“Your own personal self-help book”

Have you ever thought it would be great to have someone in your life that could help you keep it all together? To perhaps help you tackle your procrastination issues, gain more confidence, kick your butt to get to the gym, and help you figure out just what the heck you should do after graduation?

Meet Wendy Pauls, local life coach, who, in her own words is, “like your own personal self-help book tutor”, and will hold you accountable for implementing lifestyle changes. I sat down with Pauls to get the scoop on what the new trend of “life coaching” is all about and to get tips on some common issues students face.

When I first heard about the term “life coach”, it just seemed like another fancy name for a counsellor. However, Pauls pointed out that counselling often deals with issues relating to things that have happened in the past, and going through a healing process, whereas life coaching focuses more on the future, and getting better results out of your life.

“Life coaching taps into a lot more right brain stuff than left brain stuff,” said Pauls.

She also likened it to having a personal trainer at the gym that encourages and pushes you to achieve your goals. Only instead of working on your body, by completing weekly assignments you’re working on things such your confidence, behaviour, and self-esteem to fix an area of your life that lacks fulfilment. This could be something to do with your career path, your relationships with other people, or even your relationship with yourself.

If you type “life coach” in to Google, there are a large number of options out there to choose from. Most life coaches operate in a variety of ways, including face to face interaction or sessions via phone and e-mail so clients and coaches can work together from almost anywhere.

I thought it was interesting to know that since the field of life coaching is a fairly new one (not much older than a decade), a person doesn’t necessarily need to be officially certified to become a coach. Most practising life coaches, including Pauls, have attended one of the many schools that have life coaching certificate programs, but currently it is not an officially regulated profession in North America.

When asked about fees, Pauls gave a wide generalization about coaches working in the Toronto area to KW, which she says typically cost “between $200-$500 a month, which would include four sessions, and unlimited e-mail support.” While the first session with Pauls is free, she says she often expects a three month commitment from her clients to “give them enough time to break old habits and make new ones.”

While the price range she gave is pretty broad, it’s most likely a little steep for the average student, as nice as it would be to have someone to listen to you 24/7 and help you improve your life. On that note, Pauls gave me some advice on common issues that students tackle.

Stress levels are often high this time of year for students, and Pauls says that this can be partly because “we commonly focus on what’s wrong and broken in our lives rather than what’s working. We focus on the problem rather than the solution.”

She suggests asking yourself questions such as “When have I faced something like this before? When did I do well? What did I try that worked for me? What didn’t work for me?”

If you find yourself in a negative spiral she also suggests the common tactics of taking a break, and getting a brief change of scenery before getting back to work on your assignment with a fresh, and calmer approach.

When it comes to career paths, Pauls believes that often people are too closely focused on one specific idea of what their career can be or already is that they forget to look around for other possibilities.

Her most important point was to pull back and be open to exploring a variety of options because you may find something that works that you hadn’t previously considered.

Pauls says she often asks clients to think about an enjoyable activity they do in which they lose track of time because this can help you figure out who you are, what you love, and what kind of things you want to have in your life, and in your career.

And whether you think life coaching is genuine or not, you have to admit that these are things that almost everyone would love to know about themselves.