One of the most famous psychological theories of motivation state that the final goal is to become the best version of ourselves. You probably heard about Maslow's theory of self-actualization, so we will not repeat it.
Many of us can agree, from personal experience, that our need for personal growth certainly exists and often feel innate. Our entire life could be seen as one significant progression. We are learning to sit, then crawls, stand, walk, and run (some kids skip the crawling or walking phase, to be fair, but that is another story). We learn to talk, write, and think. We even learn how to love.
For some of these tasks, we don't need help; sooner or later, it comes naturally to us. But sometimes, we all need support. One of the most important things that successful people learn is to accept help and ask for it.
Unlocking Your Potential with Life Coaching
Although life coaching in its current form may be relatively new, the concept of seeking guidance from wiser and more experienced leaders has been prevalent in nearly every culture throughout history.
The popularization of mental health topics also made asking for help more normalized. Life coaching has become a tool for relatively fast unlocking potential and improving the quality of life.
Understanding Life Coaching: Principles and Benefits
"Does life coaching is working?" is usually the first question that people ask. Rightfully. And the answer is yes. If it is done correctly by professionals, it will bring you numerous benefits.
Some authors (e.g. (Grant, 2003) emphasized that the essential characteristic of life coaching are:
- Collaboration between coach and client, where the coach helps the client in improving life and attaining goals
- Focusing on solution
- Orientation on results
These characteristics explain why life coaching could bring (relatively) fast results in desired areas. The life coach will help you identify issues but also find solutions.
The second most frequent question is, "Is it life coaching for me?". Again, the short answer is yes. Life coaching could bring different benefits for each of us. Even if you have already started your process of self-development and personal growth, life coaching could help you get better results faster.
How Does Life Coaching Empower Personal Progress?
Life coaching can help you in various life domains. Some life coaches are specialized in love-related problems, some deal with transitional crises or searching for purpose in life, while others could help you manage stress levels and improve well-being.
Although the effects of life coaching are not extensively researched, some studies show its positive impacts on various domains of human functioning. Below we summarized only a few of them.
Goal Setting and Achievement
Even when we know what is good for us and what course of action should be effective many of us have problems forming and maintaining good habits. How many times did you try to eat healthy and exercise? Or simple to put your phone down before going to bed? Did you start a new hobby with enthusiasm and, in only a few weeks, completely abandon it?
Life coaching could help in each of these situations. Your coach will help you set up a realistic goal and plan how to achieve it. Further, during your regular life coaching sessions, you will track your progress, keep actions that bring you closer to your goals, and eliminate those which don't. Sound too simple, right?
Studies that investigated the effects of life coaching programs indeed confirmed their positive effects on goal attainment (Grant, 2003) and goal goal-striving (Green et al., 2005). In other words, life coaching really can help us overcome obstacles and challenges and keep us on the right track in moments when we would typically give up.
Boosting Confidence and Self-awareness with Coaching
Typically, life coaching is solution-focused and result-oriented. That explains why life coaching provides excellent results regarding goal-setting and goal-attaining, as we mentioned earlier.
At the same time, to be able to achieve goals, the client needs to analyze and understand the current state and take concrete action toward the desired state. If these actions bring us closer to our goals, it is reasonable to expect also increased confidence.
Therefore it is not surprising that a typical result of studies that investigated the effects of life coaching programs is increased self-confidence and self-awareness. One study (Lefdahl-Davis et al., 2018) showed improvement in self-confidence even after only three sessions. Life coaching can give fast results, and that is one of the reasons why it is so popular.
Balancing Work and Personal Life: Achieving Harmony through Life Coaching
Although life coaching usually does not target the business domain, it could also have a positive impact on work. One of the areas where improvement occurs is work-life balance. With increased demands at work and home, modern humans usually struggle to be effective in both fields, which takes a toll on both physical and mental health. Life coaching could help us develop some skills that are critical for setting boundaries but also improving time management skills, communication, and self-awareness.
Strengthening Emotional Intelligence and Effective Communication Skills
Humans are social beings, and being accepted by our group and having good relationships with others is one of the three basic psychological needs (Ryan & Deci, 2002).
Many studies suggest that we are biologically programmed to search for interactions. Social smiling (that aims to attract the attention of others) emerges at the age of 2 months in babies (Lavelli & Fogel, 2005). And what do we do when we see a baby smiling? Well, the majority of us will also smile and most likely interact with a baby.
However, even if we are surrounded by people and interact with them (or at least try to do so), necessarily it doesn't mean that we will develop emotional intelligence and a clear communication style. Our personality traits, as also upbringing and environment, will determine how we communicate. As a result, sometimes, as adults, we have problems making and maintaining relationships, or we deal with constant misunderstandings at our workplace.
Life coaching could help you objectively see the issues and make specific improvements in your behavior that will bring you closer to others. Being more assertive, setting more explicit boundaries, and speaking what you think instead of having the unrealistic expectation that people who love you will be able to "read your mind" will undoubtedly improve your relations both in private and professional domains. On the other hand, life coaching could also help you understand that there is nothing wrong with your communication style and that, indeed, you are dealing with difficult people.
Once you know the root of the problem, you can plan the following plan (whether to change something or to leave such an environment).
Embracing Life Coaching as a Catalyst for Growth and Success
While some people are more open-minded and willing to try all available resources, others are more skeptical and hesitant. Taking extra time to check your options is a good habit and is in your best interest.
Some people will be concerned about the life coaching program, its effectiveness, and the expertise of the coach, while others might be more concerned about what they can find out about themselves if they start searching.
The rapid expansion of life coaching in the past few decades did not always bring it a good reputation. Luckily, things are (slowly) changing, so now more empirical studies examined the effects and particular life coaching programs. Additionally, you can also check life coaches, what are their expertise, previous results, and their clients' experiences.
On the other hand, if you are concerned that life coaching might open some topics that you are not ready or willing to work on now - you shouldn't be. Life coaching is not meant for dealing with mental health issues, and a good life coach will recommend therapy if needed (or another coach who is more suited to work with particular challenges).
Finally, sometimes the uncertainty is scary. If that case, familiarisation with the process before you enter it could help. In one of our previous texts, we explained typical steps during life coaching, so you can check it out here. Take your time and give yourself a chance to find the program and coach that fit you best.
Grant, A. M. (2003). The impact of life coaching on goal attainment, metacognition and mental health. Social Behavior and Personality: an international journal, 31(3), 253-263.
Green, S., Oades, L. G., & Grant, A. M. (2005). An evaluation of a life-coaching group program: Initial findings from a waitlist control study. The complete handbook of coaching, 127-1411.
Ryan, R. M., & Deci, E. L. (2002). Overview of self-determination theory: An organismic dialectical perspective. Handbook of self-determination research, 2, 3-33.
Lefdahl-Davis, E. M., Huffman, L., Stancil, J., & Alayan, A. J. (2018). The impact of life coaching on undergraduate students: A multiyear analysis of coaching outcomes. International journal of evidence based coaching and mentoring, 16(2), 69-83.
Lavelli, M., & Fogel, A. (2005). Developmental changes in the relationship between the infant's attention and emotion during early face-to-face communication: the 2-month transition. Developmental psychology, 41(1), 265.