Life coaches aren't just for celebrities nowadays: lots of regular Joes like you and me have worked with, or are thinking about hiring, a coach. It's true that a good, experienced life coach can help you turn your life around - whether you want to improve your health, switch career or even overcome phobias.

However, many of us (me included!) can't afford to pay for life coaching. Should we resign ourselves to sitting on the sidelines, watching friends and colleagues forge on ahead, with their life coaches cheering them on? We could throw our hands up in the air and say, Well, I'd be that successful too, if I could afford to pay someone to help me.

We don't need to miss out. There are ways to get many of the benefits of life coaching ... even when you're broke.

  1. Set Aside an Hour a Week
    One of the reasons that people benefit from life coaching is because they've blocked out (and paid for!) time which will be used in serious thought about their goals, dreams, ambitions and problem areas. Typically, life coaches will work with a client for an hour each week.

    There's absolutely nothing stopping you from blocking out an hour in your diary, every Sunday afternoon (or whatever time you pick). I know you're probably thinking I'm too busy or But what if something comes up? If you make a genuine commitment to yourself that you'll keep that hour-long appointment,the time will be there!

    There are 168 hours in a week. Surely you can invest just one of those in your own personal development!

  2. Try Some Self-Coaching Techniques
    Although you're (probably!) not a trained coach, there are some techniques you can use to help yourself get clarity and perspective about your life, and find solutions to your problems. These are a few to try:
    • Timed Writing
      Set a timer for five minutes. Write down a problem or issue in your life (eg. relationships). Now write, without stopping or editing, about things you could do to overcome that problem. Put down everything that comes into your head, even if it seems silly.
    • Question and Answer
      This is another writing exercise. Ask yourself a question, then write the answer. Keep asking questions if you think something isn't fully explained. Imagine the questioner as a very close friend, or as the person you'd like to become.
      If you're not sure what to ask yourself, try these questions:

      • What would make your life better right now?
      • Where are you going forwards in your life at the moment?
      • Where do you feel stuck?
    • Meditation
      Lots of people have preconceptions about meditation. It doesn't have to be new-agey or spiritualist - meditation is just a way of quietening your mind. It's one of the best ways to reduce stress, and meditating at the start of your hour-long session can help you to get into a calm, focused frame of mind.
      If you're anything like me, you'll find that Meditation Techniques for the Busy and Impatient is a must read!
  3. Work Through a Blog Post, Book or Program
    Many life coaches, motivational speakers and other big shots in the personal development field have written books or produced programs that can literally turn your life around. There's a but coming, though ... you have to actually take some action.

    How often have you bought or borrowed books, read them, enjoyed them ... but failed to change anything about your life? I love reading, and I'm too prone to rushing through books when I need to takethe time to actually implement their advice.

    Pick up one of the books you've read, or get hold of a good one (How to be Rich and Happy by life coach Tim Brownson and best-selling author John P Strelecky is the next on my list to work through). Spend your hour a week - or more time if you can - working through slowly, chapter by chapter. Many books will offer exercises for you to complete at the end of each chapter: try not to skip or ignore these!

  4. Be Kind to Yourself
    Finally, one of the best ways to be your own life coach is to learn to be kind to yourself. Many of us have a very critical little voice in our heads that berates us for making mistakes, getting things wrong and sometimes falling short of the mark ... in short, being human!

    When you're tempted to judge yourself harshly, stop and think how a life coach would respond. Perhaps they'd remind you of the progress you have made, and perhaps they'd help you to look at the reasons why things went wrong.

What could you do to be your own coach? Have you got any tips to add to this article? I'd love to hear them in the comments!