Life coaches play a similar role for their clients as sports coaches do for athletes. They offer insights, objective perspectives, and enthusiastic support. Many successful people employ life coaches to help them take their personal and/or professional lives to the next level.
A life coach is not a therapist. Therapists (including psychologists, psychiatrists, and licensed counselors) must have certain degrees and be recognized by the state where they practice. Certifications are encouraged for life coaches, but they are not mandatory. Coaching also differs from therapy because it is focused on the present and the future, while therapy tends to also examine the past to see how it relates to current situations.
Could a life coach help you live a better, happier, more productive life? It’s possible, and we spoke to four coaches to get their insights.
Amy Alpert, Millburn, New Jersey
Her advice: Don’t let fear of failure stop you from achieving your goals.
Amy Alpert says the most prevalent issue facing her midlife clients is trying to figure out who they want to be in the world. Alpert says, “Many women underestimate their worth and their potential by trying to live up to unrealistic standards around beauty, body image, and outdated ideas of what skills and experiences are needed for a successful career. They don’t recognize that they still have so much to offer.”
Alpert encourages women to stop wasting energy on negative self-talk. “Women are so good at championing their children, spouses, friends, etc., but they may fall short believing in themselves. I advise my clients to apply the same language and confidence they employ when supporting other people toward themselves,” Alpert says. She also stresses that women should not fear failing. “Rejection is a part of the growth process. We can’t let our fears deter us. Instead, we need to learn from our failures and continue moving forward toward our goals.”
Alpert reminds women to go at their own pace. “It’s easy to get distracted or overwhelmed in today’s fast-paced world. We need to honor ourselves and go at a speed that feels right. I like to wake up really early, get my work done, and then nap in the afternoon. By slowing down and setting boundaries, I am happier and more productive.”
Nancy Tepper, New York City
Her advice: Learn to put yourself first.
Nancy Tepper was a stay-at-home mother of three before she re-entered the workforce as a certified life coach four years ago. She says, “My kids were grown up, and I needed to figure out what was next for me.”
Tepper’s experience as an empty-nester helps her understand women who are in a similar place and unsure of their next steps. “From the time that our children our born, our primary focus is to prepare them to become independent adults. But when they reach that stage, we have a sense of loss, since we are no longer needed in the same way.”
After years of taking care of other people, women may feel uncomfortable or selfish focusing on themselves. They may not even know what they want after having put their own needs on the back burner for so long. Tepper advises her clients that “putting yourself at the center is the key to living your best life. Don’t worry about what other people think of your choices. Look inside yourself to determine what will make you happy — and then go for it.”
Hope Tackaberry, Austin, Texas
Her advice: Look at getting older as an opportunity to be your authentic self.
Hope Tackaberry advises women to ask themselves, “How do I want to spend the rest of my life?” Getting older may sound scary, but it doesn’t have to be if you see it as an opportunity. “While it may be the end of one chapter in life, it’s also a second beginning, if you let it be,” Takaberry says. “Your 40s, 50s, and 60s are a chance to do what you love and really listen to your inner voice.”
It is important not to let others define whom you are or whom you should be. “Women need to take control of their happiness and not place it in the hands of those outside of them or outer circumstances. When they know what they want for themselves, they can really lean in to those aspirations,” she says.
Part of living your best life may include making changes. “Change is a part of growth. Some people fear change, while others embrace it. If you find change difficult, start by making small, simple changes in behavior. Remember, pushing yourself to try new things is good for the brain and the soul.”
Jami Bertini, New York City
Her advice: Believe in yourself.
Jami Bertini believes that the key to reaching your midlife goals is mindfulness. Bertini says, “Mindfulness is the art of being aware of your internal world. It means understanding your own thoughts, feelings, choices, habits, and fears — and how your actions impact others. Once a woman understands her internal world, she can work on reaching goals in her external world.”
After becoming mindful and setting goals, the biggest challenge is conquering self-doubt. “Many woman feel they aren’t enough, and these self-limiting beliefs and fears are roadblocks to happiness. My definition of enoughness is the self-belief that everything you are and everything you have is exactly what you need to be happy right now,” Bertini says.
To eliminate self-doubt, Bertini encourages women to practice self-love. Saying daily affirmations, writing in a gratitude journal, or meditating for five minutes can bolster confidence. “Life is a learning journey. Every experience and challenge we have is meant to help us grow and evolve. As women, we need to be open to the possibilities and believe we are empowered to make changes in our own lives.”