There's a strange dualism out there where coaching is 'exploding' yet most people don't even know what it is. There's a tangle of overlapping terms such as "life coaching," "personal coaching," "motivational coaching," and every possible combination of that language, in addition to the infinite subsets of wellness coaching, career coaching, transitional coaching, etc.
So what is the difference? The short answer is that there really isn't one. The more thorough answer is that all of these terms reflect the interests and passions of the coach using these words to market him/herself. The essential tools of coaching (using questions that slip beneath the surface chatter in a client's mind, setting clear and meaningful goals that stretch a client without overwhelming her, motivating and supporting a client through major changes) are consistent throughout all coaching specialties. The language any given coach uses just serve to draw in the clients s/he feels best able to serve.
So why have I chosen to label myself a personal coach, and who am I looking to draw into my practice? I consider myself a personal coach because the questions that ignite my fascination and drive are questions of deeply personal identity: Who do I most want to be, and how do I become that person? What do I value, and how do I bring my life into alignment with those values? Why doesn't the life I'm living reflect who I really am? I am looking to work with those who are ready for (or are forced to get ready for) major life changes, those seeking a road less traveled, those who have a vision of a beautiful life but need help claiming it for themselves.
Many people are looking for a coach to increase their success, income, or job status in six weeks or less. I wish them luck, but I'm looking for people who want to take risks, work hard, and change the way they move through their lives forever.