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Planning Retirement Online

Do you need a life coach in later life?

by Annie Wigman

Annie Wigman, one of the new breed of coachers, explains the technique and reviews a self-help book on the subject. 

Does what you get seem out of tune with what you want? Are your true colours straining to break free?

Or put another way, do you ever feel that life is passing you by? Do you find yourself wishing life could be different, but do nothing to change your situation? 

Professional coaching  - for Life and Business - has taken time to reach British soil (crossed the Atlantic on the slow boat rather than zipping across on Concorde) but is now a hot new buzzword in the UK. 


What is coaching, why is it useful?

The International Coaching Federation defines professional coaching as, “an ongoing partnership that helps clients produce fulfilling results in their personal and professional lives.” Coaching clients get to “deepen their learning, improve their performance and enhance their quality of life.” 

What you get becomes more in tune with what you want, and your true colours get the chance to shine. A coaching relationship supports you in your move towards living the life that you want and making the changes that may be necessary to get there. Key words in the coaching business are Balance, Alignment, achieving a particular Goal (setting up a business, making more time for leisure and pleasure, getting a promotion, improving interpersonal relationships, for example). If you know  that you want to do something but are struggling to know what it is, then a coach can help you to find out and go on to do it. 

How does it work?

Coaching is a form of consulting, though it shares some techniques with counselling and therapy. It is not about resolving past issues, but focuses on achieving aims and goals.  Sessions can be face-to-face or on the phone, so you’re not limited by geography and you don’t have to leave your sofa or your desk!  

Central to coaching is an understanding that the client is creative, resourceful and whole. The client is the expert! The coach is a partner who helps to identify and overcome the blocks to aspiration and fulfilment. 

At times we may all get hamstrung with assumptions that we can’t or shouldn’t do something.  We get discouraged and tell ourselves… ‘ I won’t succeed ‘because’…. Coaches tend to ask powerful questions such as: 

  • What do you want? 

  • What does it look like? 

  • What would you like to see more of? 

  • What would you like to see less of?

  • How might it look if? 

  • What will you do? When? 

  • How will you know you have reached it? How will I know? 

  • What else?

These open questions help clients find their own answers. The coach provides feedback so clients hear and see their own words with more clarity. 

I see coaching as providing time and space to find out who you really are, to engage your creativity and explore different perspectives, free from the critical voice of judgement.  

Coaching can open the door to solutions that might normally be presumed impossible. A little tweak here, a shift in perspective there can prove incredibly liberating. The ‘impossible’ or outrageous might be just the spark to inspire a feasible path. With a range of perspectives and a knowledge of what’s important to you the old ‘because’ ceases to be the overwhelming obstacle that it was. 

Can you be your own life coach?

Gladeana McMahon provides a wealth of confidence-boosting tips and a glimpse into the coaching world in her book Learn to be Your Own Life Coach. She covers the following:


  • Creating a confident manner through body language

  • Honing listening skills and the use of open questions

  • Gaining different perspectives and building different responses

  • Taking an optimistic stance

  • Learning to think and act in a confident manner

Exercises and action plans at the end of each section give the reader the chance to work through whatever they’d like to at home. 

I can see much in McMahon’s book that is familiar and helpful. It serves well as a coaching primer and DIY coaching mini manual.  

Can you be your own life coach? In my view, there is a qualitative difference between the dynamics of coaching yourself and having a coach there with you. (whether you work face-to-face or via telephone). But the book certainly provides some welcome nuggets. 

Annie Wigman, Dancing Tree Coaching: 

The International Coaching Federation: has detailed information on coaching and operates a coach referral service.  

Confidence Works

Learn to be Your Own Life Coach - Gladeana McMahon, 2001

Sheldon Press: 6.99





laterlife interest

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