Maybe You Don’t Need A Career Coach

Photo by Diego PH on Unsplash

A management consultant walks into a reiki session and walks out… an entrepreneur.

I didn’t know what reiki was the first time I tried it. A friend invited me to a group “attunement” when I was staying in India.

I liked it.

It felt both grounding and other worldly.

And after my travel sabbatical…

I turned down a sweet job offer that landed in my lap. I read two job descriptions on LinkedIn and stopped. Formerly too cheap to buy brand name peanut butter, I dropped over $27k on coaching in one year and moved to West Village, one of the priciest neighborhoods in Manhattan, with no job, almost no income, and dwindling savings.

I may have pretended to be wild and free, but frankly all of the above scared the shit out of me.

Not all of this was from reiki of course, but of all the things I did during my travels, it was the most impactful. In retrospect it makes sense—the power of reiki was that it was 100% non-rational.

And all the (rational) things I had tried didn’t work. I had career counseling in graduate school, I had many jobs and multiple internships, I spent over a year of therapy processing my job-related emotional baggage (which sounds crazy to me in retrospect). I took countless assessments of my interests and personality… not to mention that I had an MS and PhD in the psychology of work.

Nothing worked, when it came to my work motivations. I knew how to get a job. I knew how to work hard. I didn’t know the what. Because what I really wanted was to do things I liked to do for fun, like yoga, or artistic dabblings, or something involving pretty foreign languages, or something hip and cozy like working at a coffee shop. But it all felt so arbitrary.

There are no “right” answers to career transition questions when it comes to our fulfillment. Asking “What should I do?” is a dead-end. It’s not a logic puzzle.

Reiki didn’t reveal what I wanted, but it changed the way I approached the problem and got me headed in a positive direction long before I had any sense of vision or purpose.

Career counseling/coaching as people normally think of it (e.g. informational interviews, resume edits, etc) can be very helpful. But if you’re disconnected from what you want or find yourself rejecting it in a way that paralyzes you, something needs to shift or unlock internally.

You need to do some deeper work. You need to see things in a new light, you need to know in your bones something you didn’t, and you need to take new kinds of actions.

This applies to any major choice that has you stuck.

There is a tactical aspect to career pathing, of course. Refine your personal brand, nurture your network, seize opportunity. Play the game and leave your all on the field. 100%.

But you can only play the games you’re trained in. If you’re smart, successful, resourceful, and totally stuck, chances are you’re playing the wrong game to begin with.

The answer’s off-field.

A good coach can help you find it. Tactical career coaching won’t.

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