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What it takes to be successfully coached through a career transition

Did you notice that I said career transition and not career change? Most people use these words interchangeably but there is a core difference between both. I used career transition specifically here because it brings specific complexities and the coaching approach is uniquely suited to help clients overcome them. A change is more concrete and linear and therefore it can often be more efficiently managed through standard consultative methods.

Change is a specific event, an external factor that happens at a specific point in time whereas a transition implies a longer transformational process including internal shifts. This quote by William Bridges (from his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life's Changes) clearly illustrates the difference between a change and a transition: ''In other words, change is situational. Transition, on the other hand, is psychological. It is not those events, but rather the inner reorientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate any of those changes into your life.''

Thus, a career transition is an internal process that can be facilitated through coaching although there are a variety components that come into play when it comes to the success of such a coaching relationship. Trust and rapport between the client and the coach are two fundamental pillars of this success but the client's mindset when beginning their coaching journey particularly is also an essential component that will influence the outcome of this coaching partnership.

As far as I am concerned, there are six core attributes that a client must have to ensure a positive outcome if they decide to be supported by a coach throughout their career transition.

Have a strong willingness to change

Before hiring a coach to help you with your career transition, you need to feel prepared to make a change to your current situation, whatever that change might be and however big or small. There are three questions specifically that you should ask yourself before working with a career coach or signing up to a career transition programme.

1- What area of your career would you like to change?

Most of us have something in our career that we want to improve. We might not know exactly what it is or how to go about it but we know that a specific area of our career isn't making us as happy as it could. Before committing to working with a coach, you need to ensure that you really want to make a change to current situation.

2- Is this change going to benefit you directly?

When thinking about the change that you want to make, it is important to check what the benefits will be for us once the change happened. Once again, we don't need to know how it will happen however visualising what our career and life would be like after it is a good way to ensure that we are targeting the right area. In order to visualise your career when it is how. you would like it to be you can ask yourself: how will it make me feel? What will be happening? What new opportunities will become accessible to me? How will my network and relationships evolve?

Checking the benefits of change is a good way to ensure that we are not inadvertently pursuing somebody else's goal. For instance, often people are pursuing one of their parent's goal or what their managers want for them. Our minds tend to appropriate these goals and make them our own but our ability to achieve the goals that are not intrinsically ours is surprisingly low.

3- Do you believe that you can change?

This is not to say that if you have any doubts then career coaching isn't for you. It is of course okay not to be 100% confident that you can change and reach the ideal situation that you have in mind. However, you should strongly believe that the coaching process will facilitate this change and create possibilities that you may not be seeing or considering at this point in time. There is an element of openness to change that should exist as a foundation to begin your coaching journey.

Be committed to taking action

Part of what differentiates Coaching from Therapy or Counselling is that it is action orientated. Indeed, the intent of coaching isn't to solve your challenges or improve your situation through a conversation (although the coaching conversation often opens up the path towards it) but instead, Coaching aims to give you clarity on the steps you can take (big or small) to get closer to your make your ambitions a reality. These steps are identified by you through the coach's skilled questioning technique.

The benefits of having these steps or actions come from within as opposed to being suggested by your coach is that it creates an intrinsic motivation to achieve your goals which you would not get if the actions were suggested by your coach. If you are looking for advice, then a consultant or a mentor might be a better option as they will provide suggestions and guidance in their area of expertise. However, the role of a career coach isn't to give you advice on what you should do next in your career. This is because you are the most qualified expert when it comes to yourself and identifying what you want and the best way to get it. The role of your career coach is to tease it out by leading you to uncover insights and surface the answers that already exist within you but might be kept at subconscious level.