Most adults in the UK spend at least 2000 hours at work each year.
That’s a lot of hours.
And when you add the daily commute, weekend and out-of-hours work, overtime and work social events that number gets even bigger.
From that perspective, it’s easy to see that if your work isn’t working then it’s likely that your life won’t be working either.
When you consider that more divorces are caused by financial issues than anything else, more depression results from work than anything else, more bullying goes on in the workplace than anywhere else, more sexual harassment takes places at work than almost anywhere else… you can see that work can have a significant impact on your life.
That’s why it’s easy to think it’s your life that's all wrong when actually it’s just your job that isn’t right. The truth is, there’s probably nothing wrong with your life that couldn’t be fixed by having a job you enjoy and which also gives you the lifestyle you desire.
That’s because when your work works, your life works too.
That’s where a career life coach can help you work out the five key requirements for happiness at work:
When all these elements are right, you’ll not only be able to create a career that’s right for you, but a life as well.
Why you need a career life coach
If your life lacks a sense of purpose, it’s easy to put it down to the fact that you’re single, your social life is non-existent or you haven’t written that novel. But more often the reason you’re feeling dissatisfied, depressed and unfulfilled is somehow related to your work.
You can focus on life outside work of course, but you’ll probably struggle because you’re permanently exhausted or can’t be bothered.
You can’t cover up misery by drinking, shopping or putting all your energy into your hobbies or holidays either. Because if the root of your unhappiness and dissatisfaction with your life is your job, the only way you’ll change your life is by changing your job first.
This is where a personal career coach can really help you.
A career coach looks at your work as part of your whole life, not just one part of it. He or she will help you identify your best job or career based on who you are as a person. They’ll help you devise a strategy for making it happen. They’ll guide and support you in applying for and getting the job you want. They’ll also help you settle into your new role quickly so you produce results fast.
If you have a demanding or senior position, a career life coach can also act as your sounding-board, confidant and support system. That’s because, as you become more senior, you get more isolated and have fewer colleagues with whom you can share ideas, concerns and problems. Having someone you can talk to and offload your frustrations, develop your thoughts and help you prepare for the next step in your career can be invaluable.
How the career coaching process works
There’s more than one factor that makes your work right for you. But it’s easy to forget or overlook these considerations and focus on the golden salary you want to earn, the superstar status of the company you want to work for or the glittering job title.
But if you don’t get clear on what you want first, you’ll end up applying for roles that don’t make you happy or deliver the change you want either in your work or your life.
What you need to do is focus on five key areas. Then you can start to create a career and life you love.
What you do each day (the tasks)
It’s easy to slip into a role early in your career that looks good on the outside but doesn’t work for you in other ways. Maybe you thought being a lawyer would satisfy your need to work with people, but you found the work dry and technical. If the core daily tasks you need to perform aren’t enjoyable, your work isn’t going to be a pleasant experience. That means it’s going to be hard to progress in your career and you’ll probably end up dreading each new day or week.
A career coach will help you work out what sort of work you enjoy doing. Let’s face it, if you’re a people person, deciphering legalese all day isn’t going to make your heart sing. Once you know what you love to do, you can find a role – either within your existing industry or profession or not – that you will find engaging, satisfying and enjoyable.
It’s likely that once you begin to do work you enjoy and that you’re good at, you’ll progress quickly. Best of all, you’ll end each day feeling happy and looking forward to the next rather feeling miserable at the prospect of crawling through another dull day in the office.
Who you work for (the boss)
In fact, it’s not just who you work for, it’s who you work with that matters too. If your boss is someone who you find difficult to get along with, who undermines your confidence or doesn’t support you in achieving your goals, it’s going to be difficult to feel satisfied by your work. And if the people you work with bully you, ostracise your or are disrespectful towards you, work is likely to result in you feeling lonely and depressed.
Working with and for people who are on the same wavelength as you, and who share your goals, enthusiasm and sense of purpose, will make work a whole new experience. It’ll be exciting and fun. The environment will be supportive and inclusive and those around you will become friends as well as colleagues over time.
A career coach will help you understand your personality, ideal role in a team, communication style and core concerns in such a way that you’ll know whether an organisation is right for you. You’ll learn what tells to look for on a company website or at the workplace itself when you attend an interview. Knowing you’re going to fit in before you even start your new job will ensure you hit the ground running and build positive relationships from the start.
But what if your relationships with your manager or colleagues has been an ongoing issue for you? Well, a career coach can help you figure out what isn’t working and how to adapt your own behaviour and thinking so you can build more positive relationships with your colleagues. Personality assessments will help you understand yourself so you can better understand others.
How much you get paid (the pay)
What you get paid has a massive impact on your life. Having a salary that gives you choices (or takes them away) can make your work feel either rewarding or demeaning.
Money isn’t everything, but it can heavily influence how you feel about what you do and who you do it for. When you’re well paid, you feel your contribution is being recognised and recompensed. You feel valued and valuable. When you’re not well-paid, you feel undervalued and used. You can end up feeling resentful if your poor pay leaves you struggling financially and unable to give your family what they need.
A good career coach will help you identify what you want to earn, not just what you need or what you think you can get. You’ll be approaching your job search with a salary goal, not a salary wish. Your career coach will also help you overcome negative beliefs about whether you deserve more money or whether you’re worth it. When you break through these beliefs, your whole approach to your work will change. Suddenly, you’ll be able to ask for what you want with confidence and self-assurance and that means you’ll be far more likely to get it. And if not, you’ll feel free to move on.
How much time you spend at work (hours)
Working hours seem to get longer and less family-friendly all the time. But long hours aren’t always the only issue. Sometimes it’s shift-work or weekend work or holiday time work that get you down. Maybe it’s starting early or finishing late (or both).
It’s possible that the hours you work are dictated by your profession or role. If you’re a medic of any kind, you’re likely to be working shifts and unsocial hours. If you’re in international sales, travel abroad may be part of your job that you can’t avoid. Nevertheless, if the hours aren’t right for you, it may be time to consider what you want instead and a career coach can help you find it.
It’s easy to accept what you have without question and start to believe anything better is beyond your reach. A career coach can help you see things differently including how your limiting beliefs are holding you back from asking for what you want.
Where you work (the office/commute)
Your environment can affect you more than you recognise. Being somewhere that’s too hot or cold, or too dark or light can impact your moods and sense of well-being. Some buildings can even make you feel depressed or physically unwell. If that’s the case for you, working in a different place could make a significant difference to how you feel about going to work.
But where you work is about more than the building itself, it’s also about the immediate environment and the location of your workplace in relation to where you live.
If you are – or ever have been – a commuter who’s squeezed yourself onto crowded trains, waited in the rain for buses or been perpetually stuck in traffic, you’ll know how your journey to and from work can affect your life.
Maybe the commute is worth the pain because you love what you do. And if that’s the case, it’s fine. But if travelling is making your life a misery, a career coach can help you recognise that and decide whether it’s time to relocate and work somewhere new so you're less stressed and have time for what’s important to you.
Equally, it could be that you no longer want to work in a building that’s beside a busy and polluted road or that you no longer want to work on an industrial estate. It’s important to work out what’s these details about where you work. Do you want to be near shops and restaurants? Maybe you’d prefer to work somewhere rural so you can walk in the fresh air at lunchtime. If you travel a lot, you may want to work for a company that’s located close to motorways, train stations and airports.
A career coach will look at you as a whole person with a lifestyle, practical needs and individual preferences. This will enable you to identify whether a change in location is a ‘must have’ or a ‘nice to have’. That in itself can make your decisions about which roles to apply for easier and your job hunt more focused. After all, if a job is in the wrong location – and you’re not willing or able to move – you can dismiss it rather than applying for something that isn’t going to fit your lifestyle goals.
It’s easy to focus on one aspect of your life when changing roles or careers. Perhaps you decide you want a higher salary but end up lumbering yourself with a hideous commute which means you don’t have a social life or you're never home to see your kids.
Maybe you decide the commute has got to go but end up working for people who are less driven or ambitious than you ... so you end up feeling stuck and demotivated.
It’s easy to get locked into a particular way of thinking about yourself and your career. It’s only when you hire a career life coach and begin to dig deeper and ask questions that you can begin to see the problems and the possibilities.
That’s when your choices begin to open up and your job or career begins to deliver the life you really want.
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