by: Beth Ann Miller
I’m going to be brutally honest here: I used to be one of those people who rolled their eyes at the concept of life coaching. This feels like an awful thing to confess considering I am now the editor for an incredible coaching organization (the International Association of Coaching) and I am the daughter of a wonderful, successful life coach. But there is no denying that I, like many Millennials, used to believe life coaching was nothing more than a fleeting, cheesy trend.
Why did I think that? It was probably a myriad of things, including but not limited to:
Fortunately for me, I quickly got over my aversion to life coaching once I took a closer look at what organizations like the IAC, and people like my mother, are actually accomplishing. I now understand what life coaching is really about:
When it comes down to it, there are hundreds of kinds of life coaches, all with the foundational mission to help their clients uncover the best versions of themselves. There is nothing cheesy about that. In fact, it’s admirable. It’s brave. It’s necessary.
So the real question is: what brought me, at age 29, to seek out a life coach of my own?
For all intents and purposes, things were great. I live in a beautiful place and I travel often, I love my job and hobbies, I am healthy and adventurous, I am strong and self-sufficient, I have supportive friends and a loving family, and I was about to earn a Master’s degree that I was super proud of.
Objectively, I have a pretty glamorous thing going, right?
Despite how everything looked on paper, I overbooked myself with an active social calendar, rigorous exercise routines, and endless work projects in an attempt to distract myself from the fact that nothing ever felt good enough. I never felt good enough.
I had gone through some rough times and most days I lingered on past mistakes and relived traumas over and over. I was especially good at tormenting myself with revisionist history: re-casting myself as the villain or the victim in various scenarios. Even though my family and friends have been endlessly encouraging and have helped me through dark days, I had convinced myself that their support was blinded by a biased, or required, love for me. I needed insight from someone who could view my life through a fresh lens.
So, six months ago I found an awesome IAC life coach. We never met in person, but we had “phone dates” once a week for twelve weeks. She listened, she shared, she helped me identify what I wanted to accomplish and overcome, and she held me accountable for my own life.
Having a life coach feels like having a gym buddy: it’s so much easier to motivate for a workout when you know someone else is there to cheer you on or to nudge you that extra mile. That gym buddy often helps you recognize how much you’re truly capable of.
Perhaps the most important thing I’ve gained through coaching is recognizing that my qualities are not contingent upon anyone but myself. I am a passionate, motivated, genuine, generous person and it feels great to truly take ownership of that.
Of course, I’m still learning and changing. Sometimes challenging things happen, sometimes I fail. I still have bad days and bad moods, but I’m learning how to be kind to myself through it all. I’m learning to embrace both my bright and dark sides.
(For those of you who are curious about my current life coaching status: My coach and I are still in touch and we arrange calls on an as-needed basis, because did I mention she’s awesome?)
Like anything, coaching isn’t for everyone. But for those of you who are considering finding a coach of your own, here are some bits of wisdom I’ve picked up:
Beth Ann Miller holds an MFA in Writing from the University of New Hampshire and is a native New Englander. She has a professional background in editing and higher education, and enjoys working with youths in the arts. Her stories have appeared in online and print journals and she is perpetually at work on new creative projects.