Recommendations/thoughts about engaging a "life coach"?
December 10, 2004 9:51 AM   Subscribe

Recommendations/thoughts about engaging a "life coach" [+]

In the next few weeks I am making a big change in my life; I'm leaving my job in IT and going to culinary school for a year. Over the course of this next year I need to figure out the next couple of steps such as working out whether or not I want to try to start my own business when I'm done and trying to find a better balance (for lack of a better term) in my life. I've been seeing a therapist for quite a while, but I feel like I need a little less "how do you feel about that?" and a little more proactive motivation to get to those next steps with some momentum. So I've been thinking about looking for a "life coach", and I wondered if the AskMe crowd had any experience with working with a life coach or insights into how to approach the idea. I'll Google up a list of names in my area, thanks, but I'd like some input on what to look for, what to avoid, etc.
posted by briank to Education (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
I've had the same thought from time to time. But as difficult as a good therapist is to find, I wouldn't even know where to start finding a life coach who would work for me. From what I've heard about this profession, it frequently focuses on motivational issues like needing to exercise, lose weight, save money, dump that guy who beats you, etc.

One thing you might try is checking the bookstore for - I know this will sound bad, but - a self-help book which seems to have the right style / tone / approach for you. Then, contact the publisher and/or author and see if they can help you network towards something in your area. The book might even have resources listed inside.
posted by scarabic at 10:13 AM on December 10, 2004

Briank I used one recently to help me think through exactly the kinds of changes you're talking about . The result is that I have a new job I love in a great town and a whole new relationship with my girlfriend, much more fun and a totally different outlook on life. (Well to be honest first I did the Landmark Forum but there's lots of people here who will tell you it sucks and it's a cult, so it may not be your thing. I f*cking loved it.) Anyway, this coach was someone who I met through Landmark; it was a remarkable experience to have someone to talk with who believes in me, isn't trying to psychoanalyze me, listens to me and pushes me to do things I've avoided trying, doesn't take no for an answer. Once I made the changes we initially discussed as my goals, she's not really a part of my day to day life anymore, and that's cool too. If I get my head wrapped the wrong way around something I know I can call her.
posted by pomegranate at 10:41 AM on December 10, 2004

PS -
In retrospect, the most powerful thing about the coach was that she forced me to put the ideas I had in my head and the tools I learned in the Landmark Forum seminar together inside my real life, every day, so that they actually got some traction rather than remaining "someday" ideas. She couldn't MAKE me do anything of course, but peer pressure and constant reminders of what you said you wanted to do really can have an amazing effect.
posted by pomegranate at 10:59 AM on December 10, 2004

On a side note, I have a client who is somewhat of a life coach and suffice it to say this person is about three apples short of a bushel. Total wackjob.
posted by damnitkage at 11:25 AM on December 10, 2004

In the psychology business, there's a lot of buzz about the whole "coaching" thing - both because there's the possibility of making somemoney and also because I think a lot of therapists feel frustrated with traditional therapy models. I get tons of mail about seminars, etc. The problem is, I really can't tell which of these organizations is any good - they all have slick publicity and it's a relatively new field, so it's hard to know what kind of history of success they might have. I don't know much about the field, so I don't know if there's some recognized "brand" of training that you can automatically feel some level of trust in.

You might want to set up meetings with several folks, but ask them for references from people who might be in a similar situation to yours before you meet with the coach person. That way you can discuss the work of the coach with that person and see if the coach's work would be a good fit with your needs.

But another thought - maybe it's time to move on from your therapist. He or she may have really fit your needs at one point, but it may be time to move on to find another one, who'll meet the needs you have now (more active, more concrete suggestions, etc.) I'm strongly of the opinion that people can benefit from different kinds of therapy, depending on their developmental level and their particular needs. No need to stick around with a therapist who's not in a position to help you with the thing you need most at this time in your life.
posted by jasper411 at 11:31 AM on December 10, 2004

I deal with lots of so-calld "life coaches" in my work as an audio engineer-for-hire, and can vouch for damnitkage's correctness.

my advice is to talk to as many of them as you can, and you will eventually find one who is has these qualities:

1. Must be someone whom you can respect and whose opinion you believe in. If they look scary, or don't have their shit together, pass em by.

2. Must be great at motivating people, and must have a positive, infectious desire to help others.

3. Must be concerned primarily with your mental, not monetary success. If they want to push you to make as much money as you can, but don't focus on your life goals and happiness, then they're not doin it right.

anyway, that's just what i've seen as far as what separates the good coaches from the business dropouts.
posted by plexiwatt at 11:49 AM on December 10, 2004

I have no experience with this, but the Seattle Times had a series about life coaches a while ago. It had a few things about resources and picking one out.
posted by milkrate at 12:07 PM on December 10, 2004

Response by poster: That link pointed me to a fair number of good resources. Thank you, milkrate.
posted by briank at 1:47 PM on December 10, 2004

I once heard this statement in an AA meeting about picking a sponsor. It seems it might be appropriate here: "Don't look for someone who has what you want; look for someone who has what she wants".
posted by lometogo at 2:50 PM on December 10, 2004

...going to culinary school for a year. Over the course of this next year I need to figure out the next couple of steps such as working out whether or not I want to try to start my own business when I'm done...

Not to rain on your parade, but...

My wife left her job in publishing 25 years ago to attend the Restaurant School in Philadelphia.

Since then, she has worked as a restaurant chef, a caterer, owned her own catering business, and is now a manager in corporate food service.

We were at a prarty and a lawyer friend of ours told us that she was thinking of quitting her law firm and going to cullinary school. My wife told her to lie down on the couch until the urge passed.

Seriously, cooking can be a great, creative, rewarding career - but it is hard work. The hours are insanely long, the pay is not that great, you work on holidays, and you stand for hours at a time.

If my wife had not been able to get out of the kitchen and trade her checked pants and chef coat for a suit, she probably would have left the industry. Burnout is fairly common. Good luck.
posted by fixedgear at 5:36 AM on December 11, 2004

Response by poster: Well now I know who to contact when I need to be de-motivated.
posted by briank at 7:39 AM on December 11, 2004

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