If you are thinking of making a career change, you’re not alone. In August 2021, over four million Americans quit their jobs. While this figure seems daunting, the fact of the matter is that women are more likely to change careers than men. According to Zippia, women typically stay at a job for 3.9 years while men usually keep a job for an average of 4.3 years.
The women I coach who are at the brink of career transition often speak of an “ache” or a “tug at their heart” that suddenly forces them to choose between their truth and life’s status quo. Coaches can help you define your dreams, recognize what’s holding you back and create the tools and the confidence to get you to where you want to go. The International Coaching Federation (ICF) defines coaching as, “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential.” Through inquiry and conversation, the coach helps the client understand deeper truths about life so as to gain perspectives on what is most important.
My work as a life and leadership coach has illumined a few common hurdles that women transitioning from one career to the next must deal with to have success. Let’s explore these hurdles, and proposed solutions, in more detail:
1. Taming your voice of doubt.
Inner critics tend to scream loudest at new beginnings. They tell you all the ways you aren’t enough and argue that you should “play” only within your comfort zone. In truth, the inner critic’s voice is an expression of the safety instinct that we all have within us. Your inner critic wants to save you from any kind of emotional risk — hurt, failure, criticism, disappointment or rejection. When we begin to understand that our inner critic’s voice stems from old fears, it becomes easier to run interference, shift our thinking, and choose a new response.
Becoming an observer in your own life looks like this:
- Label and notice when your inner critic’s voice sneaks into your thinking. Ask yourself: When does this voice show up? What does it say?
- Acknowledge your inner critic’s fear by asking, “What is this safety instinct trying to protect me from?” Squelch any limiting beliefs by remembering it’s just a voice, not reality.
- Take your power back by telling the voice that you know what is best.
2. Understanding your “why.”
Ambiguity is synonymous with growing and learning. When someone transitions from one job to another, they might unknowingly carry past conflicts or disappointments that can plague their ability to see things clearly. Coaching helps women tap into their value system so they are honest with themselves about what is working and the things in their life that may not align with their core beliefs.
Studies show that taking the time to thoughtfully embrace the discomfort from a negative experience in the past can open our eyes to new perspectives. When we are prompted by a coach to acknowledge a past weakness or a wrong turn, it can motivate us to humbly acknowledge the lesson within the experience.
3. Getting curious.
To create real change during a transition, women must be willing to lose the outdated parts of themselves. It is our willingness to get curious about the unknown beliefs of the shadow-versions we created for ourselves that sheds light on the fears. Just the thought of entering the unknown of a dark cave sounds terrifying, so we grab a figurative lantern and enter together.
You can’t be curious and afraid at the same time, and metaphorical exercises like this are where I witness fierce bravery in women. As we boldly explore and understand the “why” behind their deepest fears, they truly take their power back.
4. Standing proudly in what you bring to the table.
Stepping away from a career that once defined your identity, your schedule and even your financial security can feel like you are letting an essential part of yourself fall away. Professional and intentional coaching encourages women to redefine what it means to transition. It allows women to consider the question of, “Who am I choosing to become?”
Courage comes from recognizing the accomplishments you have achieved and the challenges you have overcome and then strategically redirecting all of that richness into your next professional goal.
Some women do not allow themselves to truly celebrate wins. Some of us are afraid that we will alienate others if we shine too brightly. Having a coach gives you the opportunity not only to dance in your triumphs, but to own the light that you bring to the world. As women begin to see and own their intrinsic gifts, they also forgive themselves for past mistakes and release the limiting beliefs that once kept them from stepping into their power and their potential.
Coaching in Every Season
The overarching purpose of professional coaching is to spotlight what is working and what areas in your life may no longer be serving your goals for the future. Whether you are in a mid-level position, aspiring for executive leadership or entering the workplace for the first time, working with a coach can help you live closer to your truth so you can embrace your hopes, dreams and passions from the inside out.