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  • Writer's pictureNick Howell

What Is Life Coaching?

Updated: Apr 7, 2023

Frame held to a coastal sky, within it the word 'Life Coaching'

You may of heard of life coaching in one context or another, but what is it really? And how can it benefit you? In this blog post, we'll explore the definition of coaching and some of the ways it may help you.

In my experience, when I talk to people about coaching, there are many thoughts and opinions on what it actually is.

That’s not surprising at all, it’s true that whilst Life Coaching is gaining huge traction, it has not yet hit the mainstream. There are still a few gaps in understanding for coaching to become a fully understood service.

I do see a day in the future when life coaching is talked about and used in the same breath as going to see a personal fitness trainer or physiotherapist. We are making great strides in seeing the benefits and normality of working on your mind as well as your body. Long may this change continue and flourish; we do have a little way to go.

Those who have Life Coaching experience join the group of people who are best placed to realise their potential and take the actions needed to reach their goals. Today thousands of people, quietly in the background, are gaining real benefits from Life Coaching.

My hope is that by sharing some information here, we can fill in some of the gaps in knowledge and make Life Coaching a little more understood.

(For this blog I’ll be talking about personal one-to-one coaching, I'll explain 'Coaching In The Workplace' in a further blog.)

Q: So, What Is Life Coaching? - The Association For Coaching describes coaching as: "A collaborative solution-focused, results-orientated and systematic process in which the coach facilitates the enhancement of work performance, life experience, self-directed learning and personal growth of the Coachee."

In other words, coaching can be explained as a powerful set of conversations that can help navigate people through to making positive changes in their lives.

Coaching creates fresh perspectives and beliefs and cements a way forward to achieve a desired outcome. Think of a personal trainer not for the body but for the mind.

Progress is achieved through a series of thought-provoking conversations, using a professional coaching skillset, tailored processes, and tools. The conversations are confidential, non-directive, and non-judgemental. The right balance of accountability and support is given to the client who is at the very center of the whole process.

Having the time and space for yourself to be at the very center of a conversation can be extremely powerful, to have space to think differently is an experience that few of us get the chance to benefit from.

In a professional coaching relationship, the coach and client work together to clarify the current situation, clarify goals, or desired change. The coach then navigates the client through the conversation to think and stretch beyond where they are.

You are the expert in your own life, a coach will therefore work with you as your unbiased, non-judgemental, curious, patient, and calm navigator to help you find the right path to move you forward.

Q: Why Do People Use A Life Coach? Do You Have Examples Of Where Coaching Helps? - Our lives are all different and we all are in different places, with mixtures of aspirations, goals, and challenges; many of us have things in our lives that we may want to change for the better.

Sometimes the road ahead can be tricky to work out and navigate.

Sometimes we can feel overwhelmed by our current situation, not knowing how to move forward.

Sometimes we have beliefs about ourselves and our situation that sabotage the way forward.

Sometimes we simply do not have the right clarity regarding what it is we are looking to change or indeed where we are starting from.

All this can lead to a lack of momentum, perhaps even procrastination.

This can have knock-on effects in other parts of our lives and even within our relationships.

It can affect how we think of ourselves and show up in day-to-day life.

Here are five common reasons why people reach out to a Life Coach, things that at certain times in our lives become tricky to clarify or obtain:

  1. To reach a goal or work through a challenge.

  2. To make a full career change, a move, or a transition.

  3. To change your work/life balance which is out of kilter.

  4. To make a mid-life change of direction in areas of your life.

  5. You may have thoughts or feelings of being stuck in a rut, rudderless. You want something different in life but can’t pin down what that is.

Here are ten common benefits that you may experience from life coaching:

  1. Greater self-confidence in making a change and in yourself.

  2. Support and accountability whilst working through your change.

  3. Becoming more aligned with your values and purpose.

  4. Finding fresh perspectives.

  5. Removal of self-limiting beliefs and unhelpful behaviours.

  6. Finding new positive beliefs.

  7. To be truly listened to.

  8. A thinking space and a thinking partner.

  9. Achieving your change faster.

  10. Positive knock-on effects in other aspects of your life and for those around you.

Q: How Does Life Coaching Work? - Coaching typically involves a set of regular sessions, either in person or virtually. During these sessions, the coach helps navigate the client through a set of conversations.

I usually recommend either weekly or fortnightly sessions which ensures both momentum and time between sessions to absorb new learnings, reflect and put changes into practice. Personally, I also offer contact between sessions in case the client needs to get unstuck with something or needs a little re-clarification.

The coach is there to provide the coaching skills, and structure to help navigate the client.

The coach may also use tools and exercises either within the sessions or between to elicit further thinking and awareness.

The client brings themselves, the topic of the discussion, and ultimately the decision-making.

Q: Ok, That Has Given Me Some Idea Of What To Expect, Is There Anything I Shouldn’t Expect? - There are a few areas where coaching can be mixed up with similar roles:

COUNSELLING v COACHING: Counselling looks at the past and resolves issues to help a client cope with the present. Coaching on the other hand builds on the present and looks to create the future.

MENTORING v COACHING: A mentor is an expert in a chosen field who imparts advice and direction. Coaching views the client as the expert in their own lives.

A coach does not necessarily tell a client what to do. Instead, they help the client in discovering their own answers which in turn helps foster deeper, lasting change.

That said, there will be times when advice can be ‘offered’ if the coach believes it can help serve the client.

Q: I Think I Would Benefit From This, What Should My Next Steps Be? - A direct, friendly conversation with a coach will give you the additional context for you to make an informed decision on whether coaching is right for you. A good coach will provide this gladly and not try to recommend coaching if it is not a good fit.

Seek out a coach who:

So there you have it, a little bit of info about Life Coaching. I do hope this goes some way toward explaining what Life Coaching is. As you can tell, I’m a huge advocate for how coaching can help people.

If you are curious about working with a coach or even further down the path of knowing that this might be right for you, do feel free to reach out to me. I’d love to help you achieve that change you desire.

I’d be happy to hold a free, no-obligation discovery call with you. In this call, we will:

  • Explore your situation and what you would like to be different.

  • If I feel that coaching may be right for you, I can explain more about coaching and how it could help your situation.

  • I’ll provide you with details on my coaching programs.

  • You will be able to ask any questions you may have.

  • If you feel that coaching is not right for you, that’s ok as well. At the very least you will have more knowledge to use for your situation than before our conversation.

I’ll leave you with one of my favourite quotes:

‘The Best Way To Predict The Future Is To Invent It’
– Alan Kay

Thanks for reading. I look forward to meeting you on your road ahead.


Nick is a Life, Personal Development, Career & Leadership Coach based in Norfolk, England. Through his work with individuals and businesses, he helps unlock potential. Helping his clients achieve success and happiness in their personal lives and careers -

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