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Top 5 Tips for New Coaching Clients to Navigate the Experience Successfully

I’ve been coaching since 2022 and receiving coaching since 2020. In that time, I have learned so much about the coaching world, both from the coach's and client's perspectives. I have experienced firsthand the transformation that coaching can bring, and I sincerely wish that for all of my clients. I didn’t know what I was getting into when I signed up for a coach, and I wish I’d had the state of mind to look up how to be a star client. That way, the client and coach can make the most effective use of their time. So, if that’s you, and you’re thinking about jumping into your coaching journey, here are five things I wish I’d known before I started coaching.

Coaching isn’t handholding. It’s heavy lifting.

Flashback to spring 2020. The pandemic had just begun, and nothing made sense. I was graduating with two master's degrees and no prospects. Imagine my frustration, terror, and exhaustion with my job search. It felt hopeless.

One day, my brother suggested I find a job coach. My parents had invested a lot of time and money into a job coach for my brother (he has an intellectual disability). At the same time, my parents kind of just expected me to get a job on my own. Job searching with no support is inefficient, difficult, and has mixed results at best. And I was in so deep that I couldn’t think of anything that could possibly help… until my brother made that suggestion.

So, I did the one thing I was very good at in graduate school: I researched.

It was not a thorough research job. I’ll admit I still missed all five of the things I’m writing about in this blog post. I researched as much as possible until I found a coach I felt could best find me a job.

That’s right, I thought the coach would find me a job. Honey, no.

Instead, my coach taught me how to network and challenged me to go outside my comfort zone. She helped me face my resume with confidence rather than fear (those were my accomplishments on the resume, after all). She even helped me plan a Zoom wedding when the pandemic had taken all of my excitement. My coach handed me a map, and she let me do all the work so that I would truly learn the lessons.

You’re not paying by the hour. You’re paying for the transformation.

Coaching can be expensive, which is why many people think of it as a luxury service. It’s not typically covered by insurance and most coaches hold firm on their prices rather than offering a sliding scale. At the time, coaching was my single largest expense behind my rent, and I made it work because the value was absolutely worth it to me.

Don’t do the math on what your coach makes per hour. It will boggle your mind and be factually incorrect. You’re not just paying for that one hour of time with your coach. You’re paying for all of their training, marketing, and the coaching experience as a whole. Coaching school is expensive, and by hiring a coach who is fully trained, you are probably receiving a better service. More on this later. The coach also had to somehow get their name and number in front of your eyes, which usually takes coin. What good is a coach that you can’t find? And even though you are doing the majority of the work, is it really work you would have done on your own in the same amount of time? A coach is there to be your partner through difficult times and transitions. This means that you are doing the work and growing at a much faster and easier pace. This is why good coaching can cost so much.

If I’d understood this the first time I hired a coach, I wouldn’t have been so hesitant. I will say that with every coach since then, it has been easier to justify the cost because I know how to find coaches tailored exactly to my needs and can see how they’ve already helped people in my situation.

Anyone can be a “coach” so do some research.

That’s right, coaching is an unregulated industry at the moment. Anyone looking for a side hustle can open a coaching business with absolutely no qualifications, experience, or oversight. One way to find credentialed coaches who have gone to school, logged hours, studied ethics, and passed a test is to look for the International Coaching Federation badge (ACC, PCC, or MCC). Granted, some of my best coaches were not credentialed by the International Coaching Federation, however, they did have training, amazing reviews, and were targeted towards my specific needs. So, while it’s easy to rule someone out, I’d encourage you to do some digging if you feel drawn to a certain coach.

For example, you can look at the coaching school they attended and see if it was a quick, online course with very few requirements. My school, Radiant Coaches Academy, required live training, self-study, and coaching practice. I feel comfortable taking on clients because I had a significant amount of training, and my school is accredited by the International Coaching Federation, even if I’m still working on my credentials.

You don’t have to have it all together.

Duh, right? If you had it all together, you wouldn’t need coaching. It’s ok to show up just as you are, with whatever progress you have, in whatever clothes you wear. It does help to have a bit of a plan going in, such as a goal or a challenge you are facing, though it’s not entirely necessary. A good coach can help you determine exactly what you need to talk about in the moment.

There is no reason to pretend everything is alright with your coach. It’s okay to need help, ask for help, and accept help. Coaching is a safe space for you to be yourself. And if you don’t feel safe, that coach is probably not the one for you.

True story: I was off-camera for much of my group coaching sessions as the client because I wasn’t comfortable with myself. The group couldn’t have been more welcoming, but I didn’t want them to see who I was because I might be too different physically. No one ever forced me to come on camera. They just let me slowly peek out and introduce myself over several sessions. They let me build up my bravery and become my own person.

Come to the session with a goal or a challenge.

I wrote about this a little already, and that’s because it’s really important to make sure you get the most out of your coaching experience. When I became a coaching client, I didn’t have a clear idea of what I needed; I just needed help. This is a great first step, and it’s also super helpful to have a bit more structure entering a coaching relationship. As stated above, a good coach can help you determine what you want to discuss; just don’t make them do all the work. Remember, this is your transformation.

If you come with a goal, I will help you map out the steps to reach that goal. If you come with a challenge, I will help you strategize the best way to face that challenge. In both cases, we save time in the session by already knowing what you want. A clear endgame is key to being the most efficient with your time.

At the same time, coaching is a partnership. Come to your sessions with an open mind brimming with curiosity. You do not need to do all the heavy lifting on your own. A coach is meant to support you as you take on that load. Be accountable and present in your sessions rather than being a one-way train.


The five things I wish I’d known before I started coaching as a client… It feels good to reminisce about the days when I was just starting to figure myself out. Deciding to start coaching is a big and brave step. And honestly, there’s no wrong way to do it if you’re getting something out of it.

So, take these five things as guidelines rather than commands. Your journey is your own.

Ready to start your coaching journey with me? Let's embark on this journey together! If you're ready to level up, break through barriers, and create lasting change, I'm here for you. Book your free 15-minute discovery call today, and let's chat!

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