Every day that we are alive on this planet, we make a whole heap of decisions. Some trivial (What should I make for supper tonight?) and others more serious (Do I relocate my entire family to take advantage of a career opportunity that I’m not certain will be for me?). When the going gets tough, or we lose our way, a feeling of dissatisfaction or defeatism about our personal or professional lives can take hold. Our conscious and subconscious minds operate on two different spheres, and this can lead to internal conflict. When this happens, we often make decisions on a daily basis that are not aligned with what we really want in life, because we are so bogged down by the day-to-day drudgery of just going through the motions.

Whether you really know what is you want to go after in life, or you are still trying to figure it all out, life coaching is a tool you can use at any age or stage in your personal or professional life. Life coaching is vastly different from mentoring, as it puts you, the client, in the driver’s seat. A life coach’s mission is to help you first and foremost define what is most important to you. A life coach isn’t there to tell you what to do or give you advice per se, but can accompany you by asking important questions that help you to discover what actions will get you to your goal.

“My role is really about helping my client to gain knowledge about himself or herself and solve issues. Some people make decisions that are not aligned with their values or their needs, and until they really know themselves, they’ll keep making the wrong decisions for themselves which can lead to anxiety or depression or sense of loss of purpose in life,” says life coach Johanne Renaud, who resides in Laval and is a member of the L’Asscociation des Naturopathes Professionels du Québec.

Renaud first became involved in life coaching following a positive experience with having her own life coach assist her through a period of transition in her professional and personal life. At the time, Renaud was living in Switzerland, where she had moved from Québec to pursue a career opportunity as a medicinal chemist. Renaud’s educational background at the time was in science and chemistry. She felt she was at a standstill in her career and didn’t see more development for herself in that field, but wasn’t sure what direction to take. At the same time, she had been struggling with the cultural differences she experienced in Switzerland, something she had not foreseen. This led Renaud to become interested in studying different modes of communication and interaction, along with human development.

Before long, Renaud moved back to Canada, where she worked at a small pharmaceutical company in Laval. As fate would have it, the company ended up laying off several of its employees, Renaud included. “I took it as a sign that it was time for a big change; to explore something new,” recalls Renaud. Renaud pursued a Master’s Degree in Transpersonal Psychology, followed by a Personal and Professional Coaching Certification at Concordia University, among numerous other personal development courses.

Renaud’s clients are typically between 40 and 50 years old, at a time of life when many new challenges arise, such as a career that suddenly becomes more challenging, less rewarding or is lost due to company restructuring. Their children are growing up, relationships become more complicated, new pressures and anxiety can arise, etc. Renaud has also worked with individuals in their 30s and 60s, as these are also high transition periods. She usually works with her clients at her office in Laval, but is also accessible by other means, such as video conferencing. Some clients require support following a separation, relationship difficulties or difficulties with coworkers, and others may need support to clarify career goals or a general direction in life.

“Someone who is open and willing to making a change in their life, and doing a little bit of work, will benefit [from life coaching],” says Renaud. “Sometimes it just helps to have someone who is neutral to listen to you, so that the client feels that the coach is not being judgmental.” Renaud explains that trust between coach and client is essential. Change does not happen overnight.

“I help my clients to clarify their thoughts…to figure out what is really important for them,” says Renaud. Sometimes clients do need to work through their emotions, but other times it can be about properly identifying one’s values in order to make decisions that are better aligned for achieving a goal. Though every client is unique, Renaud will often work with a client for 5-10 sessions, during which time she will help the client determine what they are seeking, and will accompany the client in taking the necessary actions. Some changes may require additional time to achieve, and more sessions may be needed.

A life coach can not only help clarify what it is you are really after in life on the personal or professional front, but at the heart of this line of work is allowing you to discover your true self and your true desires. Our true selves can often be hidden or ignored by our conscious minds and actions, and we need tools and strategies to uncover and untangle our old habits, old thoughts or old ways of communicating, and create new ones.

“Knowing oneself by gaining self-knowledge is hugely important…self-discovery is a gift and should not be neglected,” explains Renaud. “When we neglect ourselves, it also affects our spouses and our kids, but knowledge of one’s strengths and limits helps in many aspects of life and can make all the difference.”

To find out more about life coaching, visit www.coachingjohannerenaud.com or contact Johanne Renaud at 438-393-5623.

Distinguishing the signal from the noise requires both scientific knowledge and self-knowledge. --Nate Silver