Why I'm Stepping Away from Career Coaching

As some of you know, I was planning on opening enrollment for the Spring cohort of my in-depth coaching program, A Wild New Work, on February 13th. The launch plan was laid out in detail, the program was outlined, and preliminary announcements were made. All signs pointed to pushing forward with my thoughtful plan.

Well, that’s not entirely true. The signs I saw were rooted in my ego. I saw business growth and stability, and the pursuit of a full program called to me like sirens across the sea. They were signs, to be sure, but not the kind I want to follow.

I received other, less obvious signs. Back pain, tension in my chest, and a heaviness as I looked at my spreadsheet. “This is gonna be a lot of work,” I’d think to myself. But before I let myself feel that heaviness or sense of dread, a part of me would kick me back up and say, “Well, it’s supposed to be hard! Keep going!” So there I’d go, to the tinkering and preparation, telling myself that I’m a career coach and career coaches see clients and they do it in this way, and will my body please just stop needing to rest?

I’ve been seeing clients as a career coach for over four years now. I started in a somewhat dilapidated office and was almost completely frozen by imposter syndrome, but there was a spark to it that I loved. I still love this spark. It’s so invigorating to be present with someone’s pursuit of freedom and the breaking of their chains. To be with someone as they leave the work that sickens them and create a new foundation of stability and joy is an honor I’ve been able to experience dozens and dozens of times in the past four years.

This work has seen me through my wedding day, moving homes, the birth of my first child, and hundreds of hours of self-discovery. The term “career coach” has never been a label I fully embraced, but it became a portal to a new way of working, and for that I will always be grateful. Coaching has helped me learn about my strengths, get out of a corporate environment, and allowed me to serve others in a deeply meaningful way.

But now it’s time for this season to end.

Photo by  Zoltan Tasi  on  Unsplash

Photo by Zoltan Tasi on Unsplash

I hope it’s not forever, but for now, I will not be coaching individuals or opening enrollment for A Wild New Work. This isn’t because there’s any crisis and it certainly isn’t because my clients aren’t wonderful. In fact, this is partially their fault. My clients are incredibly honest and courageous about living with total integrity, and they’ve reminded me how important it is to do that for myself.

I’ve been receiving intuitive signs that my time as a coach was coming to a close for many months now. I didn’t want to see them and ignored what I knew for as long as I could, but what resulted was a blend of over-efforting and emptiness. I was faced with a very simple choice: continue as I was and it would be difficult (but not impossible), or let go and see what it felt like to float into something new.

I talk more about this letting go process in this month’s podcast episode, When a Season in Your Career Needs to End, and I can tell you that it hasn’t been easy. The most difficult part of this transition for me has been not being able to answer the question, “What would I do instead?”

Sometimes we get a clear picture of the next job, career path, or gig, and we can more comfortably leave the old one. Other times, we’re given small clues about what’s next but no clear picture of how we’ll support ourselves financially or spend our time. It sounds simplistic, but I believe there are times in our lives when we just have to leave a thing before we’ll find out what’s meant to replace it.

I’ve been given this opportunity in the past, but the liminal period of unknown was so uncomfortable that I created a new level of busyness and chaos in order to have something to do, even if it wasn’t quite right. This time around, I’m really challenging myself to get comfortable with the not knowing.

What I do know at this time is that I need to take a step back from one on one coaching and delve deeper into what Nature can teach us about our sacred work. I will continue to share thoughts and ideas on the podcast, A Wild New Work: Ecological guidance for your career, and I may be offering seasonal classes, like the one currently available.

Other than that, I’m not sure, and I’m giving myself permission to hang out in this space. I acknowledge that my family and I enjoy a certain level of privilege for me to be able to do this. That said, this arrangement won’t be sustainable for the long term, and I’m trusting that by re-integrating myself internally, my external environment (including income) will also click into place. I’m looking forward to sharing more with you about that process.

If you were looking forward to working with me in A Wild New Work or if you could use some extra support in the form of coaching, I want to share information about three wonderful coaches I know:

  • Aubrie de Clerck is based in Portland but coaches clients from all over the world, and she has a dual focus on career coaching and also offers career astrology support. Here’s something from her website that I love: “I am here to provide focus, inspiration and guidance.  Encourage you and help you get clear on your path. Help you create practical next steps that will take you from exactly where you are to fulfilling work.  You don’t have to know what your next step is. It’s completely normal to feel unclear. You can’t do it wrong and you won’t feel like this forever. We’ll do the work together.” You can learn more and reach out to Aubrie here.

  • Skye Mercer is based in the midwest but also works with clients from everywhere. She has an extensive background in Human Resources and now offers HR consulting as well as meaningful one on one career coaching. I know her background would resonate with those of you in Human Resources who want to shake things up in your career in one way or another. She writes, “I help professionals create work they love, whether it’s finding a new career path, transitioning to a new job, or creating the ideal workplace at their current job.” To learn more and contact Skye, click here.

  • Kate Holly is a yoga therapist and life coach based in Portland. Her blend of embodiment and vocational coaching is really lovely. In addition to founding and operating Yoga Refuge in the Montavilla neighborhood, she also sees coaching clients interested in making changes in a variety of areas, including career. I’ve found Kate to be a grounded, peaceful, and encouraging presence, and I think you would, too. You can learn more about her here.

Photo by  Jenny Caywood  on  Unsplash

I hope that by being open about the cycles of change in my own career, you feel emboldened to honor your own. Your process doesn’t need to look like anyone else’s, and in fact, it can’t. The only thing that each of us can do is study our inner wisdom and determine how we want to live it out in the world through our work. It may not make sense to us at first, but if we follow the quiet encouragement from our bodies and our intuition, we create space for the next beautiful thing that wants to be born, whether that’s a new working relationship, job, entrepreneurial venture, or piece of art.

I want to leave you with a poem by David Whyte from his book Crossing the Unknown Sea: Work as a Pilgrimage of Identity.

But still, on the ocean, there is

no path

only the needle’s trembling dance

north

...followed

without fear,

though the dance now is fear

and calmness

in one movement

seeing

as you look

not only the angry sea

of what you

have denied

but

here,

near at hand,

in the center

of your body,

the rose-fire

of the compass

blossoming

with direction.