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5 Tips for Finding a Career That Fits

I am lucky. I have the best job in the world.

For me.

I get to help people.

I get to write about whatever I want.

I get to teach others.

I get to read articles “for work” about stuff I’m actually interested in.

So, why did it take me so long to figure it out?

The short answer is: I kept bailing on myself. I kept hitting the pause button. Life got in the way. I'd talk myself into trying to like a job that looked good on paper. I kept thinking if I found a job with enough of the skills I wanted to use, like writing, that the job would be "good enough." I was wrong.

It took me 15 years to figure it out because I had created a foolproof, airtight, super secure mental box that was designed to protect me from disappointment, looking foolish or failing. The box I constructed in my mind was a series of “I can’t because…” excuses. No job fit the bill because all I could do was find what was wrong with it.

The truth is that I was scared to really put myself out there. Like we all are.

When I chose coaching, I shoved aside my self-doubt (of which there seemed to be an endless supply) which screamed “This won’t work because…” or “You’re not the type of person who…” “You’ll never find clients…” “You don’t have the discipline to work from home…”

Once I started coaching, I thought I would be happy ALL THE TIME. Shocker. That’s not the case.

Instead, I’ve encountered obstacles that have challenged me to prove to myself again and again that this is what I really want to do. These obstacles have tested me and asked me to grow. If it were easy, what would I learn?

I realized that if I wanted to be a coach, I was actually going to have to become an entrepreneur of sorts, a solo-preneur. I was going to have to figure out this marketing thing and wear several hats, including, bookkeeper, scheduler, and administrative assistant.

“But! These are not my gifts,” I panicked. It’s true. They are not. (Ask anyone, and they will be sure to back me up on this one.)

However, I am so committed to being a coach and helping people that I am FINALLY willing to do things that I don't particularly like. I am willing to seek professional help from other coaches to learn how to be a business owner.

Let me tell you. I'd rather not. I'd rather have it be easy.

But it seems that, in order for me to do what I want and help people in the ways I think I'm best able to, I'm going to have to suck it up and learn all these business-y things so that, you know, I have a business.

Facing my fears and insecurities is exactly the thing that will make me successful. Oy.

That's my story. I hope your journey doesn't need to take as long as mine did. Here's how I figured it out.

1. Got honest with myself: I did a ton of soul-searching, navel-gazing, inner work and suffering through several existential crises ala “Why am I here on this planet and wtf should I do while I’m here?” I paid a great deal of attention to what made me happy, what made me enthusiastic, and when I seemed the most productive. (TBH, sometimes it seemed very weather-dependent, which is critical information for determining “what’s your favorite work environment”?)

2. Researched: Over a number of years, I read career books, self-help books and talked to pretty much everyone I encountered about what they do for a living and why, and what they liked or didn’t like. I did informational interviews. I researched companies, websites and graduate school programs, took personality assessments ad nauseum and tried classes in everything from memoir writing to organizational behavior and design.

3. Experimented and failed: I failed a lot. And learned a lot. I tried different jobs, companies, industries; using different skills, for-profit, not-for-profits. All of it helped me gather data and make informed decisions about what to do next. This wasn’t always a pretty process, but it gave me extremely important information about what I like, what I’m good at, and what’s out there in the world that I never knew about. Ultimately, it helped me narrow my focus of where I belong in the world.

4. Got professional help. At several points in my journey, I worked with different career coaches. They helped me with tactical stuff my resume as well as got me thinking about the Big Picture and what I wanted out of life. In each case, I got a job that helped further my knowledge and development. And, as soon as I got the job, I stopped working with my coach. I never stayed with the process long enough to feel like I’d found “it.” I just found a job.

5. Went on vacation. I swear by this strategy for anyone who is burned out. I was at the end of my rope mentally and physically when I went to visit my dad in California. The first morning I woke up among the redwoods, smelled the hot cedar forest and said to myself, Something has got to change.

A few hours later I was sitting in my Dad's living room talking with my cousin who told me about this coach training program she was doing and I started to tingle. That's it. That's what I want to do. Bam. This was not the first time I'd heard about coaching. I'd investigated it several times years before, but I had decided against it because I was afraid and I was so burned out and anxious, I couldn't dream of anything but the deadlines staring me in the face. A vacation gave me the mental space I needed to be open to possibility.

So, that's how I got here.

If you’re stuck in your career, I’d love to help you. Contact me for a free 30-minute coaching session. Seriously, what have you got lose?

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