In life, there are journeys and destinations.
When people set out to reach a goal, they often have a clear picture of the destination. But to successfully get to that place, they need to chart a route forward, which is sometimes challenging. They must also know their strengths and opportunity areas to succeed, which aren’t always obvious.
Individuals struggling to stay on track, remain motivated, or navigate roadblocks may benefit from a life coach’s support. This type of coaching is personal and helps clients live their best lives.
Life coaches will never see the same case twice, but with the right preparation for sessions, these professionals help clients identify their particular dissatisfactions and work through unique solutions.
Here’s everything industry professionals need to know about creating an effective life coach session. But before we review a session’s structure, let’s understand a life coach’s roles and responsibilities.
So what do life coaches do?
Oftentimes, people know when something is off in their lives but may not be able to pinpoint it.
Life coaches help clients identify areas of dissatisfaction — whether in relationships, work, wellness, or other key life areas — and set transformative goals. These coaches then devise strategies to help clients tick off action items to achieve goals and overcome obstacles. Through careful monitoring and consistent feedback loops, coaches help clients stay their course.
Above all, life coaches aim to help their clients feel a sense of purpose and take charge of their well-being. These coaches help people improve their life experiences by strengthening their self-awareness and relationships with themselves.
Many specific goals clients work toward with life coaches center around personal development. Here are some potential goals that a life coach may help a client address:
- Discovering a better work-life balance
- Achieving financial stability
- Finding greater job satisfaction
- Reaching professional goals
- Building healthier relationships (including with themselves)
- Breaking bad habits
- Creating a better social life
- Unblocking creativity
- Lowering stress
- Improving mood
- Developing a new perspective
- Practicing positive thinking
What should happen in a life coaching session?
Helping someone improve their mood, tap into their creativity, or increase their satisfaction in life are all personal pursuits that require different approaches. But life coaches can recycle useful strategies with a wide range of clients.
The following actions apply to every type of coach-client relationship and are central to an effective life coaching model:
- Empower clients: Coaches can help clients get closer to their goals by enabling them to identify inner motivations and remain honest about what’s in reach. Coaches should help clients set reasonable expectations and remind them that hitting obstacles is not unusual. And putting the right boundaries and expectations in place isn’t limiting; it’s empowering.
- Make an action plan: With the help of a coach, clients should develop a strategy to reach their goals from the get-go. And coaches should have a plan that includes actionable items clients implement between sessions. These professionals must also encourage feedback, making time for introspection in every meeting. Actively listening to a client’s struggles helps a coach determine whether the action plan is still relevant. Solid action items should also include critical milestones, ensuring clients feel proud of themselves. Coaches can use a template to structure the way forward and ensure clients receive the support they need.
- Educate clients: Coaching clients may be motivated and show a great sense of direction but may not have the tools to reach their goals. Suppose a client wants to improve public speaking skills but lacks the fundamental resources to do so. In this case, a coach can provide materials and modules on how to become a better orator and run relevant exercises with the client. If coaches don’t provide educational materials, certain clients may spin their wheels.
How to create a great life coaching session
The better coaches prepare a coaching framework, the more smoothly your sessions will go. After all, coaches are there to guide a client, and streamlined guidance requires structure. Here are five tips for creating a successful coaching session structure:
- Build trust from day one: Talk to your new client to learn who they are. Tell them a bit about yourself and your coaching style to put them at ease. Try to listen more than talk, and remember details about their lives, issues, and goals. Ask questions to gain insight into their experiences and ambitions. If you don’t connect right away, it’s fine. But if you aren’t going to connect at all, it’ll be obvious quite early, and it’s best to refer this client to a colleague. It’s important that clients feel they’re in a safe space and can converse freely. After all, they’ll talk about weaknesses and setbacks eventually, which can make them feel vulnerable. When coaches build trust from the start, clients open up and can more readily tackle issues holding them back instead of shying away from bringing these problems up.
- Monitor and follow up on progress: After each session, ask your client to create short-term goals and commit to achieving them by your next meeting. When the next session begins, ask the client to describe their progress since the last time you both met. As you develop a stronger relationship, you can set regular intervals to review progress on the long-term goals set at the beginning of your engagement.
- Identify new objectives and goals: Tweak the coaching route as needed, and constantly establish new short-term objectives. Some of these can be goals the client should fulfill by the next meeting, like having a difficult conversation or performing a certain action. Be sure to address any feedback on obstacles or difficulties to improve the client’s way of working. Communication issues might halt a client’s efforts to deepen their personal relationships. Finding smaller steps to improve their communication skills will accelerate their progress to their ultimate goal.
- Gather feedback: As you talk about progress with your client, ask them where they struggled and any obstacles or limiting beliefs that stood in the way of achieving their goals or getting the desired outcome. Also, ask about how coaching is impacting their journey. This will help you identify relevant short-term goals to tackle hurdles in their journey. It’s important they tell you if the advice you gave them just didn’t work because you’ll know to try another method in the future.
- Provide tools as needed: Sometimes, clients hit roadblocks because they don’t have the skills, knowledge, or tools to move forward. Ensure your client has everything they need, from reading materials to exercises and activities, to achieve their short-term goals. It’ll be helpful to survey and assess their strengths early on to predict potential struggling areas.
Best practices to use in the coaching process
Regardless of how perfect your plan is, you can’t control everything. Always leave a margin for error or interruption should life get in the way. To better ensure your coaching program's success, consider the following best practices:
- Take notes: As mentioned, it’s essential to listen to clients. Repeat clients’ goals back to them to assure them you’re interested in helping them. Demonstrating you’re attentive by taking notes will help you keep track of essential details of their life and progress. These notes will also serve you well as you chart the route forward.
- Practice accountability: Ensure you and your client stick to your commitments. On the client’s end, this means working toward specific goals or finishing an activity. As for a coach, this means coming to the session prepared and seeking the right tools and resources for your client.
- Ensure a safe space: Let your client know they’re safe by reiterating that empathy and understanding come first in this coaching environment. Remind them they can speak freely and that doing so will help them understand the impact of the changes they’re making. Growth is uncomfortable, so clients might resist leaving their comfort zones. Encourage them to sit with that discomfort and support them in these transitions.
- Ask questions: In sessions where clients do most of the talking, listen attentively and be sure to clarify anything you don’t understand. Each client has nuanced concerns, even if their goals are similar to those of other clients you’ve worked with. Never assume to know where someone’s coming from or what they’re trying to say.
Plan your first coaching session with confidence
Your clients come to you for guidance on changing major facets of their life. That’s special — and can feel quite heavy. Know that your patience and expertise will encourage clients down a path to self-discovery and, hopefully, a better life.
If you need support in your coaching journey, turn to Practice. Our customer relationship management (CRM) tool, called Client Management Software, takes the administrative tasks off your plate so you can focus on planning the best coaching sessions possible. The platform allows you to send files and contracts to clients, receive payments, and book appointments –– all in one place. Try it today.