Coaching can transform your life
The moment you open the pages of Oprah Winfrey’s latest book, “The Path Made Clear,” you are taken on a transformational adventure of self-discovery. The book is beautifully produced, mindful of taking readers on a mental journey that is reflected in its captivating photos of wildflower meadows, evergreen forests and mountain summits hazed by impressive clouds. Along the way, you will receive deep, thought-provoking advice from a host of luminaries, such as Harvard University researcher Shawn Achor, international bestselling author Elizabeth Gilbert, and clinical psychologist Dr. Shefali Tsabary. One of Winfrey’s most compelling quotes in the book is this: “There is no greater gift you can give or receive than to honor your calling. It’s why you were born. And how you become most truly alive.”
For the past 25 years, Winfrey has vouched for life coaching as one of the key drivers of her success. She has been coached for decades by Harvard-trained sociologist Dr. Martha Beck. Actor and film producer Leonardo DiCaprio has sought the coaching services of Tony Robbins, as have former US President Bill Clinton, tennis player Serena Williams, and actor Hugh Jackman. Google’s former CEO and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt has said his top advice to new CEOs is to get a coach.
There is growing demand for life coaching globally. A report published by PricewaterhouseCoopers in 2018 showed that the coaching industry was the second-fastest growing in the world. Research conducted by the International Coach Federation (ICF) in 2014 reported that individuals who worked with a coach saw significant improvements in their self-confidence, relationship satisfaction, communication skills, work performance, and time management. According to the ICF, there are approximately 53,000 professional coach practitioners worldwide, 2,400 of which are in the Middle East and North Africa.
Life coaches are professionals who can help people unlock their potential and thrive in all areas of their lives. Some of the positive outcomes clients could hope to achieve when working with a life coach include: Creating professional and personal growth plans, working toward greater financial security, achieving a better work-life balance, dispelling anxieties and limiting beliefs, and fostering stronger relationships on both professional and personal levels.
Interestingly, the approach to coaching is “solution-based,” wherein coaches focus on imparting insightful advice to clients, mapping out choices for them, and identifying behavioral changes that will empower them to be the architects of their own lives. Dr. Saliha Afridi, clinical psychologist and managing director at The LightHouse Arabia in Dubai, states it is most important that “coaches focus on shaping the present and the future.”
Because each client’s needs are different, life coaches can customize their approach keeping in mind a results-oriented and structured plan. Firstly, they will ask the grand question of what vision you can set for your life. They will help you with your soul-searching until you can confidently define what is intrinsically meaningful and fulfilling to you, contrary to what society expects of you. This is especially important as we slave through our busy and demanding schedules. Carving out time to thoughtfully review our direction in life can channel our time and energy toward making our dreams come true.
Secondly, coaches will categorize your goals into various domains — family, health, financial independence, career, etc. — and make important connections between them. This is imperative, as any one aspect of a person’s life can profoundly affect other areas. Research conducted by Dr. Sunny S. Hansen, a pioneer in counseling and career development for more than 45 years, demonstrates that the integrative approach used by coaches results in greater achievements, a more balanced life, and increased well-being for clients.
Most importantly, coaches will look for the obstacles and limiting beliefs that are hindering your progress. These limiting beliefs have somehow crept into the psyche, leading you to feel paralyzed without knowing why and forcing you to miss out on the things you have always longed for. Instead, coaches will shift your perspective and instill empowering beliefs that will motivate you to pursue your goals. They will challenge you to leave your comfort zone and take daily actions toward attaining your dreams. This includes learning new skills, meeting new people, and committing to goals. While doing all this, coaches will also maximize your energy levels through specific exercises that will improve your stamina and replenish your fuel, such as physical exercise, meditating, walking in nature, and having supportive conversations.
Reviewing our direction in life can channel our time and energy toward making our dreams come true.
Lastly, coaches will co-create a challenging yet achievable plan calibrated to push you closer to achieving your goals. They will equip you with useful tools, such as goals visualization, reflective journaling, regular gratitude exercise, time management skills, a personal goal progress review, and mindfulness. They will also monitor your progress regularly and offer advice along the way.
People hire life coaches because they want more from life than just seeing it pass by. They want to make their dreams come true, unleash their talents, enjoy fulfilling relationships, live healthily, and so much more. All kinds of people use coaches, from actors to business leaders, parents, small business owners, musicians, athletes, and artists. With the help of a life coach, you can work toward unlocking the life you’ve always wanted.
- Sara Al-Mulla is an Emirati civil servant with an interest in human development policy and children’s literature.