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.
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?
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.
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.
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