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Does Your Own Life Need a Coach?

Consider hiring an expert to motivate you

spinner image Does Your Life Need a Coach?
Hiring a life coach, like Pamela J. Green (seen here), was once an obscure trend, but has now become a full-fledged phenomenon.
Stephen Voss

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What was once considered a quirky and somewhat obscure trend is now growing into a full-fledged phenomenon: life coaching. Life coaches go by various other names, including career coaches and executive coaches. But for the most part, these professionals have the same mission, which is to help clients achieve individual goals — such as getting fit — that have proved elusive or daunting. Pamela J. Green, an executive coach in Washington, says, "Whether someone is looking to transition to retirement or to lose weight, the purpose of a coach is to find out what they want to accomplish and coach them toward that."

This type of coaching got a foothold in the 1980s, thanks in large part to business leaders seeking motivational gurus. These days coaching attracts all kinds of clients, and there are plenty of coaches. Some 24,200 coaches are registered as members of the trade organization International Coach Federation, up from 20,000 in 2012.

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Sessions can be in person or via phone or video connection, and cost $120 per hour on average. Pittsburgh-based coach Shawn Meredith says his typical client meets with him weekly for about a month, then every other week for a few more months or longer. Green reports spending between a month and six weeks with the average client, often meeting every two weeks. The key to good coaching, Meredith notes, is that it be "outcome driven. You're not just paying for a friend."

What You Should Know When Picking a Coach

It's a good idea to focus on coaches who have been certified through a program accredited by the International Coach Federation or National Career Development Association.

Make sure their specialty fits your needs; if your issues aren't career related, for instance, find someone with a more general practice.

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Meet the coach — many will offer a free introductory session — to discuss your goals and their methods. Then determine if you're a good match.

The coach should be laser-focused on your goals, while helping you come up with a concrete plan to reach them. If you find that you're always going over the same issues, move on.

Video - The Value a Life Coach - Pamela, a life coach discusses the value of a life coach. Not someone telling you what to do but working together to understand what you need.

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