What is life coaching about?

The answer to the question “What is life coaching about?” is that life coaching enables. It enables you to reach goals, to strive higher than you would have thought possible, and it enables you to reach a higher awareness of yourself and your surroundings. It does all that while fulfilling the goal you have chosen for yourself.

The product of the process depends on the person

Since coaching is a process that does not have one specific definition, and since it might mean different things to different people, the expectation from the process vary based on the person who undergoes the process.

If we look at a specific area of our life (family, relationships, career, finance or any other thing you can think of), the people who would benefit the most out of coaching would probably be divided as follows:

  1. I don’t know what I want, but I feel that something is missing
  2. I know what I want, but I don’t know how to get it
  3. I know what I want, and how to get it, but something keeps holding me back

Each type of person above would expect different results from the coaching process. Type 1 would want to understand what is missing, and why he feels the way he feels, while type 3 would just be looking for the nudge in the right direction so he could start moving.

Since each type expects a different outcome, so would what the person wants to achieve would be different. This means that for each type, the coaching process would look different. The one thing that would be common to all of the types above is the goal setting process.

Reaching from Point A to point B

Goal setting is vital when someone is looking for personal growth. In order to have a clear

Cheshire Cat

Cheshire Cat

path, and understand where you’re going, you need to know where you want to go, otherwise, you can go anywhere and lose track of yourself. Like Cheshire cat pointed out to Alice, in  Lewis Carroll‘s classic, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland:

Alice asked the Cheshire Cat, who was sitting in a tree, “What road do I take?”

The cat asked, “Where do you want to go?”

“I don’t know,” Alice answered.

“Then,” said the cat, “it really doesn’t matter, does it?”

This is one of the major tools that coaching uses. With some people (type 1 in our case) this might also be a product by itself.

Setting goals enable us to stretch ourselves more than we thought we could. It enables us to have a clear vision of how we want our results to look like, it focuses our energy on the set goals and it gives more meaning to our efforts and lives (it also does a lot of other things, but I would dedicate a different post for goal setting later on).

Each one of the types we talked about would benefit from setting goals:

  1. Type one would want the coaching process to result in those set goals.
  2. Type two would want smaller goals that would enable him to reach its bigger goal
  3. Type three would like to have goals that would enable him to break the barrier which holds him back

Goal setting plays an important part in coaching and is probably the most dominant product that would be achieved in the process.

A few other things you might expect from coaching

While goal setting is one of the things you could probably expect on achieving while undergoing coaching, there are other things that would probably be achieved as well. These “side effects” are feelings and emotions that come with having a definite purpose and a greater understanding of where the client is currently standing, in comparison to where he wants to go.

Increased resourcefulness

In order to achieve goals, one must be resourceful in order to overcome the obstacles that would appear while reaching the goal. This is something that the coaching process might also provide. Whenever the client faces a block of some sort, he could go to the coach and consult with him. A good coach would challenge you and support you to define the concrete steps you need to take moving forward. This, in turn, would help overcome obstacles and increase resourcefulness.

Changing paradigms

A paradigm is a concept that is taken from the science world. According to Wikipedia, a paradigm “…. is a distinct set of concepts or thought patterns“. If we relate the concept to the coaching world, a paradigm might be the set of principles, concepts, beliefs and habits that a certain individual might possess. Since reaching goals require stretching ourselves, and changing habits, it would consequently involve changing our paradigms. This means that another result you might expect is encountering new point of views, for old beliefs and principles you originally held.


During our daily lives, we are surrounded by things that constantly demand our attention. Phones, phone messages, kids, bosses, commercials, emails and the list could go on. This means we allocate our attention to a hundred different things, and probably miss thinking about the things we really want to achieve for ourselves.

One of the best ways of achieving goals is focusing on the goals themselves. Constantly thinking about the end goal someone wants to achieve, and impressing those thoughts in your mind over and over, would generate new ideas that would help to achieve the goal, and would shorten the time it takes to achieve it.

Another thing that the coaching process does is keep the client focused on the goals that were set, so he won’t get side tracked with LIFE, and the other factors written above. This focus means that both thoughts and actions that the client does, would be in the direction of the goal, and would enable the client staying on the right track.


What you shouldn’t expect from the coaching process

When trying to understand what does the coaching process supposed to achieve, we should ask ourselves another important question: What shouldn’t we expect from the coaching process?

Coaching is not therapy. A coach is not a psychologist or a social worker. Coaching does not dwell on the past, and it is not a healing process. An ethical coach would point its client to receive the right treatment if he feels that the mental blocks which the client has are not related to the client’s current point in life.

If you feel you have an issue which requires counseling and involves psychological issues, don’t go to a coach. He won’t be the address, and you want to get the help you really seek. Coaches are here to help you get more out of life, and find and achieve goals. They won’t help you solve issues from the past.

The bottom line

Coaching is a process that is focused on results. It is also measured by the ability of the client to reach the results he set out to get. It looks at the client’s current position (point A) and helps him get to point B – which is the goal. What you should expect from the process is to have the result you and your coach set together for yourself.

Reaching the goals the client set would require using other tools which the coach has. These would create positive “side effects”, which would vary depending on the tools that would be used, and the individual session of the coach and the client.


As always, I hope the post helped you understand what you should expect to achieve from coaching. If you feel I have missed something, or if you have any experiences you liked to share, feel free to let me know in the comments below or by mail

6 thoughts on “What is life coaching about?

  1. ido

    Hi Brooke,
    I’m really happy to hear of your story.
    It keeps amazes me at how sometimes all that someone needs to get out of a rut is looking inside and decide for himself of what he wants to achieve and where he wants go.

    Hearing these kind of stories really inspires me, as I am certain that there are many people who have similar stories and all they really need is a nudge in the right direction.

    Keep going!

  2. Hello, Ido!

    I always thought coaching was kind of like a life counselor or something along those lines, but I’m very glad that you could clear that up for me.

    In addition, I have had emotional and mental health problems for a large portion of my life. Many counselors and medications did not personally help me. If you really want help, it has to come from within, and you have to be willing to help yourself first; you must be receptive to the ideas of other people and what they have to say if you want to see things with clarity.

    Life coaching sounds like something everyone could take some notes from. The Cheshire Cat of Alice in Wonderland stuck out for me personally: “Where do you want to go?” Such a simple question, but so deep, too. If you don’t know what you want, how can you expect to get there? Throughout my life, I knew I was unhappy with where I was. I knew I wanted a change, but my answer was always “anything but this” or “anywhere but here.”

    It’s not a wonder now looking back why I wasn’t on my journey to the life I wanted for myself. I had no idea what I wanted, where I wanted to be, or how I was going to get there. My negativity wasn’t helping anything.

    Years of counseling off and on, medications, and self-help guides did nothing for me but remind me of the things that happened with little help at all. How did I get out? I just decided to set goals. I wrote down the things that mattered to me, what I valued, and what I had hoped my future **might** entail. I knew I was tired of being poor, so step one was quite obviously to get a job that I would be willing to commit to (I quit all my other jobs pretty quickly because they didn’t satisfy me). I put myself back in college.

    One month at a time, I had cleared my medical debts, and am working on my student loan debts. Just changing one thing at a time, focusing on my goals, and taking things one moment at a time has helped me tremendously. It sounds cliche, but it truly has helped above all else. I set goals, I focused on the now, and I looked towards the future. The planning set in motion the job that cleared my debts and put me back in college, the job helped me to start a successful website, and is helping me to overcome a lot of social anxiety issues…

    I rambled a fair bit, but life coaching does seem quite beneficial and could help others. I shared on Facebook!


  3. Love the Cheshire cat quote, for me that is sooo true and glad you cleared up what not to expect, i would admit often i feel like a coach should be a like psychologist

    • ido

      Sometimes, there is a fine line between coaching and therapy. But a coach is not a therapist, in the sense that if there are clinical issues, he is not qualified in any way to handle them. He can support and cheer, but he wont help solve the issue

  4. Hi Ido
    Your coaching method seems very sound and clear and you are so right about having clarity in a direction in life – I love the Chesire Cat line about knowing where we are going and that if we don’t know, then it doesn’t matter what road – that is fantastic.
    I also appreciate your point that a life coach is not a therapist. I think many coaches try to be everything to their clients, but it is really a different area of assistance. So what would you say to someone who is unsure if they have “issues from the past” blocking them? Do you have a particular way of working that out when they first approach you?

    • ido

      Hi Trish, Glad you liked Cheshire Cat. He is one of my favorite characters from that book.

      To answer your question, if the coach and the client find out together that the mental blocks that the client has were indeed caused by some sort of trauma, and the sessions turn to that direction, then the coach should indeed stop the sessions all together, and turn the client to a therapist, or someone who is qualified to handle trauma. He should never handle these sort of issues, unless he has the right psychological training in addition to the coach training.

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