Thursday, July 21, 2011

Can I be my own Life Coach?

by Maria Geraci

I can't remember the first time I heard the term "life coach." I just know that like lots of other trendy, new wave sort of 21st century adages (like Twitter, Skype, etc...)  the term just sort of crept up on me. And then I began to see it everywhere, most notably in the biographies of lots of writers.

ExampleSusie Smith grew up on the tropical island of Pango Pango, spending the first thirteen years of her life in  a Swiss Family Robinson type tree house, with just two monkeys as her only companions. With graduate degrees from both Harvard and Yale, she has traveled extensively and speaks over fourteen languages. Her non-fiction debut, Check your Baggage at the Front Door, has become a world wide phenomena. Susie runs eight marathons a year and is a life coach, helping other, less adventurous souls achieve their wildest dreams.

Okay, so I made this up, but you get my drift. Life Coaches are "in" right now. Everyone is using them. Take Ron Howard's daughter, Bryce Dallas Howard. She credits her life coach for her ability to balance her busy life. Below is her quote from a New York Times article:

"...decades after her father made it in Hollywood, Ms. Howard, 25, is making her own way in acting, and she's therapist-free. She sees a life coach instead. Ms. Howard, who is on location filming "Spider-Man 3," said her coach helps her navigate the demands of show business on her own terms, including making time for writing and protecting a degree of privacy during press interviews without losing her cool. 

"It's not about rehashing the past," said Ms. Howard, who said she's "really into self-improvement." She called Sherri Ziff Lester, her coach, after a manager friend passed on her name last year. 

"With Sherri," she said, "it's, 'Let's talk about this week.' She asks me a series of questions so that I see my priorities and decide what I need to do."

Life Coaches don't provide therapy. Their job is to motivate you and to help you achieve your goals (both personal and professional). Life Coaches help you overcome negative behaviors that stand in the way of your success. They can help you get "unstuck" from the ruts that slow down your life.

I don't know about you, but all this sounds pretty cool to me. Recently, I wrote down a list of all my goals (personal, professional and financial) and while the list is way too long to share on this blog, I realized there were certain behaviors (2 mostly) that if worked on, would enhance my life considerably. Those were:

1. Daily exercise

2. Finding ways to write more productively.

Unfortunately, with 2 kids in college, a mortgage, car payments, etc... I just can't swing the $50-100 an hour fee that a life coach charges. So, I thought, "Why can't I be my own life coach?

I know this sounds shockingly too twentieth century, but isn't that what most of us have been doing since the beginning of time? So I Googled the term "goal setting" and "how to make your goal into a reality." This produced a whole lot of articles and links to more people who will help guide me on my path to perfect nirvana. Argh.

My husband has a saying that I've heard many times (he credits this bit of knowledge from his army days) and I've always taken it as a collective human wisdom. If you do something over and over it will eventually become a reinforced habit. In other words, if when I get up every morning and I force myself to exercise, eventually, this will become a habit for me (hopefully, an enjoyable one.) I used to run when I was younger, and I loved it, but like everything else, the opposite of the "over and over" rule is that if you stop doing something, you will eventually stop doing it all together and it will be harder than ever to pick it back up again.

So: Life Coach Goal number one: For the next two weeks, I will get up every morning and walk for 30 minutes. No matter what. I have written this down on an index card and taped it to my refrigerator where I will see it first thing in the morning when I reach inside to get the half-n-half for my coffee. Consider this my own "coaching tip." Let's see if it works.


  1. Maria, I love this! I remember watching that Tori Spelling reality show once, and it said that her brother was a lifestyle coach. Seems like they're people paid to kick your a** into gear, but in a nice way (as opposed to being a drill sergeant!). Please, post updates and let us know how it's going. Fab post as usual! And it's given me lots to think about.

  2. This is an interesting theory, Maria. Although I think a "life coach" sounds like a BFF who gets paid. (don't tell mine, she'll probably want back pay, and rightfully so) I think you will, however, have great success as your own life coach... You are such a positive person there's no reason to fail! I, on the other hand, could make lists all day long and have nothing to show for it but lists, as I complain that I spend all my time doing nothing but making lists! (-;

  3. Maria, good luck with the walking routine! I have been walking every day now for six weeks, b/w 4 and 6 miles per outing, but I have a friend to do it with and we push each other; I guess we're each others' life coaches! As Susan said, let us know how the new commitment to walking is going. I think you're smart to break it up into manageable chunks (two weeks) because you have a greater chance for success. Maggie

  4. Maria, I too really like your approach of setting one step at a time reasonable goals and then doing something gentle but direct to reinforce them and get them done. Very smart. Good luck.

    On another note: BD Howard DOESN'T have a "therapist" but a "life coach"?! My happy hind end.

  5. Great post, Maria!
    I was thinking the same thing Laura said about my BFF as I was sounds just like what she does for me when we're talking and I'm struggling over some decision ;). I love your goals, btw, and need to do more of them myself. I'll be cheering you on!!

  6. Thanks for all the comments and good wishes. These are 2 goals I've tried to conquer for years now and I've finally decided, this is it!


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