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My Top 3 Career Coaching Lessons

by Alison on January 14, 2014

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Here are the top three career coaching lessons I’ve learned over the years. Enjoy!

1) There is a much greater diversity of career options available than you realize.

I once saw a display of kindergartener’s depictions of what they wanted to be when they grew up.

The most frequently occurring choice? Professional athlete.

Why? Probably because playing soccer all day was something that the kids could relate to and easily conceptualize.

Becoming an agricultural chemist? Likely a bit farther from their realm of experience.

There’s an incredible variety of career paths in the world. There are some very niche specialties that might be an excellent fit for you. Or your job might be one that’s never existed before that you create for yourself.

If you’re feeling baffled as to what you’d like to be doing, consider giving yourself time and space to expand your horizons. You might be falling prey to the same issue the kindergarteners faced- being limited by their knowledge of what’s out there.

2) There’s not one right answer.

I often get emails from people with a sparse set of facts followed by the question, “What should I do?”

I want to help, but, honestly, I don’t know!

It really depends on who you are, what your priorities are, where you’ve been, and where you’re hoping to go.

For example, I’ve helped people leave draining, ill-fitting jobs for work environments that give them great personal satisfaction.

And I’ve assisted people with figuring out a path to a steady paycheck after the pursuit of a dream left them running on empty.

I’ve supported stay at home moms with re-entering the workforce.

And I’ve coached people on freeing themselves from the rat race so that they could walk their own path.

I can’t tell you what to do right off the bat.

I can only help you clear out the noise so you can discover what the next best step is for you.

3) Creating a great career situation can take a couple of tries.

My mentor, Martha Beck, likes to describe the process of change with the metaphor of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly.

At one point in this process there is a fully formed butterfly in the cocoon. The butterfly has to fight free of the cocoon to get out. Doing this helps the butterfly become strong enough to fly.

If an outside helping hand opens the cocoon before the butterfly is ready the butterfly will be forever crippled.

I often think of this metaphor when my client’s first move toward their dream doesn’t pan out quite the way they’d hoped. Their struggle is helping them to get stronger to eventually reach their goals.

The butterfly doesn’t break free of it’s cocoon it’s very first try, and frequently we take more than one attempt as well.

This may look like taking a job and then realizing that it’s still not quite right. It may mean going back to a career you once left because the uncertainty of trying something new became overwhelming. It might be starting a business and then realizing a different offering would be better.

It’s all okay.

Build those wings and eventually you’ll fly.

What lessons have you learned in your career? I’d love to hear them!

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Don February 4, 2014 at 6:34 pm

Thank you so much. Signed- future graduate student!


alisonelissa February 4, 2014 at 6:41 pm

You’re welcome Don! Thanks for stopping by, and best of luck!


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