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True Story, Bro: How I Became a Life Coach

She made fun of life coaches. Until she became one. A cautionary tale!

Life Coach Feature Image

Real talk: I used to roll my eyes so hard they'd end up all the way in London, whenever I heard *anyone* mention the term "life coach."

This was way back in the mid-2000s when low-rise jeans and gossip rag mags were all the rage—and the only thing I knew about life coaches was I don't know?—that mega-celebrities and their over-privileged offspring purportedly liked to hire them? To do what, exactly? Hell if I knew! This was in the ~salad days~ of my feral early twenties—a season of life when was far easier to dismiss what was unfamiliar than attempt to understand it.

Up until a couple of years ago, I had bitchy and misguided judgments toward life coaches, themselves, too. Maybe it was because the only exposure I had to "life coaches" appeared in the form of the hyper-aggressive, testosterone-laden videos I'd stumble across on Instagram from time to time.

Gordon Ramsey life coach meme

You know the kind: an HD recording of some eerily buff dude-bro bellowing and grunting into a camera lens, speaking exclusively in motivational quotes, telling us if we follow his elusive fifteen-second workday formula we, too can make six figures a month in our sleep.

life coach cartmen

Oh, and let us *never* forget the *other* iteration of "life-coach" that seemed to exclusively invade my social feeds only when I was laying in bed sweating in fetal position during a harrowing bout of PMS, fisting popcorn, questioning my life's choices.

If your algorithm is similar to mine, you are *definitely* privy to this prototype: cue in the size zero blonde, her great white teeth gleaming at us from behind the static screen, her legs encased in white leggings, promising us in her heavily hash-tagged caption that we too, can manifest our way to a perfect, poreless existence if only we sign up for her ten-week law of attraction workshop! Which is nineteen thousand dollars and in a sector of rural Hawaii that can only be accessed via private jet (transportation not included in final price).

white leggings life coach

Honestly, as depicted in the shallow media I chose to consume—the whole "coach" song and dance sent shivers of second-hand embarrassment dancing down my spine. It was just so...gimmicky.

And I do many things, darling—but gimmicky is not one of them. I'm a New York woman, after all.

new york city zara life coach piece

Which means I have a sharp nose for bullshit and you'd sooner catch me taking a bubble bath with Rudy Guliani than buying into a lie.

So how—dear HOW—did I end up pursuing a career as a LIFE COACH after having such a visceral reaction toward the vocation and its fleet of dutiful gurus?

It all started in 2021 with Martha Beck.

Marth Beck is the New York Times best-selling author of a ton of powerful and prolific books—her most recent being the one that drew me into her orbit: The Way of Integrity.

The Way Of Integrity Martha Beck life coach

I don't know why I plucked The Way of Integrity from the lineup when trolling the bookstore aisles this particular Sunday. Maybe it was my inner-intuitive guide, maybe it was dumb luck. Regardless, I'm grateful it ended up in these weathered ole' hands. 'Cause The Way of Integrity was a *true* game-changer for me.

The book is dense with knowledge, yet I managed to read it in two sittings. I won't get into the weeds of what the book is about—because I want *you* to read it—but let's just say your girl was to never be the same again. Within days of reading it, I questioned my career. Within a week I knew I needed to make a big career change. A month after reading it I packed up my shit and left New York City with just my dog and a suitcase. Three months later I was enrolled in Martha Beck's Life Coach training course, a nine-month intensive program that culminates in becoming an ICF certified life coach.

But wait. Let's backtrack:

Before I enrolled in this intensive Life Coach course (actually, a couple of pages into reading The Way of Integrity) I realized that the *amazing* and *wise* Martha Beck, with her multiple PhDs from Harvard and lofty, lauded literary career—was indeed a life coach herself. A real life coach, not an Instagram life coach. (She's so real, she's Oprah's life coach).

I began to furiously research life coaching and realized that I'd let a few bad apples sour an amazing profession that once I understood the true meaning—was totally in alignment with everything I've ever wanted to do with my life!

The ICF (the International Coaching Federation) defines life coaching as "partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential." This means a life coach is not coming at you as some kind of expert. A life coach is not here to diagnose you. A life coach is not a therapist and certainly not a guru, either. As Martha Beck told us on our first day of training, we exist to be "the window, not the light."

And as someone who has always worked in the arts—life coaching made sense to me. Artists aren't there to give you the "right" answer. They reflect the truth to the person consuming the art. And each person's version of the truth looks different based on their life experiences and unique character.

Look. First I was an actor, then a theatre director, then a staff writer for digital publication, then a senior editor, then an executive editor, then a published author, and now I've tossed "life coach" into the mix. And despite the bevy of pivots along the way—my intention with all my chosen mediums has remained the same. It's been about collaborating with the reader, the audience member, the writer, the actor, and now the client, in exposing their deepest truth. Because the truth— even when she's not pretty or graceful or convenient—is the key that opens the door to the light (by which I mean freedom!).

I learned the hard way that you will never reach your most extraordinary potential if you avoid the truth. Only when you can honestly answer the questions about who you *really* are, what you *really* want, and what you *really* don't want—will you ever get the opportunity to taste the most luxe thing in the land: freedom.

After braving a deep inventory of my own passions and desires and (quite literally) spending an entire year holed up in my parent's house getting down and dirty with *my* rawest truths—what I discovered was this: what lights me up the *most* is helping people step into their own versions of freedom. And doing that is oh so much deeper than telling anyone what to do. It's about teaching them to trust their intuition.

But the trouble is, so many of us (myself included) don't even know what we want for lunch, let alone how to access our intuition. Because we live in a culture that has encouraged us to conform above anything else! And if our core desires don't perfectly match society's expectations for us, we're shamed. (Do you know how many teachers tried to hop me up on prescription stimulants when I was five years old because I was "too dreamy like an artist" and "artists don't succeed"?) So we learn by example, to silence the longing that lives within us, in order to fit in.

But our longing—by which I mean that little flame madly flickering inside of our hearts, begging us for permission to burn brightly in the outside world—doesn't take kindly to being caged in and silenced. So eventually our longing starts screaming for our attention.

And the screaming manifests in the form of suffering. We find ourselves sick, listless, anxious, depressed, feeling irrevocably stuck, numb, sleepless, and heavy with regret. Sadly, we get used to living this way. We think suffering is just part of being alive, honey. After all, this way of living has been modeled for us since we were kids. How many times do you remember hearing grown-ups, when asked "How are you doing?" respond with a shrill giggle and a slightly hysterical: "hanging in there, Sheila. Hanging in there." How many times have we as adults responded the same exact way?

I don't know about you—but I don't want a "hanging in there, Sheila" kind of life. I want more than a "hanging in there, Sheila" kind of life. Much more! I want purpose. I want depth. I want connection. Passion. Vulnerability. Love. But more than anything, I want to honor my essential self. The real me. The person I am when I peel back the layers of what I've been schooled to want vs. what I actually want. To live any other way is to live a lie. And if the truth is the keyholder of the truth, lies are the steel bars that keep us trapped in the cold darkness of confinement.

At first, I thought maybe I would just channel the wisdom I learned in this incredible life coaching intensive program into just my writing—but from the moment I started training—I quickly realized I didn't just want to help people via the written word—but in a more intimate way too. In one-on-one coaching sessions. Without the barrier of the static screen, I found I was able to gently guide my clients into more and more profound truths that ultimately led them toward a life that no, wasn't "perfect," but one that was finally, one hundred percent, their own.

And this is how I became a life coach, darlings. And the most precious gem I've unearthed in this new journey? I've learned that we're all ~wildly~ creative entities—that we're all ~teeming~ with innovative ideas and fabulous passions that we might not even *know* live inside of us—that it's never too late to do "the thing," to make the change, to cut the cord, to take the leap, to start fresh, to dig deeper, to grow.

Above all, I believe that all of us have what it takes to live life on our own terms. Including you.

Cue in me—not just a writer, not just your lesbian big sister—but now, also your life coach. 'Cept I'm more like a map than your high school gym teacher, blowing a whistle, yelling at you for being late to class or breaking dress code or whatnot. A map doesn't tell you what to wear—let alone what to do. You're the captain, here. You get to decide where we're headed—my function is to simply help you navigate your way there. And together, we'll take a look at where you are—in relation to where you want to be. We'll dig deep; unearth *who* you really are and *what* you really want and *where* you really want to go. We'll take inventory of your passions; figure out what drives you, what excites you, what lights you up for real.

We'll dive into your true purpose; discover what *actually* matters to you (and what *actually* doesn't) and explore what kind of mark you wish to leave on this world. We'll clean up shop; look at what can stay and what's getting in the way of you and your desires; identify and address the barriers that are holding you back; free up space for new and beautiful things you didn't even know you wanted because you couldn't see past all that old dusty clutter!

And then we'll put our boots on the ground and get to work; design a clear and direct action plan that guides you toward a life that is yours. My approach is synergetic, non-judgemental, extremely confidential, warm, and always encouraging—but also pragmatic. I will help you cultivate realistic goals that facilitate turning those dreams of yours into reality.

After all, dreams without goals are just dreams.

Whether you're looking to enhance or shift the direction of your career, optimize your unique set of talents, cultivate a deeper relationship with yourself and others, make that big change, go on that adventure, start that business, fall in love with a healthy person, or finally honor your true nature—you don't have to take the leap alone.

Life Coach Zara Barrie PROMO

For a limited time, clients who commit to four or more sessions will receive a free session, along with a complimentary audio recording and hard copy of my debut book: GIRL, STOP PASSING OUT IN YOUR MAKEUP: THE BAD GIRL'S GUIDE TO GETTING YOUR SH*T TOGETHER.


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