There’s a reason that 92 percent of us conveniently forget about our New Year’s resolutions a few months into the year — if you don’t have a road map for where you want to go, it’s going to be hard to get there.
At the start of a new year, most people have a few common problems that they hope to tweak: lose five pounds, go on a second date, stop getting trapped in the same family drama or get a raise. To the layman, all this stuff seems pretty easy, which is why most people avoid asking for help.
For me, it took getting married and having two kids before I was ready to run up the white flag and admit defeat. I had everything I wanted: a happy little family following a dysfunctional childhood, a great job and a few good friends. But I still wasn’t happy. When I finally put the pieces together, I decided to reach out to a therapist, and I can’t tell you how glad I am that I did. I had several big issues that needed fixing, followed by a laundry list of aimless goals that my therapist helped me iron out. And since I was able to find an inexpensive online therapist to work with my schedule, well, let’s just say that I’m still paying her to be my friend.
When life hands you lemons
Maybe that’s why online life coaches are becoming all the rage in the new year. With a life coach, you’re getting the best of both worlds — a cheerleader-type friend who is professionally trained to give you guidance at a fraction of the cost of a therapist’s sitting fee. Life coaches are even more enticing to the younger crowd because they come without any of the “shame” of therapy. No matter how far we have come in spurring on mental health awareness through various Facebook campaigns, there’s still a stigma attached to therapy. Many people with mental health issues are afraid to ask for help because of the dark cloud surrounding mental illness. There are even more people with everyday burdens who think that therapy should be reserved for life’s bigger problems, like divorce or death.
Kali Rogers created her new life coaching service for women for this very reason. “A life coach is for those looking to increase motivation, success and happiness. Life coaching can definitely be used to help elevate clients out of difficult situations — but it’s mainly used for bridging the gap between where you are, to where you want to be,” Rogers explains.
Blush, designed to offer online life coaching to younger women from their teens to their 30s, covers all of the meaty stuff you would discuss in therapy, along with everything in between. Specializing in what Rogers calls the “Quarter Life Crisis,” Blush aims to make mental health support more approachable and affordable with life coaching memberships that start as low as $79 a month. Women can also test the waters with a journal entry for $25 or a video session for $50.
When to use a life coach
As Blush and dozens of other inexpensive online services advertise, life coaching is for those mundane messes you just can’t seem to shake — not only the big curveballs that life throws your way. It helps to think of it like meeting with a personal trainer. There may be times in your life when your workout feels flat or harder than normal, and you decide to pay the extra cash at the gym for a one-on-one training session. Most of the time, meeting with a personal trainer has nothing to do with a big event like training for a marathon, but instead, it helps to motivate and course correct. Personal training, like life coaching, can help you to move forward and break out of a rut.
Cachet Prescott, the career and life strategist for mid-career professional women and owner of Career Cachet, called this little boost from an outsider a “tune-up” for the start of a new year. As Prescott explains, a life coach can help you with almost any roadblock you are facing, large or small, and serve as an accountability partner to help you address the tough questions, to listen without judgment, to cheer you on and to help you create a plan for your success.
“When you have goals that you’re trying to accomplish, a life coach will keep you on task. While our friends and family may have the best of intentions, they’re often too subjective and don’t make us accountable for our actions when we need them to.” Prescott says, “Your success is your life coach’s success, so she’s invested in seeing you do well. She will give you that much needed pat on the back to keep you encouraged and keep you moving forward in your process/endeavors.”
How to choose a life coach
What’s so interesting about this online coaching trend is that there are almost limitless life coaches — and life coaching styles — to choose from. Rogers explains that choosing a life coach is a very personal decision that depends on the kind of coaching you’re looking for. “At Blush Online Life Coaching, we all have our master’s in counseling, because we like to be able to help girls in hard situations as well as coach them through the good times — and that’s what we attract. Otherwise, there are dozens of coaching certifications. I like to look for education level, experience and niche. Education is important because coaches have a very personal job, and they need to be aware of the ethical implications and be well-groomed with tough situations,” Rogers says.
More: What is a career coach — and do you need one?
Once you find that life coach who looks good on paper, your hard work isn’t done just yet. Lisa Lewtan, a certified holistic health coach who explores food issues, reminds us to consider chemistry too, saying, “Someone can have the greatest credentials in the world, but if they don’t ‘get you,’ you could be wasting your time. Most coaches will provide a free brief phone consult, and I strongly urge that you take advantage of it.” Lewtan adds, “Know yourself. Do you respond better to the drill sergeant, the cheerleader or the all-loving non-judging mother that you never had? There is no right or wrong, just what will work best for you at this moment in your life.”
When you think about how much time you’re going to be spending with your life coach one-on-one, Lewtan’s advice makes perfect sense. In my case, I knew I had met my match with a therapist when I felt that familiar “click” of connection in one of our first sessions — and according to Prescott, that’s exactly how meeting with the right life coach should feel. “Ask questions and assess the coach’s personality to see if it meshes with your own,” Prescott advises. “This is someone you need to be vulnerable with, so you need to make sure you’re comfortable with her.”