What the heck is a life coach?

From the pages of In Business magazine.

The beginning of 2014 was a very busy and challenging time for me. I got married, bought a house, continued to lead our fairly new young professionals group CONNECT Madison, worked full time, played in three sports leagues, and also participated in several other projects.

It was getting difficult for me to balance my professional and personal obligations. After talking with some peers at work, at CONNECT Madison, and with friends at other organizations, I realized that they were all facing similar challenges. So I did what any typical millennial does when he or she has a problem and needs more information: I Googled it.

To my surprise, many of the top search results were websites for “life coaches.” I had heard of coaches for athletes, entertainers, and even executives, but a coach just for living life? What the heck was this all about?

I always try to be open to new ideas, so I decided to take action and dig a little deeper. I figured if I was going to test out this “life coach” thing, I might as well go with the best. I contacted Madison’s number one life coach (according to Isthmus), Darcy Luoma. I explained to her my situation and goals and asked if she could help me. She said, “Absolutely.”

To be honest, I was still a little skeptical about the whole life-coaching concept, but I decided to give it a shot. We started with a two-hour, in-person initial discovery session.

She laid out our objectives and the foundation for the coaching relationship and then gave me time to talk about my current situation and what I was looking to achieve in the future. I also filled out a questionnaire that helped give her a better understanding of my background, areas where I wanted to improve, and future goals. After the initial session, we scheduled two 45-minute phone sessions for the next two months.

During the meetings, we talked about my goals for the coming weeks, struggles I was having, and options and ideas for overcoming those hurdles. It was great to have a non-biased person to talk with about different situations and to get feedback and advice.

Darcy ensured me that everything we discussed in our conversations was strictly confidential, so I felt comfortable sharing things with her that I wouldn’t with anyone else.

We also set up a system in which I would email Darcy every Friday with progress toward the goals we had discussed. It was a really helpful way to get motivated and be held accountable for finishing tasks even when things got busy in my life. I was forced to look at problems and situations in new ways and was encouraged to move things forward. As a millennial who sometimes needs a little extra structure and guidance, I think a life coach is a great option.

In the beginning, I felt that asking for extra help, whether from a life coach, parent, therapist, or mentor, could be a sign of weakness. What this process taught me is that trying new things and asking for help is actually a sign of strength and leadership. As Darcy told me, “Coaching is all about creating positive change, and acknowledging you want help to improve in any area of your life is the first step.”



So how do you know if a life coach is right for you? One sign is that you are struggling to juggle many different priorities and goals. Another is that you are a high-achieving, successful person but feel unfulfilled or are concerned that you don’t have balance in your life. Coaching can also be a powerful tool for teams that experience conflict.

There are plenty of other times a coach can help you achieve the next level of success. If you have a question about whether it would be right for you, send a coach an email or give him or her a call. According to Darcy, people receive the best return on their coaching investment when they are fully committed to the coaching relationship and want to take action to see positive change. If you are looking to take your career, relationship, or life to the next level, there is no better time than now to take action!

Your Fast Track Action Items for August:

■ Evaluate all the things going on in your personal and professional life and make a list of your top three priorities.
■ Say no to things that do not align with these priorities.
■ If you are struggling with keeping everything organized, or are facing challenges that you haven’t been able to work through on your own, consider looking for a life coach.

Email me at jennaatkinson1@gmail.com and let me know your best tips for staying focused on your priorities and staying organized during busy times.

Jenna Atkinson is the president of CONNECT Madison, a young professionals group offering development, community engagement, and relationship-building
opportunities to local business leaders.

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