Feeling Stuck At Work? Think About A Career Coach
> Many of us will feel stuck at work at some point
As you near the end of high school or college, you start to get excited about finally entering the grown-up world of work. You dream about all the different career paths you could take and all the dough you can make.
Maybe you’ll be a lawyer, running around in expensive suits and designer shoes with a Starbucks in hand at all times.
Or maybe, you’ll get into PR and basically get paid to party with the stars.
Perhaps, you could start a career that involves a lot of travel so you can see the world.
You have so many varying skills, so you know there’s a career out there for you. You just have no idea which path to take. But you’re excited at the prospects!
The world is your oyster.
Finally, you get a chance to see your school guidance counselor. They’ll direct you on the right path.
An hour later, you leave the counselor’s office with a list of uninspired job titles - ranging from teacher to retail manager - but you’re no clearer on what’s the right career path for you.
In fact, you’re more confused and way less inspired and just downright scared. How the hell are you going to figure this all out?!
Fast forward a couple of decades and that same feeling is creeping back.
You did eventually find a career path that seemed to work for you.
It’s not all fancy client lunches and jetting halfway across the world for meetings but you’re good at what you do. And you did love it once upon a time.
But now, you feel stuck.
You see others around you rising up the ranks or jumping ship into bigger and better jobs at bigger and better companies.
Some days, you despise them.
They don’t seem to be doing anything different from you other than tooting their own horn. In fact, many of them can’t do the job half as well as you can, but their career is flying!
Other days, you envy them. If they can do it, surely you can too, right?
And then, there are the days when you wonder if that’s even what you want. You look at your manager and your director and wonder “is that where I want to be? Is it even worth it?”
We understand, and you’re not alone. It’s totally natural to start to feel stuck in a career.
When we spend so long working hard in a job, it can be difficult to tell whether we’re even enjoying it anymore.
Are we unhappy because we’re ready for a promotion? Or are we unhappy because we hate our job? Or, would we love our job if it were at a different company?
With the struggle of trying to balance a busy life with a busy job, there’s hardly time to take a step back and think about the bigger picture in terms of our career.
And sometimes, when we do get a chance, it’s too overwhelming or scary for us to make any sense of our feelings and come up with the right decisions or actions.
This is where career coaches come in.
A far cry from the drab guidance counselors of our school years, career coaches are the kings and queens of inspiration and motivation.
With their (sometimes over the top) claims to help you transform your life and land your dream job, they can seem a little phony though.
But - aside from all the fluff - what is career coaching? And could it be the answer for you?
What is Career Coaching & When Do You Need It?
Coaching is a form of talk therapy which can be used to support a wide range of areas.
It heralds from the world of sports. Even the greatest athletes have coaches and their coaches will be nowhere near as good as them on the field.
They all achieved great things with the help and direction of their coach.
Coaches can identify things that the athlete cannot see in themselves. It’s an outside perspective.
It’s exactly the same in work or in life. An external, non-biased person can discover things that we would normally miss.
Coaching is often confused with either counseling or mentoring, but each of these services takes a different approach.
Counseling is usually needed because of a particular trigger; for example, losing a job or getting a divorce. It focuses on the traumatic event and other parts of the past in order to help you move on.
You could turn to counseling if a particular event or situation is affecting your ability to work at your best.
This is usually provided by someone senior to you with experience in a similar field. They use their personal experience to guide and advise you and support your progression.
You could turn to mentoring if you are clear on your career goals but need some expert, industry-specific support or some strategic planning.
Coaching is all about focusing on the present to ensure future success.
Usually, the coach is less focused on giving advice and more focused on strengthening your weaknesses, boosting your advantages and helping bring to the surface the answers you already have, buried deep somewhere in your head.
Coaching is a broad service that can be applied to pretty much any area of your life.
If you’re struggling to live a healthy lifestyle, you can hire a health and wellness coach.
If low self-esteem is affecting your dating prospects, you can hire a dating coach.
And, believe it or not, you can even hire a sleep coach these days!
When it comes to getting a career coach, there are a number of reasons you may want to try it out.
1) You feel stuck
Some people seem to have it all figured out. We all know someone who knew they wanted to be a lawyer from the age of 6, and 20 years later that is exactly what they are.
Then there are those of us who fell into our careers, maybe with a few twists and turns along the way.
Whichever path we take though, there’s always the chance we’ll get stuck. You might wake up one day and realize that you’ve been unhappy at work for longer than you’d care to remember.
You wake up, go to work, do your job, and do it well - but something’s missing. You don’t feel at all inspired and you’ve lost your drive.
You know something needs to change. You just have no idea what that something is or how to even begin addressing it.
A career coach can help you navigate the underlying reasons for this feeling of being stuck and help you come up with some practical ways to get unstuck.
2) You feel overwhelmed
Do you ever feel like you don’t have time to think?
Like, you’re so busy doing everything that needs to be done, you don’t have time to think about your dreams and goals for the future.
Maybe you have a super intense job that often has you working late.
Maybe you have kids or other family responsibilities that need your time and attention.
Maybe you’re so exhausted that any free time you get is spent trying to switch off and recover.
If your time is already so stretched, it may seem counterintuitive to get a coach - adding yet another effin’ thing to the list.
But, working with a professional will mean that you can be laser focused in your sessions and come out with some insights that would’ve taken you much longer to figure out on your own.
3) You feel dejected
Perhaps you’ve already decided that the best decision is to find a new job. You started out your job search excited and ready for a new challenge. But one hundred applications later, you’re panicking.
You can’t face receiving yet another "We regret to inform you" email.
You thought you were an experienced candidate that any company would be lucky to have but now you’re starting to wonder if you’re even good enough for the job you have now.
Fear not, it’s not you, it’s your approach!
Chances are that you’re not playing the recruitment ‘game’ right - and a career coach can help you fix that.
4) You feel scared
For some people, the whole job hunting process is like torture. So much so that many people stay in a job they hate because it beats the alternative of having to find a new one.
The interview process is particularly anxiety-inducing for many. If you can’t make it through an interview without popping some anti-anxiety pills, a career coach could help.
5) You feel ready for change
Career coaches aren’t only on hand to help with the more “tricky” situations. You could also hire one if you’re ready for a big change.
Maybe, you’ve always wanted to change to a different career but couldn’t find the confidence or put a plan together.
And now, you’re ready!
But transitioning from, say, law into fashion design is not an easy switch. So, having a career coach can help you navigate that change.
There are many reasons you might decide that it’s time to work with a coach - but the important thing to remember is that this isn’t going back to the days of your high school guidance counselor.
When you decide to work with a career coach, you’re committing to making a change in your life and the coach is committed to helping make it happen.
Here’s one coach that you may or may not heard of - Iyanla Vanzant. She’s clawed her way out of welfare to become a best-selling author, speaker and of course, a coach who’s helped many people improve their lives.
Watch this short 4 minute video as she talks about why and how we get stuck and what we can do to pull ourselves up and out.
VIDEO: How To Get Unstuck | Iyanla Vanzant
> We all get stuck for a variety of reasons
> Get unstuck by knowing and learning about yourself
> Don’t be afraid to ask for help!
How Does Coaching Work?
Career coaching can take place via one-on-one or group settings. It can be in-person or virtual and can be general or designed to tackle a specific topic, for example, a coaching program focused on getting you a raise or promotion.
No matter what format it takes though, good career coaching will deliver results in the same way.
Your coach will work with you to create more clarity around your challenges and potential solutions while helping you remove any roadblocks that may be getting in your way.
Good coaches are trained to ask the really tough questions that you probably haven’t thought about and to build your courage to truthfully answer them, even if it’s not something you want to admit or hear for yourself.
Sometimes, even after just 10 minutes speaking with a career coach, you could have a revelation that would have taken you weeks or months to come up with on your own.
Coaches are also great at calling us out on our own bullshit.
They don’t have any reason to sugarcoat things.
So, if they notice that we blame everyone but ourselves for our problems, they will let us know.
If they see us continually self-sabotaging, they will let us know.
If they sense us saying one thing but doing something entirely different, they will let us know.
And it’s only when we have somebody point out these habits and patterns like this, with complete and objective clarity, that we can begin to change them.
Coaches are focused on tangible results.
A career coach will want you to get a new job, a raise, a promotion - and all of these things are the culmination of many actions over time.
Once you have clarity on what you want and what is blocking you, you can start taking actions to make a change.
If you work with a coach, expect to get homework. And it’s not the kind that you copy out of a book or Google-cheat on.
If you’re feeling uninspired, maybe your homework will be to rediscover an old hobby.
If you’re struggling with confidence, maybe your homework will be to introduce yourself to three strangers at a networking event.
If you’ve been self-sabotaging, maybe your homework will be to notice every time you’re about to say something against yourself, and say something positive instead.
These actions only make a difference if we are consistent. We humans are pretty good at consistently doing what we don’t want.
We eat junk food, we choose Netflix over exercise and we procrastinate until the last minute.
Then we watch a TED talk about nutrition and eat healthy - for a day.
Or listen to a motivational speech and change our lives - only in our heads.
It’s like all of the positive messages go in one ear and out the other.
But it’s not because we’re lazy or lack willpower. It’s because change is fucking hard!
VIDEO: Elation Presents-Why Change is so Hard for your Brain
> Your pre-frontal cortex knows what’s good for you
> But it has limited resources which get depleted quickly
> As we repeat tasks, they form a new habit
> So if we keep repeating the good, we’ll form good habits!
Change requires action plus consistency and this is where ongoing coaching really helps.
One session with a coach and you’ll come out believing you can take on the world. But how long does that feeling last? One hour? One Day? Maybe, if we’re lucky, a week?
Because we all quickly fall back into old habits when things get tough. It’s the default mode for our lazy-ass brains
However, if you have on-going weekly coaching sessions plus homework, then those positive messages are constantly being reinforced. It’s hitting that repeat button.
Your coach is consistently reminding you of your goals and dreams and constantly telling you how capable you are of achieving them - if you focus and work at it.
This study by the Association for Talent Development found that we have a 65% chance of achieving a goal if we have an accountability partner - someone who is checking in on our progress - versus 10% if we simply hold the goal in our minds.
The likelihood of success jumps up to 95% if we have regularly scheduled meetings with our accountability buddy.
You might be thinking that if you can get one of your friends or family members to be your accountability partner, then you can save on the coaching fees.
In theory, it’s a good idea and can definitely work for forming specific habits like regular exercise or healthy eating - especially if both of you are working on developing the new habit together.
But for something bigger, like a career change, we can’t expect our friends to check on us with the same gusto - and, frankly, they’ve got enough of their own shit to deal with!
By helping us find clarity, take action and stay motivated, career coaches accelerate our progress far beyond what we could achieve alone.
It’s very much like the gung-ho personal fitness trainer at the gym.
They push us closer to our limits than what we would do on our own. And just when we think we can’t go on any further, they somehow manage to get us to go that little bit farther or longer.
Slacking off is, quite simply, not an option.
Working with a career coach can help us to achieve real, lasting change in a relatively short amount of time.
Meet Your Match
Once you’ve decided that coaching is the right path for you, it’s important you find the right coach. As you’ll be working closely with this person from a few weeks to a few months, you have to click with them.
You could also be sharing some pretty personal information, thoughts and feelings so it must be somebody you feel you can trust.
Different coaches also have different styles, so you need to find the one that works for you.
Some of this you can gather from their websites and sales material.
For example, if you’re looking for a super high energy, Tony Robbins style coach, you’ll probably find phrases like ‘peak performance’, ‘massive action’, ‘total transformation’ and the like on their website.
If that kind of approach scares the shit out of you, you’re probably better off looking for a coach whose style and format is a bit more toned down. Maybe they focus more on guiding you and creating a safe space for your growth.
Search for 3-5 coaches whose styles and personalities you think you might mesh with. Then, the next step is to book a call with each of them to narrow things down to just one coach.
Most coaches offer a free 30-minute call, which is kind of like a super quick first date.
They will want to learn more about your goals, challenges and why you feel you need a coach in the first place.
You’ll get a feel for the way they work and whether or not you vibe with them. Then after the call, you’ll either commit or not.
Here are a few career coaching directories that you should check out. Again, limit your search to 3-5 potential coaches max then pick one and get started.
LinkedIn is the world’s leading social network for professionals, so it’s no surprise that it’s a great resource for finding a coach.
Beyond just searching on the main site, LinkedIn Profinder is specifically designed to match you with the perfect individual for your brief.
All you have to do is share some details on exactly what you need support with and LinkedIn does the rest.
You’ll be contacted by a number of coaches who meet your criteria, and you just choose your favorite - simple.
Noomi is the world’s largest coaching directory. It works in a similar way to the LinkedIn Profinder but is exclusively for coaching.
As well as getting matched to coaches, you can also simply browse the profiles of coaches in your local area or anywhere else for that matter.
That way, you can get a feel for the kinds of people you might like to work with before taking the plunge and requesting initial consultations.
The Muse is an awesome site for finding job openings, career advice and - of course - a career coach.
Again, you can search for coaches based on the specific issue you’re facing.
What’s great about this platform is that each coach has reviews on their profile from previous clients to help you make your choice.
The ICF is the world’s largest coaching standards organization. They train and accredit coaches.
Their coach finder gives you a few more criteria to search by - budget, qualifications, gender - but unlike the others, you then have to proactively contact the coach.
Try out one of these tools and you’ll find a match made in coaching heaven in no time.
Coaching requires an investment of more than just finances. It’s an emotional investment and a commitment to change, so it’s important you take your time to find the right coach for what you want to achieve.
Oh The Places You’ll Go!
Throughout our careers, there will be ups and downs, and a lot of change.
One minute we’re in the metaphorical hot air balloon race and the next thing we know, we barely have the motivation to get out of bed in the morning.
The teenager of yesteryear who had the wildest dreams and seemingly unlimited confidence feels further than ever.
And it’s times like this when you need a friendly reminder...
Will you succeed? Yes! You will, indeed! 98 and three-quarters percent guaranteed.
(Big ups to Doc Suess! The best coach ever! We love you!)
Sometimes the moral support of work BFFs and family will do the trick.
But other times call for the experts and the heavy equipment. And that’s where a career coach comes in.
If career coaching is right for you, not only will you get unstuck at work, but it will also help you to find joy and clarity across all areas of life.
Are you ready? Your mountain is waiting 😉