The answer, of course, is based on your definition of “happiness”. When people walk in to my office for career coaching, we always start with this question: “If you could choose anything else in the world to do, with no obstacles in the way, would choose a different career?” “Yes”, most say, followed by “But I can’t because…” As the economy continues to play havoc with the job market, a bulk of workers stay where they are, in spite of dreaming they could be somewhere else.
Burnout, finances, lack of advancement/growth, issues with coworkers/bosses, time infiltrating on family life – they can lead to a thinking process, that may tell us, “Quit this job”, “Follow your dream”, “Any job is better than this”. But tomorrow comes, and we stay stagnate, at least until another turn of events leaves us longing for something different. Then, other thought processes may take hold: “I just need a vacation”, “I just need to set a budget”, “I’m not ready to take on the stress of promotion anyway”, etc. An inner battle begins, filled with conflicting thoughts and a gamut of emotions that range from excitement, to anxiety, to depression. For most of the clients that begin career coaching, they are currently handling the turmoil by standing still and waiting for something to happen. They keep hoping something will change, but they are doing nothing differently.
Career Coaching is about figuring out the thoughts and feelings you have about your current situation, and then working out an action plan to tackle the real problem. It’s not as easy as it may sound, but it works:
- A burned out, workaholic Physician finally decides that his real issue is not his job, but rather it is feeling guilty about not seeing enough of his kids and feeling inadequate about his lack of parenting skills. After Career Counseling and Career Coaching his role as a father improves and we work towards solutions for burn-out. He reports an energy and drive about his work that he hasn’t felt since he was a resident.
- A 26-year-old man, holding a college degree in business, is working at a job he is overqualified for. He is depressed, feeling like he is letting down his family by not living up to his potential. Career Coaching helps him learn how to take his thoughts about change and move them into action. At the same time he begins to learn how to manage the fear and worry he has about his family. He revamps his resume, and is counseled on job search and interviewing skills. Soon he reports “I’m feeling good, I have a new job offer, and I’m feeling loved and accepted by my family.”
- An overloaded, single mother who is now divorced, has to return to the work force. She has little confidence in her skills and feels powerless and hopeless. She learns to reassess her accomplishments of the past and to strategize a job search within a business sector that is hiring. After Career Counseling, she reports feeling “more hopeful and in control” about her future.
The stories go on and on. But what they all have in a common are the thoughts and feelings that keep people stuck. This is where Career Coaching is most effective. Working one on one, we uncover the real issues by identifying your thoughts and feelings about your life and career. We make a goal-directed plan and put it into action to yield positive results towards change. Only then can you begin to feel “happy” about your career direction.
Gail C. Welkes, LCSW is a clinical psychotherapist, practicing in the Philadelphia area.