Before I started my career coaching journey, I had no idea what to expect. Of course, I had heard about career coaching, but I didn't know what it entailed, what I needed to do, or what the outcomes would be. I also thought that, perhaps, I needed to be at a certain level in my career, such as a CEO or Director, or set up my own company. But after starting my sessions with Mattie, I soon realised that career coaching is for everyone, no matter where you are in your career.
I started looking for a career coach because I felt stuck. I didn't know whether to leave and start my own business, move to a more senior position in another company, or to hunker down and try different things in my current company. I wasn't sure what my next step should be or which direction I wanted to go. Additionally, I wanted to learn how to make the most of my skills, utilise them better, and gain job happiness.
I approached my first session nervously but with an open mind. I discovered that to have a successful career coaching session, you need to be honest with yourself, be ready to embrace change, and be able to share aspects of your working life with your coach. They are there to help, support and guide you, not criticise or judge. The more you can comfortably tell them about your work and life experiences, the better, as this forms a better picture of you for them to work with.
In my first session with Mattie, she immediately put me at ease and actively listened to everything I said. Mattie's questions drilled down into key areas I covered and started to get me to think differently about my situation to make things more manageable, tangible, and realistic. We also talked about my career goals and how to visualise these on a timeline. I'm a very visual learner, so seeing my career goals in a timeline helped me focus. Mattie can pick up on subtle things that you say (perhaps something that you didn't even realise) and guides you to make connections between these thoughts and actions. Many of the links Mattie was able to make were revelations and helped me understand myself better.
One of the objectives I had was identifying my strengths, especially as I was thinking of starting my own business. My central dilemma was that I didn't know what made me different or where to focus my business niche. Mattie introduced several activities which helped me to focus on these areas. The first was a character strength test. This test helps to determine the strengths that are most central to my personal identity. The test results helped me explore and understand my natural strengths and focus on activities where I would have a higher chance of success. The great thing about seeing these top strengths was how much these genuinely linked to the things that make me happy in my life and my career. I was surprised that 'love' was my top strength, but when discussing this with Mattie, I was able to see that love is essential in my relationships, the things I'm passionate about, and the activities I enjoy doing. Identifying this character trait made me aware of how often I say 'I love...' doing something. This exercise made me see that these character strengths are integral to my career happiness and should be part of any future role or company I wish to work for. Incorporating these strengths will ensure that I remain happy, productive and excited about my work.
The second activity which resonated with me was the personal values test. This short survey captured my values in a way that I had never thought about before. It highlighted elements such as how meaning is crucial to me, that I have high moral values, and that I need to feel self-worth in my work. These are absolutely core to who I am and how I approach my work and career. Mattie was able to work through these test results with me to help me understand them. We also discussed how I could apply these in my current role, e.g. by getting involved with projects that leaned towards my strengths and speaking to my manager about opportunities I wanted to be involved in or areas where I wanted to develop my skills.
After each coaching session, I always felt relieved and excited about the new things I had learnt about myself. I felt empowered and enthused, and the short activities I had to work on keeping me focussed. During each session, Mattie and I would set a goal, and the actions I had to work on helped me stay on track with my goals.
What I found interesting was how my goals changed throughout my coaching sessions. At first, I was unhappy in my current role and wanted to start my own business. The idea of starting my own business was exciting, daunting and stressful. I didn't have a clear vision of what this should be. So Mattie and I created a Trello board where I listed all of my skills, experiences, and activities I enjoyed and then drilled down to look at skills in my 'zone of genius'. This activity helped me see the amount of knowledge and skills I had acquired over my career and see which elements made me stand out from the crowd. As positive as this experience was, I realised that starting my own business wasn't what I wanted. What I wanted was to control my self-doubt, and by making changes to my current role, I have been able to grow and have more opportunities to develop. Mattie also helped me rediscover my passion for writing, and this has now become one of my key goals.
Mattie tailored each session according to my goals. I initially felt guilty for changing my goals halfway through, but Mattie eased my mind and told me this was not unusual at all. It was interesting to see that the more I understood myself, the more my goals started evolving and becoming more realistic.
My sessions with Mattie have helped me understand myself more deeply and apply these learnings to my career planning. I can now work on projects that play to my character strengths, skills, and values to ensure that I remain motivated, successful, and happy in those activities. Without Mattie's guidance, I would still have been unhappy in my career and looking for an escape into a role or avenue I wasn't ready for.
From my sessions with Mattie, I realised that the only thing holding me back was myself. I now think of career coaching as going to the gym for your career. Sometimes you need a bit of guidance to get you back on track. Coaching has reinvigorated my job enjoyment as I now understand where I want it to go and my strengths. I still would like to have my own business in the future, but that's not where I need to be right now, and that's ok!