mentor, life coach,

Should We All have Professional Life Coaches?

While reading the book Lives of Promise by Karen Arnold I had a few thoughts. It seems like a path to success and satisfaction in one’s career relies on either luck, self-exploration, career exploration and guidance. It seems that rarely do people going through school know what they actually want to do without this process. Some do, but those are the lucky few. It would seem that a self-exploratory process should be encouraged if not required of all young people from as early as possible to, say, up to their thirties or however long it takes.

Choosing a career early in life, say, at 18 years old, does not mean that one cannot be successful at it, but it’s more likely that the individual will not be completely satisfied with his/her career choice or be best suited for the job. We’re still figuring out who we are. We’re still changing as people. There should be room for young people to be able to explore and test different careers or work aspects without worrying about delaying progress in their studies. This should be built into the system. There should be qualified guides and mentors for all students.

This actually doesn’t sound all that different from bits and pieces of advice that I’ve heard over the years. People often tout the importance of mentors and self-exploration. I think there is a distinction to be made from the typical mentor that is usually mentioned and the one suggested from this book. The typical mentor advocated, is one who is an expert in his field and guides a mentee through their journey. A mentor that I’m talking about is more like a general life coach. One who encourages a student to try different careers, internships, volunteer work. Helps him identify his true strengths and weaknesses. Helps her realize her motivations for choosing or not choosing to do something.

For the 18-year-old pre-med student, are you interested in becoming a doctor because you truly enjoy it and it fits you, or because you feel it’s the right thing to do? Because it’s what your family wants? Because it’s a good paying career? Lives of Promise suggests that as young students/people, life guides are needed in their lives.

Is this supposed to be the job of guidance counselors? Maybe we need an overhaul in the system. How can we make this happen? We probably all need this throughout our entire lives. Is that the role of a therapist or, say, life coaches? They don’t seem to be utilized that much. I wonder how the “life success” rate of people who do use therapists and/or life coaches compares to those who do not.

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