like to be a client – you need to be a client. Your coach can help you make sense of all the things you researched and discovered in steps 1-5, organize your plan of action and help you move through the process of transforming from where you are to where you want to go. I won’t advise someone on coaching unless they are willing to be a client themselves.
What? I need a Coach?
Just like an athlete is coached to improve time, speed, accuracy, strength, skill. A life coach can help you navigate your improvements to confidence, clarity, and decision making while offering support and accountability.
It is quite possible that even if after spending the time researching all you can, you still have reservations. A life coach can help you work through those to get the answers right for you. Life Coaching may not be the answer to your career or calling question. But following this path can help you discover what is.
A great book to read in this area of calling and sticking to things is Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance by Angela Duckworth. I love everything she has to say about goal setting, purpose finding, and sticking with things. I recommend grabbing a copy and a highlighter and get to reading.
The First Conversation with an Aspiring Coach
I love helping people answer this question of “How do I become a life coach?”. I love it. And I will tell you, the conversation usually starts out like this:
Me: Soooo tell me why you want to be a life coach!
You (ubiquitous form):
“I love people and they are always coming to me for advice and telling me I give such good input.”
“I want a job that pays me well and provides tons of freedom. I love helping people so this made sense.”
“I want to help other people do something they love. My life is kind of a mess right now and if I can start a job I love then I think it’ll straighten out and I can help other people do the same”
And my Favorite – this is the answer I want more than anything:
“I want to work with people to realize what they are capable of and help them get it in a specific area of their life.”
This last person is clear on what they are looking for in seeking coaching as a career. The previous 3 answers aren’t horrible entry points because they all possess a sincere desire to figure out how to help someone live optimally. An awesome starting position and in many cases help is only needed in getting specific.
These answers create different starting points into becoming a life coach:
- You may need to do some work in your life first.
- You may need to do some work getting clear on what you want to do and how.
- You may need to clarify your own vision.
Being a Good Listener isn’t All there is to Being a Life Coach
Giving advice is very little of what we do – we are here to help others discover their strengths and what optimal living looks like for them. That isn’t advice based on our personal experience, it is expertise based on research, experience and training.
Yes, you must be able to listen. Then you translate what you have heard into insight for the client – actionable insight: a question, an observation, a clarifying point to validate. You guide them through self-discovery exercises and exploratory experiences. The focus is 100% on what the client can discover through the lens you can share with them.
You must be able to set ego aside and be fully present – this may be the first time this person has ever been truly heard. It’s life changing.
Again, another giggle worthy take on this: Shit Life Coaches Say
It’s funny, cuz it’s true.
Your Next Steps
If you are ready to do your research on this as a career, follow the 5 steps I outlined above then contact a coach. I’d be happy to do a free 1-hour session with you to follow up on your learning and help you find a coach whether it is me or someone in my network based on what you want to do.
We may also find you are a good fit for my Coach’s Collective Membership Group where we explore coaching from multiple dimensions and share expertise among professional coaches across the globe.
Email at firstname.lastname@example.org and we will get something set up.
And in case you haven’t yet caught on, I do view coaching a serious business. These are people’s lives. And yet…life is funny. Look for the giggle worthy.
Best of luck on your exploration!
P.S. You may have noticed I didn’t talk about business plans, technology, websites, blog presence or networking. I advise getting clear inside on what you want and how, first. Once you get clear, you’ll be able to whip that stuff out much easier. Your web designer will thank you.
Jennifer Murphy – Certified Personal and Executive Coach
I am a certified personal and executive coach ruthlessly focused on helping people live awesome lives. I spent a large chunk of my life pursuing other people’s ideas of success and while those experiences were sublime in some cases, they weren’t the “more” I was seeking and I just never felt full. In 2011, I made the commitment to live life on my terms and everything changed. The life I love today was created.
My background is 10 years in the US Army as an officer, 10 years in Corporate America and then the last 6 running my own business. I have deployed twice in combat scenarios, worked with foreign governments and militaries and worked extensively in international business. I have an undergraduate in Criminology, an MBA and certification in Positive Psychology. I have led organizations from 3-400 and love developing people and helping them create their next steps in life and work.
I am founder of No Limits Life Empowerment Institute as well we a working glass artist, Reiki Master, Partner in Shaman Grocer in Iowa City, and Co-founder of the Midwest Reiki Festival. My favorite time is spent doing anything soccer related with my aspiring world cup soccer player, 10 year old Alexander. I am also a pretty big fan of gaming (PS4) with my partner Craig while solving the world’s social problems.