What am I letting myself in for?

It's a big decision, to take the step of engaging a coach. You put yourself in the hands of another person and maybe tell them your deepest hopes and fears. Could be scary.

But have you been looking at this site for a while, knowing things need to change but not quite plucking up the courage to plunge in? Wondering what goes on?

Here are some things that we hope will put your mind at ease, whichever coach you eventually decide to work with.

First, a few things about how coaching works. It's not therapy. It's not counselling, consulting or mentoring, although there are some overlaps. The main thing about coaching is that it helps you to work out the way forward for you in dialogue with a person skilled in listening and in posing powerful questions.

The basic question is, What do you want to have happen? You could quite easily take the whole of the first session in working this out, as it's not as straightforward as it seems. It's easy to say what we don't want - I don't want to be so tired, I don't want to be alone, I don't want conflict at home - and not so easy to say what we do want. If you say, I want to be happier, your coach will soon ask you, happier than what? How will you know? What does happiness look like? (There's lots of research on what happiness is and how to achieve it, and actually we might not even call it happiness, but rather well being... but that's another story.)

By the end of the first session you'll probably have a fair idea of at least one thing you want to have happen. One way coaching is often done is to set goals and then work out how to get there. Goals will need to be SMART, that is, Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, and Timed. For example, you might be fed up with your job and you want a new one. But you won't get very far by just saying you want a new job. You'll need a more specific statement such as, 'it is easter 2016 and I am now a senior account manager with regular international travel and I am an expert in my field'. Then you start working out with your coach what you need to do to get there, and most of the time  you do actually know. It's a question of uncovering it.

Humans are social beings and it's really true what they say, two heads are better than one. Or, as we could rather say, two hearts are better than one. (That's another whole other story!)

We asked, 'What am I letting myself in for when I see a coach?' well you don't actually have to see the coach! You can speak on the phone, via Skype (with or without video), or within online programmes. Remote coaching like this is very popular and can be just as effective as face to face coaching. Sure, it's good to have that personal physical presence but you can have just as good a rapport remotely. This can be really helpful when you consider, you don't have to travel, you can be much more flexible with timing and it often costs less.

Then there is online coaching. You can interact with your coach at the same time, or at different times. So time zones don't matter and you can do it anywhere there is internet access. There are several models for online coaching but mostly they will be in some sort of modular form, with a facility for you to make detailed comments and reflections and for your coach to respond. At the end of each module there are a series of questions and this is the important bit. This is where the insights come.

Whatever way you do it, coaching will, to the extent that you participate, help you to produce change in your life. After all, change is really the only constant, isn't it! And you might as well have good change, as far as you can.

So, what have you let yourself in for? Really, it's up to you!

The views expressed in this article are those of the author. All articles published on Life Coach Directory are reviewed by our editorial team.

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Nottingham NG5 & NG2
Written by Barbara Bates, Accredited Personal & Executive Coach
Nottingham NG5 & NG2

Barbara Bates is an experienced and qualified coach with a background in health, social care and nursing. She works particularly with professional people under pressure. She is based in Nottingham, with access to rooms in Sherwood and West Bridgford, and she also offers Skype sessions and online coaching programmes, especially about well-being.

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