rsz_istock_000043213982_smallWe’ve all asked ourselves, at least at some point, whether we are living our best lives or reaching our potential. Whether it was a passing thought, or it’s an uncomfortable, ever-present feeling that something isn’t right, having doubts about the paths we’ve chosen and the people we’ve become is natural … but it doesn’t make them any less confusing.

A life coach can give voice to those questions drifting around in your head, helping you to articulate the issues in your life that are causing you stress or pain, and working with you to find the solutions. Here are some of the most common questions a life coach can help you explore:

What do I really want?

This question is at the heart of every life coaching partnership. Through powerful, introspective conversations, a life coach will help you uncover what is most important to you — and what’s standing in the way of that. People often seek life coaching because they feel they’re lacking purpose and direction in their lives. A life coach can guide you through the process of setting goals that will set you on a path toward a more fulfilling, meaningful life, and then hold you accountable as you work toward those goals.

How can I become a better boss/employee/parent/partner?

All relationships are built on communication. Struggles in your personal or professional relationships can often be caused by an ineffective communication style. “Most people upshift when they want to get through to other people,” says Mark Goulston, author of the book Just Listen. “They encourage. They argue. They push. And in the process, they create resistance.” Knowing how to listen — authentically and empathetically, without an agenda — can do wonders for your relationships, especially during times of conflict. A life coach can work with you to develop effective listening techniques, leading to better communication and stronger, more mutually rewarding relationships.

How can I worry less, and enjoy life more?

jody-michael-associatesAccording to some studies, up to 70 percent of our thoughts are negative. Such a steady stream of negativity has a significant effect on your mood and, over time, it can even be detrimental to your mental health. A life coach can help you become more aware of your thoughts and how they’re affecting your moods, and consequently your happiness and stress levels. They can also teach you techniques for developing a more positive mindset, which will powerfully impact how effective and successful you are at work, at school, in life and in relationships.

How can I gain greater self-confidence?

As the statistic above shows, negativity plagues many of us. And unfortunately, many of our negative thoughts are directed at ourselves. We are our own worst critic, as the saying goes. However, many people are unaware of the extent to which their self-criticism drags down their confidence and self-esteem. A life coach can show you techniques for boosting your confidence, but they will also work closely with you to discover your hidden talents and strengths and ways to put them to use. It’s common sense, but it’s uncommonly practiced: Taking on jobs or other roles that allow us to make use of our natural abilities leads to greater levels of self-confidence. A life coach can help you identify what you’re best at — and even how to forge a career around it.

Am I standing in my own way?

Unchecked pessimism, feeding one’s anxiety, poor listening skills, a tendency to procrastinate, timidity, a lack of discipline … these self-defeating behaviors are all too common and difficult to overcome. A life coach can identify these behaviors and others (which you may be blind to) — and prescribe strategies for addressing them. One of the greatest benefits you can take away from a life coaching partnership is heightened self-awareness, which ultimately results in the ability to change the behaviors and circumstances that aren’t serving you.

What questions do you have that a life coach can help you answer?

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