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Life Coaching: A Creative Solution to Emotional Malaise

By Mike McCurley and Stephen Orsinger

During the Great Depression of the 1930's, our nation's leaders tried several methods to mitigate the economic crisis, with varying results. As our country learned, though, dire situations call for creative solutions.

In hindsight, the tool that proved to be the most effective was one that had been discounted and ignored for years: taking our currency off the gold standard. That move, recounts current Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke, helped the United States reverse its economic and social decline by freeing our currency from the constraints of other nations' monetary policies and empowering us to increase our money supply and control our own interest rates.

America was one of the last countries to abandon the gold standard, but it proved to be a turning point in our economic recovery, according to Bernanke, a scholar of the Great Depression.

Creative solutions are not just reserved for episodes of social collapse as intense as the Great Depression. Emotional malaise can accompany any tragedy that a person experiences: the burden of a financial loss, the death of a loved-one, the affliction of a mental or physical illness, the end of a marriage, or the trial of a chemical dependency.

For these ordeals, "life coaching" is a novel, unconventional solution analogous to the one that helped the United States out of the Great Depression. Just as our economy needed to be freed from other nations' monetary policies, so too should people going through personal turmoil free themselves from the constraints that inhibit their achievement of certain objectives.

In a general sense, life coaching is a method for helping people fulfill their personal goals. Unlike psychotherapists who attempt to diagnose a patient by focusing on the past, life coaching looks to the future, seeking to help people dissolve whatever harmful bonds prevent them from overcoming their emotional troubles.

This same solution also applies to the economic aspects of personal financial difficulties. They can be either the cause or the effect of emotional troubles, or they may arise independently from misfortunes, such as the meltdown of a stock market. The same techniques used by life coaches to enfranchise those experiencing personal emotional troubles are used to enable those in the midst of personal financial difficulties to make the decisions that must be made.

Life coaching is the process of empowering people to take the necessary steps to follow their own path and control their own destiny. Coaches are not financiers, but in times of financial difficulty, knowing what to do and actually doing it are two very different things, and in many cases, the latter is much more difficult to accomplish than the former. Just as life coaching unfetters the emotionally constrained, it also endows people with the force to learn what needs to be done and the power to do it.

A typical life coaching regimen consists of several one-on-one meetings initially, and then switches to regular sessions either in person or by phone. The client will frequently be given "homework" aimed at defining their goals or the obstacles that are standing in their way. For instance, a client could be told to write out his ideal job description or research other ways a person with his skill set (say sales or accounting) could make a living.

The key element is accountability. A person can tell himself "I'm in a rut" every day for 20 years, and he'll still be in a rut 20 years later-unless he commits to making a change, drafts a strategy for accomplishing that change, and takes concrete action toward each step along the way. A life coach assists in identifying obstacles, drafting the plan, and holds the client accountable to making the changes necessary to accomplish his goals.

Life coaching is a unique solution to the emotional and financial hazards that afflict everyone at certain times. This method is extremely effective for regaining freedom and control in a person's life.

In the current economic climate, which is reminiscent of past crises, life coaching can be a tremendously helpful-and historically proven-way to erect a shelter from the coming storm.

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