Despite coaching being one of the fastest growing industries in the world, there still seems to be numerous misconceptions about it. The most common ones I hear is that coaching is for people who have important personal issues or going through a rough phase. The second one is about the fact that coaching is for high achievers such as athletes, politicians or CEOs. In reality, as Bill Gates said ‘’everyone needs a coach’’. And he is right, according to The Institute of Coaching, 80% of people who received coaching reported an increase in self-confidence, and over 70% benefited from improved work performance, relationships, and more effective communication skills. More specifically when it comes to choosing the next step in your career, here are 7 reasons why a coach can be a great help.
1- We rarely give ourselves the time to articulate what we want in our career
The reason? We are too busy to think about it, right?
Our modern society glorifies ‘’the busy’’, the people who are constantly in motion, chasing one thing after another, running from meetings, to the gym then shopping followed by holiday planning and work parties (well, online ‘’Zoom’’ parties these days). This happens to the point that our state of business can be perceived as a determining factor of success.
The reality is that we can do everything, just not right now and thinking about how to feel happier in our career is typically not something that lands at the top of our to-do list. Hiring a coach enables us to put a pause on our busy days and take the time it deserves to think about what we really want and how we want to go about getting it (and this doesn’t mean making you even busier by adding more things to your to-do list).
2- Even if we decided to dedicate time to choose what to do next in our career, where would we even start to find an answer (a good one!)? There are hundreds or thousands of thoughts to consider and organise in order to land on THE career ambition that we will want to turn into reality. Sorting through the options efficiently requires some skills, that’s where the experience and guidance of a career coach becomes useful.
This is especially true since when this ‘’career thinking box’’ is finally open, it is likely going to increase our mental load: there are so many options available...Career Planner alone has a list with over 12,000 possible careers! As helpful as this list can be, where on earth would we find the time to go through it? Besides, this list isn’t even exhaustive, when it comes to careers, the beauty of it (and the scary part too!) is that there are more options than people on this planet!
Many of us often experience what experts have called ‘’choice paralysis’’ or ‘’decision paralysis’’. The psychologist Barry Schwartz has explained this in great detail in his book The Paradox of Choice – Why More Is Less (2004). Some of you might have heard about the Jam experiment conducted by Iyengar. In an article for the Financial Planning Association, David Zuckerman explains that for this experiment ‘’a jam tasting booth was setup in a specialty grocery store known for its huge selection of packaged goods. The researchers would change the booth periodically so that either 24 different varieties or 6 different varieties of jam would be offered as free samples. The results indicate that more shoppers stop to sample jam when more variety is offered, with 60 percent of shoppers sampling jam when 24 varieties were available and 40 percent of shoppers sampling when 6 varieties are available. Greater variety obviously has some appeal, but would it translate to higher sales of the jams offered as samples? Absolutely not, as the results indicate that only 3 percent of those who sampled the large display wound up purchasing jam while 30 percent of those who sampled the small display made a purchase.’’
We are moving from linear career paths to singular ones which makes ‘’choosing a career’’ so difficult. Nowadays, making a career decision is likely to make us overthink and research has proven that overthinking is likely to make us less happy (Emir Research has published an interesting article about this). This is one of the main reasons why Career Coaches exist. Specifically, a Career Happiness Coach will make your ‘’career thinking time’’ efficient by helping you reach deep inside your conscious and subconscious mind to identify what the next best step is for you in order to feel happy and fulfilled.
3- If we decide on the next step in our career on our own, the decision could be limited by our self-beliefs or other’s beliefs they hold for us.
This might lead us to choose amongst the options that we THINK we can be successful at as opposed to the ones that we CAN be successful at. A Career Coach will help challenge some of the assumptions and beliefs that may be holding you back.
When thinking through the possibilities ahead, your coach will hold a safe space and remain non-judgemental. This is one of the only settings in which we can have a sounding board to freely calibrate our ideas without the judgement, opinions, pressure and distractions from colleagues, friends and family.
Having a place and time to consider possibilities out loud is underrated. Especially the ones that our brain would naturally block out (before even giving them the chance to exist in our mind) simply because it believes that they are not possible. A Career Happiness Coach will give you that time and space to think through what will make you truly happy in your career, at this point in your life, taking into consideration your current reality.
4- A Career Happiness Coach will bring your career blind spots to light
The coach will use a variety of coaching techniques to build connections between your beliefs, skills, experiences and strengths so that you can create a meaningful path forward.
One of the most important things that a coach does during a session is active listening. A coach will not just listen to you, they will actively listen to you. This means that your coach (if she/he is a good one) is listening for what is being said but most importantly for what is NOT being said. We look at body language, we pay attention to your tone of voice, your speaking pace, the type of words that you use to communicate your message and more.
Pausing here for a second so that you can take a second to ask yourself when was the last time somebody actually listened to you? This is the most important role of a coach and this is why when working with a career coach, you will find what you’re looking for in your career faster than if you were trying on your own.
5- A Career Coach has a methodological approach to help you move forward and overcome the challenges along the way.
Career changers often have phases, whilst in transition, when they become stuck and lose motivation. Some challenges that arise may not seem worth our time to overcome them, other projects take priority so we start considering other paths or give up on the idea of taking the next step in our career altogether. There are coach systems and methodologies that have been designed specifically to prevent individuals from falling into these traps. By applying these methods, your coach will clarify what you are trying to achieve, raise awareness of the reality you are in so that you can identify resources to help you move forward and adjust the path you pursue as you learn about yourself and progress on your journey.
6- A coach will help you define and implement a plan of action to enhance your career and most importantly, his or her presence will make you feel accountable.
Your coach will be your cheerleader and having a cheerleader can be instrumental in performance and goal achievement. Your coach will help you identify small steps that you can take comfortably without pushing you into your panic zone (it doesn’t mean that some of these actions won’t put you into your stretch zone) and by doing this, you will progressively build your confidence and rewire your brain to believe that you are capable to achieve anything you set your mind to.
7- What you will learn with a Career Coach will have a positive impact on your life beyond the realm of your career.
Your general life satisfaction will improve through the work that you do together with your coach. This is because what you will uncover about yourself with a coach will help you build your confidence and develop your resilience. The role of a coach is to ask you the right question at the right time to help you move forward. Each question has a purpose, each question has a role in helping your thinking unfold. Each question opens up new possibilities. Often, they are questions that nobody else has been asking. Sometimes, they are questions that you have been secretly avoiding. Sometimes they are questions that everyone has been thinking about but never dared to ask you. The answers to these questions often provide invaluable insight into what you really want out of your life and career.
In conclusion, I hope these points give you additional insights as to what working with a Coach and specifically a Career Coach would benefit you to move forward with in your career. What is essential when looking to engage with a coach, regardless of their area of expertise, is to find one that you have good chemistry with as rapport is one of the key factors of success in a coaching relationship.