Will working with a life coach make life easier and give you a sense of purpose? Here's a dirty little secret for you. The answer is: not always. At least not at first.
Coaching can be downright painful and disruptive! You may find yourself doing everything possible to keep from working on what you hired your coach to help you achieve. You may spend a lot of time dipping your toe in the water.
If you are going really deep, you should know it can get ugly. Sometimes that's exactly how you know it's working.
This may not be what you want to hear and not everyone will be so open with you about this. It's hardly good sales copy! New coaches especially, and established coaches with floundering practices, often like to get you feeling really happy right away because they want you to like them, pay them lots of money, and keep coming back for warm fuzzies and "attaboys" or "attagirls."
I had a coach once who charged me $500 a month and all she did was drip honey over me for an hour. I didn't need that; I know how cool I am already. I wanted to grow, not be told that Oprah would be insane not to call me to beg me to be on her show.
If you are considering hiring a coach, be honest with yourself about what you want and what you are willing to do to get it. Maybe you really do just want a cheerleader to help you feel better about where you are. There’s nothing wrong with that. Just be honest about it.
Personally, I love working with people who are seeking mastery in their lives. Mastery of self, understanding oneself intimately, and being respectful of one's talents and needs are critical components of creating a life that is energizing and rewarding.
Seeking to create a life that is authentically you — that fills your needs psychologically, socially, spiritually, physically, emotionally, and financially — is a tall order and there is not a fast road to get there. On the way to creating a life that strong, every fear you have of failure, of being an imposter, or of leaving your comfort zone will spring up and demand to be reckoned with.
We don't talk about this too often in this industry but the truth is, some people who enter into coaching have to face very real, very difficult decisions regarding their personal environments, including their physical space, social circle, intimate relationships, the cost of maintaining one's current lifestyle, and what impact these are having on one's ability to move forward in a more fulfilling direction.
Some people end up in divorces. Some go through financial hard times. Sometimes life throws you a curve and you have a health crisis at the worst possible time. Sometimes, just when you are thinking about resigning, you get fired! (That happens a lot!)
Major transitions create instability in the early days. That's just the way it is. You can't blow on one part of a mobile without the whole thing spinning around. You can't make major changes off the radar screen and expect to come out a newly reinvented person without anyone else in your life being affected by your process. It just can't happen that way if it's true change you are making.
Transforming a life is not a path for the weak of heart. You can only hit the snooze button for so long once you have acknowledged the part of you that keeps whispering there is a bigger, or maybe just truer, life waiting.
Sometimes the life you want may be smaller! Listening to that voice can be the scariest thing you ever do, because that voice may not tell you specifically what should be different. It might just be whispering, "No, not this. This isn't really what you wanted, is it? This isn't really what you were expecting to settle for is it? Are you really okay with this?"
There comes a time when you have to ask yourself, honestly, “Am I taking full responsibility for where I am? Am I taking responsibility for what I am doing?” Perhaps even more importantly, ask yourself, “Am I taking responsibility for what I am failing to do?
How do you find the answers? Will a coach help you find your life purpose?
Life purpose isn't an external thing that you find. It's an internal drive you discover. No one can give it to you. It won't be captured in a job title, so a career coach may not be what you need. It isn't about what you want to be, it's about who you are to become, and that, if you can slow down enough and do the digging, you may find you already know.
Who you are is qualitative, not quantitative. Sometimes we don't want to think about that. We want quantity! In this culture of "Do what you love and the money will follow," too many people set out to find their purpose because what they really want is the wealth they are sure the Universe will provide once they hit the right answer. It's the sneaky pseudo-spiritual way to fast track material ease.
But let's say you get there. Who will you have become once you have that money? If the answer to that question is defined by externals, as you picture yourself with all that stuff you can have now, it isn't purpose you seek. It's that fast track to the easy life and really, there is no such thing.
This doesn't mean you won't find a flow of money once you discover your purpose. You may in fact find wealth. The work is in finding ways to keep the commitment to yourself to listen to what is really true for you without preconceived notions.
Would you still be delighted to find your life purpose, that passion that made you come alive, if you found it didn't make you rich? Maybe your purpose won't bring you money; maybe it's a vocational pursuit that you need to make time for. Maybe it's valuable, but the current culture doesn't fully see it and doesn't want to pay you for it. (Ask any social worker about this.)
Don't judge the purpose by the bank balance evidence. Judge it by the rightness you feel. Then you can start to design a life that supports your pursuit of that purpose, the pursuit of mastery of the gifts you have — even if you have to keep your day job to do it.
Don't let yourself be seduced by quick fixes and easy formulas if you want to make significant changes. Be honest with yourself about what you seek.
Some coaches will help you lose that last ten pounds and clean that desk once and for all and that may be all you are interested in; some will help you beef up that resume for the next big promotion; and some will mentor you on your path of personal development so that you will have a deeper, richer experience of what it means to be you, here, living this one precious human life.