Personal coaches used to be the luxury of a lucky few. These days, however, we see everyone from business executives to stay-at-home parents searching out experts to help optimize their lives.
“People are beginning to prioritize their own mental, emotional, occupational, and physical well-being,” says life coach Matt Jodouin on the growing trend behind hiring coaches to help create positive, lasting change.
While the concept has been around for decades, traditionally the role was thought of in terms of athletics. Jodoin, the owner of F.I.T. Training and Wellness in Saskatoon, says today the trend has grown to include business, life, health, wellness, even creativity. “If there was ever a stigma attached to asking for help,” Jodoin says, “people now recognize that even the highest achieving individuals didn’t get to where they are without enlisting the help of others.”
Jodoin says the key to life coaching is identifying blind spots. “In life,” he explains, “there are things we know, things we don’t know, and things we don’t even realize we are unaware of. Those are our blind spots. A coach can help us identify some of those areas that are holding us back from achieving our goals.”
The coaching industry has grown tremendously in the past six years. “I don’t see it slowing down,” says Kasandra Monid, founder of ThinkLife Coaching, a Toronto-based company that provides integrative mind-body wellness services, “in large part due to changing views about the benefits and value of health and lifestyle coaching in the medical and corporate communities. To reduce healthcare costs, medical practitioners and employers are turning toward more preventative measures like wellness coaching to help patients and employees alike create and maintain health and well-being.”
Monid says wellness programs are now focusing more on educating, empowering, and supporting individuals in positive behavior change and preventative self-care, which is where coaching steps in. “Working towards any type of personal or wellness goal takes time, energy, and fortitude,” she says. “The great thing is that we don’t have to walk the path alone.”
Kim Fowler, also a life coach, points out several recent trends. From Surfside Beach, South Carolina, the founder of Fowler Life Coaching says uncertain economies cause people to lose their jobs and increase the need for career coaches. There’s also been a trend toward entrepreneurship. Many—including older adults creating second and third acts in their lives—are enlisting the help of life coaches. Also playing a role: increased recognition and understanding about what a life coach does.
“People are beginning to understand their value,” says Fowler. “With a coach, you are looking forward, not backward. There might be a specific area in one’s life that isn’t going so well—health, finance, relationships. Coaches can help people figure out which behaviors they need to change, then help them with a plan to get where they need to be.”
Whatever the reason, taking an hour to talk to a coach about what life could look like is incredibly powerful.
“The process is about bringing clarity," says Dana Warren, a personal and professional coach based in St. John’s, Newfoundland. “It’s about helping people go away with tools that allow them to self-coach.”
Joanne Henson agrees. Life coaching is “organized me time,” says the author of two motivational books, What’s Your Excuse for not Getting Fit? and What’s Your Excuse for not Eating Healthily? “If you’re striving for something but struggling to make progress, a coach can give you time to focus and time to just talk things through.”
Perhaps more telling, adds Henson, life coaching “gives people someone to whom they can be accountable.”