Is it better to have an online coach or in person?

When my most recent credit card statement came, I realized it was the third month in a row I’d been paying for an online program and community that I STILL had not used. I was throwing my money after something I really wanted – growth and solutions – but I hadn’t mustered the self-discipline to actually engage and take action. 

Have you ever signed up for an online course or community with the best intentions, only to realize months later that you have yet to even log in?

Or hired a one-on-one coach only to find out you also need the support and resources of an online community?

Looking back, I wasted so much time and money trying to figure out the right mix of online resources, coaching, and accountability for me and my company. I knew I wanted support, but I bounced around between online programs, group calls, and one-on-one coaching. 

After years of exploring different avenues and eventually creating my own coaching programs for clients, I have finally concluded coaching comes down to two things: contemplation and action. 

While the topic of “contemplation vs. action” is enough for its own blog post, here’s the gist: No matter how much you think about a decision beforehand (contemplation), nothing can happen until you put in effort to make it happen (action). 

Maybe taking action means asking your peer group for their thoughts about a new product you’re launching. Maybe it means signing up for a free trial. We all grow by first taking action, then analyzing the results, then acting again. What worked? What didn’t? What can you do differently going forward? 

This is the magic of coaching. 

Whether in person, by phone, or online, coaching is all about creating space for processing, reflection, decision-making, and planning. 

In other words, coaching helps you answer the question, “Given where I’ve been and where I want to go, what should I do right now?”

It’s absolutely a question worth answering. But how you receive that support is up to you.

When you’re looking for coaching support and are unsure of whether online or in-person is a better fit for your needs, there are three things I recommend considering:

  1. Prior History: What has your experience been using online resources versus in-person resources/coaching in the past? How well did that work for you?
  2. Peer Reviews: For the program or coach you are considering, are there testimonials from people like you? (I understand no one is exactly like you; you’re looking for people with similar pain points to yours.) Reading through reviews can help give you a general sense of whether the coach or program is a good fit. 
  3. Guarantee: Is there a satisfaction guarantee, money-back guarantee, free trial option, or something similar? When I do not know the individual coaching or company running a particular program, and I feel unsure about investing, I will find out if there’s a way for me to try it out (action, not just contemplation) before I fully dive in.

If you’re still looking for the answer to whether online or in-person coaching is better, I’m sorry to say there is no magic bullet. Arguments can be made for both sides as to the benefits and drawbacks of each. It’s been done many times before, so I won’t do it again here. 

However, I will say that tough decisions – just like whether online coaching or in-person coaching is right for you – is exactly what coaching is for. 

When someone is willing to hold space so you can ask those difficult questions, answer them truthfully, and allow yourself to be heard (by your coach and yourself), you are free to finally begin taking action. Once you do, you can return to your coach, program, or group to evaluate the consequences of those actions and decide on the next best steps. From there, the cycle continues.

I can’t tell you whether it is better for you to try online coaching, a group program, or in-person coaching. But you can tell me. Which type of coaching is right for you? I’m already holding space for you to share your answer in the comments below.

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