|Life coach for a year, friend forever.
When I first started working with Ashley of Your Super Awesome Life about a year ago, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Part of me (okay, a large part of me) was wary about all these “life coaches” who were suddenly hanging out virtual shingles and promising to solve all our problems.
But I was also feeling pretty desperate. I’d started working for myself again six months before, and things weren’t going like I’d hoped. I was sure I’d suddenly have “so much more time” when I became my own boss. After all, I used to work in an office eight hours a day, not including the commute. When those nine+ hours were suddenly mine again, just imagine what I could do!
Well, I didn’t have to imagine it anymore, because I was living it. And to say I was not impressed would be an understatement. The work I did for other people was still controlling my life and schedule, and I still wasn’t working on my big goals–the reason I started working for myself again in the first place! When I wasn’t doing client work, I was goofing off–spending hours on the Internet, having long lunches with friends, or taking bubble baths in the middle of the day. What was going on? Why was I sabotaging myself?
As my time with Ashley comes to a close, she asked me to write about what I learned from working with her. Maybe this could help some of you as well, whether you want to hire a life coach or not.
1) Nothing will work if you’re not committed. When I first began my work with Ashley, she gave me lots of homework. Since I really wanted to see results (and, being a people-pleaser, probably also wanted to impress her), I made sure I completed every assignment, even the really difficult ones. But as time went on, I started to make excuses for why I couldn’t complete my homework, and my progress suffered. (Big surprise.)
Unless you’re totally committed to the hard work involved in changing all the destructive patterns in your life, you can have the best coach in the world but she still won’t be able to help you. A life coach is there to offer suggestions and be a guide, but she can’t force you to do the work. That part, unfortunately, is still your job.
2) If you’re resistant to change, a life coach isn’t for you. People who ask for help typically do so because something is not working. One of the first things Ashley gently suggested was that I cut back on my freelance work. My answer? A resounding “NO!” As an impartial observer, she could look at my life and clearly see that I had way too much going on–and, as a result, I was focusing my energies on the “easy” stuff–my client work.
Meanwhile, I was convinced that all I had to do was stop wasting time and taking breaks, and once I did, there would be plenty of time for both my own personal goals and my freelance work. And I was right, up to a point. But so was Ashley when she said something had to give. What usually gives in my case is sleep and eventually my health. Because no one can juggle an insane schedule indefinitely and not burn out.
3) Life coaches don’t have all the answers. Sounds like a no-brainer, right? But when we hire someone to fix our lives, it’s tempting to think they will just look at what’s going on, tell us exactly what to do and what not to do, and solve all of our problems. Even if they are genius-level psychics, when was the last time you did everything people told you to do? There’s probably a reason you’re not doing those things.
A life coach can make suggestions and point you in the right direction, but even she will get stumped sometimes. A “magic wand” is different for everyone, and it’s your job to keep looking for it. Hiring a life coach is just part of your search. If you hire one and expect her to do all of the heavy lifting, you’re going to be disappointed. My magic wand ended up being the Jerry Seinfeld Productivity Secret, and it was actually my boyfriend who stumbled upon it. You never know where the right answers will come from, so don’t stop looking.
4) All life coaches are not created equal. I was nervous before I began my work with Ashley. She was fairly new to the coaching game, and I was not her target market. But as it turned out, she was the best person for me to work with.
As someone who had recently started to work as a life coach, she wasn’t jaded. She was enthusiastic and kind. I never felt like I was just another client to her (even if I was), or that she was in a hurry to get off the phone so she could move on to the next person…which is probably why our sessions almost always ran overtime. Since she had a background as a family counsellor, she was prepared for and confident about the more personal issues I struggled with–she never made me feel silly or inappropriate for bringing them up.
Sometimes I wondered if I would have done better with a tough-love coach, something that I’ve pondered with kickboxing as well, but the truth is, tough love rarely works for me. I’m a sensitive soul with a soft heart, so Ashley’s cheerful, encouraging approach was perfect for me. She feels like a friend now, not just a coach, and I will probably bawl like a baby during our last call next week.
5) Sometimes you just need a friend. With all the achievements I celebrated during my year with a life coach–returning to the dojo (again and again), finally cleaning out my office, writing fiction again and finishing two new novels, figuring out my brand, etc.–it’s the personal moments that stand out the most. The time she listened to me cry over the sudden death of a dear friend, or heard me stress about an ongoing fight with a family member.
Even when we’d mostly solved my working day woes and my productivity levels were off the charts, I was reluctant to end my coaching relationship with Ashley. Working for yourself can be a really lonely, isolating thing. It’s so nice to have a friend who will listen to you without judgement; who will be a consistently kind, safe person for you to cry to when things get tough. There were lots of highs over the past year, but there were also lots of moments that broke my heart.
And that was one of the most valuable things about working with a life coach. Sometimes you just need someone in your corner.
I thank Ashley Wilhite with all my heart for being in mine.
Have you ever worked with a life coach? What was your experience? Or would you ever consider it? Why or why not? I’d love to hear your thoughts!