What do people mean when they say they are a life coach? You may have heard the term, but you aren’t alone if you still aren’t clear about what they do. The term may even conjure images of Tony Robbins exhorting you to live your best life. A google search turns up, among other things, Oprah’s website talking about the differences between a life coach and therapist (they aren’t the same).

A life coach is an individual who can help you take the next step in your personal or professional life. Essentially, a life coach works with people to develop a path to achieving their goals.  Regardless of whether their target is work, family, or something personal, a life coach works in much the same way as the coach of a sports team. He or she is an objective voice who holds their clients accountable through regular coaching sessions.  A life coach can help you pinpoint your strengths and your weaknesses and whatever it is that is holding you back.

The Life Coaching Industry is Exploding

Whether you fully understand it or not, the life coaching industry is expanding rapidly. In fact, life coaching has become so popular that it is now a course offering at many universities around the world, including postgraduate and masters level courses.

Moreover, life coaching is a significant part of the $2.85 billion industry of professional coaches, according to the International Coaching Federation (ICF). In addition to life coaching, there are also career, executive, leadership, and health coaches. And the industry is only picking up speed. In the years between 2015 and 2019, the number of professional coaches around the world rose by 33%, with the exact same increase seen in North America, according to the ICF.

What Does a Life Coach Do?

Kind of like a sports coach, a life coach helps someone identify a goal, and then they put together a plan for achieving that goal. A life coach concentrates on what’s going on right now in a person’s life and how they can get to that next step.

Life coaches will often focus on productivity in professional or business situations. Some coaches are particularly qualified due to extensive experience in a certain profession. For this reason, many people look for coaches with knowledge of their profession to help them deal with specific challenges within that industry.

Often, life coaches are brought in to help people with major career or life changes or new personal goals. Essentially, a life coach puts an individual on the pathway towards their best self in both their professional and personal lives.

Is the Industry Regulated?

One of the pitfalls of the life coaching industry is that it is completely unregulated. The industry has no formal education requirements, training, or licensing. As a result, nearly anyone can hang out a shingle and call themselves a life coach.

Nevertheless, the ICF has developed a certification standard for coaching diplomas. For this reason, it’s always a good idea to do your research when vetting a life coach. Check to see if a coach has completed a course that’s credited by the ICF or if they possess the Board Certified Coach (BCC) credential.

A Coach’s Role is Not to Give Advice

Many people mistakenly believe that a life coach’s role is to dispense wisdom. On the contrary, their job is not to give out advice but to guide clients to the point where they can make the right decisions by themselves. In a sense, a life coach is a brainstorming partner who will help you find your right answers instead of giving them to you.

In order to reap the benefits of life coaching, a person must be able to commit to making changes and to working towards self-improvement. The most difficult part is deciding to make this change. As soon as happens, however, he or she will be able to take advantage of all the benefits that life coaching can offer.

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