If necessity is the mother of invention, then happiness is surely the parent of reinvention, as evidenced by the second-fastest-growing industry in the country worth upward of $2 billion annually – life coaching.
Once considered self-indulgent and available only in major metropolitan areas, today it is widely practiced and valued as just as important as traditional counseling.
Pioneers of the practice were psychologists who, back in the 1980s, saw a broader application of therapy. But unlike counseling, which analyzes the past, life coaches propel clients forward toward their personal and professional goals by examining what is going on now, identifying the obstacles and choosing a course of action for positive change.
“Our thoughts drive our feelings, which, in turn, create actions,” said Bakersfield native and certified life coach Kym Showers. “If we can be aware, we can change anything.”
Eight years ago, Showers found her own life at a crossroads. Her two children went off to college and the stay-at-home mom was closing a chapter.
“Something was missing. I wanted to do something different but a culmination of the first half of my life as a wife, mother, schoolteacher and Bible studies leader,” she recalled. “That awareness became the catalyst for life coaching. The first half of my life was extremely spiritual. My whole awakening of this second act of mine is nurturing this human side.”
She began researching the field and reached out to Lisette Whitaker, who at the time was the only certified life coach in Bakersfield.
“My master’s degree in counseling and psychology from CSUB was the cornerstone for me in working with people to uncover their goals, ambitions and desires in life,” said Whitaker, who owns Lion Heart Coaching & Consulting, specializing in midlife marriage transitions. “The focus then was more on clinical diagnosis and treatment of causes and symptoms rather than what happens after. And most of us don’t have a clinical, mental health circumstance that requires treatment, yet we want guidance, help and assistance with everyday situations.”
Showers, a former cheerleader for East High and Bakersfield College who says she has spent her 58 years rooting for her family, friends and neighbors, enrolled at the Life Coach School based in Dallas in January of last year. “I didn’t know you could be a professional cheerleader,” she laughed. The online course included in-person training. “I feel like I have been coaching my whole life and I was born to do this.”
Her focus is on helping couples reinvent and redesign their marriage.
“I’m a big fan of marriage and happiness and I have both,” said Showers, who has been married to her husband, Jeff, for 35 years. “You can create a happy life wherever you are in life. We are completely different, but the reason we are still happily married is that we keep reinventing ourselves through every season.”
Her six-week program includes one 50-minute coaching phone call per spouse each week and two half-hour couples sessions via video conferencing in addition to homework.
Showers credits Instagram for 90 percent of her clients locally and around the world. Her clean, light and positive brand, which promotes her website, blogs and podcasts, was carefully crafted.
“I was very intentional about it all,” she said.
Whitaker marvels at the evolution of the practice.
“Humans need one another to survive. We learn from each other how to navigate life circumstances. In days of old, families and communities provided most of that support,” she said. “But life has become much more complicated and may require a more neutral guide in some areas. So, really, life coaching is a necessity, not a luxury.”
Some of Showers’ best advice is to live authentically in one’s own lane and help one another.
“To do a well-lived life in the second half of life, that’s the best life!” she said. ￼
Opinions expressed in this column are those of Lisa Kimble.