What Are the Challenges of Being a Life Coach?

what are the challenges of a life coach

If you’re considering becoming a life coach because of all the glamorous aspects of this career, pause for a moment.

Many people with a financial incentive to push people to become life coaches have no trouble selling the dream of the lifestyle. Work from anywhere! Get financial freedom! 

However, becoming a life coach isn’t free from challenges. And it’s important to discuss these challenges so that you understand the implications of this career before you make the big move.

So, what are the challenges of being a life coach, exactly? Keep reading to discover:

  • What are the biggest challenges of life coaches?
  • What are the challenges of having a life coaching business?
  • What is the downside of a life coach?
  • Strategies for maintaining equilibrium
  • Mastering the ego for effective life coaching

What Are The Biggest Challenges of Life Coaches?

Life coaching can be exciting and scary at the same time. Getting clients, building self-confidence, and attracting enough people for group sessions are obstacles to thriving as a coach.

Many coaches, even those who’ve been in the industry for years, face similar issues. Even so, these difficulties can be overcome; they’re just a part of the business experience that every coach must face eventually!

Personally, some of the biggest challenges I’ve seen in myself and other coaches I’ve worked with include:

  • Anxiety, depression, and burnout (all stemming from overwhelm)
  • Feeling like an imposter
  • Competing with other coaches
  • Getting distracted by shiny objects
  • Dealing with criticism

With that being said, some of these issues stem from being a life coach itself, while others come from running a coaching business. I’ll talk about each of these issues in more detail by splitting this into two separate sections. 

What are the challenges of having a life coaching business?

Being a life coach and growing a life coaching business comes with two separate sets of challenges. Let’s talk about the unique challenges of running a business as a coach.

1. Less scalable than other online businesses

It’s possible to scale a coaching business. But unless you move from coaching on your own to building a coaching team – or offering self-paced online courses – you’ll hit a point where you cannot take additional clients without burning out or lowering the quality of your coaching (or both).

While it’s possible to automate certain elements of your coaching business, the actual coaching process will always require you to be involved, at least in some way.

2. Shiny object syndrome

Shiny object syndrome can be one of the most expensive challenges for anyone with a life coaching business.

And I’m not just talking about money. Whenever you lose your focus because you want to chase a new shiny object, you lose out on all the momentum you started building beforehand.

Yet, it’s so hard to avoid. We’re constantly bombarded with ads telling us things like:

Coaches: You must leverage AI today!

Or:

Coaches: Running Facebook ads is the only right way to grow your business!

In reality, it’s impossible to prioritize everything at once. I’ve found that the best way to avoid shiny object syndrome is to focus on the action items moving you closer to where you want to be.

Will this new thing get you closer to what you want from your coaching business? Or is it a nice to have?

One book has helped me beat shiny object syndrome once and for all. And ever since I’ve read it, I’ve been able to keep my focus and grow my business slowly but steadily.

This book is Rigging The Game by Dan Nicholson. It’s written to help you navigate risks depending on what you truly want (and not what someone else wants).

Dan also emphasizes the importance of “closer vs more” – getting closer to what you want will be more impactful than doing “more,” whether that’s more money, more clients, or anything else!

3. Competitive market

The life coaching market is only getting more crowded. For instance, the ICF noted a 33% increase in the number of coach practitioners between 2015 and 2019.

That’s why simply offering your services as a life coach won’t cut it anymore – at least, not if you don’t have a huge personal or professional network of potential clients already.

Getting extremely niched down can help you differentiate yourself from other coaches. You’ll have a smaller potential audience, but you’ll also have fewer competitors if any at all. 

For example, burnout coach Rhia Batchelder doesn’t just position herself as a burnout coach. Specifically, she helps professional Millennials and Gen-Z thrive at work by working with businesses to make culture shifts.

what are the challenges of a life coach

Imagine you’re in a leadership role in a company, and you’re looking to help your Millennial and Gen-Z employees become more engaged in their work. Would you go towards a more general burnout coach, or would you hire someone like Rhia?

What is the downside of being a life coach?

If you’re already a life coach, you probably already know all the upsides! But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. While the upsides are amazing, the downsides can be brutal at times. 

1. Overwhelm

The overwhelm that comes with being a life coach is too real.

Because life coaching is client-based work, it comes with all the downsides of service-based businesses, such as:

  • Managing several clients at once
  • Handling communications with existing clients, old clients, and new prospective clients
  • Keeping your calendar and bookings organized
  • Trying to remain at inbox zero
  • Making sure you provide your clients with a top-notch coaching experience

And so much more. It literally doesn’t end.

Luckily, there are ways to mitigate this overwhelm. The “magic combination” is different for everyone, but here’s what I do to avoid being overwhelmed:

  • Schedule buffers in between appointments so I have space to recover
  • Limit checking my inbox to once a day
  • Establish clear boundaries with every client
  • Limit admin tasks with the help of automated software
  • Only offer a handful of packages instead of agreeing to do absolutely everything for everyone

There are a bunch of other small things I do throughout the day to avoid the overwhelm, so I could go on for an entire post just on this topic alone. But I hope this gives you an idea of how to calm things down.

2. Criticism and judgement 

We’ve all seen them:

People who believe that life coaching is a bunch of hogwash. 

And while it’s true that scam artists do exist in this industry, the same can be said for almost any industry! 

But even when you, as a life coach, know how transformative and powerful life coaching can be, it can also be difficult to constantly hear the barrage of criticism and judgement from those who don’t believe in it. 

While life coaches aren’t the only people who suffer from this type of criticism, it’s certainly more difficult than choosing a more “traditional” job. For instance, I’ve never seen someone (or even the media) criticize an accountant for their career choice.

Other people will even refer to the old phrase:

Those who can, do; those who can’t, teach.”

And the issue with this statement when applied to life coaching is that coaching is entirely different from teaching. It requires a completely different set of skills and qualities.

Some people can do both. Others are specifically amazing at only one, but not the other. And as long as you’re operating from your own zone of genius and offering value to your clients, you should feel proud to be in this line of work.

3. Imposter syndrome 

Let me tell you a story:

Before I made my way into the online business and coaching space, I was a video game designer. 

In case you don’t know, video game design is the aspect of video games where gameplay mechanics and other elements are figured out. It’s not about making the art or writing code to make the game work.

Instead, it’s about figuring out what will make the game fun and how players will actually play it.

Feels like a lot of pressure? That’s because it is.

So, I’m no stranger to carrying a lot on my shoulders and feeling like a complete imposter. Who am I to make these big decisions?

Unfortunately, life coaching has the exact same issue. It’s a highly involved craft, and when you work so closely with people who badly need your help, it can feel like a lot is riding on you.

And that’s scary.

If you’re like me and you’re the type of person who’s prone to imposter syndrome, it won’t magically go away. It’s just something you’ll have to work on – either with a therapist, a coach, or with self-help resources. For me, it was a combination of all three. 

But I won’t lie to you – there’s always a bit of it that comes creeping back, even on the best of days. 

Strategies for Maintaining Equilibrium

Wow, that was a lot. Life coaching definitely has its challenges – we’ve established that.

Now let’s discuss some strategies that help maintain equilibrium as you balance your coaching business with your personal life:

  1. By using tools like digital calendars or task management apps, you can streamline the scheduling process, making sure that each day has a balance of work and play.
  2. Regular exercise, mindfulness exercises (like meditation), healthy eating habits, etc., all contribute to overall well-being, which ultimately affects your performance as a coach.
  3. It’s important to stay up-to-date with changing market needs; continuous education helps stay relevant, contributing to long-term stability.

Keeping your mind and body healthy contributes a lot to success, both professionally and personally. Having a successful practice isn’t just about selling packages – it’s about enjoying yourself too!

Mastering The Ego For Effective Life Coaching

Ego, a complex and multifaceted element of the human psyche, plays a big role in life coaching. It can boost confidence, but unchecked dominance can stifle it.

So here are a few tips to master your own ego as you move along the life coaching journey.

1. Acknowledge Your Biases

Every human has inherent biases shaped by their experiences and perspectives. You might unknowingly incorporate these subconscious influences into your coaching or skew your interpretation of client situations. 

Acknowledging your biases is the first step. But consider working with a coach to dismantle these biases. Or, if that’s not possible right now, try reading books that tackle these biases.

Some examples of books focused on unconscious biases include:

2. Cultivate A Learner’s Mindset

Having a learner’s mindset means staying open to new ideas and lessons from every experience – whether it’s success or failure during selling life coaching sessions or adapting strategies based on feedback received from clients. 

It also means you remain coachable, no matter where you are in your journey.

3. Navigate Egos During Conflicts

You’re bound to clash egos with potential clients sometimes. It’s important to prioritize client welfare over personal pride when dealing with resolutions.

Harsha Perera’s YouTube channel has insightful discussions about managing egos effectively within conflict scenarios that can be useful for coaches seeking practical advice.

Overcome The Challenges Of Being A Life Coach

Now you’ve seen that not every aspect of being a life coach is glamorous.

Does that mean you should stay away from this path? Of course not. 

If you feel the calling to become a life coach, it’s difficult to ignore despite all the roadblocks you may face. With the right approach and tenacity, you could be on your way to changing countless lives. 

With that being said, if you dreamed of becoming a life coach because it sounded easy… now you know better. 

You can certainly achieve ease in your coaching business. But you’ll also have to ready yourself for the challenges that come with the territory.

And if you choose to accept that mission, then I’d like to extend a warm welcome to you.

Need help streamlining the admin side of your coaching business? Good news – that’s one challenge we can help with! With Paperbell, running a coaching business online has never been easier. Try it for yourself by claiming your free account.

what are the challenges of a life coach
By Charlene Boutin
Charlene is an email marketing and content strategy coach for small business owners and freelancers. Over the past 5 years, she has helped and coached 50+ small business owners to increase their traffic with blog content and grow their email subscribers.
September 4, 2023

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