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How To Become A Life Coach (And Get Paid For It)

How To Become A Life Coach (And Get Paid For It)

Think back on the last time you faced a major life decision. How did you handle it? Did you put it off and pretend it wasn’t there? Or did you put all your options in front of you and choose the one that best aligned with your most important short term and long term goals?

Given that you’re reading this article, it’s safe to say that you chose the second route. But many people—even those who have reached great success—struggle to handle those forks in the road in a positive and authentic way. All too often, these individuals are pulled and tugged in different directions and make important life decisions according to everyone else’s priorities but their own.

The purpose of a life coach is to bring clarity to an individual (or team of individuals) facing a critical decision point in their personal or professional lives. If you’re skilled at and enjoy communicating with others and you’d like to know how to turn that skill into a fruitful career, becoming a life coach might be a natural career path for you.

If you’re looking to learn how to become a life coach, you’re not alone. Life coaching has become one of the fastest growing careers in America. Here are the three basic steps you’ll need to take in order to make a full time career as a life coach.

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Step 1: Immerse Yourself

Life coaching can be an extremely rewarding and personally fulfilling career with flexible hours and excellent pay—but it’s not for everyone. Before spending thousands of dollars on life coach training and spending even more money to open your own life coaching business, it’s best to make smaller investments in learning everything you can about life coaching before actually becoming one. This means practicing with your friends, joining Meetups with other coaching-minded individuals, and reading books on life coaching.

Far and away the most popular book on the art of life coaching is Walks of Life, written by the certified coaching professionals at the National Coach Academy (NCA). It’s full of real coaching conversations and proven techniques to help bring out the best in your clients and further hone your skills as a coach.

Step 2: Find Your Niche

One of the misconceptions about life coaches is that they only deal with people struggling with midlife crises or inner psychological problems in their lives. The reality is that all kinds of life circumstances can benefit from professional coaching, which is why there are career coaches, executive coaches, real estate coaches, retirement coaches, fitness coaches, etc.

Your job as a budding life coach is to find the niche that lights your fire. What motivates you to get up in the morning? This is one of the hardest questions you’ll ever answer. Are you passionate about helping the elderly achieve a sense of normalcy in their ever-challenging lives? Or are you particularly interested in teenagers and those riding the emotional roller coaster of adolescence?

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If you answered “no” to both of these questions, that’s OK. The important part is to understand why not. And as you continue to engage in this conversation with yourself, try and take notice of what kinds of individuals or life circumstances you find the most fascinating. Have real conversations with all kinds of people and the internal and external struggles they face every day.

At the end of the exercise you’ll have achieved two things. One, you’ll have a good idea of which direction you want your coaching career to take. And importantly, you’ll have gained valuable coaching experience with your very first subject: yourself.

Step 3: Find a Legitimate Training Program

OK, so you’ve figured out which coaching specialty you’d like to pursue. Your next step is to become certified. Sounds simple enough doesn’t it? Not so fast.

There are literally thousands of coach training programs in existence with more and more propping up every single day. Not only must you determine which programs are legitimate and which ones aren’t, but you must also figure out which programs cater to your particular set of interests and career goals. Luckily, the International Coach Federation (ICF) has worked hard to solve both of these challenges.

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The ICF is the foremost governing body of coaching worldwide. It seeks to advance the coaching industry by setting standards of excellence, accrediting coach training programs (called ACTPs) , and building a global network of professional coaches. Put simply, ICF-accreditation is a must if you’re looking for a legitimate life coach training program, and any certification from a program that is not ICF accredited is probably not worth the paper it’s printed on.

Step 4: Find a Program That Fits Your Goals

Importantly, you need to find a program that offers (or better yet, focuses on) whatever specialties you choose to focus on. The best executive training program in the world might have a weak program for senior coaching, or worse, may not offer senior coach training at all. The ICF offers a handy tool on their website that allows you to search for ACTPs by specialty.

Before you apply, make sure to call the company and try to speak to someone about the program. I don’t just mean basic details like pricing and scheduling. You need to have an in depth conversation about the program and try to get a good feel for the personnel. Do you feel welcomed and valued as a student, or like just another customer? Remember that ICF accreditation doesn’t mean that the people who work for the company are friendly, passionate, or even care very much about their trainees.

Once you’ve narrowed your search to the one training program that checks all of your requirements, it’s time to apply.

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Life Coaching as a Career

In just the span of 10 years, life coaching has gone from the fringe to the mainstream, and career opportunities for aspiring coaches look promising. If helping others become better versions of themselves is something you’re passionate about, life coaching offers the perfect balance of entrepreneurial freedom, great pay, and a meaningful career.

There has never been a better time to learn how to become a life coach. It’s a wonderful profession with the power to improve others’ lives as well as your own.

Featured photo credit: Pixabay via pixabay.com

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Nabin Paudyal

Co-Founder, Siplikan Media Group

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Last Updated on July 17, 2019

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

The Science of Setting Goals (And How It Affects Your Brain)

What happens in our heads when we set goals?

Apparently a lot more than you’d think.

Goal setting isn’t quite so simple as deciding on the things you’d like to accomplish and working towards them.

According to the research of psychologists, neurologists, and other scientists, setting a goal invests ourselves into the target as if we’d already accomplished it. That is, by setting something as a goal, however small or large, however near or far in the future, a part of our brain believes that desired outcome is an essential part of who we are – setting up the conditions that drive us to work towards the goals to fulfill the brain’s self-image.

Apparently, the brain cannot distinguish between things we want and things we have. Neurologically, then, our brains treat the failure to achieve our goal the same way as it treats the loss of a valued possession. And up until the moment, the goal is achieved, we have failed to achieve it, setting up a constant tension that the brain seeks to resolve.

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Ideally, this tension is resolved by driving us towards accomplishment. In many cases, though, the brain simply responds to the loss, causing us to feel fear, anxiety, even anguish, depending on the value of the as-yet-unattained goal.

Love, Loss, Dopamine, and Our Dreams

The brains functions are carried out by a stew of chemicals called neurotransmitters. You’ve probably heard of serotonin, which plays a key role in our emotional life – most of the effective anti-depressant medications on the market are serotonin reuptake inhibitors, meaning they regulate serotonin levels in the brain leading to more stable moods.

Somewhat less well-known is another neurotransmitter, dopamine. Among other things, dopamine acts as a motivator, creating a sensation of pleasure when the brain is stimulated by achievement. Dopamine is also involved in maintaining attention – some forms of ADHD are linked to irregular responses to dopamine.[1]

So dopamine plays a key role in keeping us focused on our goals and motivating us to attain them, rewarding our attention and achievement by elevating our mood. That is, we feel good when we work towards our goals.

Dopamine is related to wanting – to desire. The attainment of the object of our desire releases dopamine into our brains and we feel good. Conversely, the frustration of our desires starves us of dopamine, causing anxiety and fear.

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One of the greatest desires is romantic love – the long-lasting, “till death do us part” kind. It’s no surprise, then, that romantic love is sustained, at least in part, through the constant flow of dopamine released in the presence – real or imagined – of our true love. Loss of romantic love cuts off that supply of dopamine, which is why it feels like you’re dying – your brain responds by triggering all sorts of anxiety-related responses.

Herein lies obsession, as we go to ever-increasing lengths in search of that dopamine reward. Stalking specialists warn against any kind of contact with a stalker, positive or negative, because any response at all triggers that reward mechanism. If you let the phone ring 50 times and finally pick up on the 51st ring to tell your stalker off, your stalker gets his or her reward, and learns that all s/he has to do is wait for the phone to ring 51 times.

Romantic love isn’t the only kind of desire that can create this kind of dopamine addiction, though – as Captain Ahab (from Moby Dick) knew well, any suitably important goal can become an obsession once the mind has established ownership.

The Neurology of Ownership

Ownership turns out to be about a lot more than just legal rights. When we own something, we invest a part of ourselves into it – it becomes an extension of ourselves.

In a famous experiment at Cornell University, researchers gave students school logo coffee mugs, and then offered to trade them chocolate bars for the mugs. Very few were willing to make the trade, no matter how much they professed to like chocolate. Big deal, right? Maybe they just really liked those mugs![2]

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But when they reversed the experiment, handing out chocolate and then offering to trade mugs for the candy, they found that now, few students were all that interested in the mugs. Apparently the key thing about the mugs or the chocolate wasn’t whether students valued whatever they had in their possession, but simply that they had it in their possession.

This phenomenon is called the “endowment effect”. In a nutshell, the endowment effect occurs when we take ownership of an object (or idea, or person); in becoming “ours” it becomes integrated with our sense of identity, making us reluctant to part with it (losing it is seen as a loss, which triggers that dopamine shut-off I discussed above).

Interestingly, researchers have found that the endowment effect doesn’t require actual ownership or even possession to come into play. In fact, it’s enough to have a reasonable expectation of future possession for us to start thinking of something as a part of us – as jilted lovers, gambling losers, and 7-year olds denied a toy at the store have all experienced.

The Upshot for Goal-Setters

So what does all this mean for would-be achievers?

On one hand, it’s a warning against setting unreasonable goals. The bigger the potential for positive growth a goal has, the more anxiety and stress your brain is going to create around it’s non-achievement.

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It also suggests that the common wisdom to limit your goals to a small number of reasonable, attainable objectives is good advice. The more goals you have, the more ends your brain thinks it “owns” and therefore the more grief and fear the absence of those ends is going to cause you.

On a more positive note, the fact that the brain rewards our attentiveness by releasing dopamine means that our brain is working with us to direct us to achievement. Paying attention to your goals feels good, encouraging us to spend more time doing it. This may be why outcome visualization — a favorite technique of self-help gurus involving imagining yourself having completed your objectives — has such a poor track record in clinical studies. It effectively tricks our brain into rewarding us for achieving our goals even though we haven’t done it yet!

But ultimately, our brain wants us to achieve our goals, so that it’s a sense of who we are that can be fulfilled. And that’s pretty good news!

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Featured photo credit: Alexa Williams via unsplash.com

Reference

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