Lara’s Situation: Lara had moved a number of times with her partner’s career and had also home-schooled her children for ten years. Now that her daughter was in college, she was ready to turn her attention to her own work, but she was feeling stuck. She had done a number of trainings that she liked, so choosing just one thing for her career direction felt like ‘closing the door on other juicy options’.
Lara’s Question: How do I pick a career direction when so many different things appeal to me? How do I move forward when I feel scared?
Choosing Just One Path?
We started with Lara’s first question. My initial hunch, based on how Lara had phrased her question, was that her options were all very different from one another and that was the cause of the problem. Indeed, when Lara shared the various options she was considering she presented them as if they were all polar opposites.
Here’s what they were: working with kids in small group settings, working 1-1 with kids, working within the school system, and giving talks that related to child welfare.
I burst out laughing once I heard these options because the ideas that felt so separate in Lara’s mind were actually hyper-connected. I explained that it was possible to combine many of these different elements into one cohesive career.
Lara realized that she had been making an issue of needing to choose one modality when she could incorporate them all into her new career. Her work could develop over time and encompass different aspects of the various ways she had learned to help others. The combination of these areas of knowledge and skill would help to make her work with children even more unique and special.
She reflected back that the different aspects of her work were ‘arrows in her quiver’ which was, I thought, a beautiful way of putting it.
Working Through Fear
Even though Lara understood she didn’t have to give up one option to pursue another, she felt fear around re-entering the workforce. One trick to address fear is to use metaphor work. This tool engages your brain in a creative manner to identify helpful solutions.
Here’s how to use metaphor work to solve your own career problems.
- Start by asking yourself, ‘If my career problem were a person, place, animal or thing what would it be?’
- Describe the person, place, animal or thing in more detail.
- What is the problem relating to the person, place, animal or thing?
- How could you solve the problem relating to the person, place, animal or thing? (Write down at least 3 solutions)
- How can you apply the solutions to your real world problem?
To further help you, here’s an example of Lara’s metaphor work:
My career problem: scared to put my resume out into the world.
- My problem is like a penguin that wishes it could fly.
- The penguin longs to know what it would be like to soar above the clouds. It feels sad and alone where it lives today.
- The relating problem is that penguins can’t fly.
- Solutions: Take the penguin up in a helicopter.
Help the penguin make friends so it’s not so lonely and can appreciate its life as it is now.
Build a penguin parachute and train the penguin to use it.
- Real world applications: Get outside support, like from a coach to help see things from more of a distance. (The helicopter)
Join a group of people who are actively in the midst of a career search. (So that the penguin is not lonely)
Work on teaching yourself how to write an excellent resume and get around to finally updating your resume. (A penguin parachute)
Lara’s career stuckness had two issues that needed to be addressed, and I was happy to help her through it.
First, we discovered that Lara believed there was only one career path she could follow and would need to forget about the other options. But actually, she could do a combination of the things she was interested in as part of her work, incorporating each where it best fit for her.
Next, we worked through her fears around putting her resume out into the world. Through a thoughtwork tool such as metaphor work, which comes from the work of Dr. Martha Beck, we were able to figure how best to take the next steps.
With these two new perspectives Lara felt more confident and ready to move forward with her career.
Could you relate to Lara’s story? Let us know in the comments below!
Client Feedback on Working with Deborah in a Cardy Career Coaching program:
“Deborah helped me to get clear on the types of work and work environment I most prefer to work in. I had never really given it much thought before – usually just taking what I could get and feeling like I had to be grateful just to have a job (and not really like I had a choice). My experience with Deborah was SUPER HELPFUL!” – Just Get Me Pointed in the Right Direction Client