If you’re at the start of a possible coaching career path, this comprehensive guide on becoming a life coach is for you.
You’ve probably noticed that the life coaching space is filled with a lot of noise these days (the good, bad and ugly of this profession are all out there). That’s because life coaching has become a legitimate and competitive career.
There’s a demand for quality life coaches (18,000 people a month in the USA search to find a life coach near them). And with demand comes supply and complexity. So, if you’re exploring this path, it can be confusing.
Some will tell you that you don’t need certification to become a life coach. Others will confuse life coaching with teaching and guiding. Some will tell you that life coaching is a pseudo-career and life coaches are not real professionals. Still, you’ll find organizations like the International Coaching Federation, which represents the gold standard of professional coaching globally and is widely respected.
The life coaching profession is real and is growing each year because there is a demand.
What are the 4 reliable steps to becoming a life coach?
As usual, it’s a case of who you trust and what information is real.
I can’t speak for the entire coaching industry in all its shapes and sizes, but I can share what I’ve learned on my 30-plus year journey as a professional coach and as someone who has guided natural coaches to become successful; go to master coaches in over 60 countries.
In my experience, you can take 4 Pillars of Success and 4 steps.
These are also reliable steps to take in order to go from natural coach to your dream of being a professional coach out there in the world, changing lives, one coached conversation at a time.
- Confident Clarity (you are here, this page is your guide)
- Credible Certification
- Custom Coaching
- Client Cashflow
Step #1 is Confident Clarity.
That’s where you are now – seeking answers to important questions before you confidently commit to the next step in your coaching career journey.
Step #2 is Credible Certification.
When you’re committed to this path, you start shopping around for the right qualifications.
Step #3 is Custom Coaching.
Many people ignore or don’t even know about this critical step, and that is custom coaching. It’s vitally important these days to have the kind of coaching toolbox and flexible skills that allows you to build bespoke custom coaching journeys for your clients.
Never limit yourself to 1 coaching niche, even when most of the internet and the marketing gurus out there tell you to do so. Choosing a niche is only important for creating your shop window and digital presence worldwide. Yes, a niche is important to focus your message, but we shouldn’t build a shop window before we have a shop, and many coaches get stuck at this point because they can’t find the “right niche.”
There is no right niche.
Our most successful master coaches are successful precisely because they are multi-niche coaches. They all have the BIG 4 Coaching Toolboxes (the most in-demand, client-attracting coaching services today): life coaching, executive coaching, Enneagram coaching and business coaching.
This enables them to become their client’s “Go-to coach,” but I’m jumping ahead of myself.
Once you have certification, a big toolbox, and flexible skills to become a go-to coach, it’s time to get serious about turning a steady stream of clients into abundant cash flow.
Step #4 is Client Cashflow.
Like our many graduate Master Coaches, you want to build a business in a conscious, ethical way. We can show you how. My team and I are here to guide you every step of the way.
The InnerLifeSkills approach to building Master Coaches is not for everyone. We’re not for the quick-fix overnight success seekers who want to offer surface-level to-do-list coaching and make a big noise in the world without substance.
We’re here to serve those who are called to serve others.
It takes time and hard work to become a successful master coach, but for those of us who have done it, it’s worth it.
My team and I have the privilege of watching our successful master coaches change lives daily.
So think of these 4 pillars as a map, and build 1 pillar at a time, step-by-step.
First, get your confident clarity, then seek out the right certification. Then make sure to remember to aim to build a multi niche, unique and sizable coaching toolbox so that you can easily adapt to the client in front of you.
This means that you’ll serve people at the highest level, and it turns out that that makes good business sense. When we impress our clients with over-delivering quality coaching, they give us great reviews and referrals.
That’s how our most successful Master Coaches succeed!
We’ve seen how our master coaches who win 1 to 2-year coaching contracts and top reviews don’t even have digital marketing. Most of them don’t even have websites. They get all their business from repeat clients and referrals.
You can only do this if you’re truly serving people at the highest level, and if you have a multi-niche comprehensive toolbox with flexible master-level skills, please aim for this.
Then finally, once you have a steady stream of clients, you’ll have a new challenge. It’s a wonderful challenge to have, and that’s the challenge of working smarter rather than harder to generate abundant cash flow from a steady stream of clients you don’t have to seek every month to fill your diary.
We have several important approaches that I’d like to teach you.
These echo the 4 pillars, in this video, I explain 5 criteria for a natural coach to become a professional…
Download our sample 80 page
Master Coach Certification PDF manual here…
We believe in giving first, so here’s a ready-to-use sample from our paid-for InnerLifeSkills ACTP-Accredited Master Coach Certification program. Get a sample teaching from every short course module included in our 1-year program.
Over 30 years of working with coaches from various fields, from psychologists and psychiatrists (who add coaching to their skillset)… to leaders, CEOs and managers (adding coaching to the way they lead)… to those carving their destiny, building professional coaching businesses as life coaches, executive coaches, Enneagram coaches, business coaches, etc.
There are 4 important checks to tick off to help you find the confident clarity you need at this early stage of your coaching journey.
1. PURPOSE CHECK.
You know your purpose is to coach, guide, inspire, and lead in a coaching way. It’s who you are.
2. UNDERSTANDING CHECK.
You know what life coaching is and what it isn’t (read on in this guide for more). You’ve sifted through all the confusing voices and found your clarity check.
3. DIFFERENCE CHECK.
You understand the difference between coaching versus therapy versus mentoring roles, and you are clear about whether you want to be a pure coach or to blend these roles.
4. COMMITMENT CHECK.
You’ve determined that you have what it takes to commit to this path.
This guide will help you understand each of these checks in detail. Then it’s up to you to choose:
- FULL LIFE COACH CERTIFICATION – a full life coach certification path that takes between 10 and 12 months on average to complete
- SHORT FOUNDATION COURSE – usually, 3 practical classes are enough to give you a taste of what professional coaching is and equip you with foundation skills. Many of our students choose this option, our COACH 101 course, because it’s a low-risk entry point for many aspiring coaches.
- FREE INTRO COURSE – like tasting the cake before you buy the cake. Why not sample a free life coach certification program to determine whether this is the right path for you?
We have all of the above to offer you, but for now, let’s get you confident and clear so that you can either exit this career path knowing it’s not for you or confidently take the next inspiring step.
Is life coaching your purpose?
I have a slightly different approach to the concept of life purpose.
Most people will tell you that your life purpose is something you are supposed to do, but what if believing that life purpose is something we’re meant to do is a block to living our purpose?
What if life purpose is something slightly different?
Over 25 years ago, I sat with a pen and paper to coach myself because I was facing a terrible crisis. My baby daughter had been born with life-threatening health challenges. We endured a year of hospitals, medical bills and stress then I found out my husband’s small business was in debt for over half a million.
Our home was going to be repossessed. We had friends delivering groceries, and we were rushing my baby daughter in for emergency procedures every two to three weeks.
Coaching myself was the only way I stayed sane.
I wrote down a coaching question, which was simply, “What must I do?”
What must I do to be a strong mother to my two baby daughters? What must I do to help find income to save our home from repossession? What must I do to get through these traumatic weeks?
You’ll soon learn that InnerLifeSkills, the coaching brand I created, doesn’t only coach to-do list coaching. We add intuition and depth to our coaching methodologies, and you’ll understand why when you read my story.
Once I’d written down the question, what should I do? I imagined building my inner wisdom well. I learned to do this as a young child because, like my daughter, I also had a medical destiny through different challenges.
When I was a young girl, my intuition taught me how to send a bucket inwardly to seek insight and wisdom deeper than the surface noisy torture chamber mind.
The insights and wisdom I have found daily have played such an important role in my life that I soon developed a mindful meditation and self-coaching practice called the Wisdom Well Way. And it was never more important than during this traumatic year with my sick baby daughter plus our collapsing finances.
So after asking the question, what should I do? I didn’t just write down a to-do list of answers coming from my surface mind.
Using methods I had developed over decades, often by accident and out of desperation, I tuned in deeper than the surface mind, setting my intention and attention to find wisdom. This is like sending a bucket into an inner well to find the wealth of water.
I’ve always known that the bucket hit the water of wisdom because the somatic (of the body) felt sense changes in my body from a closed, stressed state to a more open, peaceful state. We teach this in our Intuition Coaching short course.
It’s then and only then that I would trust insights. Otherwise, my ego would interfere.
So I asked, “What should I do to cope with my sick baby and our collapsing family finances?”
Wisdom replied, “You’re asking the wrong question. Instead of asking, what should you do, you should ask, who am I?”
I wasn’t sure how it was meant to help me. Surely I needed to know what to do rather than who I was to pay the bills? But wisdom explained, “If you were an apple tree and didn’t know you were an apple tree, how would you know what to do?”
We often don’t realize the moments that change our lives during those moments. It’s looking back that we say it was that one thought, that one aha moment, that changed the future that took me on a new path entirely.
At that moment, writing on my paper, a desperate mother bags under my eyes from lack of sleep and crying, I had no idea that this simple wisdom would change my life. There was some logic to the idea, but I still wasn’t sure how finding and freeing my apple tree would pay the bills.
But I was desperate enough to try anything, so I continued to coach myself and learned much more that day.
An apple tree’s purpose is to be an apple tree.
It’s first an apple tree, even in seed form. Everything that it does is a natural expression of who it is.
- What if our life purpose is not about what we do but about who we bring to what we do?
- What if we’ve been trying to make oranges?
- What if the orchard of life has us hiding?
That day, I committed to finding and freeing my Apple Tree true self. Every day when I sat at my desk to continue to build my coaching business, I asked myself, what would my apple tree do? So that my doing was an expression of who I was.
I tuned in often and started to transform my coaching practice.
Slowly, I began to trust my apple tree purpose, trust that there was a natural expression of who I was. When I was true to my apple tree self, I could feel it like sap rising.
We can feel when we are true to who we are born to be.
So to confirm whether being a coach is your purpose, ask yourself:
- Is it already natural for you to guide, inspire, lead, to hold spaces for others?
- Who would you be if you were not afraid of what others thought if you were truly free?
Fear interferes with the expression of our apple tree. It distorts and hides our apple trees from us. But if you can feel a spark of inspiration as if your very life force is growing at the idea of being free to guide, lead and inspire others, if it brings you as much joy to guide, lead and coach as it brings an apple tree to make apples, then your purpose is to be this fully.
You don’t need a certificate to be your apple tree self.
Can you imagine going up to an apple tree and saying, what certifies you to make apples?
But for those who know their nature is to be an apple tree guiding and coaching, we’ve chosen certification to master our skills and learn so that we can express our apple trees more fully in the world and build abundant conscious businesses.
So how do you work out if your apple tree is a coach?
- #1 Firstly, ask yourself, “Does your sap rise when you step into this role?”
SAP is the lifeblood of the tree. It is a feeling of time standing still, inspiration, strength, love and peace.
Does your sap rise when you step into the role of the guide when you inspire and empower others? If so, that’s a clue this role belongs to who you are.
- #2 Ask, “If you were free, who would you be?”
Our survival consciousness often blocks our apple tree expression.
- If you had all the money in the world, would you still be inspired to inspire others? Would you still want to empower yourself to empower others? Do you still want to enlighten yourself to enlighten others?
- If you had all your bills paid and were free to roam life and serve in whichever way felt natural, would you show up as a coach and guide to others because it felt natural to do so?
Yes, answers validate that your apple tree is designed to coach, guide, inspire and empower.
If you feel that your apple tree is likely designed to coach, inspire, to guide others, then you can check off this box.
Isn’t the time to find and free your apple tree to turn your calling into a career?
Simple Life Coaching 101 method.
This coaching structure is the simplest method I developed to life-coach (but it makes room for depth and does not restrict your coaching to surface to-do-list coaching).
Also, it gives you enough structure to feel “I know what I’m doing” and the freedom to adapt to any form of guiding, facilitating and leading (the managers we train use the same structure).
This method is from our foundation 101 life coaching and business coaching structure—from InnerLifeSkills Coach 101 certification. It’s an ICF-accredited coach process (one of over 50) taught in our InnerLifeSkills Master Coach qualification course in over 60 countries.
As you can see, lots of subtle elements are contained in the methodology, and it takes time and mentoring to master.
I offer you this simple life coaching method not to bind you but to accelerate your learning process; it’s a quick way to learn how to coach. Once you master these structures and skills (which takes practice and guidance in a class), leave them behind—like the training wheels used when learning to ride a bike, they only help while learning.
A master coach makes coaching look effortless and natural. My team and I have the joy of watching natural coaches grow from beginner 101 to master coach levels.
These skills and methods can be applied to all forms of communication, leadership and development and any type of facilitation, guidance and coaching.
You can use this structure to coach ANY TOPIC, from coaching dreams and goals to team building, talent development, relationships, business building, transforming inner obstacles… etc.
Do you know what life coaching is and isn’t?
Because the word coach is a generic title (a transport coach or carriage.) The title can be used in so many different ways.
Anyone can call themselves a coach without understanding what life coaching is and isn’t. We have a full guide about what life coaching is and isn’t here.
Once you know what life coaching is and what it isn’t, you can check off this box.
But don’t limit yourself to the title of a life coach.
Our most successful master coaches are multi-niche; they don’t limit themselves to the title of a life coach. Instead, they follow our guidance to build brands.
Rather add life coaching to your list of services than box yourself into the title of life coach.
What’s the difference between coaching versus therapy versus mentoring?
Here’s a simple infographic we’ve created to describe the difference easily.
You might discover that you’re what we call a blended coach, which means that you draw on multiple roles rather than only pure coaching (no advice giving).
Our master coach programs are designed to support pure and blended coaches.
Do you have what it takes to be a life coach?
If it’s your apple tree true nature to guide, inspire and empower, then the answer could very well be yes because you are designed this way; it’s your purpose.
But if you want the quick fix overnight success version of becoming a successful master coach, then this may not be the right path for you.
We truly do earn the privilege of changing people’s lives.
We earn this by learning to master our skills.
It’s one thing to learn to cook a few great meals at home for loved ones. It’s quite another learning how to run a successful restaurant. Becoming a master coach means committing to learning how to life coach as your profession, vocation, and career. That means it’s a life of learning.
The art and science of true quality life coaching is an ongoing journey.
Even though I’m a MCC master certified coach with the ICF, which is their highest level of credential, and even though I have authored an ACTP Accredited Coach Training Program that delivers quality coach training in over 60 countries, I’m still learning.
Every year I have more aha moments, and I watch my coaching skills improve.
This quiz also contains helpful videos to teach you even more about the journey of becoming a professional master coach.
I hope that you’ve enjoyed this guide to the first important step of becoming a professional life coach.
Once you’re ready to go to the next stage, choosing a Life Coach certification, we have a helpful guide, ready and waiting.