What is a Life Coach? And Do I Need One?


No one knows how to roll with the unexpected better than a military family. Whether it’s a sudden change of duty station, or a last-minute deployment, steady upheaval is just a given. The trouble is, some military spouses get so good at coping with change and supporting the family that they lose sight of caring for themselves.

That’s where life coaching can be helpful. Maybe you long to start your own business, or you’re demoralized by a stubborn weight problem. Perhaps you want to improve your relationship with your spouse, but can’t quite break old habits, or are recently divorced and baffled by the prospect of dating again. There are life coaches who specialize in these areas and more. And just like an athletic coach, they help you see where you’re stuck and find the resources and behaviors to help you move forward. And, even though your official status may be “dependent,” you can’t count on anyone but yourself to make your dreams come true.

So, what is this ‘life coaching’ thing?

Let’s start with what life coaching isn’t. Coaching is not counseling, therapy, nor psychoanalysis. There is absolutely a place and time for these critical services, but not in coaching. In very simplified and broad terms, therapy tends to look into your past for causes of certain behavior and reactions; then helps you process, so issues from your past don’t hold you back.

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Coaching is focused on helping you create the future you want. Coaching will help you articulate your goals and dreams, create a plan for attaining those goals, and finally, support your steps to achieve them.

Your coach will help you move past all the “Yeah, but…” circumstances. It’s difficult to build a career when you move every three years, or to build up a social life in the revolving door of a military post. It’s tough to make significant health changes when you spend much of your time as a (more or less) single parent.

But just as your coach will be familiar with those challenges, they’ll also help you better tap into the rich, deep assets your military connections provide, from available tuition benefits to internships. And they’ll help you discover more about the possibilities waiting for you in the transition back to civilian life, from creating a feeling of community in a new long-term home, finally being able to launch the business you’re dreamed of, to helping your kids get settled.

You might be thinking, Why should I hire a coach to help me figure this stuff out? Shouldn’t adults be able to work things out on their own, to do their own thinking and problem-solving? Why can’t I just talk to my spouse, partner, or friend?

The problem is we often are so close to our situation, we can’t see what’s in our way—that’s how ‘blind spots’ got their name. Our friends, partners, and spouses are often all too willing to tell us what they think we should do. Sometimes, this advice is colored by what they want, not what’s best for us.

A coach will listen to you without judgement–as a sounding board. They won’t tell you what to do, but rather will help you discover for yourself the choices that best align to you and your dreams. When you make decisions that are aligned to your purpose and your goals, you are more apt to attain your goals and build new, lasting habits.

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Sound interesting? Let me tell you how to find a coach that fits you. There are many good industry organizations, such as the International Coach Federation (ICF), or the National Career Development Association (NCDA) that govern, guide, and credential the professional competency, proficiency, and ethical practices of coaches. When choosing a coach, you should look for reputable credentials so you know you are working with a dedicated professional.

Within our coaching program at Life Reimagined, we vet all of our coaches and only accept credentialed coaches with five or more years of experience. Today, we have 19 coaches with a broad range of experience and specialties, including working with the challenges facing military spouses and families. Coaching with the support of a guided program, such as Life Reimagined, can be an affordable, approachable, and effective way to get connected to your purpose, goals, and dreams.

Once you choose a coach, the actual coaching “meetings” often take place over the phone or using a video connection, like Skype or Blue Jeans. This means you can work with your coach when and where it’s convenient for you. And you can work with a coach who is located anywhere there is a phone or computer connection.

Typically, you will have an initial meeting during which, you and your coach will get to know each other. You’ll set up a plan for your sessions and get clarity about what you want from coaching. After the first meeting, you’ll meet periodically to further explore your goals, and develop steps to achieve them.  Your coach will be your partner throughout the cycle of reflecting, clarifying, identifying, planning, and achieving the life you want. And when you’re ready, they will be your accountability partner to help remind you of the goals you’ve set for yourself.

The beauty of this is that you don’t need to have anything figured out before you connect with a coach. All you really need is the desire and willingness to share your story. Are you ready to gain clarity and live purposefully? Are you ready to be heard? If your answer is yes…then you’re ready for a coach.

Check out Life Reimagined and explore the coaching options available to you!

colin callahanPosted by Colin Callahan, Director of Coaching Services for Life Reimagined, where he is responsible for strategy, operations, and quality for coach offerings, including one-on-one coaching, group coaching, and live group workshops. Reach out to Colin through coaching@lifereimagined.org.

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    Brooke McAvoy

    In high school, you are always provided with a counselor to help you make decisions and figure things out. I think that this should be a focus with adults as well. Many people have resources and people to help them out, but nothing is better than a professional. I appreciate you clearing up what a life coach can do for a person, and for all of your helpful tips! Thank you!

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