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Career Coaching 101: My Answers to 5 Common Career Coaching Questions.

My work enables me to help clients with lots of different challenges in their careers. Here are answers to five career coaching questions people regularly seek help with.

My goal with this article is to help you decide the best way for you to move forward, which may include working with a career coach. I’m really passionate about people having careers they enjoy and and feel a sense of purpose from. This is in part because I navigated a number of significant career changes along the way to the work I do now.

It is my belief that we should all be able to work in a career we enjoy and find rewarding. If this isn’t the case for you, I encourage you to take action.

I feel like I have no work/life balance? What can I do about it?

This is one I hear increasingly often – how can I redress my poor work/life balance? It’s a fact that due to changing working patterns, including increased use of technology, people feel increasing demands placed on them by their employers. It’s no coincidence that the World Health Organisation last year updated how they classify burnout – what can ultimately happen if things aren’t addressed – as an ‘occupational phenomena.’ This is in recognition of the seriousness of what so many people are now experiencing.

There is no one single factor that creates a poor work/life balance. The situation will be different for everyone. When working with my clients on this area, I explore with them what a good work/life balance looks life, so we can identify what the issues are. This is the first step to understanding how the problem came up and provides insight into what steps to take.

Sometimes it can be about establishing better boundaries between work and everything else. For example, changing working practices, improving self organisation and introducing new habits to improve your wellbeing and resilience.

It might mean having frank and open conversations with your employer or even leaving what you are doing now to do something else. For self employed people and those with their own businesses there may be other factors to consider.

The bottom line – if you feel like you have a poor work/life balance, things are likely to get worse rather better unless you take action. If left unchecked, there could be serious implications for your wellbeing, including your health and your relationships with other people.

I’ve experienced burnout myself, so I know how debilitating it can feel. I also know that things can be different and there is always a way to move past it.

I feel stuck in my current job. How can I find a more rewarding career?

Feeling ‘stuck’ can be one of the most energy sapping things that happens in your career. It can become almost paralysing. You go into work day after day to do something that brings no joy – or worse, you may even hate. It can get to a point where you feel powerless to do something about it. However, there is always hope. It starts by taking that first step of deciding you want something more. 

Choosing the right career should always come from a place of understanding yourself at a deeper level. 

One of the most common areas of work I do with clients is working out possible rewarding careers for them. I have a tried and tested series of sessions and exercises I take my clients through that enables them to learn more about themselves than the previously realised. This in itself feels exhilarating – especially for people who have never done any kind of personal development work before.

In terms of my approach, I take people on a journey self discovery, visualising what they want from life and how their career fits into this. This includes learning and understanding what your values are, the things that matter to you the most. We also cover personality profiling and delve into skills, interests, character strengths and other evidence about who you are and what you are good at.

Whatever you decide to do, the most important thing is to take action. Don’t allow yourself to stay stuck when there is a lot you can do to move forward and find a career that is right for you.

Can career coaching help me overcome imposter syndrome?

Imposter syndrome may be thought of as another modern phenomena. Really, it is something people have experienced throughout history. The feeling that you aren’t ‘good enough’ to be doing your job and that you will soon be ‘found out’ for being an imposter. Even though, deep down, you actually know that you can do it.

The reason why imposter syndrome is on the increase has a lot to do with social media. It’s a natural (and annoying) trait that humans constantly compare themselves to other people. What has happened over the past ten years is that we now have so many more ways in which we can do this. We compare ourselves against unrealistic and often false versions of what and who we think we should be. It can feel like there is always someone better, more capable than you. Therefore, why should you deserve the job you have?

Coaching is the most effective way to tackle imposter syndrome. It enables you to get to the heart of the problem, see things from a different perspective, build your confidence and work out the way to be your best at what you do. It’s an approach that always assumes you are enough. You might just not be able to see or feel it yet. Using ‘now’ as a starting point, you build upwards and into the person who can excel at the work you do.

This may include making some changes to how you approach work and tackling long held beliefs about yourself that have sometimes held you back. Neuro-lingustic Programming is great for helping with this – so a coach who is also an NLP Practitioner is beneficial.

I’ve helped people who experience imposter syndrome at different points in their career, such as after a new promotion, changing company or returning from maternity leave. It can strike at any point in your career and many more people than you might think feel it too. You’re not alone.

The good news – it can definitely be fixed!

Is it too late for me to change my career?

The simple answer to this? No!

Careers nowadays are so much more fluid than they were 20 or more years ago. The idea of a job (or career) for life disappeared a long time ago. The job security that many people enjoyed decades ago is a thing of the past for most people. This creates challenges and also opportunities.

Employers increasingly value transferrable skills and welcome people of different ages as this can add a lot of value. Not only that, more and more people are leaving employment and setting up their own businesses, as this too is so much easier than it was in the past. Through technology, there are more opportunities to learn new skills and access markets for goods and services than ever before. Anyone can be an entrepreneur.

Recently, I have worked with an increasing number of people approaching retirement age to help them undertake a new career direction. This has included people in their 60s setting up in business for the first time and doing something new. I have found their energy and commitment to doing something new inspiring.

So whether it’s finding a job doing something different or setting up your own business, just know that you can do it, whatever your age. You may just need some help to make it happen.

How do I get clear on my goals for the future?

A common problem many people reaching out to me for the first time have me is having lost sight of what they want from the future. For some, they had goals in the past but ‘life got in the way’ and they no longer know where their life is heading. They feel directionless. Others have NEVER had any real life goals, they have proceeded along a path ‘letting life happen to them.’ In both cases, they are at a point where they feel lost and don’t know what the future holds for them, which can be scary.

It doesn’t have to be this way. Coaching, at its heart, is all about enabling you to understand yourself better, working out what you want from life and setting goals that enable you to get there. 

The first step is taking some time to really understand what you want from life and to be able to clearly see what this looks life. Bring as much clarity to this as you can, draw on all your senses to paint the picture of what you want your future to be. Coaching is great for this through your coach asking powerful questions to stimulate your thoughts, ideas and feelings. It’s much easier doing it with someone else than trying to do this alone.

Once you can see your future, you can then work out what you need to do to get there. This might be thought of as the ‘end goal’. To reach it, you will often need to set some smaller goals along the way. 

Life without this is directionless, rudderless, chaotic. If you haven’t seriously considered you life goals, it’s time to take some action and feel more in control of where you are going. 

Who knows what you can achieve when you know where you’re headed?

Chris Cooper is a life coach and career coach in Manchester, England. He works with clients from across the UK and internationally online using video call or by telephone.

Do you want to make changes to your career? Get answers to your career coaching questions. Speak to Chris about how career coaching can help you.

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