Everyone has dreams and goals. The challenge is making them happen! Outdated methods, poor uses of time, negative thoughts and the daily stress of life all get in the way, and goals become distant visions instead of concrete, achievable realities.

Life coaching provides a path out of the mire. While friends and family can offer insight and advice, they can be too close to situations to offer objective views or may not understand the true importance of loved ones’ goals. Guidance from a professional with experience in a specific coaching area can help break down barriers and set up the stepping stones for success.

What is Life Coaching?
A life coach is like a counselor who specializes in helping people with personal and professional goals. By providing guidance through a variety of methods, life coaches help clients get the right perspective on situations so that they can move forward with better mindsets and strong action plans.

Being objective about life’s problems is hard. Many people struggle with restrictive thought processes or feelings of inadequacy not based in reality. Coaching sessions are designed to re-frame these thoughts and create a much more productive approach to solving problems. At its core, life coaching teaches:

• How to set and pursue goals
• How to tackle problems with a better attitude
• The steps needed to take the initiative

All these outcomes are achieved with knowledgeable guidance and consistent accountability provided by a life coach.

Who Should Hire a Life Coach?
Everyone needs to take responsibility for achieving their own goals and addressing the things holding them back. Life coaches help people get back on track and create plans for success in a variety of situations, including:

• Starting or growing a business
• Working out difficult friendships and family relationships
• Finding a spouse
• Honing a skill or vocation
• Getting organized at work or at home
• Reaching and fulfilling true personal potential
• Getting and staying focused
• Prioritizing tasks and managing time
• Building the confidence necessary to start working toward goals
• Minimizing and clearing clutter
Adopting and sticking with a healthy lifestyle

It’s important to note life coaches aren’t mental health professionals and can’t provide support for serious disorders. However, a coach can be part of the team with which a person works as he or she learns to cope with and move beyond the perceived limitations of a mental health condition.

What to Expect in a Typical Life Coaching Session
Life coaches hold sessions in person, via email, over the phone and with video conference tools like Skype. Clients can choose the mode of communication with which they’re most comfortable. Life coaching sessions usually run between 45 and 60 minutes and involve an open, honest discussion between the client and the coach.

The initial session sets the stage for future meetings. After establishing the client’s goals, struggles and desired outcomes, the coach uses subsequent sessions to:

• Uncover damaging thoughts and mindsets
• Review challenges and successes
• Create action plans

Coming to each session with an open mind helps clients be active participants and prepares them to apply what they learn. When a session concludes, the goal for both coach and client is to feel progress was made and expectations were met.

Finding the Perfect Fit
To connect with the right coach, it’s essential to have a concrete knowledge of the goals and accomplishments to be addressed. Being ready for change and willing to commit time to both the coaching sessions and the actions a coach suggests are foundational to success.

A local coach can provide sessions in person if it’s the best fit, but technology makes it possible to get life coaching from anywhere. Some coaches offer free introductory sessions to showcase what they do and help potential clients get a feel for the relationship. Making a solid connection right away suggests the coach is the right match.

When searching for a coach, ask:

• What qualifications or certifications do you hold?
• Where did you train?
• What outcomes have previous clients had?
• What coaching areas are you most familiar with?
• Do you have experience coaching people in my situation?

These questions narrow down the choices to coaches most qualified to handle specific needs and make it easier to find the perfect person to address tough issues.

A life coach doesn’t solve every problem, but he or she can provide everything a person needs to tackle difficulties. From personal relationships to business goals, hiring a coach brings dreams one step closer to reality.

Coaching brings a fresh perspective to struggles and spurs action. Breaking out of ruts, conquering fears and getting things done all begin to become second nature. The right life coaching program can help anyone make things happen with clear, actionable steps and a plan designed to conquer any obstacle.