Give me a logistical problem, and watch me wrestle it to the ground in five minutes or less. Yes, I happen to be one of those bizarre writerly types who likes organization, plans and (should I say it, Carrie??) lists. However, living an expatriate life for several years, I learned to handle intrusions, interruptions and inconveniences. It wasn’t uncommon for me to sleep in 10 or more beds in my two-month summer visit to the States. Strangers rooted through my mail (I lost a romance novel that way. Still wondering if the customs official enjoyed it!). I was engulfed in a culture many Americans fear.
My life demanded flexibility, and I like to believe I changed from a Type A to a Type A-minus personality.
Then, the past year and a half brought some even more demanding challenges. An ill parent and her 10-day turned eight-week hospital stay. Two months half the globe away from my husband and son. Around the same time, some rough writing contest feedback and a public face-slap by an editor. Acceptance of a job my husband warned me against. Subsequent resignation from that job. A fourth book that couldn’t get itself together. More airplane rides than I can possibly remember. An emotional divorce in my family. A job offer for my husband back in the US. Acceptance of that job and a trans-global move in less than six weeks. I’ll stop here because, frankly, I’m boring myself .
I’ll be the first to admit that lots of folks out there have faced more trying circumstances. But the point is that my life—especially my writing life—needed a chiropractor. But where could I find someone to help me realign my life?
Those chiropractors are called life coaches. In November, my husband asked if I’d ever considered life coaching, and I told him I’d considered becoming a life coach. But did I need one?
It was worth exploring.
Over several posts during 2011, I’ll share with our Romance University readers my journey with life coach Kim Carpenter. Kim has offered to come along on this ride and share her expertise about the life coaching process.
So what is a life coach, and how do you know if you need one? Although life coaches can and do work with a variety of clients, they normally have areas of specialization. Kim’s specialties are:
- Helping women connect with their authentic feminine power and manifest their true purpose
- Coaching people in life or career transitions to overcome limiting beliefs, fears and blocks to moving forward
- Working with creative entrepreneurs to start their businesses or take them to the next level.
Of coaching, Kim says, “Coaching is a unique partnership of two equals, where the coach holds a vision of the client as being whole, capable, creative and resourceful.” I love the sound of this, especially the capable and creative parts!
Kim goes on to talk about the role of a life coach: “Coaches stand for their clients to be, do and have whatever they want in life. The coach’s job is to help the client uncover this so that s/he can move forward. As a coach, I’m there to serve the client, to hold her in the highest regard imaginable, without judgment, believing in her even when she loses hope.”
Kim also offered up the following bicycle metaphor (which should resonate with writers!) to show the differences between a coach, therapist, mentor and consultant:
A therapist would help you understand your fears about riding a bicycle based on things that happened in your past.
A consultant would bring you a bicycle manual and tell you everything you need to know about riding it. Then they would come back in a few months and see how you’re doing.
A mentor would share their experiences of riding a bicycle with you. They would bestow all of their personal wisdom about bike riding and the lessons they had learned to you.
And when you’re ready to get onto the bicycle yourself and give it a shot, the coach will endorse, acknowledge, encourage and support you along the path that YOU choose to go down. They’ll run alongside of you, helping you steer until you feel comfortable to go it alone. They’ll cheer you on the whole way and be there to celebrate with you when you’ve reached your destination.
So how do you know if a life coach would be beneficial to you? First, read resources like this post and other articles about the coaching process. Talk with people; you might be surprised to find your friends or colleagues have been through the life coaching process. Ask yourself some tough questions about what you’re seeking. I’d become stuck in a strange place of immobility, which is very unusual for me. I’m normally a “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” kinda gal, but I recognized I couldn’t reach my bootstraps or I’d misplaced my boots all together. I needed someone to either help me find and shine up my old pair or guide me toward a new pair.
Kim has provided an excellent resource, the coachability index, to help people determine if they are at a place to accept coaching.
If you decide to hire a coach, you are compensating a professional for her time and expertise, so you want to choose carefully. You might ask for recommendations from others. You might also use a database like the one provided through the International Coach Federation (ICF). I did both. My husband knew Kim from high school and encouraged me to contact her. The first question I asked him about Kim was: “Is she smart?” (which made her laugh when I told her). Then I checked the ICF website to see if she was listed there. (She was.)
Kim offered this on coaching credentials: “Anyone can call herself a coach, and no laws regulate this industry yet, so it’s good to know what training the coach has completed. I feel it’s important that coaches graduate from an ICF-credentialed training program. Ideally, you want someone who is certified and a graduate of a coach training program.”
How would you communicate with a life coach? It’s not necessarily important that you and your coach live in the same location. Kim’s in Canada, and I’m in California so we Skype our sessions. We also communicate via email and through a Google document where we both make notes and I type up my homework assignments.
Over the next few months, I’ll share more details of my coaching experience with our RU readers. Kim is bound by confidentiality, but I can disclose as much as I want .
RU Crew, have you worked with a life coach? If so, was it a positive experience? What questions can I (or Kim) answer about the coaching process?
Stop by Monday when New York Times bestselling author Kat Martin shares her secrets to successfully writing in three different subgenres–historical, paranormal, and contemporary.
Kelsey Browning writes contemporary and paranormal romance with a hint of southern sizzle. She’s a co-founder of Romance University blog where the mission is to empower writers, entertain readers and understand men. In her former life, she worked at one of the ten largest universities in the U.S., raising money and teaching students how to land their dream jobs. Now, she pursues her dream job of writing, which provides excellent benefits such as unlimited coffee and an office dress code that includes flip flops. Originally from Texas, and after four years in the Middle East, she now lives in Southern California with her IT-savvy husband, baseball-obsessed son and seriously spoiled dog. Visit her at: www.KelseyBrowning.com.
Kim Carpenter cut her teeth as an executive for 18 years before bringing her business savvy into her Success Coaching business. She’s reinvented her life many times over, from living in Germany, Cyprus, India and Tokyo, to nine years climbing the corporate ladder in Manhattan’s advertising and online marketing arena. She now lives in a picturesque ski resort town where she spends her days helping people up-level their circumstances, leap over obstacles and create unbelievable results in their business and their lives. Visit her at http://www.kimcarpenter.net, http://www.facebook.com/pages/Kim-Carpenter-Life-Coach-Consultant/89405813574, or http://ca.linkedin.com/in/kimcarpenter. Find her on Twitter at: kimlifecoach.
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