November 1st, 2011 Archive

Reinventing Your Career: How a Coach Can Help You

November 1st, 2011 by Adaire in Sharing Success

When I compare the career paths of people these days to the ones of our parents and grandparents, I can’t help but smile at how theirs seemed so simple and straightforward. I know several elderly relatives and acquaintances who share the following common denominators:

They worked in the same company most of their lives. Employers and employees were like one huge family. :) It was easier to foster camaraderie as work pressures then were not so great as to get in the way of building close relationships.

Seniority was golden. People who have been there longer made the short list of senior management looking to promote people.

Women took on traditional tasks. They were usually in some support or nurturing role like secretaries, writers and teachers. It was rare for a woman to lead a company.

Vacations were sacred. Time away from the office actually meant, well, time away from anything work-related. One could enjoy vacations with family without being incessantly contacted. I wonder how many of today’s executives wish they could be transported to the good old days when mobile PDAs didn’t exist. :)

Bear in mind that the above points mentioned are all anecdotal and don’t necessarily reflect one sweeping trend for all in those days. But they do certainly give us an idea on how building and sustaining a career then was less complex and cutthroat. A family friend spoke about how they learned things on the job and didn’t really get a lot of mentorship as they worked their way up the ladder. A far cry indeed from today!

Fast-forward to the present with its volatile economy, intense competition, mergers and acquisitions, ever-changing technology, overabundance of talent and a myriad of other factors that spell challenge and stress for the average career person. Staying in your comfort zone doesn’t seem to be the ideal thing to do these days. In fact, it may even be disastrous for you!

These days, the average employee shifts companies and career paths several times in his life. While there are a number who are fortunate enough to discover their calling early in their careers, there are those who go through several employer and job changes until they hit upon the one thing they really like.

I always encourage people to really think about what they want so they don’t waste the next several years drifting aimlessly. I’m glad to see my little piece of advice validated even by an expert like Ruchira Agrawal, whose Healthy Wealthy nWise article “Tips on How to Re-invent Your Career” coincidentally mirrors my own sentiments. Allow me to outline her pointers one needs to ponder on when making that all-important career shift:

“An open mind”. You know how we tend to fear the new and unfamiliar? Don’t stay paralyzed; see it as a new learning opportunity. Who knows, you might discover something about yourself as you go through different options and study them further. You just might unearth a new talent that you didn’t know you had in you. :)

“What will I be when I grow up.” Look back at your childhood days and try to recall what job got you so excited then. A friend who rediscovered her love for writing short stories and plays as a child is now doing well as a freelance writer and is currently at work on her first play.

“Passion, Abilities, Needs, Strong Interests”. Find out what you want and be really good at it. You might discover this passion in the seemingly mundane things you do. You might be good at organizing things or taking care of children. Those are just a couple of examples that could give clues to your hidden passion.

“Don’t forget to use your Intuition.” Trust your instincts. If something feels “off”, then it probably is. Move on to the next option until you hit that “Eureka!” moment.

“Fear is not your friend.” Rather than be afraid to make a move, be excited! Be happy that you have the opportunity to re-invent your life. Remove all doubts from your mind and give it your best shot.
Now what if you’ve discovered your passion yet you’re still clueless on how to start and sustain your career reinvention? Get a career coach. A good one will help you set goals, learn new skills and continuously evaluate your job performance and satisfaction.

And what if your issues at work are more about your relationship with your colleagues? A career coach can help you with that too. Gen Wright wrote this terrific article “Why You Need a Career Coach” in Healthy Wealthy nWise that points out workplace conflicts as one reason to get career coaching. When you don’t see eye-to-eye with co-workers and you don’t feel acknowledged enough, career coaching could help you address that issue.

To sum it up, career coaches cover more than just planning career shifts, monitoring your progress, and helping you gain new perspective to derive satisfaction from what you’re doing. They also help you improve your interpersonal skills and learn to deal with even the most demanding and difficult personalities at work. Paraphrasing what Gen said in his article, your coach will give you the tools so you can make the most from your career.

I believe life is too precious to be wasted on something you’re not happy doing. Take charge of your career and don’t hesitate to get help. Remember we have more opportunities now than the career people of the good old days never had. Sure, things may have been less complex for them, but I think we live in much more exciting times. :) So let’s rise to the challenge and get moving!

Adaire


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