Do I Need a Life Coach?

By Sara Vigneri

For many of us, the current economic climate is a reason to worry about the future. But for some, it has become an opportunity to dream. When the future seems dim and uncertain, why not take the chance to rethink where you are and where you want to be?

One of the best ways to facilitate this kind of change is to enlist the help of a life coach. A life coach acts as a sounding board to help you discover goals or hidden desires and then they work with you to develop strategies to achieve those goals. They typically utilize a strategy called ‘powerful questioning’–a method involving thought-provoking queries such as “What stops me from taking action?” or “How will I know when I’ve reached my goal?” These questions are meant to help you unlock your dreams and desires and get you to think about your life beyond feeling stuck or unsatisfied. Life coaches help you create game plans, give you homework to do and then hold you responsible. “In many cases, a person knows they can do it on their own,” says Elizabeth Sanchez, a life and career coach in Bethlehem. “But they are going to be more successful with a coach. There will be better and faster results when someone holds you accountable.”

Life coaching is not therapy. A therapist helps you with your problems; life coaches are focused on solutions. So take a moment to reflect on your job, relationship or your future–do you see room for improvement? If so, read on:

Coaching your career: Whether you are out of work and looking for a new job, a stay-at-home mom looking to get back into the workforce or you just feel the desire to reinvent your career, consider enlisting the aid of a coach. “As a runner, I have been in races where I thought it was almost over and suddenly realized I still have a while to go,” says Sanchez. “At that moment you want to stop, but if you hear someone cheering you on it really helps and gives you a burst of energy to finish the race.” A career change can be just as daunting, rife with uncertainty and failures. Working with a life coach is like hiring a cheerleader that brings you to the finish line. They can provide the inspiration to delve into something new, the energy to make a plan, the clarity to know where you are headed and real tools to guide you along the way. “I think people realize that the most valuable thing we have is not money, it’s time,” says Sanchez. “So the most valuable thing I can do is help them figure out how best to spend their time.”

Coaching your relationships: Relationship coaching isn’t about fixing broken marriages. It’s a booster shot to prevent illness in a functioning relationship. “It bridges the gap between where you are in your relationship and where you want to be,” says Annette Carpien, a life and relationship coach who conducts workshops in the Lehigh Valley. “Whether single, divorced, or widowed–people often need someone to guide them and give them tools to help attract what they really want in a relationship.” Carpien uses ‘powerful questions’ to discover what needs to be changed, follows up to see if the changes are working and adjusts accordingly. “It’s about behavior,” she explains. “We experiment with new behaviors, and if something doesn’t work, we shift it.” In addition to working with couples and singles, she will also work with just one person in a relationship who is not happy but doesn’t know how to get their partner on board. “One person can be a powerful force for change,” she says. Your coach is going to expect you to commit to behavior-changing strategies and will follow-up on your progress.

Coaching your retirement: Think about it–your life as a retiree will likely be as long as your working career. But odds are, you have spent significantly more time planning and thinking about your working life and thought little about retirement beyond your finances. “People are often well-planned for retirement financially, but they are far behind on planning other aspects of their retirement life such as health and wellness, volunteering, leisure time or a second career,” says Connie Challingsworth, a life and retirement coach in Allentown. How will you spend your day? What kind of work would you like to do? How will you schedule your day with your spouse? “Couples often have different ideas of what retirement will look like,” says Challingsworth. “I work to get them on the same page.” And like any other life coach, a retirement coach doesn’t have a vested interest in your decisions and can be more objective than a spouse or family member. They help you forge a path, make plans and hold you accountable. Avoiding this kind of planning can lead to a sense of aimlessness and depression once you retire and realize you have to deal with the vast expanse of time that lies ahead. “I help people in their mid-life go confidently into their dreams,” says Challingsworth.

All three life coaches contacted for this story utilize a life coach themselves. “I came out of the corporate world but was planning on early retirement to start this business,” says Challingsworth. “My life coach guided me through the process and once the business was up and running, I enlisted a business coach and continue to work with her today.” Carpien told a similar story: “I was getting close to 50 and was wondering what’s next. I had a good job, but there was an inner voice that said there’s a legacy you need to leave. I needed to figure out what that was so I worked with a life coach–it became clear to me that it was going to be about relationships.” Sanchez also works with a life coach–she has successfully started several businesses on her own but says “working with a life coach makes it easier because you have someone who is rooting you on and watching out for you.”

So if you are looking to reinvent yourself, but need a push, consider hiring a life coach–you might be surprised by your own potential.

Annette Carpien, Life and Relationship Coach

Connie Challingsworth, Certified Life Coach, Positive Life Decisions, LLC
4755 W. Tilghman St., Allentown

Elizabeth Sanchez, Success Coach, Simply Successful Life
44 E. Broad St., Suite 120, Bethlehem

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