Have you ever prevented your dreams from becoming a reality simply because you’ve doubted your own potential? If so, then life-coaching could be for you. It’s not as intimidating as it sounds, and contrary to belief, you don’t have to be a wealthy and successful CEO to have one!
Lilith Hudson interviews Journey with Ju, a certified life-coach who helps people build their confidence and identify the limiting beliefs stopping them from reaching their goals. Ju is currently training to become a NLP (Neuro-linguistic programming) practitioner to improve her expertise and, as one of only 22% of active BAME coaches, she uses her own experiences to offer the best coaching possible.
Can you tell us what life-coaching actually is?
I see life-coaching as a journey to discovery and a way of unlocking your ultimate potential. Typically, my clients aim to gain clarity of their goals and learn how to identify any obstacles preventing them from achieving them.
Through coaching you essentially learn how to be intentional. You learn how to take your life into your own hands and be accountable for how you live your life. It’s about setting goals, reaching them, and then exceeding them. A life-coach is just somebody who goes with you on that journey to discovery.
What can someone expect from a session?
Different life-coaches use different approaches and there’s no one-size-fits-all. I typically use a holistic approach that looks at all aspects of a client’s life but, ultimately, coaching is about the client.
My role is to just listen and ask questions to challenge their thinking. I might ask, ‘why did you come to life-coaching in the first place, why is this what you want?’ Based on this we can work together to come up with action points to work on. It’s like taking mini steps to reach their bigger goals.
Each session typically lasts an hour and I advise a session per week, leaving a gap for the client to reflect. I usually recommend a minimum of three sessions because people are often sceptical about life-coaching so might be a bit reluctant during initial sessions.
How does it differ from counselling or therapy?
A therapist delves into your past and uses those experiences to help you understand patterns in your behaviour today. The main difference is that therapy focuses a lot on the past and the present whereas life-coaching helps you engage in your current state, with more of a focus on the present and future.
Also, life-coaches aren’t mental practitioners so we can’t diagnose mental illnesses like anxiety or depression. Life-coaching shouldn’t be substituted for therapy. If anything, I would recommend adding it on to therapy.
“I had so many dreams I wanted to accomplish, but my lack of confidence was getting in the way because I was suffering from Impostor Syndrome”
What inspired you to become a life-coach?
I was once working in a role that just wasn’t a good fit for me. The company bought in a life-coach, so I decided to try it out and to my surprise it really changed a lot of things for me; it changed the way I thought about myself and viewed certain things.
The thing that really stood out to me was that I had so many dreams I wanted to accomplish, but my lack of confidence was getting in the way because I was suffering from Impostor Syndrome. But upon realising that, I was able to change my outlook.
That was what really inspired me to become a life-coach. I wanted an opportunity to do the same for others and share my journey. I can’t stand here today and say I have everything figured out – it’s always a work in progress – but I’m coping with things a lot better than I was before life-coaching.
“Coming from Nigeria has also made a big impact. The transition to the UK was hard and I had to adapt really quickly”
Do you think your background and lived experiences have enhanced your coaching?
Training equips you to be a life-coach and handle certain situations, but nothing beats experience. For me, my issues with self-esteem really helped me to understand a lot of my clients’ struggles. This isn’t to say that I can relate to every single issue, but it helps me show a bit more compassion and empathy towards them.
Coming from Nigeria has also made a big impact. The transition to the UK was hard and I had to adapt really quickly. Going through that process gave me a perspective of what people in similar situations may be going through. As I’m coaching, I get people coming from different kinds of backgrounds, upbringings, and cultures, so I have to diversify my approach.
How has COVID-19 impacted your work and the people you coach?
A lot more people need coaches now than before. Nobody could have predicted this pandemic, so it’s forced people to think about their lives and their futures a lot more.
Some clients have been made redundant, some are suffering from loneliness and some are finding it hard to deal with the uncertainty and stress. I offer coping mechanisms to help them deal with these things.
If anything, I’m actually getting more clients, but it’s kind of a trade-off because you also have clients who are struggling financially so they don’t want to commit to life-coaching long term. It has definitely affected the industry, but it’s dependent on what kind of life-coaching you are doing.
Career coaching has probably boomed because people are having to redirect their career paths. The same way it’s affected people differently, it’s affected coaches differently.
“People in influential positions need to communicate their struggles and show people it’s not all perfect”
An increasing number of young people are struggling with their mental health. What do you think needs to change?
There’s still a stigma attached to mental health. There’s been some progress as more people are speaking about it, but it’s something we need more of. One issue is this idea of a picture-perfect life caused by social media.
While there are benefits of social media, there are also a lot of cons, especially for young people who compare themselves to others a lot. I think society needs to find a way to filter this out. People in influential positions need to communicate their struggles and show people it’s not all perfect.
Also, such a big emphasis is placed on physical health during education that mental health is often neglected. This is a big deal because we need to normalise these struggles; if no one is telling you this is normal a lot of people won’t admit they’re struggling and they’ll suffer in silence. We need to normalise speaking up.
As a mental health advocate, what other work does your job entail?
I do a lot of public speaking and motivational speeches besides the one-to-one sessions. These topics are mainly surrounding confidence, Impostor Syndrome and self-worth because that’s what a lot of my work caters to, so a lot of it is directed to university students.
In addition to that, I also try to do my bit for the community to help where I can. For example, I volunteer for Independent Age where I call vulnerable elderly people to just check in on them once week with a half hour phone call. It’s just something that really goes a long way for them.
What advice would you give to anyone who’s struggling?
Talk to someone. Whether it’s a friend, a family member, a therapist or a life-coach, there’s always someone. There are helplines you can call up too. There’s something about being able to just talk to someone that’s so therapeutic.
The second thing I would say is take things one day at a time. Everyone goes through periods where they struggle, and I think we become too hard on ourselves for it. But if we ease off, take things one day at a time and remember to do things that make us happy, you can let go of whatever’s pressuring you.
We need to learn to focus on things in life that we can control and understand there will always be things we can’t change. Time spent worrying on these is time wasted.
What would you say to anyone considering life-coaching?
Do it! There’s so much value in having someone provide an objective view and constructive feedback, it’s such a beneficial part of growth. Even if you don’t think your life-coach is right for you, sometimes just letting your feelings out can be the solution to your problem.
Give it a go, put your mind to it, and try it. Put some research into the kind of life-coach you may need and try at least one session. You’re sure to get something from it, even if you decide it isn’t for you.
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