Career coaching: A shove in the right direction

"The truth is, I don’t know that I would be making any progress without someone cheering me on and making me take that next step."

I don’t remember what got me thinking about coaching, but I’m glad I did. After interviewing three coaches and then taking a hiatus for four months, I did one more interview and have been working with a fantastic coach ever since.

Angie and I have accomplished a lot in a just a few months. I went to her for career coaching – trying to be better at being self-employed. I thought we would just deal with work, but instead we got started with the underlying stressors that were affecting all aspects of my life.

I tackled my gremlin – the little creature that runs around telling me in great detail all the reasons I will fail at everything and why I shouldn’t bother trying lest the world blow up. (He’s complicated that way.) We talked about what I really want versus what I tell myself after she pointed out I said the word ‘should’ close to 20 times in an hour, and she’s held me accountable for following through on what I say I’ll do.

Amazing stuff if you’re like me: self-employed and struggling with discipline and routine.

The biggest help for me has been goal-setting. Apparently, I have the tendency to set impossibly large goals so I’ll fail. (Good to know!) So, I learned all about smart goals and taking steps to achieve them, instead of aiming for the top right away. Now, I set achievable goals and then… achieve them. It’s unusual for me. I like it.

One day she surprised me by dealing with the ultimate goal and making a pyramid of the steps I want to take to get to the peak – living the life I want. Simple enough statement, but I haven’t been doing it and I was fooling myself into believing that I was okay with that.

We’ve talked professional and personal, and they’re moving in-sync now. She’s done more than I expected, sometimes more than I wanted, but I’ve come out stronger for it. It was great for handling one of those frequent life hiccups where I realize I haven’t done anything, want to do everything, but should have started doing it years ago if I expected to accomplish anything…

It’s a lot to take on all at once.

I like to think of her as a personal trainer. Sometimes she makes me do things I don’t want to do – like the day she threw pillows at me for 30 minutes to illustrate a point. And isn’t that what a coach is for? To push you beyond your comfort zone and support you through the change?

So, has she helped?

The short answer is yes. The long answer… is a little more complex. She explained it best, saying that while I keep moving up the steps, I will still revisit the steps I’ve already climbed from time to time.

While I might still be a ‘work-in-progress,’ I have my purpose back. Scarily enough, those mini-goals are bringing me closer to the big goals that never seemed within reach. I’m excited and encouraged, but a little afraid to see what other changes are brewing.

I never said change was easy. I might like it in theory, but some parts of me are a little more reluctant to shift permanently. The truth is, I don’t know that I would be making any progress without someone cheering me on and making me take that next step.

Click here to read Part 2 of Courtney’s series on career coaching: Tips on finding and selecting the right career coach.