Everything You Need to Know About Hiring a Life Coach

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“I’m seeing a life coach,” a friend told me over a glass of champagne at an event recently. The life coach in question has helped her transition from a career she didn’t feel fulfilled by having the confidence to quit her job and start her own business. Unlike our grandparents and parents, who were more likely to have jobs for life, these days, people morph, evolve, and even entirely change their career paths throughout their working life.

What is Life Coaching?

Life coaching is meeting with a certified coach who can help you reach your goals. Through designing plans and steps to help push you past your sticking points, life coaches can clarify your path to personal satisfaction and achievement.

Add in the fact that nowadays, with the rise of social media and impressive people shouting about their impressive flashy careers, it’s easy to feel as if you’re not doing enough. It’s also no secret that social media invites constant comparison—like we’ve all been entered into a competition we didn’t know about.

Intrigued? I caught up with life coach Gina Swire and Comparison Coach Lucy Sheridan to determine why people employ life coaches, how they help, and some tips you can utilize today.

Meet the Expert

  • Gina Swire is a proclaimed self-love coach helping people find compassion for themselves.
  • Lucy Sheridan is a life coach specializing in helping people to stop comparing themselves to others in life and business.

What Is a Life Coach?

Unlike therapy, which helps you deal with past issues, life coaching looks towards the future. Where therapy undoubtedly has a place, Swire tells me, “The way I see it, a therapist is more of a doctor who will diagnose illness and focus a lot on the past, traumas, and core beliefs. Coaches are much more forward-thinking. [Of course, a] coach will certainly revisit the past to leverage happiness and success [for the future],” she adds.

A life coach aims to help you progress in your life—whether in your relationships, work, health, or the daily grind of all combined. Life coaches do not treat mental health issues—that's what a psychologist or therapist is for—but instead, they help push you past sticking points in your life that keep you from realizing your goals. There are six main types of life coaches:

  • Relationship coaching
  • Financial coaching
  • Career coaching
  • Leadership coaching
  • Nutrition and weight loss coaching
  • Health and wellness coaching

Finding a Coach

Most coaches will publicize themselves and their USP through Instagram; it’s a great way to see whether what they are saying resonates with you. Here are some other ways you can find a life coach.

By Referral

If you have friends who already see a life coach, ask them to share their contact information. You can also ask on forums or groups for recommendations, read online reviews, or even ask your therapist or doctor.

Locally Located Coaches

If you'd like to see your life coach in person rather than virtually, you will want to find someone nearby. Use local directories or search engines to look for life coaches in your area. Most search engines will also provide ratings and reviews you can read before making a decision. LinkedIn can also help with this search.

Search Coach Directories 

Use online coach directories to search for a life coach. You can choose someone to work with online or find someone locally. Psychology Today has a search feature for this purpose, as does Bark.

So, Who Sees Life Coaches?

Swire and Sheridan have similar clients—women in their mid-30s to 40s. “Usually women aged 30–45 who are in a job they’ve done for a while, but dream of a more location-independent, passion project, lifestyle,” Swire tells me. “Generally, people are going through something when they first reach out. Either a breakup, a job crisis, family challenges—that kind of thing.”

A life coach can help if you feel:

  • Lost and confused with your life
  • Stuck and not able to move forward with your goals
  • Full of self-doubt or low confidence
  • Like you have a dream but no clear path to obtain it
  • Scattered and disorganized
  • You're not reaching your financial potential
  • You procrastinate often
  • Your health needs improvement
  • Stuck in your job and you want a change

How It Works

Life coaches will take a practical approach to help you make a plan for the life you want to live. “I take someone from where they are to where they wish to be. Or how they wish to feel. I put together practical plans to implement to make changes. Coaches are experts in helping clients make life transformations and knowing exactly what they want. We’re goal-oriented,” Swire says.

My friend, the one who told me she’s seeing a coach, said that the sessions have helped her formulate a plan and feel more confident. After each catch-up, she’s given homework, such as documenting in detail what a perfect day looks like for her. Tasks like this have helped her hone in on what’s really important.

Sheridan tells me she only works with people who are truly thirsty for change and wholly dedicated to the process. “They must do their homework, and they must bring all of themselves (even the disowned parts),” she says. “They must be willing to go there and lean into their pain, guilt, sadness, longing, cravings—everything—so that they can understand themselves more deeply.”

Do You Need to See Your Coach In Person?

Being committed to a life coach who offers personalized one-on-one coaching (either in person or via Skype) can run into the thousands of pounds. However, if you don’t have that money to drop, you can attend group sessions and workshops, which work out cheaper.

I’m working with a life coach right now, who sends me homework every Sunday for 10 weeks. But generally, the duration you spend with a life coach is sort of as long as a piece of string. “Some of my clients have massive lightbulb moments after just one session,” says Swire. Sometimes it’s that intention to ‘go there,’ spend some energy and time on themselves and be heard by a professional who asks powerful questions.”

Sheridan agrees: “A shift can be achieved from just one conversation, and results can spur on from there. More likely, though, change comes over time, but this can be felt and noticed in a fortnight if a client is open and committed to doing the inner work and showing up for themselves. Change and our attitude to it are so personal that so too is the pace of change.”

Is Coaching for Everyone?

Swire believes it will work for anyone open to change. Adds Sheridan, “So much of the success of coaching is down to good chemistry and rapport with a client and mutual trust. I say coaching is like a muscle; it works when you do, and it will get stronger and stronger for you. If the commitment is there and the chemistry is good, the possibilities are endless.” In short, seeing a coach isn’t like waving a magic wand. Change takes work and dedication. No one can make you do the work; that part is on you.

Life coaching may not work for you if what you really need is a therapist or psychologist. Any medical issues require a medical professional, and that holds for mental health. If you don't see progress in a way that you'd hoped, then it might be time to seek out professional mental health care.

There's also always the risk of hiring the wrong coach. Not everyone's techniques and personalities are going to mesh, and that's ok. Part of the growth process can include trial and error. Dumping (gently) your life coach for another is a smart move if things are flowing well.

To give you a taste, I asked Swire and Sheridan to share exercises you can do this weekend. Then keep scrolling for three life coaches to follow on Instagram.

Gina Swire's Top Tips

Awareness Is Key

“You can’t change what you don’t know. So anything that helps you understand your most real thoughts and feelings is key. Try yoga (where you look within), meditation apps like Insight Timer and Calm. One of my best friends does pottery classes purely to create space so she can quiet her mind and get some clarity. Whatever it is for you. Find that thing.”

Start Journaling Every Day

“I love journalling; it made a massive impact on my life and a lot of my clients’ lives. Answer questions like How do I really feel today? What is challenging me? What/who triggered me today or made my blood boil? Who did I compare myself to today? Was it effective or ineffective? What did I say yes to when I meant no? What did I say no to when I meant yes? If I won £50,000 today and had to spend it, what would I do with it?

Start a Daily Forgiveness Practice

“Forgiveness for self-love is vital. Forgiveness creates space to use your valuable energy for. When we blame ourselves for little and big things, we become heavy. When we forgive, we are light and free. Write a list. What am I yet to forgive myself for? Sometimes just writing it out and having an intention to forgive eventually is enough.”

Delete or Hide Those who Make You Feel Inadequate

“You can readd them when you feel stronger if you wish. Your social media world is exactly the same as your real world. Who you surround yourself with MATTERS. Nourish yourself with healthy like-minded, positive accounts that fill you up. My social media is all amazing, real, raw, inspiring humans who light me up. There’s nobody on there who drains my energy at all. Why would I want that? It doesn’t make me a bad person. It makes me smart and savvy.”

Lucy Sheridan's Top Tips

Turn Off All Notifications

“Just for a while until the sense of overwhelm has subsided. You simply don’t need to have your focus tested when you’re not feeling at your best, and you can catch up with everything when you consciously log on to your apps rather than being at the beck and call of notifications.”

Set The Tone For Your Day

Give yourself the first hour of the day to be uninterrupted. “This means no pre-wee scrolling! If we’re not careful, we can end up feeling like the world is sitting at the end of our bed before we’ve even answered the call of nature!”

Treat Comparison As a Cue For Action

“If you find yourself in comparison or feeling lesser-than because of what you see, you can either choose to feel rubbish and have a good bitchy leak about the person who has triggered you, or ask What is this trying to show me? If you’re comparing your career to someone, perhaps it’s time to get on LinkedIn and tidy up your profile in preparation for a move. If you’re comparing your love life, perhaps you can take the initiative and organise a weekend away. It’s easy to stay in envy and do nothing, but action cuts off the oxygen to comparison!”

More Coaches to Follow

A Tribe Called Women

A Tribe Called Women runs retreats and workshops to help boost self-love and confidence, and to help you find your life purpose.

Kate Taylor - Creative Living

Kate’s aim is to empower her clients to become their own life coaches.

The Perception Coach

The Perception Coach offers a 10-week plan. Each Sunday, you get a new focus and homework. Over the weeks, these help you build confidence and set you up to be the best version of you that you can.

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