There are a few reasons that might explain this. One factor is that our time and energy is limited. We get caught up in work and work issues, daily hassles like cooking and paying bills, family responsibilities... If you think about it, you'll find there are many, many reasons that we don't accomplish all the self-help and self-enhancement programs we purchase. All of these activities take time, and they take energy. When we do have a few minutes for leisure, many times we want to do something else. It's understandable - if something feels like too much work, we tend to avoid doing it.
Another factor might be lack of support. We know that when people have support, they're more likely to make changes and they're more likely to stick to them. Beginning an exercise program is a great example: You're way more likely to keep moving and exercising when you have someone there with you. They support you, and to some extent, keep you accountable. Your coach is there to mentor you and to cheer you along as you creat the life you want to have.
Accountability is the third factor I want to mention. I'm not thinking about accountability in a pressurized "have to" sense. Rather, I am suggesting that having another person to work with who knows your goals, your struggles, and your strengths can be an amazing support for you as you work to reach those goals and change your life!
I love the word "coach" - it has such a positive connotation. Coaches share their knowledge with you, support you as you challenge yourself to reach goals (and challenge you themselves by nudging you toward your goals), and celebrate progress and life changes as they happen. It's a life-affirming, positive, and healthy profession.
Ok, so what are the disadvantages of working with a coach?
A second downside is that because coaching has no oversight, you need to do more homework in finding a good, reputable coach. There are so many coaches out there, in so many sub-specialties, that it can be hard to know where to turn. So, here are some ideas: Look for certification with ICF (International Coaching Federation) or in-depth training resulting in an LPC, Psy.D., D.M.H., or Ph.D. These people have been through some rigorous and thorough training and know what they're doing. If you go with someone in the therapeutic realm who also coaches, look for licensure. Licensure means that the professional is regulated by the state licensing boards, who are there to ensure your safety. Licensing boards take complaints and enforce ethical and legal standards.
The ICF has done a lot of work to help standardize coaching. They have a code of ethics (http://coachfederation.org/about/ethics.aspx?ItemNumber=854&RDtoken=7605&userID=), and have worked toward setting standards for program accreditation and coach certification. They have a lot of information on their web page (http://www.coachfederation.org/) about what coaching is and isn't, how to find a coach, and information about how to hire a coach. (They do use the "therapy addresses the past and coaching addresses the future" idea, so even there read critically. Do that anyway, though!)
And the advantages? How will this help me?
First, you learn about yourself. Your growth and your goals are the reason you're there and you get to focus on your own well-being and creating the life you want. Coaching activities and assignments are designed to help you achieve - pure and simple. You get to define the goals. Coaching is something that encourages you to get to know yourself: strengths and how to use them, weaknesses and how to overcome them. You'll develop affirmations, and more importantly, learn how to use them to help you get to where you want to be.
Second, you will have someone dedicated to helping you achieve those goals. This person is your cheerleader and your biggest fan. S/he can support you and listen and help you move in the direction you want to go. Coaching is designed to be supportive and life-enhancing.
Third, you will get some accountability. If you're really going to make these changes, it helps to have someone there who knows about it and wants you to succeed. On the ICF website, there is a FAQ for people interested in having a coach. They write:
What does coaching ask of an individual? To be successful, coaching asks certain things, all of which begin with intention. Additionally, clients should:
- Focus on one's self, the tough questions, the hard truths and one's success.
- Observe the behaviors and communications of others.
- Listen to one's intuition, assumptions, judgments, and to the way one sounds when one speaks
- Challenge existing attitudes, beliefs and behaviors and develop new ones that serve one's goals in a superior way
- Leverage personal strengths and overcome limitations to develop a winning style
- Take decisive actions, however uncomfortable and in spite of personal insecurities, to reach for the extraordinary
- Show compassion for one's self while learning new behaviors and experiencing setbacks, and to show that compassion for others as they do the same
- Commit to not take one's self so seriously, using humor to lighten and brighten any situation
- Maintain composure in the face of disappointment and unmet expectations, avoiding emotional reactivity
- Have the courage to reach for more than before while engaging in continual self examination without fear
So, should you do it? You're the only one who can answer that. Personally, I think it's a fantastic opportunity to prioritize your own growth and goals.
What do I do next?
Please note: The information and content of this blog are not meant to constitute therapy. If you are in need of help or think you'd like to talk to a counselor or psychologist, there are many available to help. If you are in an emergency or life-threatening crisis situation, please call 911 or go to your nearest emergency room. You're not alone, and there are people who want to help.
If you'd like to contact me, please call me at (970) 776-6043 or send me email at firstname.lastname@example.org .
© 2014 Dr. Laura Burlingame-Lee, Ph.D.