It took me weeks to pluck up the courage to make my very first appointment with a Coach. I was going round in circles in my head over what to do about the frustrating and stressful job that I felt stuck in. It was making me miserable and it was having an impact at home - I'd turned into a boring git!
I'd bored my other half senseless at every opportunity with how it was getting to me - "If you don't like it anymore just leave - you'll find something else". A very supportive response which I will always be thankful for, but one that didn't seem to stop me going round in circles. The stress of being in a job I disliked now seemed to include the anxiety of how to go about getting a new one. My confidence was low and I couldn't think straight about what I would do instead or what my first step would be.
I'd heard something on the radio about how it was increasingly common in London for people to have a personal coach - this was 2012 and the coaching content on the internet was much less prolific. I'd got the idea, but was struggling to follow up on it.
Is this the sort of thing a coach can help with? I'm a fully functioning adult, will they think I'm stupid for not being able to figure this out myself? Will I feel uncomfortable or have to talk about stuff I don't want to? Will they just think I'm mad?
It took less than a minute in the first session for me to realise I shouldn't have spent ANY time worrying about those questions that kept looping in my mind.
My coach instantly made me feel at ease and asked me such sensible and searching questions about what was going on with me that the time flew by - we laughed a lot and I came away feeling lighter (mentally at least!) and was determined to act on the stuff I'd come up with.
The next day I was like a new person - something had changed. I hadn't spent any time on my actions yet, but just by talking to someone, without judgement or agenda, had helped me feel like I had progressed. I realised it was because I had done more than just talk - with my coach's help I had also made some decisions and as a result my state had changed from stuck to unstuck - I had taken a step towards changing the things that were frustrating me and it felt great.
By masterfully asking questions that we avoid asking ourselves, a coach helps us get to the heart of the problem. My coach helped me see that my job had evolved into something that was no longer congruent with what I wanted to get out of my career. Crucially, it had started to offend my values and I wasn't being my authentic self at work.
She created an environment for me to establish and explore alternative options, no matter how whacky my alternatives were she wrote them on the flip-chart and we discussed the reality of making each happen - this was the equivalent of my "you'll easily find something else" conversation, with the addition of focus to figure out what that something else might look like.
This conversation created a clear direction for me. Rather than just moaning and boring everyone about my stressful job, I now knew what I wanted instead and I had a plan for achieving it. It wasn't long before I had sought out and secured a new role within the same organisation. I was now excited about the future again.
It seems silly to me now that I ever hesitated to make that initial call as it was the start of a massive transformation for me. I still have the same coach today and I know when to give her a ring to prevent the unhelpful circular thinking that I have wasted so much time with in the past.
People seek out a coach for all sorts of reasons and you'll know when the time is right, just don't let the fear of the unknown stop you making the call - it's such a rewarding journey you'd wish you made the call sooner, I know I did.
Michelle is Professional Development Coach based in Swindon. She helps people achieve their career goals and overcome the obstacles that are stopping them reach their full potential.