Brenda Weatherly takes her experience as a collaborator to guide others. Photos by John Chadwell.

Just as athletes might need their own personal coach to help hone their skills, someone facing a critical juncture in their career or personal life might also need a life coach. Brenda Weatherly recently came to her own fork in the road and decided she needed to take a new direction, as a life coach. Her new adventure and business is called New Direction Life Coaching.

Weatherly has been a fixture in Hollister for more than 30 years. For the past 12 years, she was the Executive Director of the Hollister Downtown Association, where she worked with committees on projects to improve the downtown area. She has a degree in journalism and advertising with a minor in art from Fresno State College. After meeting Ken Weatherly while at college, she came to Hollister in 1986, to work at the Hollister Free Lance as the sales director.

Being one who was keen on helping others, she started looking for opportunities last year that would give her the independence to help people figure out how to change their lives. She said it’s just natural for people’s lives to go in different directions and, hopefully, they learn along the way. She said most people aren’t even aware of their own qualities until someone else points them out. She only became aware of her own after attending a workshop where everyone was instructed to tell what their greatest qualities were.

“We don’t see that we’re creating our own problems because we just get caught up in living,” she said. “Sometimes when you talk to someone they can say ‘Do you see this pattern?’ On this worksheet filled out by people who knew me well, they had written,‘You’re a collaborator,’ which surprised me. It’s just something you do innately and you don’t even realize you’re doing it until someone puts a label on it, so that creates awareness.”

She said she was already collaborating on a daily basis in her role at the Downtown Association, much of the time intuitively. She said when others pointed this out to her it caused her to hit the pause button and seek out other venues for using those skills. About a year ago, she discovered the concept of life coaching and began researching online what it involved. She found it to be very similar to being a sports coach whose job it is to help an athlete become the best they can be.

“A life coach does much the same thing, only the coach takes the aspects a person wants to work on and can’t figure out the steps to take or get out of their own way,” she said. “The life coach can break it down into steps and hold them accountable and create goals, which are mutually agreed upon.”

Weatherly has experienced a number of junctures throughout her life, and she says it was during those times she reached out to other people for advice. In her new business, Weatherly’s focus is primarily on mature women in transition, which could include the loss of a job or spouse, not being fulfilled where they’re working, facing retirement or trying to figure out where they want to go if they’re already retired.

When she was thinking about changing directions, Weatherly took the time to find an organization that had a long-standing reputation in life coaching. She chose an online course through the Life Purpose Institute in San Diego, which has been conducting such classes for 30 years, and is affiliated with the International Coaching Federation. She said a person has to have a college degree before they can apply. As she described her studies, she pulled out a more than 360-page manual with pages liberally dog-eared and tabbed. She said the course gave her 187 tools to use to help her coach.

“Depending on what comes up with a client I can pull out a resource that I know will help uncover a block or issue,” she said. “It was a tele-course and there were seven other students and an instructor on the line. We were practicing and taking turns coaching each other through actual rather than hypothetical issues.

“You helped people work through fears or whatever and you’re all learning as you go. We were assigned buddy coaches. You practice through sessions on the phone, but you also have homework, so we were in touch with our buddy coach, using them as a real client.”

She said a life coach must be careful that the client does not begin to perceive them as a psychiatrist or psychologist. If the client shows signs of a psychological need, she refers them to the proper professionals.

“This is a safe place to talk about how you’re feeling about things and what your desires are,” she said. “It comes back to your heart and what gives you joy. We do a whole self-exploration process to uncover those things and find opportunities and align things they’re good at.”

Living in a small town where friends or acquaintances can end up as clients, Weatherly said it comes down to discretion, professionalism and integrity to keep the two worlds separate. She said whatever a client tells her is privileged, perhaps not in its legal, courtroom definition, but as close to a doctor-patient relationship as possible according to the code of ethics she has agreed to abide by.

“If I were to not keep my word and not be a professional I won’t be in business long,” she said. “I’ve learned that lesson because confidentiality has been a big part of my past job.”

Weatherly officially left the Downtown Association July 1, and took some time off before opening for business in early August. She sees clients Mondays and Wednesdays by appointment. The first session is a complementary meeting to see if she and the potential client hit it off.

“Once we determine it will be a good working relationship and there are things they want to work on, I will give them some paperwork to fill out,” she said. “There’s a seven-step process to go through, so I’d say it will normally take seven to eight meetings, depending on what it is they want to accomplish. In some cases I’ve been able to help some people to accomplish their goals in three to four meetings.”

She said sessions are based on what makes the client comfortable and they can meet as often as they want. Weatherly can be reached at (831) 673-4360. She also has a Facebook page.

John Chadwell worked as a feature, news and investigative reporter for BenitoLink on a freelance basis for seven years, leaving the role in Sept. 2023. Chadwell first entered the U.S. Navy right out of...