Life coaching: WTF, right? Karen Campbell was similarly full of good, honest, British cynicism – until it turned her life around.
“Hi, my name is Karen and I’m a life coach.” Be honest: has that sentence conjured up slightly wanky connotations? Images of Doris from the US in an ill-fitting Golden Girls-tastic outfit and dramatic eyeshadow asking you to talk through your issues? She’ll whoop when you make a breakthrough and well up when things are tough. Oh, Doris… A year or so ago, the phrase made me feel that way, too. A life coach – what the hell is a life coach?
I am. And I’m proud to say so. So far I’ve resisted the shoulder pads and green eyeshadow, and can honestly say it’s the best thing I’ve ever done.
Luckily for us Brits, life coaches over here are less Doris, and more just normal men and women working with people about their individual here and nows, looking at what’s affecting or stopping their lives being as fulfilled as they should be. This is where life coaches differ to therapists and counsellors: we don’t delve into the past, we talk about the present and what’s impacting people getting to wherever they want to go. We look at values and goals and really listen to what people want – and how they’re going to get it.
Personal goals and values often get forgotten as life and expectations (of self and from others) get in the way. My clients are everyday people with jobs, relationships, mates, but they’re just a bit, well, stuck. Yes, they have what they think they should have in life but it’s not really what they want. What’s lacking is the thinking space and/or confidence to reach for the stars. I’m not encouraging people to abscond, to leave everything to go write that novel, as we all have responsibilities and have to pay the bills, but those goals, our dreams, should – and can – be incorporated into our lives.
“The overarching message for me, and one that I pass onto the people I work with, is that we’re only here once. Although we all get somewhat trapped in life’s routine, we have to make the most of our time.”
This is where an impartial encourager who has no history, opinion or knowledge of a person comes in – it gives you someone to be accountable to. Here’s a quick snapshot of a few of the people I’ve worked with: one lady wanted more money at work (she asked and got it – cue a Doris WHOOP!); another woman has found the confidence to re-enter the work market after five years, and one chap is now following his dream to be creative by setting aside allotted time each week to paint, despite working a 60-hour week. Together we’ve tackled confidence, procrastination, time management and self-esteem.
My journey to becoming a coach wasn’t massively defined. I maybe shouldn’t really go so far as to say I stumbled into it, but that’s the truth. A few years ago, I was that ‘stuck’ person I’ve described. Fresh out of a toxic, dangerous relationship that broke me inside and out and not sure about very much at all. I felt like I’d lost my self: I didn’t eat, barely slept and it took me all my energy to get through the day. I didn’t know how to make things better. I felt like I’d failed.
It was six months before I found myself (and boy did I find myself) and went on to have one of the best and happiest years of my life. Yet even though the wobbliness had gone, the fact that someone could feel like that both scared and intrigued me; if I could feel so stuck, others must, too. During this rough patch I’d gone to see a counsellor who kept asking me about my childhood which was… fine, and I’m sure there’s some sort of link, but I remember being frustrated and thinking all I really wanted to talk about was the situation I was in AT THAT MOMENT and discuss how I could feel better NOW.
Rice is definitely not one of the aforementioned Dorises: she’s glam, funny, likes a glass of wine, is a trained journalist, writes a weekly happiness column in a national newspaper and is a bloody great coach, because she’s been there, done that and got the T-shirt – all the best coaches have. She was also running a course teaching people to become a life coach. I sat on my sofa, had a G&T, thought about it for about five minutes and signed up. It was exactly what I wanted to do.
I learned about confidence, time management, self-care, habits (good and bad), goals, values, financial health, self-sabotage, limiting beliefs, wants, needs… I could go on. The overarching message for me, and one that I pass onto the people I work with, is that we’re only here once and although we all get somewhat trapped in life’s routine, we have to make the most of our time.
We shouldn’t settle or make do and we should always include a large chunk of what makes us happy in our lives, whether that’s writing your book, painting your picture, doing that voluntary role or spending an unhealthy amount of time Googling pictures of James McAvoy and Jamie Dornan (I know that’s not just me).
No one’s perfect: we all get stuck, we all fail and we all make tits out of ourselves occasionally. Good. That’s a good thing. As the wonderful JK Rowling says: “It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all – in which case, you fail by default.”1948 Views
Karen Campbell is a life coach at www.your-dreamcatcher.com. She likes gin, James McAvoy and pretending she's not from Scunthorpe.