How coaching can improve your happiness and success- however you chose to define them.
As a coach and mentor, I have followed the Psychologies happiness initiative with interest. I have learned all sorts of ways in which a change in attitude and outlook can lead to better lives. This has led me to reflect on how coaching and mentoring can support this, particularly from a career or career change perspective.
'We pick our jobs for the wrong reasons and then we settle for them. We begin to accept that its not realistic to do something we truly love for a living. Too many of us start down the path of compromise and never make it back. Considering that you'll likely spend more waking hours at your job than in any other part of your life, its a compromise that will always eat away at you'
Clay Christensen, Professor of Harvard Business School.
In no particular order, this is how I believe coaching can help you to become happier at work and play- or to change to a career which makes the distinction less relevant.
1/By asking you insightful questions and (more importantly) by getting you to ask insightful questions of yourself, a skilled coach will help you to arrive at your own solutions in a way which leaves you feeling empowered and alive to the possibilities. By actively listening to what you have to say, the words, the spaces between the words and the way you convey them, your coach will build a picture which they will share with you. Your conversations will inform your choices and help you to put actions into place which will realise them. Because you, or your employer, have paid for this service you are more likely to commit to achieving your goals and objectives. This may sound mercenary, but from personal experience on both sides of the fence, it is true.
3/By earning your trust and confidence, in a completely safe setting, your coach will be able to challenge you and to give you 'tough love' or feedback in appropriate ways. Some coaches do not do this, I believe it is part of the value of coaching and ask my clients early on, how challenging would they like me to be? Given that they are often looking to make difficult changes, the answer is often 'very' or enough to prompt them to step outside of their comfort zone, which may have become a fur lined rut.
4/By referencing your experiences and what you are going through, with their own knowledge and insight, your coach will help to make your journey a less lonely and more successful one. He or she will help you to identify the people and resources which you can draw upon and will help you to visualise what change is likely to look and feel like at each stage. For example, having been through a significant career change myself, I understand the negative hold which fear of change and self-limiting assumptions can have on you. More importantly I have learned through my experience and through advising others, how to go about overcoming them.
5/By helping you to identify and commit to certain goals, your coach will help you to move forward in a positive and often measurable way. There is much research to support this, and by writing your goals down and revisiting them on a regular basis, you are still more likely to achieve them. Sometimes people come to their coach a little lost or lacking in direction and in these cases the goals maybe the outcome of the coaching process and conversations. This is a good outcome if it allows them to move forward with purpose and direction.
6/A skilful coach will help you to improve your awareness and therefore your understanding of your own emotions and drivers, as well as those of others around you. As social beings we like and need to feel connected with others and by improving your emotional intelligence in this way you will improve the relationships you have with others, which in time should lead to greater happiness, success and fulfilment. It will also help you to coach yourself and others more effectively in future.
7/ effective coaching should help you to improve the quality of your thinking and conversations which you have with yourself, often about yourself. This may sound a little patronising but it is not meant to. An effective coach, who actively believes in you, will be able to help you to improve your explanatory style and the way you think about yourself and the world around you. Getting into good habits is far more effective than relying on willpower alone and if you can learn to view the world through a lens of abundance rather than scarcity, this can lead to remarkable results. On a personal level, it took me a while to work this one out.
8/ Coaching is an iterative process which can and often does lead to unexpected results. This is the fun of the journey. For example you may start out with the goal of achieving career change, only to find out that you no longer want a 'career' in the conventional sense at all. I have seen everything from a career couple who chose to trade it all in for a luxury camp site in rural France, to a Painter who went the other way and retrained to become a successful Barrister. This underlines my last and perhaps most important point; There are no rights and wrongs in career choices, or changes for that matter. It is all about what is right for you, your values and personality. If you replace the words 'should' with 'could' and 'but' for 'and' you will see my point. 'I should do this but' becomes 'I could do this and..'
I am a coach and mentor who often works on career change and enhancement. If you need help or advice, send me an email and I will be sure to get back to you. firstname.lastname@example.org