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happy friday + why i got a life coach…

why i have a life coach... / via Oh Joy!

why i have a life coach... / via Oh Joy!

At the end of last year, I started questioning myself and my work and felt lost. Those feeling and events led me to working with a life coach which I wanted to share a bit more about with you today. I've talked a few times on Instagram Stories about working with one and originally planned to post all the things I've learned from working with mine. But I realized that so many of you have questions about it in general…Why did I get one? How do you find one? What's the difference between a life coach and a therapist? So today, I'm focusing first on all your questions about it…

Why did you get a life coach? I've been to therapy in the past and loved it especially when I had a great therapist in Philly who fit my personality so well. However, after I moved to LA, I never found one that I really loved. The last one who I saw and broke up with after 4 sessions told me that she thought I needed a life coach more than a therapist. I had no idea what she was talking about and moved on and didn't think about it again until almost 6 years later when a friend of mine suggested it to me when I was mentioning some of the stressors in my life. I was going through a lot of growth with Oh Joy but also feeling the stress of the responsibility to provide for my family, my employees, and also navigating how to do it all on top of my personal life as a mom, wife, and friend. I needed someone to help me with actionable goals as well as keep me accountable. I didn't feel the need to talk about my feelings as much as get insight on how I could handle situations better. Overall, I wanted to figure out what my purpose was (is) on a deeper level than what I had already figured out myself.

How did you find one? My life coach actually found me. It was late last year and I had been regularly doing my silly "Outfit of the Day Dances" that I do on my Instagram Stories (then I did them daily). However the world felt like a mess, there was so much anger going on in politics, there were school shootings happening (what felt like) weekly, and one day I just couldn't dance. I thought, "Who am I to be happy and dance like I have no care in the world when so many terrible things are happening to other people." A lot of you reached out and said you missed it and it was a light for you in your day. But, I felt so sad and weighed down by it all that I didn't do it for weeks.

Then, my now Life Coach, Bonnie emailed me with this (here is a shortened version of her email):

    "From your candidness and honesty with your followers, I've gathered that recent times have been an especially busy season for you and that there have been some heavy things weighing on your heart. I've been there at times in my own life.

As a fellow female entrepreneur, and a certified coach, I like to make time in my business to offer support to women who have touched my life and whom I see as doing amazing things in the world. I like to reach out to see if there's anything I can do to support them. Joy, you are one of those women to me.

This simply is a sincere expression of gratitude. No strings attached. No underlying motives. We'll get into your life, your challenges, your dreams. We'll cover any topics that will best serve you. No topics are off the table. This is intended to be uninterrupted "Joy Time" to spend with me however you wish."

Although she said it was not a sales gimmick, I figured she was offering a free session and then I could decide from there if I wanted more. But that didn't happen. We ended up speaking for 4 or 5 sessions before I was finally like, "So, are you going to tell me how much you charge for this?" It turned out that she has a very selective process for choosing her clients, too. She only takes 8 a year and there are certain criteria they need to meet to be a good fit for her. Over the course of these sessions, we mutually determined we were a good fit for each other and officially started at the beginning of 2018.

How can I find a Life Coach for myself? Ask for referrals from friends, family, people you know on Facebook, or any groups you might already be a part of. You can try sites like Yelp but not all coaches offer their services on a public facing site like that. Some high-level coaches, like Tony Robbins or Martha Beck, list others who have taken their programs. Finally, you can check the International Coach Federation for credentialed Life Coaches.

What are some important things to consider before getting one? I think it's about what you're struggling with and why you think you need one. It's not cheap, and there is an investment in time and money you are spending for it. So there are phases of life that probably make the most sense for a Life Coach. Some of the other questions below are other factors to consider…

What's the difference between a Therapist and a Life Coach? This is my personal interpretation so every person's answer might differ. But in my mind, a therapist helps you with the past and things from the past that might be holding you back, causing anxiety, or whatever other things have happened in your life that may be affecting you…they help you find the root of the problems you are having. Whereas life coaches focus on the present and the future…you now and getting to be where you want to be, how you want to be in the future. They are meant to help you achieve the life that you want for yourself. Someone who works with a coach technically has all the abilities to accomplish what they want, but it's the coach’s job is to facilitate the discovery of how they can accomplish those things. Therapists tend to have an office that you go to, whereas Life Coaches can talk to you from afar via phone or Skype. I don't see therapy and life coaching as competitive to one another. I think they offer different solutions for different needs.

What's the difference between an Executive Coach and a Life Coach? An executive coach focuses more on the business aspect of your life and your role as a leader or manager. A life coach can help with business/leadership but not all of them focus on that. My coach only works with female entrepreneurs or high-level female executives which makes her a good fit for me in understanding a lot of my mindset but we also talk about things outside of business, too.

Do Life Coaches have any professional training? The coaching industry currently is not a regulated industry. No formal training or certification is required, although most formal training programs do include a certification process. When I asked my Life Coach about this, she said the very best decision she made to build a successful coaching business was to complete a formal training program, followed by certification. Skills surpass passion to succeed in work. Passion comes after you put in the work to become excellent at something valuable, not before. The more value she can provide from her training, the more income she can create.

What is involved and what do you talk about? We mostly talk about my career, my business, my role as a boss and leader, my goals and dreams, anything that is of interest to me to talk about, anything giving me stress. We don't talk much about my family or personal relationships as that's not what I need help with. But she is there to discuss any of those if I need it.

Do you have to be specific on what you want to work? I think, yes. But I also think that if you are going to invest the time and money into it, you want to be specific as well. It's not like an online quiz you can take to figure out your life. It's deeper and very custom to you.

How much does it cost and how often do you see yours? I think the general cost ranges here a lot more than a therapist as people can charge whatever they think is appropriate for their experience and level of clients. I have heard it can range from $200-1000 per session whereas therapists seem to be more consistently closer to $100-200 per hour, but I imagine everyone differs based on experience level. From what I know, most coaches require some sort of commitment, like six months or twelve months with some regularity of conversations. Sometimes the commitment comes upfront so you are paying for your whole session in the beginning vs. paying after each meeting like you would with therapy. So the cost is a bit more upfront with a Life Coach vs. a Therapist making it more expensive in the short term. But in contrast to therapy that is on-going for people who benefit from it, Life Coaching is not meant to be something you do on-going forever. It's meant to help during a certain phase of life with the intention that you don't need a Life Coach after they've helped equip you with the tools to handle future conflicts/concerns yourself. I signed up for six months with my coach, and we Skype every other week for 1-2 hours each time. We also communicate via email weekly or have quick phone calls whenever I might need help with something before my next Skype call.

Do you do any extra work outside of the Life Coach call? Yes, I have reading to do weekly as well as occasional exercises or audio books, TED talks, or other things she suggests for me based on whatever we discuss that week. She recommends those things very specifically based on our conversations and what I'm going through or needing help with.

What if you can't afford a life coach? Just like some therapists, getting a life coach isn't cheap. In contrast to therapy (which is sometimes covered by insurance), Life Coaching is not. In lieu of a one-on-one coach, I love these podcasts which have a similar life coach type of approach on a more general level:

Awesome with Alison (I'm on this episode talking about this topic and others)
Dais by Rachel Hollis and her book, Girl, Wash Your Face!
The Life Coach School (I have not listened to these but have heard great things)
Jay Shetty videos
Will Smith's Instagram Stories (here's an example)

When is the right time to get a life coach and how do you know if you need one? It's different for everyone. Some people will never need or want one. Some people will but at different stages of life. I do think that people who are the right fit for a life coach are usually a little older and have experienced a bunch of different things first. This is not career counseling for someone who is fresh out of school and trying to figure out their life in the way we all do when we are a young adult. My coach always says that you find one when you are ready for one. For me, it's about if you are having trouble navigating various areas of your life or feel conflicted in some way. These are things that are not necessarily emotional (which a therapist can better help with) but things that you just need an outside perspective on how to best manage and navigate all the things.

What has it helped you with so far? I am still working through some of my goals, but the main thing she is helping me figure out is how to live the life I want (with no sacrifices) and to be the real me in all cases (and not care so much about what others think). Working with a life coach is like cleaning out your closet. It gets messier before it gets better. And, I have gone through ups and downs in the process of definitely feeling more unsure of myself before coming back to feeling more sure of myself.

I want to remind you that I am no expert on Life Coaches. This is truly just my personal experience from the last six months. I will share some very specific things I have learned though in my part 2 of this post because some of the things are those that can help you, too! As always, if you have any questions or any of your own experience you want to share, please leave a comment below!

I hope this was helpful to you! Have a great weekend all!

{Photo by Morgan Pansing}


  1. I am a professional and listen to a lot of podcasts with this theme. I think this is incredible and thanks for sharing your experience.

  2. The Life coach school podcasts are amazing. I have been struggling for the past year and recently discovered them and WOW! Thank you for sharing the additional suggestions.

  3. Great post Joy! I often wonder how you do it all and it seems sensible to have gotten some good guidance as you work to balance all your exciting (but weighty, no joke) roles. I also think it’s exempmary of you to be forthcoming about the ways in which you’ve decided to tackle the challenges of being a successful entrepreneur brings. You are inspiring and always have driven towards excellence. From Flint hallway hangouts to writing 101 with JJ to Ostrom! And so much more. Oh, if the younger us could see us now! <3

  4. I have read your blog for a long time now, and this is by far one of the most interesting posts you’ve shared in the past couple years. I think this could be an interesting series to write about…perhaps sharing a TED talk your coach shared with you and the way it can apply to your life and the lives of other women in business and leadership. There aren’t many female business women writing advice/mentorship columns for other women in business. I think regular posts like this would be a very positive thing to put out into the blogosphere. As I reenter the workforce after being home with my kids for a few years, I would love some guidance and food for thought on topics that working women face. Please write more about this.

  5. Thank you so much for this boost – it feels like that to me – great inspiration, I need focus and perhaps a new path, I will definitely consider a Life Coach now! Have a great summer ???‍♂️

  6. Great post! I’m so happy you are discussing this. For other readers who might be interested, I just discovered a great life coach that has lots of free material to read and listen to… and I’ve already implemented so many of her thoughts into my own life. Her name is Kara Loewentheil, and her podcast is Unf*ck Your Brain (LOVE) – highly recommend!

  7. Great post Joy! I’ve been a fan for awhile, and this is the most interesting thing you’ve written in a long time. I too have been struggling with my career direction over the past few years. I left the design industry a couple of years ago to pursue a new career in acupuncture and Chinese medicine. I wrote more about the reasons why in this blog post:
    I believe this feeling is something that resonates with a lot of people right now, and is a reflection of what’s happening to our world on a larger scale. We’re waking up to the fact that we are pawns in the capitalist machine. There’s so much work to be done, and our hands are tied trying to sell more ish in order to “earn a living”. You have so much talent, creativity, joy, and community to share. But our country has experienced traumatic injury. We’re looking at organ failure and internal bleeding. And the sad truth is that a rainbow-striped BAND-AID® can’t fix that.

  8. Thanks so much Joy for sharing
    It’s great how you breakdown what a life coach is and isn’t and what you can achieve from it
    As a newly qualified success and positive mindset coach I hope I have just as much positive feedback from clients. It’s such an exciting opportunity to help others succeed in their passions and goals

  9. Joy! I cannot begin to tell you how much this post resonated with me.
    I got a leadership / life coach last year and it helped me in ways I didn’t think possible.
    Thanks for sharing your story.

  10. If it’s time for you to stop living with your story and to create a new beginning, coaching is the personal breakthrough you have been waiting for. Uplifting yourself and restore your full potential is the very purpose why we need to have a life coach.


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