A blog post about my personal experience with a life coach and I explain what a life coach does and how they can help.
If you read my post about why now is the time to pivot, you will have seen that I recently decided to work with a life coach and it was mostly due to my life coaching sessions that I finally plucked up the courage to rebrand my blog.
You will have also seen that I was a bit skeptical about life coaching and – well – I just didn’t really know what it was. I wasn’t entirely sure if a life coach was like a therapist or a mentor and I had no idea how a life coach could help me.
But help me she did! So today I’d like to share my experience and hopefully explain a bit more about what a life coach is.
Who was my life coach?
I had my sessions with Elizabeth Dhokia and I volunteered to be one of her guinea pigs before she officially launches her coaching business. (Btw, I’m under no obligation to mention Elizabeth in this post – she wanted people to test her sessions to give her feedback on her coaching package and this wasn’t something I was obligated to blog about or ever mention on my social media feeds!)
Elizabeth has this calm but enthusiastic energy to her. She’s both soothing and exciting at the same time and, despite the fact she’s fairly new to coaching, I felt as though she’d been doing this for years. Actually, it’s more than that, I feel like she was born to be a coach. It’s in her blood and she was just wonderful.
What is a life coach?
But enough about how wonderful Elizabeth is! You hear about people falling in love with their therapists and I think I have that a little with Elizabeth!
Right, what is a life coach?
A life coach will be something different for everybody depending on your needs and reason for seeking a life coach. But for most people, a life coach is there to help you make big decisions by gently guiding you to the answer.
A life coach doesn’t tell you what to think or give you any ideas. They don’t have opinions about your life and they don’t want to influence your decisions. You make the decision, they just help you get there.
They ask thought-provoking questions and then listen to your answers and play them back to you so you can see them more clearly.
The difference between having a chat with your friend and talking to a life coach is that they listen in a whole new way. Elizabeth would pick up on certain words I used and she’d notice if I kept repeating myself. She’d dig a little deeper if I faltered over an answer and she’d bring me back to the same point again and again.
Elizabeth listened to my answers in a way no one had listened to me before. This wasn’t a conversation, so Elizabeth wasn’t waiting for her turn to talk, she was just listening. She wasn’t mentally preparing her response or thinking of a relatable story to tell me in reply. This is what we all do during conversations with our friends, and that’s how conversations work and that’s a good thing. But conversations move quickly, we brush over topics, we get interrupted, we get sidelined, we forget what we were saying and we move on. And, basically, we don’t get to the bottom of our problems because we sweep past them!
How did my life coaching sessions work?
I had six one-hour sessions with Elizabeth via Zoom. She also set me homework and I had to answer questions, make plans and strategies, research things or just think about something.
The first session was for figuring out what I wanted to get out of my life coaching. My purpose for starting life coaching was to figure out where I was going with my career. I wanted to get my passion and enthusiasm back for travel blogging but I didn’t know how that was going to happen – partly because my love for travel was dwindling and also because the travel industry is really struggling due to COVID-19 so I couldn’t see a way to get my umph back.
The second session felt a bit fuzzy because I didn’t know where I was going with it. I had no idea what my outcome would be and I wasn’t sure if I was wasting Elizabeth’s time. I still loved blogging but I just wasn’t feeling any passion for The Travel Hack.
The third session was also a bit fuzzy until the very end when everything suddenly clicked into place. By the end of that hour I’d gone from feeling confused and anxious about my future, to feeling completely clear and focused and I knew what I had to do! I knew I had to rebrand and start lifestyle blogging. It’s funny now because it seems obvious and so simple. I’d actually been speaking about this with my blogging friends for years, but it seemed impossible. For years there had been a block in my mind that was stopping me from acknowledging it. Every time I started to think about it I’d cut myself off and push it out of my mind.
The fourth and fifth sessions with Elizabeth were amazing and she helped me get more clarity and focus and encouraged me to think about things I hadn’t considered. I’m a very impulsive, instinctive kind of person and Elizabeth suggested things I should focus on and think through before jumping in with both feet first. She encouraged me to strategise and formalise things in my mind and she really helped my mind feel focused and clear.
My final session with Elizabeth was quite sad for me because I felt like Elizabeth had been a vital person in this process and she’d helped me so much. I’d really enjoyed my sessions with her and was going to miss talking to her, but I was also a bit scared. Elizabeth had helped me feel so focused and every decision seemed so obvious when I was talking to her. What if I lost that clarity when we stopped having our sessions?
Thankfully, Elizabeth has been there as my number one cheerleader through this rebranding process and her little voice notes and messages have really encouraged me. Her support, as both a friend and a life coach, have been invaluable.
Who would benefit from life coaching?
If you’ve got a big decision to make and you’re not sure what to do, then maybe a life coach is for you?
That decision could be about any area of your life, whether that’s your career, your future, your family life, relationships or whatever. Maybe you’re overwhelmed with too many ideas and end up doing nothing? Maybe you just have no idea what to do? You might know exactly what to do but there’s a hurdle you just can’t seem to jump over and get started? Maybe something is holding you back and you don’t know why.
For me, having my career and my life so tightly entwined made the decision even harder. I felt like a lot was at stake and my whole family depended on me making the right decision. Not only does it impact them financially but there are the pros and cons of endless holidays to consider too!
A life coach doesn’t give you the answers. They won’t listen to your woes and then tell you what you should do (although I would have actually loved this. Wouldn’t life be easier if someone else just told you all the ‘right’ answers to big decisions!?)
But a good life coach has a way of teasing the answers out of you, because we all have the answers inside, sometimes we’re just too scared to let it out.
Getting the foundations right
One of the big things I worked on with Elizabeth were my ‘core values’. It’s something she kept coming back to and kept repeating. Whenever I got stuck on anything she’d say, ‘How does this align with your core values?’
Your core values are basically the most important values that help define you as a person and influence the decisions you make in your life. They impact everything and focusing on your core values stops you from getting distracted or influenced by others.
There’s no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ when it comes to your core values. One person’s core values might be about luxury and glamour and sparkle, while another person’s might be about simplicity and holistic values.
It wasn’t a huge surprise to find that my core values centre around nature and the grounding effect of being outdoors. Basically, everything came back to the fact that I just love a good, long walk through the forest. The forest is the answer to everything.
But I’ll admit that I struggled with the concept of core values for a while. I enjoyed defining them but I was well aware that I’d created my core values during lockdown. This was a time in my life where I wanted nothing more than my cosy home and for my loved ones to be safe and well. The biggest thrill of my day was taking my dog for a walk (through the forest!) and I was feeling an intense instinct to nest and keep my kids close.
I knew I wouldn’t feel like this forever so I didn’t want to be making any big, life decisions based on how I was feeling during lockdown. My core values might look very different at a different time in my life.
But once Elizabeth explained that core values don’t have to be forever I felt like a weight had been lifted and I was allowed to focus on how I felt right now and what I wanted to do right now. I wasn’t defining my core values for the rest of my life and therefore defining every decision I make forever. No, core values change and adapt as we do and the exercise to define core values is something you should come back to again and again throughout life.
And I think that had been my problem all along. I was making decisions as though every decision was for the rest of my life. But nothing lasts forever and I’m sure my life as a blogger will look very, very different in 10 years time. Life is about focusing on what’s happening right now while embracing and acknowledging change as and when it happens. We can’t plan for something in 20 years time and, what’s more, we don’t need to plan for 20 years time.
I hope my post about what a life coach is and how I worked with one helped.
If it’s something you’re interested in then I 100% recommend looking into it.