Is a Life Coach Worth It?

Many people at some point in their lives consider working with a coach. Maybe they are stuck in a career that they don’t like. Maybe they struggle with finding a partner or managing their time.

But is a life coach worth it?

Learn about the different scenarios for life coaching, how they compare, and how to get the most out of the coaching process, should you decide to go for it.

Disclaimer: I work as a life coach. So, obviously, I am not objective. If I thought life coaching was a complete waste of money, I wouldn’t be doing what I am doing.

But I am also very skeptical of the life coaching industry. I am the first one to admit that there is an exceptional number of wackos around. I lived in Bali for a while — life coaching central — and it was hard to stomach at times. Rarely have I seen so many delusional people in one place (as much as I love Bali).

Yet, I have also been at the receiving end of coaching at various points in my life and it was, well, life-changing.

All of this is to say — there are no quick answers here. We have to dig a bit deeper.

What People Want Out of Coaching

When people ask, “Is a life coach worth it?” they are not quite asking the right question. The answer to this question depends completely on the expectations of the coachee. Different people want different things from the coaching process.

A better question is, “What are good reasons to try life coaching?” And, in the same vein, “What are bad reasons to try life coaching?”

Let’s ask those questions.

7 Good Reasons To Try Life Coaching

Here are some of the better reasons to try life coaching. I will go from what I consider okay to what I consider good or great.

1. You Want To Feel Seen

When they think of coaching, most people have a specific problem in mind, like wanting to find a better job or creating better romantic options for themselves.

But in truth, a large number of coachees are not seeking a specific solution to a specific problem. First and foremost, they want to feel seen. They want there to be somebody to take note of them. Somebody who takes their struggles seriously when other people (family, friends, colleagues) are not.

This need to be seen can come from a “legitimate” place, e.g., a real lack of attention from others. But it can also come from a narcissistic place. Or it can be a mix.

Either way, the coachee is paying the coach not so much to get a solution but to feel understood.

Grade: C- → To feel seen is important for our mental health. A coach can provide that. I would consider this an okay investment of your money, but not a great one.

2. You Want To Feel Inspired

There is a certain emotional high you experience from reading a self-help book or attending a personal development seminar. This “drug high” can also be had from a coach. They can make you feel like anything is possible.

“The world is your oyster!”

“It’s your time now!”

“Grab life by the horns!”

That type of sentiment.

In my experience, this is the number one reason why people pay for coaching — they are seeking this emotional kick.

It is especially convenient to get from coaching (especially online coaching). You don’t need to read a book. You don’t need to travel to a convention. You just need to be on that call. And unlike an audio program or a prerecorded course, the inspirational input is tailored towards you. Your coach (if they know what they are doing) will trigger you in just the right way. They know what gets you high. In essence, they are your personal Tony Robbins.

Grade: C+ → In comparison, to the previous scenario, this one is coming less from a place of weakness. You are getting inspired by something. There is more creative energy at work here. But you are still not taking action.

3. You Want To Experience Variety

This is similar to the previous one but with a twist. Here, the coachee just doesn’t want to feel inspired or motivated. They want to experience different, unusual viewpoints. This is what gets them high.

It’s a little bit like trying on a new costume on Halloween. For a short while, you get to be somebody else. You are essentially taking a vacation from your boring, old self and exploring a new, more exciting way of life.

Coachees who crave variety tend to jump around a lot. One month, they will be at a shamanic healing retreat. The next month, they will work with a former special forces soldier. The month after this, they will go with a classically trained psychoanalyst. And so forth.

Again, there is nothing wrong with that. If you know that is what you want, pay for it and enjoy it. Other people spend their money on alcohol and cigarettes; you like to play weltanschauung roulette. I would argue you are still making the better choice.

Grade: B- → By exposing yourself to different viewpoints, you tend to grow, even if you are not taking much action yet. Your horizon is expanding, and that’s not a bad thing.

4. You Want a “Wise” Friend

Some coachees desire to have a wise friend or even a father figure in their lives. They want somebody they can lean on emotionally, but also somebody who can talk sense into them when they are being impulsive. So there is both an emotional as well as a cognitive benefit.

This option especially appeals to people with an erratic temperament. They lack the emotional stability that the coach can provide. The coach then acts as their rock.

Some critics will argue that a coach shouldn’t act as a friend or a father figure. I disagree. Great mentors or father figures can be friends when the circumstances allow for it. But they can also be strict if there is a need.

In fact, this friendly approach tends to be more effective. I’ll give you an example from my own life. My father is a jokester if there ever was one. He would do all kinds of silly or even “forbidden” things with us when we were little. But I remember clear as day the few times in my life when he drew a red line. Getting that pushback from that close of a confidante, it left a tremendous impression. I made sure to never come close to that line again.

All of this is to say — paying someone to be your wise friend or father figure can be extremely effective. They just have to have your best interest at heart. Then they can use your emotional attachment to them to your advantage.

Grade: B+ → There is really something here. If you have someone who keeps you from making rash decisions, that will lead to a better life. If you have someone who leads, you will feel inspired to become like them. Paying for a “wise friend” pays off.

5. You Want a Cheerleader

Some people don’t have a lot of confidence in themselves. They need someone on their team, someone to cheer them on. By feeling like somebody is rooting for them, they are more likely to go through with the challenge they are facing.

But even confident people can profit from a cheerleader. This is typically the case when they enter new territory. For example, they might have been very successful in their previous job as a manager. But now they have decided to start their own business. For the first time in a long time, they feel out of their depth. A good coach can help them find their footing in this new environment. By cheering them on, the coachee will keep the course. They will soon acquire the competencies they need to feel confident again.

Grade: A- → Coachees who seek out a “cheerleader” are either already taking action or are on the brink of taking action. And by paying for a coach who is great cheering them on, they are much more likely to get started and keep. This is a great reason to get a coach.

6. You Want To Acquire Know-How

Here, the coachee is after a certain skill set that the coach can teach them. For example, I sometimes get coachees who want help with building and monetizing their blogs. If you have done it before, you can show them the ropes.

This type of coaching is akin to 1-on-1 instruction. You are essentially paying a teacher to give you private lessons in a certain subject. There is usually also a motivational component, but the focus is on the “How.”

Grade: A → If you find someone who has done what you have done and who is good at passing on those tactics, strategies, and mindsets, this is gold. It will typically shave years off your journey. And not only will you get there much quicker, but will be able to improve on what your instructor did. You will be even more successful than them.

7. You Want Accountability

Now, this, in my opinion, is one of the most useful coaching scenarios there is. You are basically paying someone to look over your shoulder and make sure you are doing the things you should be doing.

For example, if you want to lose weight, your coach might check in with you every day to see if you went to the gym or stayed within your caloric budget. Or if you want to build out your business, your coach might check in with you and see if you made your 10 daily cold calls as you had promised.

Numerous studies show that creating this kind of accountability increases your chances of success significantly. I can attest to that. I see it both in the people I coach as well as in myself (I take my own medicine and work with an accountability coach).

But for this scenario to play out well, there must be daily check-ins. Most coaching formats out there follow a “weekly call” structure, though. This won’t work. Your coach must be around all the time. Otherwise, it will be too easy to come up with excuses.

But if you do find somebody who offers some kind of daily check-in (plus possible weekly strategy calls), then this format can yield tremendous results. And I am not just saying this because it is the framework I use. There are plenty of other coaches out there offering daily check-ins and you will get the same benefits from them. It simply works.

Grade: A+ → The secret to success with anything is consistency. It’s doing the same couple of boring things day in and day out, year after year.

That is the number one reason why people don’t achieve their goals — they don’t do the boring legwork, especially when there is no immediate reward.

But if you hire an accountability coach, you can stack the odds in your favor. You will do these hard, boring things, even when you don’t feel like doing them. Keep this up for long enough, and success becomes inevitable.

Hiring a coach to create accountability is the ultimate reason to hire one.

A note on grading these:

As I said, I consider all of these seven reasons good enough to pay for coaching. If one of these reasons represents what you want out of the coaching process, chances are, you will get that.

But as you saw, there is a hierarchy. Not all reasons are equally valuable. Getting certain emotional needs met (like your need for attention or your need for inspiration) is nice, but ultimately, it won’t change the direction of your life.

In contrast, someone counseling against rash decisions, cheering you on with your goals, or even playing drill sergeant will make a difference. It will push you to take action. And action always beats emotional navel-gazing.

It’s your choice, though. If you are happy to pay for a shoulder to cry on and a coach is willing to provide that, it’s still a fair exchange of value. Just be upfront with yourself. You are effectively paying for emotional wellness, not fundamental change.

3 Bad Reasons To Try Life Coaching

Here are several bad reasons to try life coaching. I will go from what I consider pretty bad reasons to what I consider terrible reasons.

1. You Want To Skip the Hard Work

Certain coachees have this idea that by hiring a coach, the work is somehow magically going to get done. This is not the case.

If you want to lose weight, it is still you who must abstain from bad food choices.

If you want to put on muscle, it is still you who must lift weights.

If you want to have more romantic options, it is still you who must approach strangers.

If you want to grow your business, it is still you who must make the cold calls.

You get my point — your coach can’t do the work for you. They can provide accountability, cheer you on, be there for you when you are feeling down, etc. And all of these things will help with getting the work done. But it won’t get itself done.

This might sound trivial when you read about it like this. But this is a large percentage of coachees. They really do think they can outsource the blood, sweat, and tears.

2. You Are Looking for Someone Who Has All the Answers

I said earlier that wanting to have a wise friend or even a father figure was a legitimate reason to try coaching, and I stand by this assessment.

But this is different from looking for somebody who has all the answers. Now we are getting into guru territory.

It should be obvious that no one person can have all the answers. They might be somewhat further along than you in some aspects. But they still have their blind spots. There is a reason why saints only become saints in retrospect. In the present, no one holds up completely.

It is easy to blame the coaches who exploit this need for all-encompassing answers (I certainly have no sympathy for them).

But there is a reason why they get away with it. People are demanding it. They want to follow a strong, infallible leader. That is why populists, TV pastors, and, well, certain coaches, thrive. They are giving the masses what they want.

3. You Want To Avoid Therapy

Therapy still has a bit of a stigma attached to it. That’s why some people prefer going with a coach instead. It sounds better, to yourself and others. Instead of admitting, “I have deep-rooted psychological problems,” you can reframe it as, “I am becoming my best self.”

This might work okay if your issues are somewhat contained. But if we are talking about serious problems (e.g., self-hurting behavior), you should go see a clinically trained therapist.

To be clear — I don’t think that therapists are per se more competent than coaches. I have known people with two PhDs and a long publication list, and they were godawful at helping people. I have also met a few “untrained” coaches who were phenomenal at helping people through a crisis (even people really on the edge).

But it can be hard to make that call, especially when you are already in crisis mode. In that case, statistically speaking, a clinically trained therapist will be your better bet. At the least, they will typically do less damage than your typical self-proclaimed life coach.

The Money Factor: Is It Worth It?

Another major reason why people ask themselves, “Is a Life Coach Worth It?” is the money factor. Your typical life coach charges at least $100 per hour. And it can easily go up to $300 per hour, or even $500 per hour.

That is a lot of money. Understandably, most people are hesitant to spend that much.

Now, of course, you want to make sure you are not wasting money on some snake oil salesman. Use common sense. If that person is too loud and their promises sound too good to be true, keep your distance.

But, it is also true that most potential coachees don’t think long-term. They see a rate like $100 an hour and have these knee-jerk reactions. “This is too much! I am not going to pay that!”

Think about all the goals you didn’t reach, though.

Think about how five years ago you were planning to get ripped, and today you are 30 pounds overweight.

Think about how five years ago you told yourself, “I am going to quit my job, start an online business, and travel the world.” But today, you are still commuting to your cubicle.

Think about how five years ago you committed to finding that attractive partner. Today, you are still watching porn and crying yourself to sleep.

Think about how five years ago you decided to get organized. Today, you are still stomping out fires and feeling burned out.

Now consider this — if paying $3000–$5000 would solve any of these problems for good, would you pay that money? You bet.

I am not saying coaching is the only way to get there. When you tinker with a complex problem yourself, you might eventually still solve it. But it might take you 25 years instead of 5. Or you might never get there.

To be clear, you still need to do the work. You still need to put the reps in. But your chances of succeeding will go up significantly by hiring a competent coach.

Let’s take professional athletes as an example. Olympians, NFL players, UFC fighters — they all have coaches. Very few of them got to where they are without someone guiding them, cheering them on, but also disciplining them.

This is true for every area of achievement. Successful entrepreneurs have coaches. High-level politicians have coaches. Top-level artists and performers have coaches. There is a pattern here.

If you think spending a few thousand dollars on someone who might 10x or 20x your success in life is too much, you are probably letting your short-term thinking get the best of you.

How To Get the Most Out of Coaching

Many people ask themselves, “Is a life coach worth it?” But they rarely think about what they could do to get the most out of the coaching process.

That is a mistake.

I see this with my own coaching clients every day. Some of them come prepared. Some of them do their homework assignments. Some of them update their tracking sheets daily.

But some also don’t. They have a passive consumer mindset. As a result, they get much less out of the process, even though they receive the same information and the same level of care from me.

That’s why you should pay attention to the following list of best practices for coachees. When you are paying that much money, you want to maximize your results.

1. Talk To Several People

The first coach you talk to is rarely the right one. You typically need to talk to at least 5–10 people to find a great fit. Do this, even if you feel blown away by the first person. You can still come back to them later.

There is one exception to this rule. If the coach consistently produces high-value content that is already helping you out, you might go directly with them. Essentially, by resonating with their content, you already made sure they are the right fit.

2. Be as Honest as Possible

We all have a tendency to play it cool with strangers. And in real life, that can be a good idea. You must be careful whom you open up to or you might get screwed over.

But here, you are paying by the hour. Bite the bullet and show yourself as you are, with all your shortcomings and contradictions. It will speed up the road to results significantly.

3. Take Notes Before Each Session

Don’t wing it. Come prepared. Have a written list of things that you want to talk about, with notes for each subtopic. You will get way more information out of the hour and progress faster overall.

4. Take Care of Logistics

You would think that when somebody is paying $100, $200, or $300 an hour for an online coaching session, they’d be ready to go. But often, people are not.

Go through this checklist before every call:

  • DeaktiviertIs my Wifi stable? If not, where could I take this call alternatively, while still having privacy?
  • DeaktiviertDid I make sure to charge up my laptop if I am not using a charger?
  • DeaktiviertDid I connect my headset? Bad audio can greatly diminish what you get out of a call.
  • DeaktiviertDo I have my notepad and my pen ready? Alternatively, do I have my note-taking app open?

5. Insist on an Accountability Component

Weekly coaching calls are not enough. You might feel all fired up for a day or two right after the call. But that energy wears off. Before you know it, you are back to your usual patterns.

That is why your coach must provide some form of daily accountability. This can be very simple. In fact, the simpler the better. I use the most basic of spreadsheets with my clients. All they have to do is check a couple of checkboxes each day. I then look at the spreadsheet and leave a short comment.

That will already do the trick. It will be much easier to do than having to write that long self-reflective email to your coach every day. This means the tracking gets done, even on extremely busy days.

A coach who is concerned with your results will offer something like this. If they don’t, insist on it. If they don’t comply, find a different coach.

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