If there’s ever a time to seek support for your career and overall wellbeing, this is probably it. Even though some areas of the country and globe are beginning to relax stay-at-home orders and social distancing, it doesn’t mean that stress and anxiety will go away anytime soon, whether about your health or the state of your career or employment situation.
I’ve written previously about the types of professionals to potentially include in your support network and leveraging coaches and advisors of various types to your benefit, as well as signs it may be time to reach out. Here, I’ll focus on a few different obstacles and ways to think differently about them if you’ve been reluctant to seek external help from a coach or advisor in support of your career or in making a transition into a new career phase, industry, or role.
Feeling Vulnerable: It’s not easy to be vulnerable and put yourself out there with someone who you may not have worked with before or have an established relationship. A big part of being coached is letting your guard down and opening up about your challenges and what gets in your way, in addition to what your goals and desired outcomes are, so you can get unstuck or simply move forward. This is why it’s so important to have introductory conversations with potential coaches to see who you click with, how easily you can build rapport with them, and gauge if they both “get” you and have an approach that works for you. Enter any coaching with a mindset of “it’s OK to be vulnerable in this situation” and you’ll have a much more fruitful and valuable experience than if you stay mentally or emotionally closed off.
Unsure of the Value: Coaching can be one of those things where it’s hard to know exactly what you’re getting for your time and money, beyond a few nice conversations. And while it’s true that coaching sessions can seem amorphous on the surface because there may not be an obvious product that goes with it, there are definitely tangible items coaches can provide to ensure you get high value for your dollars and effort. This can include assessment tools/reports, a concrete action plan that you co-create, vision/goal documents or frameworks, exercises/activities that you do toward your progress, training content, recommended resources, etc. Ideally, there’s also a flow within the coaching sessions themselves for you and the coach to gauge your progress and for the two of you to decide how you’ll measure results, in addition to helping you uncover any obstacles and identify next steps. Be sure to ask coaches you talk to what they do with clients to ensure there are tangible ways to support you in getting the results you need.
Devoting the Time: As with anything, there’s a time investment when it comes to working with a coach or advisor and making the time for it can be challenging. That said, for those things that are truly important, you have the ability to set priorities and set aside time so you can focus on making the changes and taking the necessary steps to help you get to where you want to be. Coaching is also one of those things that requires you to dedicate yourself to doing the work and taking the actions needed for your success. The coach can’t do this for you, so sometimes it creates the perception that the coach isn’t doing anything and has the easier role. Coaching, ideally, is a partnership between you and the coach, with each person devoted to ensuring you have a good outcome, so entering into it with this in mind can be helpful. You can also ask the coach what they do behind the scenes beyond the coaching sessions to contribute toward your success.
Unsure of Your Goal: It can be difficult sometimes to pinpoint what you want from a coach or advisor. Perhaps you have a feeling or know that something isn’t how you’d like it to be or you know you need help and are having a hard time identifying what it is exactly that a coach can do for you. Having an introductory conversation is a good place to start to begin to uncover what’s at the root of your seeking support. It may a take a couple sessions or conversations to figure this out, and part of working with a coach can be to get clear on what it is that you need specifically. Don’t let any discomfort in the ambiguity of it prevent you from getting the support you need.
Regardless of your situation, there are people ready to become a trusted resource for you to help get you through times of change and transition who’d be more than happy to work with you and see it as their mission in life for you to live a fulfilling life. All you need to do is take a first step to find “your person” to be the partner at your side.