Five questions to answer before getting a life coach

Co-active coaching can transform your life. It creates fertile ground for new insights that lead to action, action that moves you to where you want to go. Coaching does not take you down paths where you think you should go, or others have told you to go, but where you want to go.

Whatever aspect of your life is not quite right, whatever is missing, whether in your work, career, leadership, vocation, finances, health and fitness, personal relationships, family, social life, creative endeavors or contribution, coaching can get you unstuck. It is difficult to explain coaching—it has to be experienced. It’s like trying to describe chocolate ice cream in words to someone who has never had it before rather than just having them taste it. This article is intended for those who want to give coaching a try. Coaching will not work for everyone, but if you’re able to answer “yes” to all these questions, there is a very high likelihood that it will work for you.

#1 Are you willing to take full responsibility for your life?

Full responsibility means a hundred percent. It means dropping the blame game and to stop being a victim of circumstance and making others responsible for your happiness. I understand that events and what others do affect you. For example, if you’ve been fired from work because your boss had a personal grudge against you, that may be unfair, and you certainly get to blame your boss, but you alone remain fully responsible for finding another job. Borrowing from Buddhist wisdom, Werner Erhard said: “Responsibility begins with the willingness to be cause in the matter of one’s life.” But then he adds: “Being responsible starts with the willingness to deal with a situation from the view of life that you are the generator of what you do, what you have and what you are.”

#2 Are you willing to connect with and trust your innate wisdom?

Let’s keep this simple. There is the egoic self which is concerned about survival. This is the part of you that cautions you to look both ways before crossing the road, and do the laundry, but also has you playing safe—and small. It’s that part of you that doesn’t like change or shaking things up. If anything, it is a creature of habit and familiarity. “Let’s keep doing things the way we’ve always done,” it says, “we are doing OK…let’s not rock the boat.”

Then there is that larger, deeper true part of you that knows when things aren’t quite right, when the relationship is not working, when the job—while it pays well—is not fulfilling, when what you have or do doesn’t give you that rich inner satisfaction. This is the voice of your higher self, true self, inner leader, soul, call it what you will. It is the voice that keeps you aligned with your “true north,” that most authentic and innately wise part of you that is always calling you forward to be your best and most authentic self. In coaching, you learn to reconnect with this inner wisdom and to heed its intuitive guidance wherever it takes you. Are you ready for this? Are you prepared to live by your truth, your deepest values, and your life purpose, not someone else’s? Which takes us to the next question.

#3 Are you willing to take action even in the face of fear?

If you’ve said yes to #2, you’d better buckle your seatbelt. It’s going to get uncomfortable depending on how far and for how long you’ve strayed from your true path. The goal of coaching is not to create a painful experience but to support you through challenging passages as something new and bright, and that rings true emerges. If we use swimming as an analogy, some jump straight into the cold water while others take forever beginning by dipping their toes in. However, you do it is fine; your coach is there alongside to support you. But you need to get into the water and swim.

When things get uncomfortable in coaching, when your limiting beliefs and saboteurs show up, and when change is scary you still have to be willing to take action. Georgia O’Keeffe who seems like one of the most formidable women I’d love to have met said: “I’ve been absolutely terrified every moment of my life and I’ve never let it keep me from doing a single thing that I wanted to do.” Wow! And what she was able to do was to become one of the most influential artists of modern times and create works that continue to fascinate us. None of that would have happened if she refused to act in the face of fear.

If you remember from #1, you first have to take responsibility for yourself before you can take action. Information and insights that come up in coaching are fine and dandy, but without translating those into action, without that neuron firing, absolutely nothing will change in your life. Zero. Zilch. You can repeatedly say that you want to change, but talk, in this case, is truly expensive (because you are paying for it) and worthless (because you won’t be getting value out of it without action). The trajectory of coaching is to move you forward. The quote below is probably the most helpful and direct that I can offer in this regard. I share it with my clients. It sums it all up.

“It is important that you get clear for yourself that your only access to impacting life is action. The world does not care what you intend, how committed you are, how you feel or what you think, and certainly, it has no interest in what you want and don’t want. Take a look at life as it is lived and see for yourself that the world only moves for you when you act.” | Werner Erhard

The coaching relationship creates a crucible that provides safety—your coach will support you in moving beyond your comfort zone to act. Actions may be big, they may be small, but they will be different from what you’ve always done which is the whole point. That’s also when it gets challenging because the ego and its chorus of sabotaging voices will pipe up. But in coaching you will learn how to drown out those voices long enough, so you can hear and follow your own. You will discover that you are in good hands—your own.

#4 Are you willing to invest in yourself and do the work of transformation?

There’s much inner and outer work to be done to make the shift, to loosen the ties that have held you back for so long, to transition—or transform—to have the life you want. It is worth it. Are you ready to be coachable and do things differently as your coach will have you do, or will you argue “that’s not who I am?” Because I would argue that who we are is an unfolding narrative not a fixed set of traits. In coaching, a different version of yourself will emerge, perhaps even a life unlived. As Mel Robbins says, “every phase of your life requires a different you.”

Coaching is an intimate and very personalized experience, demanding full presence and attention from your coach. Are you willing to invest financially in coaching? Before answering this, please take note of two things. First, be honest about what it is costing you to stay where you are, to remain stuck, or to live someone else’s plan for your life. Second, take note that any investment you make in coaching is an investment in yourself. Yes, you are paying your coach, but you are paying for your transformation, not your coaches’.

#5 Are you willing to have the life you want now, instead of someday?

If you’ve made it through the four questions above with a yes, bravo! But this last one is where your ego, saboteurs and reasoning mind will rise in their final crescendo to keep you where you are. Some of the things you might say or hear are “I’m not ready yet,” “this is not a good time,” “I’ve got too much going on,” “I don’t have the money,” or “I’ll get to this someday.” Well, guess what? Someday never comes. All we have is now – it’s all anyone has. But we don’t live like that—we’re good at coming up with excuses and reasons to put off things that are important, even life-changing. Emerson observed astutely, “we are always getting ready to live but never living.”

Whether at work, home or at play, you can be more self-expressed and fulfilled. Whatever roles you play, whether as a parent, spouse, sibling, boss, team member, leader or entrepreneur you can bring your best self to the game, to empower yourself and those around you. You can live with greater authenticity and integrity and then see how your world shifts when you show up differently. You can begin to have the life you want now. The question is, are you ready?

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