A common issue people bring to coaching is that they’re in a steady job, it pays the bills, is reliable but they are unfulfilled and unhappy. They have a dream career or several, and sometimes it’s a secret they daren’t share with anyone they know. It seems so impossibly remote that they can’t see how to pursue it.
There’s a moment of terrible sadness just after they’ve described their dream career when they end with something like “…but I could never do it, it’s too impractical”.
It’s seeing that longing that fires me up as a coach. I got into coaching because I know that many people have a longing in their soul for something different, something that holds great meaning for them but which feels too big or too way out there to even try for.
If you’re experiencing that same pain this article is for you. I’m going to share the questions I work through with my clients to explore what you really want, why, and to generate fresh ideas about how you could have the best of both worlds. It’s not the same as me being there with you but it will get you started in the right direction.
The purpose of these questions isn’t to come up with an action plan; the purpose is to explore, get creative with your ideas and invent and uncover new possibilities. And they are just possibilities, you don’t have to commit to them and they don’t even have to make any sense! It’s all about finding fresh perspectives, so if your inner critic drops by to make any ‘helpful’ suggestions about how silly this is, how you’re too stupid to make this work etc remind yourself that this is all hypothetical, a brainstorming session where there are no wasted ideas.
1. Where are you now?
Describe your current job; what you do, where you work, how much you earn, who you work with, all that you like and dislike about it, things that feel like obstacles and things that are useful.
2. What have you got now that you want or need to keep?
List everything that keeps you where you are because it’s essential or you want it very much. Be as specific as you can. For example if you write “The money” consider how much money you need or want. If you write “The people” is it because they’re nice people to be around, because you prefer to collaborate, you like company or something else?
3. Where do you want to be?
Describe your dream career in detail, just as you did for your current job. Don’t be shy! These details are for your eyes only so it doesn’t matter if they seem far fetched; just go with it, enjoy it.
4. What exactly is it that you want from that dream career?
Again, this is about getting very specific, because there will be certain things about it that you really want – the non-negotiables – and certain bits you’re less motivated by. Lets say your dream career is to be writer; what kind of writing do you want to do? What motivates you to write? What bits of the process do you love? Which bits don’t you enjoy?
5. How might you get the best of both worlds?
This is the really creative part. Look at your non-negotiables from where you are now and where you’d like to be; these are the parts you’re going to juggle with here to consider how you could fit the two lots together. You need to try to sidestep your own preconceptions and approach it from the assumption that it’s possible to have the best of both worlds, you just don’t know how yet. Imagine I’m sitting beside you, and I won’t let you leave until you’ve really tried to answer this question!
6. What resources are already available to you?
Do some more brainstorming, this time of all the things you already have access to that could be useful when it comes to moving closer to making your dream career real. This will help you to feel more abundant and bring your focus to what you have rather than what you don’t have. For starters consider:
- Training and learning resources
- Skills and knowledge you already have
- Qualifications you already have
- Your personal values
- Aspects of your current job
As I said before, this isn’t about producing a tidy action plan, and beyond this there’s work to do and decisions to make to really get things off the ground. But this creative play with ideas underpins it all, lifting you out of “I can’t do it because…” and up to “I have options”. It’s also essential to identify what it is about your dream job that you really want as that’s the thing you can then focus on growing.
Whatever you do, don’t give up!