“Where do you see yourself in five or 10 years?”
It’s one of those questions many jobseekers dread during an interview, but it can be daunting to answer on a personal level, too. Amid all your responsibilities, activities and projects, it’s sometimes hard to see the big picture and easy to become overwhelmed or feel like you’re lacking direction. That’s where a personal coach can come in. Whether you’re frustrated with an aspect of your life, not sure how to stop making the same choices you keep making or just want to have more happiness, peace of mind and passion, coaching can offer the help you need.
- Coaching helps you explore a grounded sense of reality, assisting you to be realistic about the expectations you have of yourself.
Who are you really – really, really – when all your “stuff” is stripped away? Who are you left with? Essentially, personal coaching is about getting real about your life and living from who you are on a deep, resonant level. The life-coaching journey is a growth process of becoming more and more of who you are at your core, shedding the layers of who you think you need to be.
- Coaching helps you discern future goals and supports you in achieving them.
Because coaching allows you to see yourself without all the masks and walls that you may have developed over the years, it also enables you to take action from that pure part of you. An important part of the coaching process is making goals according to your real values and motivations, then taking steps toward those goals. Often, people need someone to help them take the dreams they have in their heads – the visions of what they want to do next with their lives – and do the work to make them a reality. Enter the personal coach.
- Coaching helps you recognise and appreciate the good currently in your life, opening your eyes to what you have rather than what you don’t have.
Don’t expect a therapy session when you meet with a personal coach. While many have a background in counselling, there is a difference between counselling and coaching. In simplistic terms, a therapist is there to heal the wounds of the past, and a personal coach supports you in moving your life forward. A therapist tries to help people with problems, while a coach helps already healthy people improve their lives. A personal coach will help you see that life contentment and happiness exist in the present, not in dwelling on the past or, even, necessarily, in the future achievement of something.
- Coaching helps you learn from the challenging times, building resilience to cope better in the future.
What many people regard as mistakes are, in actual fact, lessons, experiences, and opportunities to learn and develop. One of the most important jobs a personal coach has is to help a client approach mistakes and learning experiences positively, to see that if they think they have failed in the past, this has no bearing on what they can do in the future. In the words of John Cassidy-Rice, a coach and trainer at the Association for Neuro Linguistic Programming (ANLP) in the UK, who has been working in personal development for many years, “Failure is only measured by time. If you look at the bigger picture, it’s the ‘failures’ in our life that can actually turn out to be our greatest successes. What we learn from failure is invaluable. The coach’s challenge is to remove the ‘failure’ thought from clients and show them that it doesn’t mean they can’t achieve success in the future.”
- A coach will assist you to understand that, in integrating all your experiences, you become more whole and more satisfied and fulfilled in life, and able to make better choices for yourself.
The bottom line is that we are all complex, ambivalent, ambiguous and fascinating creatures and it is important to recognise that fear, sadness, loneliness and boredom are normal aspects of life, often necessary for personal growth. A personal coach will help you see the benefits in all human experience, both positive and negative, and will guide you in aiming for that “golden mean” alluded to by Aristotle in all his wisdom: “The good life is found between the extremes of deficiency and excess, and is therefore best served by a mixture of both pleasure and pain.”
If you are fascinated by understanding people and helping them move forward, or simply want to do something more fulfilling in your own life, consider studying with SACAP. The South African College of Applied Psychology offers a number of specialised coaching programmes, from an introductory short coaching course to a full-blown Postgraduate Diploma in Coaching, available at both its Cape Town and Johannesburg campuses.