If obstacles are large, jump higher.

Steve Backley

One of the problem with many people today is that they do not have clearly defined goals for their lives. This is unfortunately true, not just for the younger generation, but also for some members of older generations. Fortunately, there are now people available whose job it is to help others determine their goals in life and assist them in achieving them. These people are called life coaches.

A few days ago, we talked a bit about getting a coach. One of the questions that I received in the comments is “How do I get a coach? Where do I find one?” So, for this post, and a few more in the future, we will talk about getting and being coached.

But, first, let’s deal with the glaring problem. With so many people calling themselves life coaches, how do you spot a qualified life coach who can effectively help you?

What is a Life Coach?

It is so much easier to find a thing if we can define what it is. So, our first step in the process of getting a qualified life coach is knowing what a life coach really is. The job description of a life coach is someone who aims to help people determine their goals as well as help them find ways that they can achieve them. A life coach practices a coaching style which uses techniques originally developed in executive coaching. The coach will probably also use several different methods, styles and techniques to help you.

Common Misconceptions About Life Coaching

Like many other things in life, many people have misconceptions about what life coaching is really all about. There are those who think that life coaching is synonymous to going to therapy or having a consultation. But life coaching is neither of these things. It is not designed to treat anyone with mental or psychological illnesses. It is all about coaching, as the name implies. As coaches, our goal and job is to re-train and guide people how to clearly define their goals, focus on those goals and become more goal-oriented.

But, people do come by many of these misconceptions honestly. The practice of life coaching, as well as its principles, is rooted in several different disciplines. These include the disciplines of psychology, sociology, career counseling, executive coaching, positive adult development, and mentoring, to name a few.

Qualified Life Coach

Now that you have a better idea of what a life coach is and what it is not, you already have the basics of spotting what a qualified life coach is. He or she is someone whose sole aim is to help you with your goals, and he or she is not your therapist, psychiatrist, nor someone who treats a person with mental or psychological illnesses. But these are just the basics and will not be sufficient in helping you determine whether a person is truly a qualified life coach.

Life coaching has no official regulatory standards and no universally-governed training or education, so almost anyone can call themselves a life coach. The lack of these standards also means that there is no single certifying agency that can prove that they are truly qualified life coaches. There are such agencies, but they are independent.

So what do you do?

There are two ways to go about this. The first is by “word of mouth” and the other is training experience.

“Word of mouth” means that there are a lot of people saying good things about a particular life coach and they are eager to recommend his or her skills and services to other people. Or there are people who you have a great deal of respect for talking about a coach. These same people will be able to tell you about the effectiveness of that particular coach.

Another determinant of a qualified life coach is training experience. This is different from having a “life coach certificate.” You should know that life coaching uses methods like values assessment, mentoring, behavior modeling, behavior modification, goal setting and other techniques. These are common tools of the “trade,” so your prospective coach should be able to demonstrate that they have training in at least one of these fields.

Last, but certainly not the least, a qualified life coach is someone who you can easily communicate with. Even if the life coach you have chosen possesses everything stated above, but you don’t really ”click” with each other, then that person is “not” qualified for you. Its not a good fit. This of course is speaking from a subjective point of view. But you must be honest and realistic with yourself. How diligent do you think you will be doing what you coach tells you, if you don’t feel totally comfortable with them? And, you must feel comfortable that you and the coach are moving toward the same goals and end-points. You have to be on the same agenda.

Many people go through a couple of coaches before they find the right mix. Getting the right coach is like interviewing for a job. You need to be comfortable with the personality, with the style of coaching and their communication style. And you have to know yourself.

Achieving your life’s goals may be on the line!

Choose wisely.

Thoughts?Photo Credit: Billie Jane via Compfight cc