What I’ve learned while working with a life coach

Have you ever wondered what working with a life coach is like? I’m going to tell you all about it today.

My friends, I’m really excited to share this post with you, because it’s my favorite kind of post to write. I’m going to give you my real-life experience of trying something new out, and it’s something that’s pretty interesting.

First of all: Have you heard much about life coaches? I always think of life coaching as a new field, but it’s really not. Life coaches have been around for a while, helping people from all walks of life make improvements in their lives. And life coaches are incredibly helpful.

Here’s the definition of a “life coach” from the dictionary:

An advisor who helps people make decisions, set and reach goals or deal with problems.

But after working with a life coach, I can tell you that they do much more than that. I actually prefer this description of working with a life coach from the Tony Robbins website:

People choose to hire life coaches because they want to do more tomorrow than they can do today. They want to improve their output and see more growth, and they want to do those things quickly and to the best of their ability. All kinds of people use life coaches, including actors, business leaders, creatives, entrepreneurs, executives, homemakers, managers, professionals, small business owners and start-up pioneers. These people all identify a gap between where they are and where they want to be and turn to coaching when they want help reaching their goals. When you ask yourself what is a life coach and why should I work with one, you’re asking yourself why you’d want to unlock an extraordinary life.

Nailed it!

Okay, let’s get into it …

What I’ve learned while working with a life coach

What I've learned while working with a life coach by A Lady Goes West

I’ve been working with a life coach for about three months now.

We meet virtually every other week via a Webex meeting. And we’re together for about 90 minutes. During the two weeks between our meetings, my life coach checks in on me and on my “homework,” which we agree upon at the end of every session.

And I have wholeheartedly enjoyed the experience.

Truth be told: I didn’t know if I needed a life coach. But I’ve always wished I had someone to talk to to make sure I’m on the right track in my career and life. I’ve always craved an outside perspective from a non-loved-one on all the things that I’m doing and the way I see things. In addition to that, I’m a big fan of professional and personal development and trying new things (as you guys know), so engaging with a life coach was a perfect step for me. 

I had no idea what it would be like to work with a life coach, and I will tell you that my life coach has never once told me what to do or prescribed big changes to me. Not at all, but she works with me to help me come to realizations, she helps me make plans, and she supports me in moving forward with those realizations and plans. She asks a lot of questions, and sometimes the questions are hard for me to answer. But that’s a good thing.

It’s almost like everything we’ve worked on has been inside me all along. I’ve just needed a little push to get it out in the open, based on her line of questioning — if that makes any sense at all.

So what changes have I made since working with a life coach?

A lot. I’ve made several specific and actionable changes in my daily life based on working with a life coach. And these are not necessarily things that I set out to change. However, in talking about my goals and values with my life coach, I decided to act on them, and they have been a huge benefit. (We’ll get to those specific changes in a minute.)

But overall, I feel more focused. I feel more inspired. I feel like I can make better decisions moving forward. And I feel more confident in everything that I’m doing. (Although, I’ll always want to do more.) 

Life coach by A Lady Goes West - June 2020

Let’s talk about the process …

The process of going through initial life-coaching exercises 

While these exercises may differ depending on the life coach that you use, I think these introductory practices are a really good thing to assess where you are and where you want to go.

Here’s how we did it …

Beginning with the “Wheel of Life”

Before I ever met with my life coach, she had me fill out a form called the “Wheel of Life.” And it’s a simple circle with ratings for certain topics. I used the wheel to rate how satisfied and fulfilled I am with certain areas of my life, including the following:

  • Career
  • Friends/family
  • Romance/significant other
  • Physical environment
  • Personal growth
  • Money
  • Health
  • Fun/recreation

We used my ratings on this wheel during our first conversation to get an idea of where we may want to focus our sessions. We talked about each section to see where the most opportunity for improvement was. And can you guess what my lowest bucket was? At the time of our first meeting (in the beginning of quarantine) it was fun/recreation. 

(Side note: We went back and revisited the “Wheel of Life” just recently, and I’m happy to say almost all of my ratings had gone up.)

Deciding on my values

We also went through an exercise to decide on my values in life. And we came to these by talking about things that make me happy and fulfilled.

I would discuss positive experiences I’ve had, and my life coach would write down key words she heard while I was discussing them. Then, I took those key words as my takeaway homework and pulled them into value statements.

Here’s a short phrase about each of my personal values:

  • Connection — making real connections with others
  • Movement — exercising in ways that make me feel good
  • Education — learning and teaching what I learn to others
  • Achievement — feeling like I am doing well at life
  • Dependability — being a person who does what they say and expecting that of others too
  • Inspiration — feeling inspired and trying to inspire others

Creating a personal mission statement

We also worked on drafting a personal mission statement and a life purpose for me to use to guide other areas of my life.

And although it sounds simple, this has been one of the most significant things that has come out of coaching for me. Because I can now make all of my personal and business decisions based off whether it lines up with my values and personal mission. It’s super helpful. (More on decision making below.)

Here’s my current personal mission statement:

To connect with others through movement and words and inspire positive change toward a healthy lifestyle with no extremes.

I now have my personal mission statement in the notes column of my phone, so if I’m feeling low on inspiration or confused about what to do in a situation, I can go back and read the statement and reassess. It’s a practical application that I would recommend to anyone.

Laying out my goals for the year

When I came to my life coach, I already had a few goals established for the year that I had written in my 2020 planner.

We discussed those goals and have gone back to them a few times to make sure I’m working toward them. And it feels great to have told my goals to someone else who can hold me accountable to them. 

What I've learned working with a life coach by A Lady Goes West - June 2020

A few changes I’ve made based on coaching

Here are some (but not all) of the changes I’ve made …

Adjusting work deadlines: Moving my Monday blog post to Tuesday.

This may sound silly, but this has been a huge weight off my shoulders. I’ve worked to put up a new blog post on Mondays for years and years. And I’ve always ended up finishing or fine-tuning the post on Sunday nights, no matter what — even when working nights throughout the week. 

For years, I had been telling myself that I had to put up the post on Monday. But when it comes down to it, I don’t think you guys care whether it’s on a Monday or a Tuesday. Through realizing that I am in fact the boss of my own business and schedule, I made the change to move the post, and I haven’t looked back.

The weekends seem so much lighter now, because I know I have one more day to finish up that post. And I often have time to add additional content to each post now too. This wasn’t something I set out to do, but it came out of coaching, and it’s so good for me.

Creating work boundaries: Reserving one of Brady’s naps per weekend for fun or down time.

This is another one that may sound insignificant. But during the last two years when Brady has had a consistent mid-day nap, I’ve been a flurry of activity. Because this has been my best working window, as soon as I put him down, I run to the computer and work, frantically trying to get a million things done. I used to never watch TV, do chores, talk on the phone or do anything at all except work during his nap, no matter the day of the week.

Well, when I started out life coaching, I was at a pretty stressed placed with all my roles and responsibilities. I also had a low rating in my “fun/recreation” area from the Wheel of Life, and I was feeling a little over-scheduled and over-worked.

With the help of my life coach, I decided to create a small amount of time just for me with no work as a designated free time during one of Brady’s naps (usually on Sunday now). During that time, I’ve been watching “Gossip Girl” with a mug of hot tea, maybe doing some online shopping or listening to a podcast and hanging out. For real. It’s been nice. And I needed to set up a non-working boundary as an official thing, in order to make sure I stick to it.

I’ve also set out Friday and Saturday nights as non-working times, and I’ve been sticking to those windows religiously. 

Laying out a content consumption plan: Being intentional about consuming educational content to learn and find inspiration.

Being inspired and teaching others are two of my values. Yet, during the first couple months of quarantine, I was really struggling in this department. I wasn’t being proactive about finding inspiration, and it was showing. I was feeling blah about work, life and all things. I always felt like I had nothing to share, as I wasn’t learning. I was just existing.

Through coaching, I was able to come up with a weekly plan to proactively find and consume educational and inspiring information to fill me up. Right away, I ordered a few non-fiction books I’d heard good things about, I tried a few new podcasts, and I’ve been consistent with doing this each week. 

Assigning decision-making criteria: Using my personal mission statement and the tabling method to guide my decisions.

I’m not going to say I’m bad at making decisions, but I often take a long time to make decisions.

Based on life coaching, I now have two tools to help with making decisions.

#1 I can weigh the decision against my personal mission statement and values — seeing if it fits within what is important to me and what I want to do with my life.

#2 But if that doesn’t help, and it’s a decision I don’t want to burden me, then I use the tabling method. I’ve now used this several times and it works like this: I tell myself I won’t worry or stress about this decision until a certain date in the future. That way, it’s out of my head until I reach the date that I’ve set out to decide. So good.

These are small, but mighty tools, in my new decision-making arsenal.

What I've learned with a life coach by A Lady Goes West - June 2020

Let’s switch gears and get to a few things you may be wondering about life coaching …

Commonly asked questions about working with a life coach

Who is a good candidate for life coaching?

Anyone. That’s almost like asking who is a good candidate for personal training.

But, I would say that some of the best reasons to get a life coach are probably when you want to make a career transition, when you are starting or running a business or if you have goals but need a little help getting going. But of course, anyone can benefit from coaching.

How is a life coach different from a therapist?

This is a big question. But here’s my general understanding: A life coach helps people get clarity on their goals and uses a mostly forward-looking approach to take action for the future. Whereas oftentimes a therapist helps people deal with and process past trauma or difficulties, focusing mostly on the issues that have been a problem in the past.

Truth be told: I haven’t worked with a therapist, so I can only talk about working with a life coach. 

How much does it cost to work with a life coach?

There’s a big range, depending on the experience of the life coach. In California, you can expect to pay between $200 to $500 per session for experienced coaches. However, you can also work with a life coach who is in the process of getting certified, and they can provide much more reasonable rates, at like $50 to $100 per session.

It’s definitely an investment. But when you invest in life coaching, it means you’re investing in yourself. Much like fitness, it’s an investment I can get behind.

By the way, oftentimes companies will pay for their executives to work with life coaches, and those are even more pricey. 

How often should you meet with a life coach and for how long?

Most life coaches like to do two one-hour long sessions per month with clients. Typically, a life coach will request that you sign up for a commitment of at least three months, so there’s enough time to work toward your goals and vision.

Usually, you’ll meet twice a month with your life coach, then you’ll be able to communicate with your coach via text and email as often as you want for in-between support.

How can you find a life coach to work with?

Of course, the best way to find a life coach is through a referral from a friend or family member. But if you don’t know anyone who has worked with a life coach, here are some options:

I worked (and am currently working) with Jill Owen Professional Coaching, and Jill is amazing. She also has very reasonable rates. Check her out here, if you want to chat with her about her services. She’s in the Bay Area, but does all her work virtually, so you can be anywhere to work with her. And because she’s a friend of mine who is just starting her business, she gave me an unbeatable deal. Yay!

What should you look for when searching for a life coach?

When you’re looking for a life coach, think about what kind of support you want. Do you want a hard kick-in-the-butt approach? Or you do need something softer? Do you want career life help or personal life help?

Based on what you want, you’ll need to find someone who seems to be in line with it. Hopefully, you can get a general idea of the vibe of a life coach by their website, so start there. Based on that, move on to a “get to know you session” covered below.

You may also want to make sure the life coach has a credential — from the Co-Active Training Institute, International Coaching Federation or another life coaching organization.

How do you know if you’ve found a life coach who is a good fit?

Most life coaches should offer a complimentary “get to know you” session, so you can see if you have some chemistry. During this session, you should be able to find out the following:

  • What coaching is and what to expect through coaching
  • What you want to get out of coaching personally
  • What an engagement would look like for you and your coach
  • Then, you’d do a short sample coaching session on a topic of your choosing

Based on this meeting, you should listen to your gut to see if you feel like this is something you want to move forward with. You need to make sure you can see yourself getting raw and vulnerable with the prospective life coach as well, because that will definitely happen.

What can you get out of life coaching?

You can get so much out of life coaching. Through coaching, you can figure out how to focus your time to grow your career. You can learn how to make better decisions based off weighing your personal values. You can get a better idea of what you need to be doing to move toward where you want to be. And you can also gain confidence and clarity in your life — something that more of us are in dire need of.

Working with a life coach by A Lady Goes West - June 2020

Overall closing thoughts on working with a life coach

I’m so happy that I’ve had the opportunity to work with a life coach, and I can’t thank my coach, Jill, enough for her time.

The whole experience could not have come at a better time for me, when we’ve been dealing with so many challenges through quarantine. And I can honestly say that I feel really confident in my path and direction based on our sessions. (Although, of course, I’ll always have more work to do!)

I’ve made changes in my personal and professional life, and I’ve learned things that will continue to help me down the road. It’s been such a great practice. And I would recommend it to anyone who wants to talk to someone, who wants support achieving goals and who wants to level up.

And that, my friends, is my great big post about working with a life coach. I hope you enjoyed.

Thank you for reading. I’ll see you on Instagram, until we meet back here again soon.

Other posts you may like …

Questions of the day

Have you ever worked with a life coach?

What would you like to talk to a life coach about?

How have you invested in yourself lately? 

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  1. Very interesting. I loved reading about this. Funny how little changes make such a big impact. I’m so glad you have done this!

    1. Hi Stefanie! It’s true that the smallest changes can make the most positive difference! But that’s really how life happens — little steps in the right direction add up. Thank you SO much for being here and reading about this. Hope you have a great week!

  2. LOVE everything about this, Ashley, and would love if you continue to share your thoughts around life coaching. I feel like the older I get, the more overwhelmed I get even if I generally know myself and what I want out of life. I related to so much of what you said and am on the same page as you about a lot of things, so I’m sure I’d get something out of these sessions too. So interesting, great read!

    1. Hi Diane! I’m so glad this interested you! Yes, I will definitely continue to share about the process. You should totally invest in life coaching — sounds like you are a great candidate. Thanks for saying hi, friend! Hope all is well!

  3. This post is very informative! Thank you for sharing. I would LOVE the opportunity to work with a life coach, especially right now during so many challenges and changes going on! In the mean time, these tips are helpful – and I appreciate this write up!

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