How to Choose a Life Coach

Four critical things to consider when choosing a life coach who's right for you

Credit: Flickr/h-k-d

In the storms of life, a coach can help

You’ve decided to get yourself a life coach – now comes the hard part

While you may have decided that a life coach can help you with career, finances, life balance, and even your relationships, finding one that’s right for you can be tricky. You want someone who understands not only your motivations and challenges, but also your particular industry, background or approach to life. Here are four things to consider when choosing your life coach.

Professional Life Coach Designations: Not the Be-all and End-all

Some coaches put great stress on the fact that they are certified by national or international bodies. And that’s fine, but don’t cut out a coach just because she doesn’t have certain letters after her name.

Several organizations are vying to be the definitive stamp of approval for coaches, but in the meantime, none is the one and only. Some coaches aren’t certified by anyone, which isn’t necessarily a sign they’re no good.

Look at Real Coaching Experience

Backgrounds in counselling, social work and health often give coaches the broad experience to deal with real-world problems. If you’re particularly interested in career coaching, you may want someone who’s spent time in your field or worked in human resources or recruiting. You may appreciate a fellow author, golfer or trombone player. It’s up to you.

Define the Style of Coaching You Want

When I chose my coach, Gwen Gnazdowsky, I was a little embarrassed. Gwen has such a warm, caring manner that I felt I was a softy for choosing her over presumably more rigorous coaches who mapped timelines and gave homework.

Turns out Gwen’s just as interested in practical results as other coaches. Getting a caring, sharing coach didn’t preclude also being assigned tasks and deadlines, and being subjected to the occasional loving scolding.

Focus on Results

“My whole life” is a pretty broad area for a coach to cover in four sessions. On the other hand, people who say they merely want help dealing with paperwork – that’s my hand you see raised – or learning to write reports often find themselves reevaluating their entire career, revitalizing relationships or getting back to passions they’d set aside years ago.

So be clear on what you want, but don’t be surprised if your coaching takes a left turn. Having the chance to sit down and look at your life can be pretty powerful stuff.