However, just like in elementary school when you hear that your friends are doing something, you want to be included too. Intrigued, I wanted to find out more about it. In the nine years I have lived in İstanbul as an American expat I have met many other foreigners from all over the world, with a variety of different backgrounds. It so happened that I knew an American woman who lived in İstanbul and was a life coach. I decided to meet with her and find out more about life coaching and how it could benefit me in particular.
I met Anna Rappaport at a gathering of American women in Istanbul and was impressed by her positive energy. She seemed to be a woman who knew how to get the most out of the life she chose. Trained as a coach at Landmark Education in the Accomplishment Coaching program, Anna has been a coaching professional since 1999 and since 2006 she has been coaching individuals, professionals and executives in İstanbul. I knew Anna’s background, but not being an executive or a businesswoman, I assumed I would not be able to utilize her services. I was wrong, and Anna offered to do a sample coaching session with me to illustrate what she does, and what life coaching is.
We met on a rainy day at a café in Beşiktaş. Before the meeting, Anna asked if I would be interested in doing an “essence” exercise. It is a technique she uses to determine what your essence is. It required that I ask 10 people who know me well, two questions about myself. Anna gave me the questions to ask and I had to write down the responses the people gave word-for-word. The questions are a bit obtuse on purpose, meant to make the person struggle a bit when answering. I wrote exactly what everyone said and let Anna decipher what the inherent meaning of their responses was. I e-mailed her the results before our meeting, along with a brief questionnaire she sent me to fill out. Both of these prep activities were good because it meant that we could maximize our face-to-face session.
Changes in aspirations
Many readers of this column have followed my journey through marriage and motherhood. A lot of my professional aspirations have changed greatly in the past few years. I apologized to Anna since I really didn’t feel I had any clear direction or plan for my professional life, and was probably going to be a difficult client. She instantly reassured me, saying that most people who seek out coaching also have very cloudy or unknown goals. Anna focuses on a type of coaching called ontological coaching, which basically means focusing on who the person is “being” in a situation. It does not try and diagnose a problem and treat it, like a psychologist or therapist might. Rather, it helps you choose a way of being in a situation or circumstance. The point of our coaching session was to assess and acknowledge my strengths, or “essence” and how to use that to help me head in the right direction. Anna doesn’t tell you what that direction is. She lets you make your own goals and will help to encourage you to get there.
The essence activity Anna did with me when we met basically entailed looking at all areas of my life. We talked about my family, my relationships with friends, my professional life, and my romantic life. All of these things shape me and whatever goals I have or would like to make. While I would like to say that life coaching is all positive, it also means addressing the negative parts of your life and how that can affect your confidence and aspirations. In my opinion, looking at these negative sides helped me become more attuned with myself. Anna helps you reflect on these by putting you in several imaginary situations and asking what your specific reaction would be in that situation. I particularly liked this activity because the fictitious scenarios revolved around my reactions to being in a new situation. Living abroad has taught me to take more risks and step out of my comfort zone in my personal life. However, I am still unsure and hesitant when taking risks in my professional life. These activities helped me see that in a different light, which I am now addressing. This particular exercise also showed me strengths I did not know that I have as well as what I can bring to the table both personally and professionally. Anna doesn’t tell me what to do with these strengths, she encourages me to create and set my own goals.
My session with Anna was very rewarding. In a typical coaching session we would meet about four times a month with several follow-up e-mails in between meetings. My session with her was only a sample of what life coaching is and what Anna does in particular. I was very impressed with my experience, and sold on life coaching in general. On a personal note, my husband Can has Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD). While he struggles with some daily tasks, he has focused on his strengths and has used his ADHD to his advantage professionally. However, it presents huge obstacles in his personal life. Life coaching can help in this department as well, and we are exploring this option. One session with Anna helped me see things about my life and myself in a different light, one that will help me move forward. Anna was very easy to talk to, and shared a lot of her life experiences to put me further at ease. I felt like I was not alone in my struggles with some issues, and appreciated her open attitude and friendliness. Anna has experience not just coaching individuals, but also companies, executives, partners, etc. Although I was able to meet with Anna in person, she also does a lot of her coaching virtually, meeting with clients online from all over the world. She also offers many online seminars and workshops where people like me can sample what she does. More information on Anna Rappaport J.D. and life coaching can be found on her website www.excellerationcoaching.com.
Everyone’s session will be different, based on his or her needs and personal situation. It is important to find someone that is flexible and that you are comfortable speaking with. I was hesitant at first, since I am currently not working and really have no idea what I want to do with my career. However, many of the activities I did with Anna have really made a lot of things clear in my personal life, which is helping with the growth of my professional life. Regardless of your need or present goals, it is nice to have someone in your corner encouraging you. I felt like I got that from Anna.
Elle Loftis is an American expat, writer, and mother living in İstanbul. Reach her at email@example.com for comments or questions.