Published June 15, 2012
Man: Hello, I’m calling to inquire about your life coaching services. I’ve been in corporate America for 18 years and I’m ready for a change. I don’t like working in an office atmosphere. Back in high school and college I loved to paint, landscapes mostly, and I’d like to get back to that.
Life Coach: Well, what are you waiting for? Get yourself an easel, a palette and a brush and set yourself up on Main Street on a nice, sunny day. Quit that job. Put on some old comfy clothes. Get painting!
And there you have words said by no life coach ever.
Yes, that’s right. I’m stating it unequivocally.
OK, maybe there is a scenario where it could happen.
Man: Hello, I just won the Lotto. I already paid off my mortgage, have accounts set up for my kids’ college education, am set for retirement, helped some relatives in need, and have given to some charities near and dear to my heart. I’m still working in corporate America, but I’m ready for a change. Back in high school and college I loved to paint, landscapes mostly, and I’d like to get back to that.
Life Coach: Well, what are you waiting for? Get yourself an easel, a palette and a brush and set yourself up on Main Street. Quit that job. Put on some old clothes. Get painting! Do you really even need me?
Man: Well, I was thinking more along the lines of creating a plan to get back to my art. Maybe learn how I can apply it using new technology.
Life Coach: Ohhhhhhhhhh. Yes, of course. I can help you with that.
I’m going down this road now because lately I’ve noticed this resounding theme of really intelligent people not understanding what life coaches do. When I got into this profession a decade ago, I found myself answering a lot of questions about how it works. That has tapered off, so I suppose we’ve all made the assumption that people understand it now. We’re wrong.
Somewhere along the way, because we tend to be guiding people in becoming more self-aware and living better lives, we became known as Pollyanna cheerleaders who just throw caution to the wind and advise people to recklessly pursue their passion. I’m realizing more and more this isn’t the notion of just some who don’t cotton to our line of work, it’s even people who think coaching is kind of cool.
Sometimes folks who have had their dreams crushed, those who are mired in seemingly inescapable ruts, or even those who have simply settled scoff at the possibility that things can get better. They’re often angry or just so busy trying to survive that they can’t be reached. But the people who approach life coaches are often the ones emerging from that place and they want help coming out the other side. It is a privilege to be along for that ride with clients and any coach worth a damn will tell you that is not just a priceless feeling but a calling that comes with deep responsibility.
The transition plan is the part of coaching that seems to elude those wary of the profession. Yes, we do implement those. Rarely do we see circumstances where cold turkey is feasible. Plus, pursuing your passion doesn’t mean you can necessarily make a living at it. But it needn’t be ignored either. There is also a ‘can-do’ aspect of coaching. Most people who make their way to us need encouragement that this thing they want is possible. Even when they introduce something long-lost back into their lives, they begin to feel an energy shift. We are a valuable objective eye.
Let’s say you’re a UPS driver who doesn’t want to leave the company because you’ve put in a lot of time and you’ve got a pension coming if you hang in there. OK. But you’re feeling like something needs to change. You have no creative outlet and you feel you need one. Your biggest creative love was always gardening and/or landscaping but you abandoned it long ago. You live in a townhouse community where the landscaping is maintained for you.
No wonder you are experiencing pure creative deprivation.
As a life coach, I’m not going to tell you to quit the job and go start a landscaping business. I’m going to suggest we explore your options. Perhaps you move to a home where you can get your hands dirty and make your environment more suited to you, where you can execute your outdoor vision. Or find a community garden. Or do something in the volunteer realm that implements this gardening passion.
Imagine the difference coming home from a long day at work to a place that pleases you aesthetically, a place that also helps you unwind when you get out there and prune or dig. This is where we want to go – right to quality of life. Maybe you have a child who you can then introduce to this passion of yours and it becomes a bonding thing. Your life has just gone from mundane to special in one area. Trust me, it will ripple into the others.
You could also choose to ignore the nagging feeling that life could be better. Stay pent up. Keep building that pension while ignoring your current quality of life. You could major in biology because your parents told you to even though you barely got through science classes in 12 years of school. You could ignore every natural inclination you have regarding your interests and gifts.
Or you could figure out how to work those things into your life.
Yes, you could.
Now those are words we utter over and over again.
Nancy Colasurdo is a practicing life coach and freelance writer. Her Web site is www.nancola.com and you can follow her on Twitter @nancola. Please direct all questions/comments to FOXGamePlan@gmail.com.