Life Coaching | The Definitive Definition
Updated: Mar 1
What is a Life Coach (Lifecoach)?
A Life Coach (Lifecoach) is a paid professional who uses their acquired experiences, skills, & expertise to advise people how to identify goals, create an action plan, & overcome obstacles in areas of relationships, career, health & wellness, business, & daily personal life with the intent of a more advantageous future.
Life Coaching is about teaching you to manage your time, skills, habits, and experience to achieve the best quality of life. A lot of things have happened to you during your life so far. You have gone through ups & downs, bad & good times. You have managed to make it this far, but maybe you feel lost. Maybe you are lacking confidence or the right type of motivation. Possibly you feel like you are running in place or spend way too much time scrolling through your phone. You know there is something more productive you should be doing or perhaps, you have it all together and want to help people achieve what you have been able to accomplish.
Whether you are considering a career as a Life Coach or looking to hire one, understanding the training, certifications, services offered, cost to hire one, and how much can a life coach make should be of interest to you. If you are like me, having a clearly defined definition of what something is, is of importance before committing to it. I want to share with you some of the ideas, concepts, and philosophies I have developed on my path to becoming a Life Coach. If you have ever had questions about this profession, I hope you find this article interesting, informative, and entertaining.
What is the difference between a Life Coach, Counselor, Therapist, Psychologist & Psychiatrist?
First, I want to get out of the way, what a Life Coach does not do. A Life Coach is not in the mental health care industry. Some mental health care provider calls themselves Life Coaches, but that means they are providing two very different services.
A Psychiatrist is a Medical Doctor (MD). They graduate from medical school, have a year of medical internship, and have three years of residency in the assessment and treatment of mental health disorders. Psychiatrists are trained to talk with their patients about their problems (psychotherapy). Psychiatrists focus on biology and neurochemistry. Psychiatrists can prescribe medication because of their medical training.
A Psychologist is not a Medical Doctor (MD). Psychologists study the mind and human behavior. Psychologists have a doctoral degree. They also can have a Ph.D. in philosophy or a PsyD in clinical or counseling psychology where they do 1-2 years of internship. They are trained in giving psychological tests (like IQ tests or personality tests). Psychologists, like psychiatrists, are typically trained to practice psychotherapy as well.
Therapist & Counselor are broad terms use for professionals that are trained to provide practical treatment and rehabilitation. Some therapists do not treat mental health disorders. A therapist generally does not diagnose disorders or disabilities. They provide guidance and support to help their clients deal with their feelings, make decisions, and deal with any trauma caused by past experiences.
The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) gives a list of mental health disorders, which include (but are not limited to) stress, depression, anxiety, mood disorders, phobias, bipolar disorders, PTSD, schizophrenia, among others. Mental health disorders and disabilities are treated by psychologists, psychiatrists, and therapists.
Life Coaches do not diagnose or treat any mental disorders, illnesses, or disabilities. They focus on your goals. Life is made up of little individual moments, and we help you plan for the success of those moments. A trustworthy life coach will not attempt to work with someone who requires help that we are not trained to provide.
If you feel you require treatment for any of these mental health issues, please contact The American Psychological Association (APA) to find a professional mental health care center near you.
An Examination of Words, Life & Coach
Socrates stated that "The unexamined life is not worth living for human beings". Being a teacher and one of the founders of Western philosophy, he understood the importance of clearly defining definitive within an explanation. Next, I want to do just that by reviewing and defining what is ‘Life’ and ‘Coach’ plus outlining their place in the mind of a Life Coach.
Long before ever seeing the words, Life & Coach side by side, I understood what they meant when existed apart. Being able to classify the gravity each of these words has in our vocabulary helped me appreciate the significance when they are together. But let’s not get ahead of ourselves. What can we determine from analyzing each one alone?
Wikipedia describes ‘Life’ as “a characteristic that distinguishes physical entities that have biological processes, such as signaling and self-sustaining processes, from those that do not, either because such functions have ceased (they have died), or because they never had such functions and are classified as inanimate.”
In all these definitions, it is construed that there are perceived experiences that exist for a finite amount of time. As predominantly rational creatures, we try our best to control or manage our reactions to the experiences that take place within our daily lives. Unfortunately, sometimes we are held captive by bad habits that have been acquired at a young age. This occurrence generates a "need" for us to modify our reactions and habits. Once that happens, the "need" for a coach to guide us through the process of creating new habits now has a reason to become a part of our experience.
A coach helps us to develop the habits and skills needed to perform and succeed in a sport, a test, or in this case, ‘Life.’ Coaches are typically experienced in a particular area of expertise, but in rare cases, they guide a multitude of different skill sets. Regardless of mastery, all coaches focus on putting in place a process that creates actionable goals for achievable results.
Most notably, coaches are known for training groups or individuals to win at sporting events, but coaches work in many different service industries. Coaching takes place in the performing arts where singers get vocal, acting, or drama coaches help them deliver a more memorable performance. Some coaches focus on business, education, health care, and relationships, or even dating. Coaching may happen in informal situations, or settings between two people, one of whom have cultivated a more keen insight and expertise than the other, but there are times when larger groups are coached in a professional business setting as well. In any case, a coach would put together a game plan aimed at achieving success in a specific task or set of objectives for the benefit of a team or individual.
Ultimately, Life Coaches transform the existence of the person or persons being coached by teaching new habits that benefit the client's future experience. The habits that are developed will also affect the lives of the people that the client interacts with as well. So, Life Coaches are not just developing one person, but in a small way, every person their client will encounter for the rest of their life. It becomes a plan of evolution.
What qualifications do you need to be a life coach?
There is no such thing as a Certified Life Coach. Life coaching is a non-regulated industry. There is not a governing organization over the profession of being a Life Coach. There is not a degree, nor a license required to be a life coach. The U.S. Department of Labor and the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics does not require any formal education for an individual to list themselves as a Life Coach. There are not any local, state, or federal licenses or certifications Life Coaches are required to attain before practicing their craft.
Academic institutions (such as Universities) are accredited by a governing body. Organizations providing Life Coaching certifications do not need to be accredited because no accrediting institution exists in the field of life coaching. Aspiring Life Coaches can choose to take a course or earn degrees in Life Coaching, but these courses or degrees are not accredited under any governing body.
There are requirements associated with calling yourself a counselor, therapist, psychologist, or psychiatrist because a governing body exists and is regulated through an official license or certification.
The International Coach Federation (ICF) offers three credentials if you desire to have a stamp of approval to verify that you have been coached on how to coach. They allow you to attach their designation to your name if you maintain membership and complete the continuing education guidelines.
Becoming certified with the ICF does help if clients are looking for the security of knowing their Life Coach had some type of training, but many jobs provide excellent training to sales professionals and team managers to coach their subordinates properly. Those skills can be used to transition easily and effectively into the Life Coaching profession.
Why become a Life Coach?
Merging these two words allows dedicated coaches to devote themselves to a “noble” career where they will not only be personally fulfilled but can also help others to find their purpose in life. Every Life Coach should have a strong reason “why” they have committed to taking on the endeavor of helping another person live a life better than they do right now.
Motivational Speakers / Life Coaches like Tony Robbins, Eric Thomas, and Les Brown have worked with thousands of people to bring about meaningful change to their lives. Many CEOs, entrepreneurs, business leaders, executives, and business professionals use Life Coaches to enrich their current situation, but the homeless, unemployed, and disenfranchised also deserve mercy and help to advance their current circumstances as well. It is easy to get caught up in the money that can be made by coaching people already in the upper echelon of society, but the people that need the services of a Life Coach are the ones who may not be able to afford to pay thousands of dollars for courses, events, and retreats.
For me, becoming a Life Coach is a very personal choice. From being bullied throughout middle school, feeling like an outcast during my teenage years, ultimately being diagnosed with mild depression in my early twenties, I felt the need to plan my way to a better life. At first, I had no clue what that meant. I read self-help books, studied different religious groups, but the only thing that helped was to search within myself. That lead me to create Hugh Mann Development, a Life Coaching, Image Consulting, Personal and Business Branding company focused on generating ideas about self-worth, empathy, and getting the most out of life. This is my “why.” You must find yours.
There are many individuals in social problems affecting the world today. Maybe you will help individuals and families affected by homelessness, coaching orphans on integrating into society, or help a client to re-enter the workforce after graduating from college or a period of unemployment but, there is always an underdog fighting to get back to even.
As of Oct 12th, 2020, approximately 12.6 million Americans are unemployed, and even though that number is shrinking, many of them will have to find jobs in different industries. The unprecedented number of businesses claiming bankruptcy or dramatically reducing their staff due to the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic is growing. These people are going to have to find a way to distinguish themselves from each other once the economy begins to rebound after this global crisis.
Presenting themselves through resumes, social media, and face to face or virtual interviews can be a daunting task. In a time where your online image is just as important as a first impression having someone to help navigate that environment and managing that “image” can considerably impact their future.
Many human resources managers and staffing agencies review Linkedin, Facebook, and Google search results alongside employment sites like Indeed, Monster, and Glassdoor when looking for the best candidate. Having someone that can assist with creating a profile, resume and post can make a world of difference when making a career change for a better opportunity. Are you going to be the one to help them?
Why hire a Life Coach?
Here are 7 reasons why you would want to.
Do you have it all together? You know exactly where you want to be in the next one, three, five, or ten years. You know what steps you need to take and are never unmotivated or distracted. Your plan is flawless. If that is the case, then maybe you should be a Life Coach and help people achieve what you have been able to. Otherwise, if you are like most of us, you could find value in working with a Life Coach. Are you ready to hire a coach of your own? If you are unsure, here is a list of 7 reasons you will want to:
1. Your life has taken a turn for the worse
Have you been fired? Has your business failed? Your husband or wife has recently passed away. Grief can take hold of our lives, and it usually comes when we least expect it. Attempting to navigate these times without a plan forward can cause to spend more time in despair than needed. A Life Coach will help you get past the grief and to a life you want.
2. You need to be motivated
How do you act without a plan? Are you unsure of what your next move should be? Are you afraid of failing? Do you need someone to motivate you to make that next move? Are your obstacles holding you back? Change is necessary to move from one phase to the next. A Life Coach will know when to push you out of your comfort zone and know how to help you reveal things you did not know were there. Either way, they will get you started.
3. You need help managing your time
“Do not squander time. That is the stuff life is made of.” — Gone With the Wind. Have you ever wished you have more time? How do you prioritize tasks? How do you limit distractions? How do you manage deadlines?
Time is always something we wish we had more of. A Life Coach cannot add more hours in a day, but they can help you manage the 24 hours everyone is given more effectively.
4. You want to accomplish a high level of success.
Do you frequently become distracted? Do you have difficulty staying on task? How do you work when you are overwhelmed? What support do you need to achieve your goals? Accomplishing a goal provides you with a sense of fulfillment. A Life Coach will work with you to set achievable, attainable goals, so you become more comfortable seeking bigger and loftier pursuits.
5. You need help seeing your future more clearly.
What are the things you are most passionate about? What are your goals in life? What do you not like to do? What are you doing today to move you toward your dreams? Sometimes you do not know the right questions to ask yourself to get the answer that will give you a sense of clarity, but your life coach does.
6. You are not holding yourself accountable.
Does anyone provide you with productive, constructive feedback? Do you keep track of your goals? How often do you update your milestones? Do you have a personal mission statement? A Life Coach can hold your feet to the fire. Just like a manager, they can set goals, provide feedback, and expect a certain level of performance. If it has not been attained, there can be agreed upon disciplinary action.
7. You do not believe in yourself.
Do you not like what you see when you look in the mirror? Do you think you are not enough? Are you scared of expressing yourself? Are you controlled by your fear of what people think about you? A Life Coach can provide consulting, training, and guidance that will allow you to see yourself in a different light.
What should you expect from a life coach?
A Life Coach can help you achieve in many different niche areas. They support and consult clients on a range of personal and professional issues. Although a Life coach may sit down and listen to your thoughts and ideas, they are fundamentally different from therapists and psychologists since they do not diagnose illness, disease, or state of mind. Instead, they are hired to help clients set goals, personally and professionally, and create plans to help them move from one phase in life to the next, productively, and successfully. A Life Coach pushes you to progress by assessing where you are in life, identifying your current strengths and weakness, and challenge you to overcome obstacles that are holding you back. Life Coaches help you focus on the best possible achievable outcomes for your life.
Types of Life Coaches
There are many types of Life Coaches. Here is a shortlist of the most popular.
Fitness, Health & Wellness
Daily Personal Life
Here are some of the specific services they offer:
Professional and Personal Development Goals
Developing a routine for Time Management
Communication Skills and Techniques
Social Media Management and Optimization
Motivational Speaking Events
Self Esteem Building
These services can provide clients with a higher quality of life through:
Defining a vision for success
Creating professional and personal development plans
Communicating more effectively
Achieving Health and Fitness goals
Encouraging self-discovery and growth
Gaining clarity of your purpose
Reigniting passion in personal relationships
Become a more effective leader
Preparing for change
What does a Life Coach do, exactly?
A Life Coach has a unique view of the world. They remove their rose-colored glasses and perceive problems pragmatically to find achievable solutions. They help you plan, set goals, and execute a strategy. They leave behind the illusion of obstacles and charge forward to attain the desired result. A Life Coach can be relentless in their ambition and ruthless in accomplishing their goal. The best part, as your Life Coach, you have them on your side. They will work with you and fight for you. They will push you to limits that you never thought you could surmount. As an ally, they are the general in your military on the front line during the war. So, what does a Life Coach do? They help you win.
If I am already successful would I still benefit from a life coach?
Are you successful in all areas of your life? Most Life Coaches would ask this question. If you are then there is probably not much you can get from a life coach now, but the future is ever-changing. I believe in planning for tomorrow. What happens if those things you are feeling successful with experience a change in a negative way? Are you ready to deal with that? Do you have a plan in place? If the answer is No, then there is a benefit.
If I start coaching, will I need to work with my Lifecoach for the rest of my life?
That is up to you. If you continue to require a Life Coach regularly, then it is best to keep them around. Some Life Coaches may allow you to carry a retainer and are available to you whenever you need them. Others' are session-based and do not provide services outside of office hours. At the end of the day, you must ask yourself, "am I seeing a benefit?" IF the answer is yes, continue.
How long will I need to commit to working with a life coach?
Typically, you should commit to at least 2-3 sessions. You must be willing to build a connection, and that will not happen overnight. It takes time to know if there is compatibility. Each Life Coach structures their service agreement differently. Some have a minimum service period, and others are session by session. But, if you ever feel unsafe, then I suggest asking for any agreement to be nullified and stop attending sessions.
Is there a possibility I cannot be coached?
I believe everyone is coachable if they understand the benefit of changing their habit.
Resistance usually comes from a fear of change and not believing coaching will be beneficial. If you have an open mind about the possibilities and a desire to better yourself, you can be coached.
Life Coach near me......????
Obviously, the internet is a great place to start. There are many ways of finding a Life Coach near you. But now since, COVID-19, many Life Coaches are holding their sessions virtually through services like ZOOM, Microsoft Teams, and Google Meet. So, a Life Coach can be hundreds, or thousands of miles away and still have a face to face, one on one session with you. Here is a list of online directories that you can use to find a life coach to work with. (I do not endorse any of these sites.)
How much money does a Life Coach make?
Life Coaches have many ways in which they can earn an income. How much they make is based on how many paths they are willing to commit themselves to. The answer to this is very complex, and I will break it down into a few parts.
1. Do life coaches make a lot of money?
Life Coaches can make a lot of money. Tony Robbins is a famous motivational speaker and Life Coach. He is estimated to be worth $500 million.
Most Life Coaches will not earn this amount of money in their career. About 10% to 20% of Life Coaches make more than a six-figure income, and many others work a 9-5 job. Your income as a Life Coach really depends on how well you are at marketing yourself and finding a constant flow of high paying clients.
2. What factors determine how much you make as a life coach?
Just like in other occupations, Life Coaches charge or are paid based on availability, education, experience, and areas of expertise.
· Availability – Life Coaches must manage their time between clients, personal life, running their business, humanitarian efforts, and continuous learning. Since there are only so many hours in a day, they must decide what is most important and attach a worth to it. If they are going to sacrifice a humanitarian event for a paid event, the amount that they earn needs to match in value. The busier that they get, the more valuable their time is.
· Education – Some Life Coaches have psychology and sociology degree. They have gone to school for many years and have proven themselves capable even before starting their practice with the public. Many of them have school loans to pay back, and they need to earn enough to manage their current bill plus debt. The only way to do this is by requiring livable rates for services or working multiple careers. Either way, it is factored into their income.
· Experience – Many Life Coaches have worked in other industries before deciding to be a Life Coach. They use this knowledge to help their clients achieve their goals in the desired area. If they were a business executive, now they have tremendous insight into what is required to ascend the corporate ladder. Maybe a Life Coach has been married for years, and now they are giving pointers to couples about keeping their relationships fresh. The more years they have been doing it allows them the right to charge more for their services.
· Areas of Expertise – A Life Coach whose niche is in career development will possibly charge more than a Life Coach that focuses on daily personal life. There is a more perceived value in one over the other. It is up to the client to decide the value. At the end of the day, the client is the one that is paying for the service.
3. How do life coaches make money?
Working for an established company is one way a Life Coach can make their income, but many are self-employed entrepreneurs. If they are, here are some of the various ways they are available for hire.
o One-on-One Sessions - Life Coach works with the client in an individual setting to provide service or advice. It can be virtual or face-to-face.
o Group Sessions / Retreats - Normally, these are done in a large group setting within an auditorium or event facility.
o Paid Memberships - Typically yearly or monthly subscriptions to a newsletter, webinar, or notices for upcoming events.
o Courses - Online audio/video lessons on different subject matter the life coach creates.
o Motivational Speaking - Online or in-person events where the Life Coach does a live presentation.
o Publications - Articles, books, e-books, or blogs that the Life Coach writes.
o Podcasts - Audio broadcast of a show focused on a particular topic.
o Clothing Line - T-shirts, hats, sweaters, hoodies, and other types of wearable merchandise usually with the Life Coaches logo on it.
4. The average salary of a life coach
Some Life Coaches work as employees. Glassdoor rates the average base pay of a Life Coach at $40,089 per year and a range from $27k to 63k per year. That is based on 5,325 employees anonymously submitting their salary data. Private practices or freelance services are not included in the average base salary.
5. How much does hiring a Life Coach cost?
Life Coaches charge rates based on time serviced like other professionals, e.g. Lawyers, Doctors, Mechanics. Typically, Life Coaches charge by the half-hour. Some will offer an initial consultation fee, but not all follow this practice. The rate of a 30 min session can start around $50 and increase to over $5000 on average. Some Life Coaches offer a monthly retainer ranging from $200 to $2500 per month. That would include a set number of sessions/month and possibly additional niche services. Executive coaches charge even more and typically work with their clients for two hours a month. The cost for these can vary. Some Executive coaches work with groups of C-level execs and charge more than $300,000 for retreats or motivational speaking events. In any case, it is best to check out their websites before contacting them. When you do, have a list of questions and an open mind.
Here are 20 FAQ you should ask the Life Coach you are considering.
What is your niche?
What happens if I miss a session?
How long is the service agreement?
How long are the coaching sessions?
Can I reschedule my appointment time?
Do you have a confidentiality agreement?
What happens during a coaching session?
What if I need to end my coaching session?
Where does the coaching session take place?
Do you have clients sign a service agreement?
What if I want to cancel my service agreement?
Can I be coached over the telephone or online?
Do you guarantee results from your life coaching?
Is there a guarantee of the privacy of my information?
How can you help me get Life Coaching on a budget?
Can I hire a life coach for a short-term, special project?
How can you help me fit Life Coaching into my busy schedule?
What type of contact can I have with my Life Coach between sessions?
What if I pay for Life Coaching and do not see any benefit after a few sessions?
What happens if I do not follow through on an assignment or do not do what I said I was going to do?
My Definitive Definition of a Life Coach
Finally, I do not expect this to be the be-all to end-all Definitive Definition of a Life Coach, but it is my Definitive Definition of a Life Coach.
Levern Darrell Scippio definition of a Life Coach, “a professional who asks questions to understand you empathetically with the intention of developing a plan that will enrich your life by preparing you to invoke change to achieve the desired goal.”
In Conclusion: Is a Life Coach worth it?
The answer to this is up to you. If you are willing to pay someone to help you reach higher goals and push you to become the best you can be, then I suggest hiring a Life Coach. Make sure that you work with them to plan your future because you must put in the hard work and make the changes stick. They are just the guide to help you along the way. The real commitment is to yourself. So, the question that you should be asking yourself is,
"am I worth it?"
I hope your answer is Yes.