People usually find me because someone they know worked with me and told them or because they did a simple Google search for “career counsellor”.
I call myself a career counsellor because I am that. Well, part of me is that. Google likes to put people into categories and slap labels on them. It’s very helpful of course, because it allows people to find me quickly and easily. I could; however, also call myself a career coach or life coach, or a woman, or a mom and I do. No one simple label can sum anyone up perfectly but we all slap labels on things sometimes because it can be helpful.
In the same way we create labels to keep things organized, help us remember stuff etc., our brains also use short cuts. Our brain tries to simplify things, keep things organized and help us remember stuff by using labels also. This helps us recall useful things quickly and easily. If our brain didn’t file certain bits of information away into storage and label them for easy access, we would have to relearn even very basic things like how to tie our shoes every time we needed to. In this case, the brain’s short cuts and labels are very useful. Thanks brain.
The Brain wants to save us from Lions and Tigers
The brain also works really hard at trying to keep us “safe” and guides us to avoid danger at all cost-danger such as not jumping into a lion’s den at the zoo for instance (useful). It’s been doing this for us since back in the cave man days when it needed to protect us from sabre-tooth tigers.
The problem with the brain’s tendency to short cut is that sometimes, in it’s very well meaning attempt to keep us safe, it gets it wrong. For example, if, when we were a child, a dog jumped up on us and knocked us over resulting in us needing 3 stitches on our forehead, the brain might develop a short cut that tells us “all dogs are scary/bad/cause stitches etc.” (not useful). The brain might slap a label on it that says “DANGER”. Now, because we tend to believe that our thoughts are all true (pro tip: they aren’t), when the brain signals us to think the thought labelled “DANGER”, we will experience a certain emotion based on that thought (fear – and the physiological response that comes along with that thought) and then act accordingly (run, freak out etc.). This is all perhaps fine if we ran into a dog that actually wanted to hurt us, but it’s mostly not fine because it’s also possible the dog just wanted to sniff and snuggle us. Even if that is something we don’t want, it doesn’t have to be a cause of fear. So, we spend time being fearful of something when it really isn't warranted and it causes us undue suffering.
My career has been spent working with folks who come to me to try to change something about their work or their life. Sometimes it’s because they are unhappy at work, feel overwhelmed with some aspect of their life or don’t know what they want or how to get it.
You don't need a career coach to tell you to do career research and network
The truth of the matter is when people feel stuck at work and think they need a new job, they really don’t need a career coach to tell them listen, you need to start doing career research and networking. Yes, most people can figure that part out for themselves (although I’ve seen many people try to skip these steps) but I digress. My point is the people I work with are smart, educated, professional people usually in their 40s and 50s. They have enough experience and maturity to know there are certain steps they need to take and things they need to do to do whatever it is they want. The problem is, they know what they want to be doing but aren’t doing it. The issue is that they’re not doing what they know they want to be doing because they have some thought and feeling that’s preventing them from taking the actions they already know they should be taking. So instead of doing what it is they actually want to be doing so that they show up in the world the way they want to, they are surfing the net or binge watching all 10 seasons of Friends. Or, maybe they’re shopping or playing with their dog or cleaning the house or working day and night at a job they don’t want to be at instead of spending time living life in a way that would make them feel alive instead of dead inside. Yes, I said dead inside.
You don't just need action
The whole point is that if you are feeling stuck in your career (or your life), if you really thought about it or did a google search, you could figure out what you should do. You probably have. But you don’t. You also probably don’t need me to tell you what you need to do. That wouldn’t really solve your problem. This is why I don’t start out by giving my clients long laundry lists of things to do. I don’t just tell them the actions to take. The reason for this is they still probably wouldn’t take them or if they did force themselves through sheer willpower, they would take a few actions but probably still stay stuck, confused or unsure. This is because their thoughts and feelings are causing resistance or uncertainty or stress or avoidance and this is keeping them from doing all of the things that they are already perfectly capable of doing.
So, it’s never just about me telling somebody that they need to send out more resumes or take more action. It’s about working with you so you will stop believing the thoughts you are having that are paralyzing you or stop believing the story or the labels or taking the short cuts your brain is defaulting to because it thinks there’s some sort of problem or danger that will not allow you to get what it is you want. It’s about getting you to a place where you stop resisting reality and come to see circumstances as they truly are. Once you are there you will see that so many “obstacles” aren’t deal breakers. They aren’t scary or dangerous or anything to fear. You will start to realize that obstacles simply need strategies applied to them Once we get you to that place, the solution becomes crystal clear and the action comes swiftly and easily.
Get out of your own way
Yes, I can help you with the tactical and strategic aspects of career change and job search—these will make the process even easier, more efficient and get you better results. I can help you write a killer cover letter and a superb resume that wins interviews and then I will help you knock those interviews out of the park BUT these usually are not your biggest hurdles. Your challenge is that you just keep getting in your own way. The indecision, the uncertainty, the “what if’s”, the feeling like an imposter, the not really showing up, the not stretching, the procrastinating, the settling, the worry, the caring what others think. The not showing up in the world the way you want to.
So, what can you do about this all on your own? Let me tell you what. Here is an exercise to try:
1. Grab a piece of paper and pen and list out what it is you want for your life.
2. Come up with one specific goal you'd like to achieve related to #1.
3. List out all of the reasons you think you cannot attain the goal you outlined in #2.
4. Brainstorm all of the possible solutions and strategies you can think of to counteract each point you listed in #3. List as many as you can, even if you are not sure you believe they will work.
5. Identify one very small step you can take to move yourself forward on #2.
6. List everything you can think of that could prevent you from completing #5.
7. Review step #4. Choose a solution or strategy that would counteract #6. Add others if nothing fits.
8. Complete the small step you identified per #5.
9. Choose the next small step to take
10. Keep repeating steps 5-7 until you get what you want.
You have everything you need inside you to do the things you’ve always wanted to do. I’m pretty sure that if you could put aside the fear and indecision, you would come to agree that what you want is actually possible and won’t require you risk going broke or letting yourself, your family or someone else down. Furthermore, I believe you actually have a responsibility to show up in the world and not waste all the great things you have to offer by staying scared, indecisive, or stuck. The world needs you now, more than ever…
…try the exercise and let me know how it went!
Want more exercises like this to try? When I work with people as their Career Counsellor and Coach it's so much more than just getting you things like a great resume. I help you figure out what's holding you back so you can conquer procrastination, indecision, worry, so you stop settling and truly show up for yourself and everyone you love. Learn more here.