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Life coaching is becoming a mainstream profession offering up skills that many seek to acquire. You may be discovering that more people around you are getting coached or even studying to become coaches. Even former Google CEO Eric Schmidt advocates coaching, saying, “Everybody needs a coach… every famous athlete, every famous performer, has somebody who's a coach… someone who can help them see themselves as others see them.”
Schmidt's comments speak to the heart of life coaching: A supportive relationship can be the cornerstone of personal growth. In fact, people who have a tight network of positive human bonds exhibit greater life-satisfaction and better emotional and physical healthOn happiness and human potentials: a review on hedonic and eudaimonic well-being. Ryan, RM and Deci, EL. Annual Review of Psychology, 2001;52:141-66. While each of the important people in your life plays a significant role in your happiness, a life coach can provide unique value by helping to mirror your true self unjudged by the values, thoughts, and views of another person. When you see yourself as you really are, free from the desires of others, it becomes much easier to figure out where you'd like to go, what you'd like to do, and which path(s) holds the greatest promise for a fulfilling, meaningful life.
Coaching is different from psychotherapy, though it can be used in conjunction with therapy. It focuses on helping clients to thrive in the present and future, and on creating a vision and action plan towards living life to its fullest capacity. Here are five ways in which a positive relationship with a life coach can help you bring about the “new you” you aspire to be in 2014.
Five Ways Coaching Can Aid Your Personal Growth
1. Finding Your Calling
The alliance you form with your coach can help you discover what is intrinsically meaningful to you, beyond the expectations and goals of others. Talented life coaches do not offer authoritative prescriptions. Instead, they empower their clients to come up with their own answers, dreams, and plans to achieve them. A good coach assumes that only you are authorized to decide how to go about your own life. What are the things that light you up? What makes you tick? Years from today, what will you regret having passed up? Once you identify how you derive meaning in your life, you can focus on the direction of your calling.
2. Gaining Clarity
Coaching helps separate the emotional wheat from the chaff. In daily life, thoughts are cluttered with to-do lists, and our minds are overwhelmed with a mess of small, endless emotional incidents. Under these conditions, trying to reflect on your aspirations is like trying to produce a fine piece of art on a desk cluttered with random paperwork. Scheduling coaching sessions allows you to set aside the time you need to (figuratively) sit at an empty desk and draw your big picture on a clean slate. When you dedicate time to charting your needs and wants, particularly with the guidance of a supportive coach, you can see beyond the clutter and gain a clear perspective of where you are and where you'd like to go.
3. Looking at Your Entire Self
A coach can help you take a step back and look at your entire self, not just the parts of you that immediately demand your attention. A person is a complex mesh of intertwined life-domains - your career, finances, health, family, romantic and social life, etc. - and personal growth is never about a single slice of life. When things go well in one part of your life, this positivity spreads to other areas. For example, a fun job and money in the bank frees your mind and energy to spend more time with your family and be a caring romantic partner. You then show up happy at the office, and as a result your career advances even further. Studies demonstrate that the holistic approach used by coaches results in greater success, a more balanced life, and improved wellbeing for clients.
4. Leaving Your Comfort Zone
Your coach helps you constantly stretch the boundaries of your comfort zone, so you break a mental sweat each day and go to bed full of pride every night. Positive psychologists agree that calculated risk-taking, along with an ample amount of challenge, are essential ingredients in the recipe for a happy life. Taking daily action towards your dreams means spending some time outside the boundaries of your current skills, social group, or familiar environment. A coach can help you acclimatize to unfamiliar territory by asking you to specify goals for which you wish to be held accountable, and then gently pushing you to kick it up a notch and take some additional risks. And you know what they say: “Big risk, big reward.”
5. Fueling Up
Working outside your comfort zone is rewarding, but can also be draining. When you take action to transform your life and embark on new challenges, your coach helps you monitor your level of energy and allocate the time and attention you need to keep your engines going. Your levels of energy and vitality are not only a function of your sleep and physical health. They also depend on the reserve of emotional energy you have in your tank. “Energy drainers,” such as toxic relationships and worrisome thoughts, burn up a lot of fuel, while “energy gainers” like supportive conversations, meditation, and walks in nature, will replenish your fuel and turbo-charge your engine. A coach can help you to pursue your dreams by identifying your drainers and gainers, and then creating a life where you are never far from the next filling station.
In the coming year, many more of us will find ourselves facing the complex challenges of finding happiness and fulfillment in the maze of modern life. It may be that life is going fine, as planned, and on the surface nothing seems wrong, but we find ourselves carrying a nagging feeling that there's a gap between where we are and where we could potentially be. Life coaching can help you examine all domains of your life, and go beyond the daily muddle of errands and thoughts to pursue your dreams with all of your might. May 2014 be the year of thriving. Happy New Year!
Interested in working with a coach? Here are a few resources to get you started:
1. Noomii Life Coach Directory
2. International Coach Federation
3. Board Certified Coach Credentials
4. The International Society for Coaching Psychology
Ran Zilca is a research scientist, entrepreneur, and board-certified life coach. He also teaches coaching courses at the Institute for Life Coach Training, and in Middlesex University's online graduate program. The views expressed herein are his. For more information about Ran, visit //www.noomii.com/users/ran-zilca.