Life coaching

How does life coaching work?
THe anatomy of a coaching session


Sometimes the best way to get a sense of life coaching is to see how a session unfolds. Of course different coaches will have their own unique approaches to coaching which will introduce variety here and there. Here we'll describe a popular and effective way that coaching sessions often unfold, and your follow up work in between sessions.



Life coaching is generally done over the phone, so that you can obtain coaching anytime and anywhere, including from the comfort of your own home. According to a survey from the International Coach Federation conducted in 1998, 94.3% of coaches conduct coaching over the phone.

Life coaches coach you over the phone in order to maximize your time, increase your privacy and heighten your personal comfort. Coaches often have clients from all over the world.

Telephone coaching

In the same survey, 45.4% of coaches use email to coach, and online coaching is certainly on the rise.

Usually a coaching session is 45 to 60 minutes in length, but can also be shorter or longer. How many times a month is up to you and your coach. A weekly arrangement is common, as is weekly with one week off per month.

Online coaching


Very simply, life coaching often observes the same basic structure:

  1. Before your coaching session, you will complete a coaching plan which will uncover your accomplishments and challenges from the previous week, as well as what you want to focus on during the session, and send this to your coach. Then at the start of your session, you and your coach will track your progress on your goals together, and review what you achieved since the last life coaching session.

  2. You and your coach will identify what you want to be coached on today. Together you'll explore the issue, with your coach asking you powerful questions:
    • You may need to get unstuck, or start seeing the issue you are facing from a different perspective. You and your coach may need to identify the place this issue is coming from, and if it is the best way of approaching it. If not, you will work together on reframing the issue, and outlining the best way to approach it.
    • You may need to get clear about the obstacles in front of you.
    • You may need to learn new strategies, or tweak those that aren't working for you, in order to overcome these obstacles.

  3. Together you and your coach will come up with an action plan on what needs to be done or overcome.

  4. Finally, you and your coach will look together toward the coming week and set out what you will accomplish and achieve in that week. After your session you will create a follow-up from your session that summarizes what you and your coach have agreed to. This creates accountability and motivation to keep you moving toward your goals.

Coaching plan

Powerful conversations

Life coaching ction plan


As mentioned above, the coaching plan and follow-up from the session are integral parts of your coaching journey. These progress reports allow you to work together with your coach to get the most out of each session. They keep you focussed on what you want to get out of each session, and over the longer term. They are also a great resource for documenting your progress toward your goals.

Before your life coaching session:
The Coaching Plan

Before every coaching session, you will complete a coaching plan which will ask you about your accomplishments and challenges since your last appointment with your coach, and your objectives for the coming session.

In this plan:

  • You will highlight your accomplishments and successes since the last session.
  • You will document any challenges that you have faced.
  • You will let your coach know your priorities for the upcoming session.

Your coach uses this plan to keep you on track, keep the big picture in mind, and keep you motivated and moving toward your goals.

You'll submit the plan before your next session. Then at the start of your session, you and your coach can track your progress on your goals together, and review what you achieved since the last life coaching session.

Staying on track

Immediately after your life coaching session:
The Follow-up from the Session

After your coaching session you will create a follow-up from your session which summarizes what you and your coach have accomplished and agreed on. The follow-up from your session allows you to consolidate what you accomplished in the session.

  • You will start by recording what you promised to do in your last coaching session: your weekly action items, and the strategies you will be using to accomplish them.
  • You will also jot down any questions, ideas or issues you didn't get to discuss that you would like to raise. This keeps the sessions focussed on everything that is important to you.
  • You'll make a note of any commitments your life coach has made to you, what your coach did that was most effective, and also if there is anything you'd like your coach to do differently.

Your follow-up from the session helps to give you more direction, and it helps your coach to see how you are progressing and how you want to grow.

Coaching session follow-up

In between coaching sessions:
Coaching tools

Life coaching tools L

In between your coaching sessions, you'll work on the action items you have committed to.

Most life coaches will give you some kind of homework, journaling, or other form of task at the end of each session for you to accomplish until your next session. This helps you to achieve your goals faster.

Life coaching tools R



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