Allison Goldberg's life started out unconventional and traumatic. Her biological father went missing during her mother's pregnancy. Two weeks before her birth, he was found dead, brutally murdered.
As a result, Goldberg's mother struggled for several years as a single parent to three children. For better or worse, Goldberg grew up in environment in which she was naturally compelled to take care of herself in many ways.
"I had two choices: I could fall apart or push my sleeves up," said Goldberg. "I started taking charge of my own life at a very young age."
When Goldberg started elementary school, she bought and used her first planner. "I felt like order was what I needed," she said.
By the time she was in high school, she became engaged with taking care of others and was often called "Grandma" by her peers.
Now as a certified life coach, Goldberg finds fulfillment helping other work through frustrations and achieving goals.
"In this line of the work, there is only client success," she said. "There is no such thing as failure."
Goldberg draws upon her past as a child struggling for order to help all people, from teenagers to people who are retired adults for instance, set goals, create action plans, and address life frustrations including family, career, social and academic frustrations.
A recent client, a middle school aged student, was having issues learning the unspoken rules of social behavior for teenagers, she said. She also struggled with school and time management, and sought help from Goldberg to succeed academically, while struggling with ADHD.
"We focus on what's working," Goldberg said about helping the girl. She helped her make strategic plans for school along with balancing friends, as well as addressing how to behave in specific social situations, and gave her examples of social and dining etiquette.
For many people, hearing the term "life coach" is confusing. How is it different than a therapist? "It is a very pragmatic approach to solving problems, said Goldberg.
While therapists explore a client's past and look at present behaviors and the emotional impact , a life coach will deal with implementation of goals, schedules, planning and getting practical things done, like weight loss or succeeding at a new job. The individual is not reshaped, said Goldberg, but learns their own value through action.
Part of the secret to balancing one's life, she said, is understanding that every person's life is like a pie with different pieces, such as social life, family life, career, finances, hobbies, and spirituality. A life coach looks at the part of your life in which you are experiencing frustrations, and encourages self-directed actions to address those frustrations, like setting up short term and long-term goals, creating a realistic plan, while continuing to nurture what is right in the client's life, thus creating a life of balance and happiness.
"My skill is helping you create a practical and results-oriented life while receiving instant gratification for your successes", she said.
Today, the trend is looking to a life coach for immediate personal and professional growth. This concept has been fast growing for over 20 years in Europe, New York and Los Angeles, and Goldberg is highly sought after to help more people find direction and strategy to their life's frustrations.
One young man sought her help recently who was experiencing difficulties with social issues, although he "had an amazing career," she said.
Goldberg worked with the client to strengthen all aspects of his life: they worked on a fitness regime, she guided him in buying a dog to work on caring for something bigger than himself, she encouraged friend relationships and together they de-cluttered his apartment. She also sent him to more social environments to practice new skills, such as the more social restaurant scene in Houston as well as gym or Memorial Park.
"He turned his life around," she said.
A lot of finding balance in one's life is learning to trust your own instinct, Goldberg said. "This field is not about me; it's 100 percent about (the clients)."