Last year I was debating a career switch. If I kept doing what I was doing, I would look back with regret. So I thought about the times in my life when I felt most alive: What was I doing then? And I thought about when I was most useful to people: How had I helped them? And I thought about the times I sensed, “I was made for this,” like fins slicing through water. It was soul searching and far reaching and exhilarating and exhausting.
As I processed these rich and deep questions, which tingled of heart and time, I reached out to a few people. They weren’t certified coaches—I didn’t know what a certified coach was. But they did help me listen to myself, consider a different future, and ponder next steps. They were coaching me without knowing it.
A year later I’m a certified coach with a fresh start and 100 coaching hours under my belt. As I’ve listened to clients, I’ve noticed some common reasons that drew them to coaching. Coaching isn’t counseling and coaching isn’t mentoring, coaching is coaching (we can talk about the difference in a future post).
In my experience, here are five reasons people want coaching:
To understand yourself better
Self-awareness is a powerful attribute that not everyone has. Through coaching tools like assessments, debriefs, and questions, you can learn about your talents, personality temperament, and behavioral traits. When a client was facing a major life transition, she wanted to start her next chapter by learning about her strengths.
Because you feel stuck
You may not know why, but you feel stuck where you are, like boots sunk in mud. No matter what you try, you can’t get going. There may be a variety of reasons for this, but they’re not clear to you. Coaching can uncover the mud that is sinking you down. When a client wasn’t living the life he wanted to be living, we got him unstuck.
To get new perspectives
Sometimes you’re tired of your perspective and want to look from a different angle. What does it look like from over here? Ooh, and what about upside down? Coaching can help you see from different perspectives, which may be exactly what you need. One client reframed the way she was thinking about her struggles and realized they were forming her into the woman she wanted to become.
To reach important goals
Goals can be elusive, out of reach. Or shadowy, unclear. What does success look like? How would your life change if you achieved them? What may get in your way? What support do you need? Coaches can help you see your goals and create a plan to reach them. One client created a support plan and achieved his impossible dream.
To grow in meaningful ways
Growth isn’t automatic. What do you want to grow into? To grow out of? How do you want to grow? Meaningful growth is planned, but the way isn’t always obvious. That’s how a coach can help. A client was frustrated with mediocre job performance, but once he learned new skills, he felt like those fins.
What could a coach do for you today?

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