How to Choose a Life Coach

Choose the right life coach

How to choose a life coach among the many offering their
services today, is a common question we get. 

The right personal coach will assist you to achieve what might otherwise remain poorly defined and elusive goals and dreams.

Here we outline the steps you should 
consider when choosing a life coach.

Four filters to apply

The law of supply and demand dictates that as the demand for personal coaching services rises, so will the supply. The key question, then, for many individuals already convinced of the benefits of coaching, is:

"How do I choose the coach that's just right for me?"

We suggest you make your choice by applying four simple 'filters' to ensure you get the best match for you.

1. Demographic matching

How to choose a life coach step one:
 Matching the demographics

If you're set on face-to-face coaching then you'll need someone who you can reach within a reasonable traveling distance. However, being coached by telephone (Skype is very popular for those with broadband internet because it is a free service) is an option that you should not discount lightly as it can be amazingly effectiveIf you work best with people of your own - or the opposite - gender, then this too will influence your choice.

There are many excellent, vibrant and surprisingly wise young coaches around, but you may feel uncomfortable with having a coach who is half your age. Alternatively, as a young person, you might prefer to have a coach that has extensive life experience to draw on; someone who's 'been there and done that'!

Coaching fees come into the equation too, of course. If possible though, don't be tempted to restrict the field by applying this filter right up front.

Look past the advertised fees, if you can. Find the ideal match using the steps outlined and then negotiate with your preferred coach if you need to, to fit your budget.

Many coaches are negotiable and some will offer substantial discounts to clients prepared to pay for the entire coaching program in advance. When considering the value of your investment in coaching, look at what you will pay over, say six months, and think how worthwhile that will be if you achieve one or two of your most desired goals.

2. Niche matching

How to choose a life coach step two:
 "matching the niche"

"Matching the niche" is a more difficult step.

Consider this: If you own a house that is built out of timber on the side of a steep hill and you decide to add an extension with an overhanging deck, who would you be more likely to contract with; a general builder - or a builder who specializes in timber homes and cantilevered decking?

When you hire a life coach, you generally do so with a knowledge of the key issues or areas of your life you specifically want to focus on improving. And it may well be that you'll find a life coach whose specialist niche matches perfectly.

Most really successful life coaches have chosen clearly defined niches, such as 'personal empowerment', 'intimate relationships', 'self-confidence', 'youth development', 'career building', 'retirement', 'financial freedom', 'childbirth', and so on.

3. Skills matching

How to choose a life coach step three:
 Matching the skills

Once you've decided on a rough demographic profile of your ideal coach and the niche (if any) that you fall into, you can move on to step 3 which we call "matching the skills", although this is about more than just skills.

There is, at least currently, no form of regulation governing the coaching 'profession' in South Africa, or, for that matter, most developed countries.

This is a good thing in that there are no barriers to entry into an industry where having a passion for people and a gift for helping others achieve their dreams is far more important than a raft of high-falluting academic qualifications.

This is also a bad thing in that any 'Tom', 'Dick' or 'Harriet' can write 'coach' on his or her business card and set up in practice without necessarily having the skills, techniques, experience and structure required to back up their coaching.

Good quality life coaches are self-selecting. A life coach will not survive long in business without good word-of-mouth endorsements and client testimonials. Let's face it - someone is either really effective at helping people transform their lives - or not!

Always ask a prospective coach for testimonials or references - and check them out. Ask the coach where and in what method they have been trained. Ask to see their certification and do some research on the coach training provider to check their reputation.

Try to determine how passionate your shortlisted coaches are about the calling they have chosen. Are they registered with any body that promotes ongoing coach development? Do they subscribe to any relevant code of ethics?

4. Vibrational matching

How to choose a life coach step four:
 Matching the vibration

The final step in our guide, how to choose a life coach, is, in our opinion, the most important of all.

We call it "matching the vibration".

Choosing the 'right' (as opposed to 'good') coach is, arguably, a more important decision than choosing the 'right' doctor or dentist. Whereas a 'good' doctor will make the correct diagnosis and prescribe effective medication without necessarily doing it in a way that has you warming to him or her, a 'good' coach (i.e. a well trained, equipped and ethical coach) with whom you are unable to build a great rapport, will be unlikely to do much for you.

Rapport is vital to the coaching relationship. Establishing an emotional bond with your coach based on mutual liking and respect, trust, and belief in each other, is the foundation for the achievement of great things through coaching.

Great coaches will have that something special that allows them to empower their clients to go well beyond the normal and yet still be compassionate and caring in their approach.

How do you establish whether there's a 'vibrational match' with your coach? 

Great coaches worth their salt will offer a free first session that may range from a basic introduction to a client assessment to a full blown goal-setting session in some cases. This is a great opportunity to see if you and your coach are an ideal match.

A final thought

If you've ever doubted the power of coaching, think about this. Every great coach will tell you that the one thing crucial to their success is having their own personal coach!

Ask the coaches on your shortlist whether they have their own coach?

Good luck! 

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