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What is Life Coaching Anyway?

By Donna Scoates-Nixon

How would it feel to have one-on-one time with someone dedicated to you and your dreams and goals? Time when no one is interrupting you to make their lunch, drive them somewhere, or get a work report on the boss’s desk ASAP.

I’m talking about “You” time …a pause in everyday adulting responsibilities with someone who’s only job is to listen to you and help you go next level in your life.

Wait, what….is there really such a thing?? Yes, my friend, there really is. It’s called Life Coaching and it’s the secret tool to leveling up, both personally and professionally.

Think about it, many of us have a personal trainer for our body, right? Having a life coach is the same thing, the focus is just a different part of our body…our mind, but it achieves the same outcome… a healthy life and bigger success.

A coach is an outside perspective, sounding board, support system, devils advocate, cheerleader and teammate all rolled into one. They’re there to provide clarity, keep you focused, hold you accountable and celebrate your wins.

Don’t feel bad if you didn’t know about this secret. There was a time I didn’t know either, but it changed my life, so I want to share my story to give you a better idea of what it is and how it can be a game changer for you too. Then I’ll break down a common misconception, but first…


For over a decade now, I’ve had my own personal life coach who’s been a consistent positive influence in my life. I started working with her when my husband passed and my head was exploding with all the unwanted change and possibilities in front of me, while at the same time trying to cope with overwhelming grief.

When we first met, she suggested I get grief counseling to help me move through the numbing grief before we moved forward with our Life Coaching sessions. I had previously resisted counseling, but she made me aware of the need to deal with my recent past, to be able to move forward in my new reality, so I took her advice.

After counseling, when I was ready to move forward with coaching, the time with my coach was more productive. She helped me regain focus and made my new reality about me…not my grief, my late husband or my past. The time was spent on prioritizing my dreams and goals to help build my new future and then working together to make it happen.

She continues to this day to keep me on track, celebrate my successes and most importantly, hold me accountable.

With her guidance, I now own and run the two personal growth businesses I envisioned years ago, have become a published author, having just released my new book and online course; You Don’t Need Anyone’s Permission to Live Your Best Life, and have become a Life Coach myself. And she is now the Resident Life Coach for my Company.

A whole new world of growth and empowerment…all because I chose to give myself the gift of “me” time with a Life Coach.

Well, now you’re in on the secret, too. Now you know there is this magical person out there just waiting for you, who not only listens to your wants and dreams, but helps you plan out the path to get them and “holds your hand” while you do it.

Now that you’ve heard my story, let me cover the big question…


When I ask people if they know what a life coach is, I get all sorts of answers, usually none of them right. The biggest misconception is it’s another form of therapy – which it most definitely is not, so let me explain.

Stated very simply…the difference between Therapy and Life Coaching is; The Past Vs. The Future

Therapy allows you to try and make sense of your past…you’re uncovering and recovering!

A visual for that is the rear-view mirror in your car. In therapy you’re looking BEHIND you.

Life Coaching allows you to gain strength and move forward with your FUTURE…you’re discovering and achieving.

The visual for this being the front windshield….looking to what is ahead of you! The future you!

So with that said, you can see why my Life Coach wanted me to first work through my grief with therapy. I had to stop looking through the “rearview mirror” of my recent past before I could focus on my new reality in the “front windshield.” Make sense?

With that said, we do touch on the past because it’s a part of you and your story that got you to where you are today… but the focus is on the future. It’s on creating and living the life you really want.

So, you may be thinking…


Sure, we could work on our goals alone, but we often don’t. New Year’s resolutions sound familiar anyone? Truth is life gets messy and hard when you’re adulting. It’s easy to lose sight of your big picture goals when you’re stuck just trying to get through life, keep the bills paid and the kids fed. So, you stay stuck …setting your goals aside for “someday.”

Well, here’s a reality check; “If you keep doing what you’re doing…you’ll keep getting what you’re getting.” Meaning, if you don’t make any changes in your life, nothing will change, and you’ll stay stuck in the land of “someday’s.” A life coach helps you move beyond whatever it is you “keep doing,” that has you stuck, and go all in to your “someday!”


Last misconception clean up…what to expect. I’ve heard people are nervous about talking with a life coach because they either have visions of a Freudian couch experience, being asked about the relationship with their mother. As you now know, that’s therapy and we don’t do that…

Or people think it’s a California “Woo Woo” thing. They envision a room full of incense and meditation music sitting in the yoga position, chanting. Nope…that’s not how it works either.

I can’t speak for all coaches of course, but it’s really just a conversation in person or online, whatever works for you. You can see us once a week or once a month. Again, it’s up to you. The important takeaway is that coaching is about being and becoming your best you…as defined by you. It’s your safe space to share your dreams, your visions for what you really want your life to look like, and the goals you have for yourself. A place to realize your full potential. Who doesn’t need or want that?


Oprah Winfrey said “Surround yourself only with people who are going to take you higher.” Well, a Life Coach is to empower you and take you higher, so just do it. Get one for yourself. Your life will only get better because of it. It’s never too late, or too early. And always remember…you don’t need anyone’s permission.


Donna Scoates-Nixon is a life coach, entrepreneur, author of the book You Don’t Need Anyone’s Permission to Live Your Best Life, and teacher of the online Master course based on the book. To learn more, please go to

Coaching Resources:

Our Resident Life Coach Donna Quarles is at

Or check out the International Coaching Federation at


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