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Is now the best or worst time to become a health coach?

I've been engaged in a grand debate with myself about that question for several weeks now.

Let's start with the reasons that health coaching is a great career right now:

1. Coaching is compatible with social distancing.

I almost always coach via phone or video call, so it's a perfect modality for a world reeling from a pandemic. (By contrast, massage therapists and beauticians aren't getting a lot of business these days.)

2. People need help with their health behaviors.

So many of us are confused, scared, and uncertain about our futures that we're seeing an epidemic of “self-soothing” behaviors that undermine health. I'm hearing lots of stories of the “quarantine 15” – the extra weight folks are packing on as they cut back on physical activity and rely on food for their momentary bursts of happiness.

3. The stakes of chronic disease have never been higher – or more immediate.

With all the confusion and uncertainty around the coronavirus, one thing is abundantly clear from every study and analysis: people with chronic disease and unhealthy biomarkers are much more likely to experience severe cases of Covid-19, and are exponentially more likely to die from it than people with a clean bill of health.

The high blood pressure and obesity and high blood sugar that ordinarily take decades to manifest disease, disability, and death now predispose people to all those things in a matter of days or weeks. The long-term threat has morphed into an immediate menace.

4. You may be looking for a new career anyway.

Many of us have had our career trajectories completely upended by the pandemic's effect on the economy. Some of us are out of work entirely. Some are now underemployed. And many of us still have jobs, but feel a new sense of urgency to be of service in a way that our current career doesn't allow.

Health coaching can supplement or replace income, and for those of us passionate about health and plant-based living, aligns with some of our deepest values.

Now let's talk about why now is the absolute worst time to become a health coach.

1. People want comfort right now, not coaching.

It's weird – when the pandemic really rocked the Western world, I figured that people would be beating down my door for help reversing their chronic diseases. I soon noticed that people were so stressed out and upset and panicked, the last thing many of them wanted was a “self-improvement project.” When we're stressed out, it's much easier to self-medicate with junk food and Netflix than to embark on a journey of personal betterment. This may change as we get more used to the “new normal” (whenever it arrives, and whatever it looks like) and the risks of chronic health problems outweigh the inertia and denial, but right now the world is not crying out for health coaching.

2. People have less disposable income to spend on things like coaching.

Folks who might have been able to come up with a hundred (for a group program) to several hundred bucks a month (for 1-on-1 private coaching with an experienced, high-end coach) may need that money for mortgage, rent, food, and other necessities of life. Or if they still have disposable income, they may be more inclined to save it for whatever is coming.

3. You may feel like a fraud these days.

If your life is off-balance and you're socially isolated, maybe you've dropped your own standards of healthy behavior and don't feel like you have the right to help others.

While there's validity to the concept of being in integrity (do before you teach), please realize that screwing up from time to time doesn't make you ineligible to be a coach. What it makes you, is human.

There's no shame in falling down from time to time. Lack of integrity is an issue only if you refuse to use the tools, techniques, and strategies of coaching on yourself. If you fall and pick yourself up every now and then, you're actually going to be a more, not less effective coach. Because you'll have an experiential base for true empathy, rather than the “superiority trap” that many coaches fall into.

What do you think? Are you hot to become a health coach right now, or it is the furthest thing from your mind?

Either answer makes perfect sense to me 🙂

If you are still interested, please consider joining the next WellStart Health coach training program, which begins on May 18, 2020. You can read about it and apply here:

If you've already taken the course and want to participate in this run as a refresher version, look for a separate email with a link to register directly (and at a “Pay from the Heart” discount of your choice).

If this will be your first time, I'm making partial scholarships available on an individual basis. After the enrollment conversation, if we both agree that it's a good fit, we'll figure out a price and payment plan that fits your needs and mine.

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