Notes on Life Coaches & Being Coached

Getting a Life Coach: good idea, worth the money? Maybe. I am becoming a convert.

But I started as a skeptic. I had known two certified “Life Coaches” – both of whose personal lives were pretty much wreckage and to neither of whom would I ever have gone for counsel of any conceivable sort. Then, however, I heard of another friend who had entered the coaching business. This one had a successful, decades-long career in the corporate world and has long been influential in all the right causes. Plus, she has a broad network of friends – I’m one – who have called on her for (free) advice or counsel for years.

So out of curiosity I interviewed her for an earlier story, which led to my signing up for a six-session package. This is a report on how to choose a good coach, and why coaching may indeed be worth a try.


Take it from someone who knows. Of the dozen or so life coaching clients I interviewed (this is an anecdotal report, not a scientific study!) fully half said they had chosen their coach simply because a friend or colleague recommended him or her, and after minimal discussion they’d signed up. All were highly satisfied.

Ratings. Almost any location in the U.S. has a “Ten (or 15 or 20) Best Life Coaches” list. So if you’re starting from scratch it’s fairly easy to settle on five or ten who look good. Yelp reviews can tell you more; read a few before you do the introductory interview.

Credentials: My coach said it “was a long journey to becoming a coach.” It is worth taking time to look into what someone did before becoming a coach. A successful career in business or social work might make a stronger foundation for coaching than, say, personal care product sales. Further, where did this coach’s credentials come from? It’s pretty easy to weed out the “certifications” that don’t really certify much.

THE REWARDS: Two takeaways from my coaching experience sum up how it worked for me. Admittedly, the typical coaching client is likely to be someone struggling with career issues, challenging relationships or lifestyle problems; while I am an octogenarian struggling with widowhood, procrastination and disorganization. Still, these are hard to beat.

Self-awareness is the first step toward self-management. A good coach can help you recognize and develop the strengths and skills that you have, focusing less on those you don’t. It’s not unlike activating that good AA prayer about changing the things one can, accepting the things one can’t and being wise enough to know the difference. If you make that work, stuff gets done.

And my favorite: Laugh a little. A good coach can help you get started toward goals while not beating yourself up with seriousness.

My coach and I opted to postpone everything after the fourth session. One can only handle so much progress.   

This essay, and an earlier story about Life Coaching adventures, appeared first on       

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