Can you guess what Oprah, Serena Williams, Leonardo DiCaprio, Hugh Jackman, and Bill Gates all have in common? Aside from being some of the most successful names the world over, these celebrities have all worked with– and exalted– the services of a life coach.

The data is even more compelling.

Studies conducted by the International Coaching Federation on the effectiveness of life coaching showed 99% of the people they interviewed saw their experience working with a life coach as rewarding, while 96% stated they would do it again. Moreover, 65%  said working with a coach helped them improve their performance at work, and 80% said it helped improve their self-confidence.

Why Hire a Life Coach?

Even at a whopping $200 – $1000 per month for a handful of sessions, it appears we may be more comfortable telling friends and family we’re seeing a life coach over a therapist.

Today’s culture shuns talk of mental illness. We feel indulgent talking about things like depression, anxiety, and self-care. But without the right tools to manage these treatable issues, they show up in our personal lives, in our our work lives, and can put a lot of strain on our relationships.

Searching for a mentor who will help us conquer our fears, relationship problems, career setbacks, and provide us with a sense of fulfillment, we’ve turned away from therapists and have started seeing life coaches en masse.

For that reason, life coaching has grown at lightning speed into a multi-billion-dollar industry over the past few years as thousands of people are hiring coaches for support in their personal and professional lives. Are you ready to hire a coach of your own? Here’s what you need to know:

Do I Need a Life Coach or a Therapist?

Although the decision to see a therapist or a life coach is a deeply personal one, figuring out which one is best for your unique situation is easy.

When looking to answer the question ‘Why?” a therapist may be the person you want to talk to. For questions like “What now?” or “How do I change?” a life coach is exactly what you need.

“If you are overweight and want to understand ‘Why do I overeat? What fears are preventing me from exercising? What painful emotions am I smothering with food?’ go to a therapist,” says DC based Life Coach Sara Oliveri.

“If you are overweight and want to know ‘How do I change? How do I develop a plan for losing weight and getting healthy? How do I prevent backsliding?’ go to a coach.”

A Life Coach is Hyper-Focused On Growth

But what exactly is it that has made life coaching so popular? Coaching is different from therapy because it is hyper-focused on who you are now and who future you can be.

Therapists reflect on past habits that may be destructive to their client’s lives and focus on their clients building a greater awareness of the self. Life coaching is more action centered. Coaches focus on getting their clients to make changes in order to achieve what they want in their personal and professional lives.

A Life Coach Will Partner in Your Success

The best aspect of good coaching is that instead of acting as a counselor to their clients, they act as a partner and motivator. They see through the excuses that you make and they hold you accountable. They see how you limit yourself to only doing the bare minimum and they challenge you to do more. Their motivation is what helps you grow and become the person you want to be.

So why book a life coach instead of a therapist? Here’s what a life coach can do for you that a life coach can’t.

What Does A Life Coach Do? A Life Coach Will Dwell on Your Future, Not Your Past.

Sara Oliveri– voted Best Life Coach by the Washington City Paper– says an important thing to notice about life coaches is that they don’t dwell on the past.

Oliveri states, “Although I do spend a limited amount of time ‘looking back’ and helping clients understand why their fears, values, beliefs, and personality exist…my goal is not to process the client’s past. My goal is to help the client become the best version of themselves.”

“Instead of diving into every nook and cranny of our past, coaches are more focused on a client’s future potential, development, and figuring out how to make the changes the client wants to see.”

What Today’s Biggest Names Are Saying

Oprah: “I remember the very first time we had a life coach on the show. She shared with our audience a list and, literally, in the audience women booed her when she said put yourself at the top of that list. [What she meant was] put yourself at the top of the list and nurture yourself, honor yourself, stop the crazy mind chatter in your head that tells you all the time that you’re not good enough.”

Serena Williams: “Life is so much bigger than tennis. It’s the basic things in the little steps of life that we overlook. You should be the happiest person alive, because that’s a gift in itself and Tony (life coach) helped me realize that.”

Bill Clinton: “He (life coach) has not only the gift to inspire, but he teaches the most important lesson that every individual has to learn about living day to day, which is that you have choices in every circumstance. And you have to make up your mind on how you will respond to whatever it is that happens, as well as how you will make new things happen.”

Bill Gates: “Everyone needs a coach. We all need people to give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Feature photo by Sylvie Tittlel