One of the most difficult aspects of going down a new career path is dealing with the reactions of the people around you.
For example, when I first opened my business as a coach I was filled with doubt. I felt uncertainty and embarrassment about my new profession. I worried about what people would think of me should I hang the ‘life coach’ sign above my door. Some thoughts I had included:
- I’m doing something I should be ashamed of.
- Life coaching is a joke.
- People aren’t going to take me seriously.
I got a mixture of reactions when I told my friends, family, and acquaintances of my plans. Some people were supportive, some were dubious, some ignored my news, and others engaged in intense finger wagging insisting that I was making a huge mistake. It goes without saying that not all of these reactions felt great.
However, I did two things that helped me to press on.
First, I reconnected to why I had wanted to be a coach in the first place. In particular I looked at my values. These include personal growth, honesty, self-expression, creativity, and compassion. Life coaching embodied all of these to me. I decided that staying true to these values was more important than the momentary discomfort I was feeling.
Second, I began questioning my painful thoughts with a process called The Work, which consists of four questions about a thought and a turnaround. Here’s an example with one of my painful thoughts.
Thought: I’m doing something I should be ashamed of.
1. Is it true? yes
2. Can you absolutely know that it’s true? no
3. How do you react, what happens, when you believe that thought? feel embarrassed, uncomfortable, ashamed, and unlikely to take action
4. Who would you be without the thought? freer and more likely to move forward on my business
My turnaround was “I’m doing something I should be proud of.”
Three examples of this were:
- I’m being courageous.
- I’m acting with integrity.
- I’m working to better myself and the world.
The more I worked on my coaching business the more confident I became. Now when I tell people what I do no one questions me because they are reflecting how positive I currently feel about my work, just as they reflected back negativity when I felt unsure.
If you are considering a new career that may raise an eyebrow here or there take the time to connect to your values. Pay attention to the thoughts you are having. Also remember that no one else has more access to the knowledge of what is inside you than you, which means your voice should carry the most weight.