You may be at a crossroads in your career. You feel a calling to a certain profession or you desperately want a change in your career altogether. Whatever it may be, you start asking the questions to yourself: “What do I want to do with my life? What profession would bring me joy? I have heard about people who are life coaches. That sounds interesting to me and it aligns with some of my major passions. Is a life coach career right for me?”
If those are questions that have been circling around in your mind, you’re not alone. Deciding to become a life coach, just as with any career, takes consideration, time, understanding of what success looks like, and just how much you want to dedicate yourself to pursuing that dream.
Let’s dive into the role and responsibilities that come with being a life coach, what makes a good coach, a day in the life of a coach, the balance to strike between work and life, and questions to ask yourself before you dive right in.
Role and Responsibilities of a Life Coach
As you consider a career as a life coach, it is first important to understand just what a life coach does and what their responsibilities look like. First, The International Coach Federation (ICF) defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.”
Clients seeking life coaching can be going through a career change or career exit, they can be looking for motivation or support on their wellness journey, they can be anyone setting out to accomplish a personal goal or major life milestone — the list goes on! The role of a life coach is to help the client get from point A, where they currently are, to point B, what they want in their future, while pointing out personal blocks, growth opportunities, and more.
Helping someone with that type of change in their life is a major responsibility. The client will likely get very open and vulnerable with you, and that takes a certain amount of professionalism and care. A client is trusting you with something they deeply care about and hoping you can help them reach that dream.
Good life coaches help their clients find benefits such as:
- Improved communication skills
- Increased self-esteem/self-confidence
- Increased productivity
- Optimized individual/team performance
Ultimately a good life coach is someone who builds a trusting relationship with clients while inspiring and pushing them to become their best self and reach their goals.
If you feel the pull towards a career that can help people become their best self — whether on a personal or professional level — pursuing a career as a life coach may be the best career decision you’ll ever make.
Questions to Consider Before Becoming a Life Coach
Now, let’s tackle the key questions to think about as you ponder coaching as a potential career path. We recommend you take out a journal or piece of paper and write down these questions and really give yourself some time to think about your answers.
- Am I passionate enough about life coaching to make it a career? (Was this a fun idea or are you really motivated to have a career of making a difference in people’s lives?)
- What unique skills do I have that help me stand out from other coaches? (Do you know what makes you different? Will you lean into it so that you have a strong personal brand?)
- What background and skills do I have and which do I need to acquire to successfully run my business? (Do you know anything about marketing? If not, what courses can you take to understand how to run a business and bookkeeping? What else makes me well-positioned for this career and what do I still want to learn?)
- How much time can I commit to obtaining my certification? (If you have a full-time job, how many hours a week can you commit outside of that job to the hours it takes to gain a certification? If you are not working, how many hours in your day can you commit to gaining your certification outside of your other responsibilities?)
- Will I have the discipline to set my hours and commit to supporting my clients? (Am I organized enough to keep a schedule, keep track of client meetings, networking events, and critical deadlines? If I feel I need organization and time management help, what resources exist to help me with these areas?)
- Do I want to dip my toe into coaching as a side business or dive right in and make it my primary career? (Are you financially stable in case the coaching business doesn’t work out the way you want it to? What will your “plan A, B, C, D, etc.” look like and how will you prepare for those scenarios?)
A Day in the Life
A day in the life of a coach involves much more than deciding to log on and meet with clients. Here are some of the areas you can expect to focus on outside of the time you are spending with clients doing the work of a life coach:
Especially at the start of your career as a life coach, you are going to need to get your name out there and build contacts. You should meet with other coaches, follow related accounts on your social media channels and be actively involved in conversations that you see. Offline, try to attend events around life coaching as well as events that are simply focused on people trying to become their best selves.
Equally as important to networking, you will need to create a marketing strategy for attracting new clients and for convincing the contacts you have grown through your networking to hire you as their life coach. If you are just starting off and have little budget, you should focus on marketing tactics that are essentially free such as email marketing and growing your social media presence. As you become more established, you can look to paid social media marketing and other forms of digital marketing such as paid search and digital marketing.
It is critical that a life coach doesn’t just stop at gaining the credentials needed for their career. Keep your skills sharp and understand the latest trends by reading articles, published research, white papers and more about the life coaching profession. If you can’t fit reading into your busy schedule, consider finding podcasts or audio books that focus on the personal development and the coaching industry. Whatever you do, commit to keeping your skills sharp and growing every day.
Finding Work/Life Balance as a Life Coach
As with any profession, you as a coach will need to strike a balance between your work and life. From hours spent working to the level of commitments you take on, finding the right blend is a skill you’ll need to master during the beginning stages of your career.
The biggest key to success as you kick off a career as a life coach and build up a reputation and consistent client base is to set boundaries for yourself. Working 24-7 is going to lead to burnout, and while you will definitely need to commit a good portion of your day to your role as a life coach, you can’t make that the only thing in your life. Set clear boundaries for yourself when it comes to the hours you work in a day, when you will respond to emails and client outreach, and be disciplined with that time management.
Striking the right balance to work and life ultimately is a form of self-care that will make your career as a life coach significantly more successful. After all, work-life balance is one of the most common reasons clients seek the services of a coach, so being experienced in achieving that balance in your own life will give you a degree of credibility that you simply cannot learn during coach training. It must be experienced first hand.
Self-care can look different to different people, whether it is making time for a run or making a fun dinner with your kids. Whatever it looks like to you, make sure you identify it and commit to that time of self-care. It is an appointment on the calendar and therefore a commitment you can’t break to yourself!
At the end of the day, you will succeed when you find the right way to balance the work of a life coach and your own life commitments. Ultimately, there is no magic recipe or guideline to work-life balance and most people truly find success at balancing both when they make it a blend.
Are you most productive in the mornings? Set aside an hour or two before anyone else in your house is awake to answer client emails, network and check in on your marketing plans. Do you want to still be able to drop your kids off at school or hit the gym? What about a happy hour with your friends after work? Schedule your client meetings accordingly and stay committed to both personal and professional obligations. The balance helps you find success, practice self-care, and continue to show up for friends and family.
A Word on Certification
An effective coach is trained to understand what a client wants and how to help them reach that goal. Fortunately, there are accredited organizations that offer training and certification programs that give students the credibility it takes to have a successful life coach career. More importantly, being accredited is something that clients have come to expect in the last 5 – 10 years, and this trend is likely to continue.
In fact, according to the 2017 ICF Global Consumer Awareness Study:
- 83% of consumers who experienced a coaching relationship reported that it was important for coaches to hold a credential
- Consumers are more likely to recommend a coach who holds a credential than a coach who does not
Taking the courses and programs to be a credentialed life coach is also a really great way to build your network within the profession. This will help you have peers to lean on for new ideas, best practices, and guidance as you progress through your career, which is always important for growth.
You are in the driver’s seat as to how far and big you want your career as a life coach to be. Do you only want to have a couple of clients at a time or do you want to host major conferences in front of audiences of hundreds or thousands of people? The possibilities are endless, which is not something that can be said for many other careers.
- Want to do life coaching part-time? Yep, you can do that.
- Want to take on life coaching full-time? Yep, you can do that too.
- Want to be a life coach for only part of the year? Yep, you can do that too.
- Want to do life coaching in addition to your full-time job? Oh yes, you can do that.
As with any entrepreneurial venture, becoming a coach also has its challenges. As a business owner, you are squarely in charge of the direction your company is headed in. With no one else (such as a boss or coworkers) to hold you accountable, you have to keep yourself accountable to put in the work to start, grow, and maintain your business as a life coach. That can be a welcome challenge for some people while it creates significant challenges for others. Can you look yourself in the mirror and be honest with yourself about where you fall when it comes to those responsibilities?
So, is a life coaching career right for you? Ultimately, you are the only person who can answer that. Weigh the pros and cons, understand your personal strengths and where you want to grow, research programs from accredited organizations, and figure out just what you want to get out of a career as a life coach.
They say that people who love what they do for a living never work a day in their lives. If you know you have a love for the kind of impact the work as a life coach can bring you, and the difference you can make in the lives of other people, there has never been a better time to get started.