Seven years ago, life coaching was kind of a joke. The only real-life coach was Tony Robbins. Today, life coaching is legit. People are getting life-coached and flourishing. They are healing from expired relationships, becoming more productive, and discovering meaning. It’s an exciting time. The explosion and commercialization of wellness has torn down the walls between fitness, therapy, yoga, meditation, functional medicine, energy work, and now life coaching. We are sparking change in new and creative ways. No, therapy will never go away, and it shouldn’t. But there are more options today than ever before.
What is life coaching? It’s whatever you want it to be. As long as you are helping someone with their life in some way. You can create a practice based on who you are, what you’ve overcome, and what you’re interested in. You can combine many of your gifts into your practice and create a brand that is uniquely you.
This is why people are drawn to life coaching. But they have questions. I get them all the time in my inbox. I’ll answer the most asked questions now.
But first, what qualifies me to answer these questions? Well, I’ve been life coaching for nearly a decade and created a life coaching intensive years ago to teach people how to be life coaches in a way that is honest to them.
You see, I am a therapist. I went to therapist school, which took me six years and sixty grand. And when I came out the other end, I was alone and afraid and burnt out. But thanks to a little blog I started at the same time called The Angry Therapist, I found my cape using the internet to help thousands. And since you technically can’t do webcam sessions with people outside your state as a therapist, I called myself a life coach.
So I️ started life coaching. I️ met people in coffee shops. Went on hikes with them. Shared meals. I️ thought if we’re going to talk about life, let’s do life while we’re talking. I put together a team to teach people how to be life coaches. Tools and techniques from a broad spectrum, everything from positive psychology to how to coach people on relationships, help people with structure, and how to brand yourself.
So I get tons of questions now because the life coach has become the new therapist and many want to become one. Here are the top nine questions I get asked the most.
1. What is the process like for becoming a life coach?
Unlike becoming a therapist, all you need to become a life coach is a passion to help others and a good course to learn some tools and techniques. There is no official life coaching board. So that means no 3,000 hours, exams, and state requirements. This means it takes a fraction of the time and money to become a life coach versus the long and expensive journey to become a therapist. That being said, you do need training or it’s not ethical. Just because you’re the person in your circle of friends everyone comes to for advice doesn’t mean you can start charging people.
So the first part of the process is to take a course. There are tons of life coaching training programs online. Here’s what to look for. Make sure it’s evidence-based, ethically sound techniques, a collection of instructors (not just one) but most importantly, make sure it comes with an active community because you will want support and encouragement for your life coaching journey. That will be the difference between your life coaching process being life-changing or just a side business you’re trying to set up.
While you’re taking your course, start thinking about your ideal client. Life is too broad. You have to specialize in something under the umbrella of life. Relationships. Breakups. Career transitions. You have to seek a population. Teachers. Entrepreneurs. Athletes. Women. Men. Teenagers. Vegan CrossFitters who ride motorcycles. What population are you passionate about? What type of person relates to you the most? Who’s your tribe? This will also line up with your brand and how you project yourself out into the world.
Next is content. Content is king. It’s what’s going to create a draw and ultimately clients. Start documenting your journey as you learn how to coach. Like Gary Vee says, document overproduce. Blog, videos, Facebook Lives, Instagram Stories, Medium, Snapchat, all of them. Remember, process over perfection. You’re learning to paint. Not creating a masterpiece. Don’t focus on likes and followers. Just focus on finding your voice and sending out your message. What kind of dialogue are you trying to create? What’s meaningful to you? As you finish your course, you will continue to build your audience. But also, remember it’s not just online. Let your friends know you’re life coaching now. Your work. Your church. Your gym. Your “real” world.
Note: When you tell people are you that you’re a life coach, they may internally roll their eyes. So don’t say you’re a life coach. Say you’re coaching people with ________. Life coaching still has a stigma to it. People will judge you. They’ll think that you think you have some kind of perfect. But they don’t know that life coaching isn’t about telling people what to do or saying that your life is amazing. Life coaching is about guiding, supporting, helping. You are not on a soapbox or behind a podium. You are down on the floor with them. Not at them.
Start getting out there. Offer free sessions, one per person; this leads to paying clients. Get practice. Gain confidence. Partner with other wellness platforms. It’s not like it used to be. There is so much noise online now. You can’t just create a blog and hope a full practice evolves from that. Submit your articles. Share your posts. Write for other platforms. Partner. Partner. Partner. Then one day, you’ll wake up and realize that you have a life coaching practice. People are paying you to help them with their life.
2. How do I know what my niche/ideal client is?
See what kind of people are responding to you, your words, your videos. Notice their age, demographic, job, and where they’re at in their life. Who’s reading your articles? Who’s giving you likes? Who’s commenting? But you won’t know unless you start showing up and pushing content.
This is the other reason why producing content is so vital to this process. You can start to see who gravitates toward you. Make sure you engage with them. Don’t be an “influencer” who’s too cool to respond.
Once you have a big following, you may not be able to respond due to the amount of messages. But until then, respond to everyone. For me, I was going through a divorce so I wrote a lot about love and relationships. This attracted women between 30-50 who were looking for dating/relationships/break-up coaching. For some reason, I attracted women and not men. I’m not sure why. But that was my audience. And those people became my clients.
3. What is it like to work as a coach?
Many think life coaching only comes in the form of on and offline sessions. But that’s not true. Life coaching can come in many forms. One-on-one sessions. Online, offline, inside, outside. Groups. Live events. Programs. Video courses. Books. Speaking. You can coach someone solely through email if you want. You decide how you want to be a catalyst to others.
You may already be life coaching and don’t know it. If you’re on social media producing content and you’re answering questions and helping people, even if it’s in an indirect way, you’re helping people. You may not technically be a life coach but you are helping someone with their life in some way. So you are life coaching.
4. What is the benefit of working with a coaching organization like SHFT vs. going out on my own?
The short answer is time. The days of starting a blog or a website and building a following within a year are gone. There’s just too much noise. So the way you grow exponentially is to work or partner with organizations with built-in communities.
5. Everyone comes to me with their problems. Will this make me a good coach?
Most people who are drawn to life coaching are the person in their circle of friends who everyone comes to for advice and support. This means you are probably already good at this. So, yes it’s a good sign that you will be a good coach. Technically you are already coaching people. They’re just not paying you. But again, being that person doesn’t mean you should hang your life coaching shingle on your door and offer services. You still need to get some training. Not just for them. For you, so you build confidence.
6. I have never written/produced content/spoken to groups before. Is this going to hold me back as a coach?
No. No one has ever done it before until they have. It can sound overwhelming but once you decide to start expressing yourself (creating content), you will naturally find your groove and voice. You will do what works for you. You will start to thread it into your life so it’s sustainable. The focus now is just to start. And to not compare your journey with others. You can watch and learn from others but you are not comparing likes and followers. You are only focused on your message and getting it out there. Consistently. You are laying tracks. That’s all. That’s how it all starts.
7. How is coaching different than therapy?
The short answer. Therapy is about healing. Life coaching is about thriving. Therapy takes you from suffering to baseline. Life coaching takes you from baseline to flourishing. Many believe they can’t help others without a clinical degree. This is not true. If someone needs a clinical assessment, then you refer them to a therapist. You are a life coach. You are coaching them on whatever they’re going through in their life. Not digging up childhood trauma and giving them “treatment." The process of life coaching can be therapeutic, but it is not therapy.
8. Do I have to be "certified?"
There is no official certification board in life coaching. You are “certified” by the company you do your training under, just like some yoga and fitness certifications.
9. You guys talk about your story a lot. How does this work/play into the field of coaching?
As a therapist, you are not really taught or encouraged to share your story. Or at least I wasn’t. That’s why I called myself a life coach. Because I believe in the power of our stories. As a life coach, your story is gold. People care less about the letters after your name and more about who you are. And no one will know who you are unless you talk about your story. Misconception: You have to have your shit together to coach others. I was going through the most difficult time of my life when I started helping others. No one has a perfect story. It’s your story that will produce glue and build trust.
There are only three things you need to become a life coach: a passion to help others, a story, and a kick a** course.