Career Crossroads? Ask yourself these five questions.

My client Janice (not her real name) told me she was halfway through her working career and wanted a thinking partner to help to explore whether her career was on the right path or course correction was in order. I love being a thinking partner because that type of coaching exchange draws on the creative problem solving process I strongly support.

Many times people just need someone objective to hear their story, point out what is being said (and not said), reveal limiting beliefs, identify destructive or disruptive behaviors, and highlight themes. With this information clients are then empowered to find their own answers and chart their own courses through the topic or situation at hand.

In Janice’s case, I asked her to answer five main questions for me, although not right in a row. There was question and discussion around each as we proceeded through the session. These questions allowed Janice to come at the topic from a new vantage point. The questions we worked through may be helpful to you as you explore your own career trajectory and try to choose the best path to follow.

  1. Using one word answers, what are the top 3 positives about your old role as <an occupational therapist>? (Question and discussion create deep exploration.)
  2. Using one word answers, what are the top 3 positives about your current role as <a leadership administrator for occupational therapists>. (Question and discussion create deep exploration.)
  3. Of those six words, which one feels the most aligned with your values or makes you feel most energized or alive? (Questions and discussion…)
  4. Could your top choice be available or possible in both roles?
  5. How will you use this framework as you continue processing your feelings around this topic during the next week?

If a person comes to coaching on this particular issue (and many others, for that matter) it may mean she has done a good deal of self-exploration already but is moving in circles, not being able to find clarity or make forward progress towards an answer and an action plan. Therefore, forcing one word answers helps keep the focus on the main points, not the gray areas in between.

Then, being able to tie one of those answers back to a personal core value usually helps one career path emerge as the better choice for personal and financial well-being. But if not, the same approach can be altered and used again to help create further awareness and insight to inform the best decision.

For Janice, her professional identity had always been occupational therapist, but for the most recent half of her working life, Janice’s work was not hands on at all, at least with patients. What Janice discovered through our coaching sessions was that her influence was broader in her current role. Whereas before the sense of tangible progress, hope, and making a difference one on one, she had a chance to bring greater outcomes to more patients by helping her occupational therapist clients bring innovation and creativity to their practice so that improvements their patients experienced brought them closer to maximum potential than in the past.

Janice was able to give the phrase occupational therapy a whole new meaning. In that reframing she found that she could activate all six of those positives in her current role.

If this topic is relevant for you, try using the framework of these 5 questions and see if it helps. I am happy to talk with you about this work and you may email me if discussion on any level would be helpful.

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