Be your own life coach

Be your own life coach and finally earn your degree. Photo: AP file

WASHINGTON, September 12, 2012— You can be your own life coach.

What is a life coach?

“An enthusiastic, optimistic, trustworthy person who will encourage you to create a fantastic life and will help you explore your passions, determine what is important to you, select areas that could be improved, set short- and long-term goals, solve problems and will support you throughout this process.” ~ Certified Holistic Life Coach, C.J. Cangianelli.

In essence, a life coach is like a therapist, motivational speaker, and personal assistant rolled into one. Who could benefit more from a life coach than the nontraditional student going back to school in desperate need to balance work, life, and school?

More than 40 percent of all students enrolled in college and university are categorized as nontraditional. The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) uses three sets of criteria to identify/define nontraditional students:

1.) Enrollment patterns. Students who delayed enrollment in postsecondary education by a year or more after high school or who attended part time are considered nontraditional.

2.) Financial and family status. Students who have dependents other than a spouse, being a single parent, working full time while enrolled, or being financially independent from parents are considered nontraditional.

3.) High school graduation status. Students who did not receive a standard high school diploma but who earned some type of certificate of completion were also considered nontraditional. This included GED recipients and those who received a high school certificate of completion. (Source: NCES: Nontraditional Undergraduates/Definitions and Data)

These criteria cover just about every college student over the age of 25, a demographic that gets perpetually bombarded with ads from colleges, universities, and government agencies encouraging them to take advantage of scholarships, grants and low-interest loans to go back to school.

Yet, even with money in hand, many nontraditional students give up and drop out.

“To keep moving forward, a student will benefit from having a positive support system, great time management skills plus a passion for what they are studying. If any of these pieces are missing, the student may become discouraged, fall behind, and not complete the program,” states Cangianelli.

Having your own life coach as a nontraditional student would be ideal, but few nontraditional students can afford such a service on top of tuition, books, gas, extended childcare, and a myriad of other expenses associated with going back to school. Most life coaches working with individuals charge $200 to $1,000 per month for 30 to 60 minute calls 3 to 4 times a month. Many offer online services for less, but beyond the initial consultation, there is always a fee attached.

There is hope. Marie Wetmore, certified coach and the owner of Lion’s Share, believes life coaching is about taking action, which helps you “feel calmer, clearer, and more confident in yourself and your choices.” If you are a nontraditional student with the internal motivation, drive, and interest to succeed, you can be your own successful life coach just by taking action and considering the following helpful guidelines:

Designate a workspace. Create a quiet and organized space for studying, completing assignments, and reflecting. It doesn’t need to be an entire room, but it should be a place that everyone knows is just for you and your work.

Tell everyone. The more people who know you have returned to school, the more support you will have. It works a bit like magic. In general, people want to see you succeed. Knowing you are attending classes, trying to find time to study, and struggling to complete assignments on time leads people to suddenly start asking you lots of questions like, “So, how are your courses? How soon until you graduate? Is there anything I can do to help you?” Accept the offer. Surrender your “super man” or “super mom” persona and stop thinking you can do it all yourself. It takes a village remember?

Get a study buddy (or two or three). Introduce yourself to other nontraditional students, exchange numbers, emails, and become friends with them on Facebook or other social media platforms. Encourage each other to stay on task. Through encouraging others, you encourage yourself and provide emotional support and healing from anxiety and self-doubt, qualities of successful life coaching according to Roxanne Elaine Smith, founder of True Voice Life Coaching.

Don’t neglect your family. If you are married, in a partnership, or have children, they are probably your biggest supporters. So, even when you are feeling tired or overwhelmed by your course load and work schedule, do things with and for your family. They’ll be more likely to feel appreciated and loved, which will help maintain and possibly increase their support. Remember to say, “Thank you for respecting how much this means to me.” You only get what you give.

Keep talking about how you feel.  When you feel tired and defeated, let someone know. Surprisingly, the majority of people you are open and honest with will tell you, “Well, just don’t stop. You’re so close.” If you failed a test or turned in an assignment late, you probably aren’t alone. Talk about it and you will quickly start hearing similar stories from people you never imagined were anything but perfect. You will be surprised knowing your boss or your child’s teachers had similar difficulties but were able to charge ahead regardless. Knowing you are not alone in your struggles is empowering, life affirming, and motivational.

Don’t neglect your health. Eat right, drink lots of water, and sleep when you can. When your body is well rested and nourished, your mind and motivation will be, too.

Keep smiling and stay positive. Your graduation date is just around the corner. The stress and anxieties you are experiencing are only temporary.

Visit the following sites to learn more about life coaching:

Lion’s Share Coaching

Thrive with C.J.

True Voice Life Coaching


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Paula Carrasquillo

Ms. Carrasquillo lives and works in the Washington, D.C. area. She earned a master's degree in communication and adult education from Regis University in Denver, Colo. and a bachelor’s degree in English from Frostburg State University in Frostburg, Md. In addition to her column for The Washington Times Communities, Ms. Carrasquillo contributes and edits stories for various online outlets including Elephant JournalPaula's Pontifications, and Places to Yoga. She also works as a Web editor and analyst for a Fortune 500 company headquartered in Bethesda, Md. In May 2012, Ms. Carrasquillo published her first novelette, Escaping the Boy: My Life with a Sociopath. Visit her online portfolio to learn more about her education, career experiences, and her next book.

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