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Life Coach or Career Coach: What’s the Difference?

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The difference between a life coach and a career coach is the focus of the conversation that you are having rather than the label of the coach.   A career coach can help design a career plan and reach career goals such as discovering different career paths or rising to leadership roles. A life coach focuses on personal goals. Life coaches help clients determine which personal changes they want to make in their lives and help formulate the steps needed to be taken in order to reach these personal goals.

The problem then drives the conversation and the coach selection. Typical life coach conversations are driven by struggles such as these:

  • I want to improve my mental, physical and spiritual mindset and develop a richer work-life balance.
  • I often feel that my entire focus is on work and nothing else.
  • I want to experience joy every day and not continually look for the next big thing.
  • I am stressed-out and fearful about navigating the transition in front of me.

A coach will partner with you to provide the awareness, support and structure that will enable you to breakthrough barriers (such as fear) and produce the results that you want. When working with a life coach, you can expect the coaching conversations to focus on some of these topics:

  1. Understand Yourself.   A solid foundation begins with an introspective look at who you are, identifying strengths, personality traits and automatic responses. Happiness and fulfillment result from being authentic and leading with your highest and best self.
  1. Set Priorities. There are more demands, options and alternatives clamoring for your attention than there are hours in the day. Examine the importance of your commitments and relationships. How do you rank Self, Spouse, Children, Work, Family, and Friends? What are the demands and impacts of each and how can you achieve balance and well being?
  1. Cultivate a Positive Mindset.   Explore how to leave the past behind and avoid obsessing over potential events in the future.   Be proactive in choosing your vocabulary, energy, and actions. Develop awareness of your limiting thoughts and doubts.   Then set the stage for change.
  1. Change Automatic Responses. How each of us responds to everyday events is shaped by our unique life history. We have learned what to do from our experiences with our family, culture, education and friends. These automatic responses create shortcuts in our day. But there are times when these responses do not serve us. Often, in order to achieve a change in direction, it is necessary to identify, examine and change behavior that has become automatic.
  1. Find Purpose and Passion. What inspires you? What’s the bigger picture? For some, it may come from doing while for others it looks like a way of being or expression.   Spend time diving into the deeper essence of who you and understand the relationship to satisfaction, fulfillment and inspiration.
  1. Break Away from Repeating Cycles. Feelings of stress and overwhelm can signal that a cycle of triggering events is repeating itself.   Developing an awareness of this relationship between emotions and triggering events is the first step to proactively taking steps to break the cycle.

These are just examples of some of the topics of conversation with a coach that are considered as typical of a life coach conversation. That is, they involve a general and personal introspection. But these conversations will eventually morph into other topics because it is not possible to separate ourselves into neat compartments. What affects our personal life is also affecting our work life. Over time, the conversation will touch on other topics such as careers, relationships, or financial matters. A coach is trained to support clients in all their many facets.



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