I recently came across an article in The Guardian about why more and more teenagers and young adults are relying on life coaches.
Why the reason for this shift? the writer asks. Are more and more young people hiring coaches for career advice, or to fend off loneliness? Or something else?
A 2017 ICF Survey reveals that 35% of Generation Z respondents (those born after 1995) already had a coach. While coaching services are often associated with professionals looking to advance their careers, it seems as if this landscape of perception seems to be shifting.
But the big question remains – Why? Why is life coaching becoming more and more appealing to young people?
Here’s my take as I reflect on the article, especially as it relates to what a Christian coach can offer to a generation of young coaching clients…
Purpose. A sense of purpose is tied to a long-term perspective, something many young adults have not yet acquired. That’s not a negative thing; it’s simply the reality they live in. That’s until they are exposed to long-term strategic thinking processes.
I count it a privilege when I get to coach someone with a short-term mindset. When that person comes with a willingness to learn, there is potential for a huge paradigm shift. They begin to see themselves as potential creators and contributors to society and the Kingdom of God rather than mere takers. They just might take hold of a long-term vision which requires hard work yet promises great reward. One insightful 26-year-old life coach is quoted in the article, “Your life purpose is meant to evolve over time and that question should be asked more than once. Lots of young people feel that, if they don’t get what they want right now, they’ll never get it. They forget they’re playing a long game.”
A long game, indeed! And long-term strategic thinking combined with a sense of purpose can change the world.
Pause and Consider. When my wife and I were in our 20’s and preparing to move to Central Asia as missionaries, we couldn’t get there soon enough. That sense of urgency compelled us to board a plane the day before Thanksgiving rather than delay departure and spend the holiday with our parents and other extended family. Not to mention we were taking our 1-year-old daughter away from her grandparents for 4 years! Even now, 23 years later, there’s some regret around that decision.
A sense of urgency, even for a good cause, is no guarantee for good choices. That reality hit home when we found ourselves on the other side of the world in a lonely, drab Central Asian apartment on Thanksgiving Day, crying into our bowl of ramen noodles.
If I don’t get it now, I might miss out. That’s what the urgency of youth says. But urgency without purpose is unstable in all its ways. Even good pursuits can be overshadowed by poor choices motivated by a sense of urgency. A great coach can help a young client slow down and think strategically and with more consideration of how their choices might impact those around them.
One young person quoted in the above-mentioned article states, “Young people just need to slow down; once we do, we finally have the space to figure out what we’re good at. From there, we can build much better, more considered lives.”
Potential. Coaching is not about fixing people; it’s about recognizing and affirming the client as resourceful, creative and capable. When the coaching is grounded in the biblical worldview that we are image-bearers of the Triune God, watch out! There’s no limit to what God, by His Spirit, can accomplish through the coaching relationship. When that message is communicated by the coach, in spoken and unspoken ways, the young client experiences an awakened sense of worth and potential.
Personal Desire. What do I want? This is the question young people are asking universally in one form or another. The implications of where this question leads are enormous. Christ-centered coaching offers inquiring teens and young adults different perspectives and new ways to explore personal desire. Why not leverage this felt need during this pivotal season of life as a springboard for some powerful questioning such as, what does God want? What are my expectations of God? What are His expectations of me? Why do I want this? What difference does it make? What’s the long-term impact of this choice?
Professional Skills Development. Newly acquired life skills are often a solid by-product when it comes to coaching young people. One 19-year-old who hired a life coach puts it this way: “Coaching teaches you how to communicate properly and how to prioritize different aspects of your life, which is something that we Gen Z’s have struggled with. We’ve grown up with technology and distractions – we almost have to learn how to look someone in the eye.” This highlights the modeling and mentoring component to the coaching relationship, which definitely has its place in professional coaching.
A Final Thought
Coaching young adults may not be something all coaches aspire to. However, as Christian coaches it’s important that we understand the current trends and shifts within the broader coaching movement. We should all agree that the reality of a new generation discovering the value of coaching is a good thing. And, if you’re reading this as a coach, you just might want to ask yourself, How could I carve out space in my coaching practice for one or two young clients?
Do you know a young person who’s struggling to discover their path to purpose? Book them a discovery call with me HERE.
Inspiration for this blog post comes from: Kalia, Ammar. “It’s a safety blanket: why more and more teenagers are relying on life coaches.“, The Guardian, July 31, 2019, https://bit.ly/2LSjsiH