27 May Career Coaching Homework
Why your inter-session coaching work is such a vital part of your career coaching experience
One of the things that differentiates coaching from therapy is the fact that it is focused on movement and action. You may not see this in the early stages. but like that gentle swan gliding on a lake of glass, the legs are battling away madly underneath. “Doing” not just talking is what coaching is all about. At the end of the session, we should come to a collaborative decision as to what you will do between our meetings. This isn’t (or shouldn’t be) some random piece of homework, but a well thought-through activity that is designed to help you know more, or take a step forward towards where you want to be.
Personally, I love this part of career coaching. It’s that bit where I see my clients take flight on their own separate journey. Inevitably, almost all of my clients are busy, stressed and have a million other things tugging at them for attention, but making that effort to do these few small things for themselves shows that they are taking the process seriously, and they are committed to the path they are on.
But what if the homework just doesn’t get done?
Sometimes, life happens and there are some really good reasons why it’s not progressing out of the notebook, but often there is more to it. I always feel a little sad when I meet a client for a meeting other than our first one and they’re frantically scribbling in their notebook. trying to put enough together to convince me that they’ve at least done something since we last met. It doesn’t happen often, and of, course, the main person it impacts is them. But it is sad to see something that is obviously very important to them be fitted in at the last minute. It’s a sobering thought for how we think about some of the most important things in our life. Working out where you want to spend your working hours is hugely important and hopefully isn’t seen as another task to get ticked off.
As a culture it’s worrying that we often have to give ourselves permission to think and ponder. Taking yourself off for a retreat is seen as okay (and often paying an arm and leg for it), but telling our significant other that, actually, we just want to spend Saturday morning sat in the garden with a strong pot of coffee and our notebook, and alone at that, is not. For many people, the only physical chance they get to think is on the tube or train, and yet they feel they have to clog up the silence with music or games on their phone. I applaud the rising interest in meditation but again, it’s as if we have to have some excuse to switch off. Telling people we are meditating sounds cool, but saying that we just want to sit down and have a think inevitably provokes “about what?” and the mood is broken.
Working out what you want to do next in your career is hugely challenging work and shouldn’t be underestimated. It will involve logical thought, intuition and even some emotional work. It can be draining, take a while and even bring up things you thought were long buried. Your own career change has potential impact on others, even if it’s just about challenging the way they now have to view us. and this has to be navigated. Homework and activities in between sessions are your way of crossing over from thinking and pondering to making it real.
And what if you’re looking at your inter session work and don’t want to do it? This is a whole different matter and is incredibly useful. Declaring at the end of our previous session that you want to apply for a particular job, and yet steadfastly never getting around it it needs to be explored. It may be that you are just a bad manager of time (we can work on that), suffer from procrastination (ditto) or it could be that the job was never the right avenue for you anyway. This is where we get to dig and delve. What you shouldn’t do however is make a half-hearted attempt just before the session, or, even worse, lie to your coach as they will never find out!
Your work with your career coach should be challenging. You will find out a whole lot more about yourself than merely what you want to do career-wise, and your career coaching homework really helps you get into the process and benefit from it fully. So, go out and do your homework!
Other articles you may like include thinking creatively with Paul Birch (a vital part of career coaching!) and exploring Possible Selves. If you’re interested in working with me, you can also take a look at my career coaching options