Life Coaching Really?

Why would anyone need a life coach? We’ve all been alive for some period of time, living, having a life, and we’ve done it all by ourselves. What would compel someone to want a coach to help them do what is done automatically just by getting out of bed every morning, making it, however successfully, through another day, and retiring again at night?

Firstly, have you really been doing it, life, all by yourself, up to this point? No, not really. In the beginning, there were your parents or other caregivers, perhaps daycare providers or preschool teachers or other family members who helped “coach” you safely through the early years. As you reached school age a procession of teachers stepped in and other school magnates assisted your parents in coaching you to adulthood.

Many of us, at one time or another, actually had people referred to, technically, as coaches, in school or club sports opportunities, and their role was to assist us and guide us and encourage us to perform to the best of our ability, at a certain sport or game.

Once in adulthood, for some, college provided some coaching, for others vocational training, the military, or employment experiences provided us with a form of coaching, the leadership and guidance necessary to hold a job in a certain field or industry.

And while teachers and employers aren’t technically life coaches, they do provide, to some degree, some of the benefits that a life coach does; assistance in setting goals, the encouragement to work successfully towards those goals, and they requested from you a  certain accountability in making measurable progress towards those goals. This was evident in your progress from one grade to the next, in winning that Little League game, that volleyball tournament, or in being awarded that college sports scholarship.

As an adult, we still often look to coaches to help us learn or progress in sports, leisure pastimes, and athletic pursuits. Who has ever had a personal trainer show them the ropes on the gym equipment after signing up for a membership? A yoga instructor who made sure your knees weren’t too far over your toes in a warrior pose? A golf lesson?

I saw in the newspaper the other day, a woman designed a yoga mat with the foot positions to the most popular poses “printed” on it. At first it may seem a great idea, but when I think of the number of times, in a single yoga session, that the instructor adjusts or corrects some part of my pose, for my benefit, or even for my safety, I have to wonder about the wisdom of a do-it-by-numbers approach. Even the home yoga instruction videos provide some verbal cueing to the proper position and execution of the poses to avoid injury and the get the utmost benefit from the practice.

So, here you are. Are you making it through life with a do-it-by-numbers guide? Sure, lots can be gleaned from books, blogs, magazines, YouTube, but are you getting the personal guidance, the encouragement you really need to identify and work towards your goals? Is there someone there to help hold you accountable for what you’ve started? Or can you just roll up that do-it-by-numbers yoga mat and shove it in the closet when you get a little lost, confused or discouraged?

I ran my very first marathon last winter, as an adult, as a “seasoned” adult. This is not something I did completely on my own. In an effort to follow through with my oft questioned, somewhat crazy goal, and in an effort to avoid injury, I joined a running club, with dozens of coaches. I ran with my running club for two years, learning the right way to run, the proper form, nutrition before, during and after running, warm up and cool down stretching routines. The club follows a time-tested training program, progressing in both speed and distance as prescribed by the coaches. I adhered to the advice of the coaches along the way, on each and every run, on my individual work outs and in my race. I now enjoy running, totally, where just a few short years ago, had you asked me, I’d have said, simply, and with a bit of a scoff, “I don’t run.”

That’s where a life coach may make all the difference in the world. A life coach can help you get from buying your first yoga mat to striking a perfect warrior pose, but in life. A life coach may get you from lacing up your first pair of running shoes to completing a 26.2-mile race, but in life. What are your goals? How much progress have you made toward them this week? This month? This year? This decade? Would a coach help? Yoga, running, or life, you bet.

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