I’m not the coach who will advise you to quit your day job to find your dream job. In fact, as a coach, I help you find your answers instead of advising anything based on my own experiences. I also help you mine the data of your life to discover options you didn’t know were possible.
That said, there are many clients who come to me in a dark place. They’re in toxic work environments. They’re hunched, curled up in stress and panic-stricken—cortisol racing through their veins. If I owned a compassion blanket, I would swaddle them in it. Instead, I create a space where they can loosen the release valve, fall apart and reassemble themselves in a world where things are going to be OK.
Because things are going to be OK.
It may feel like this shit storm of a job and a life is your only choice. It’s not. You have options.
With some clients, when they know they need to leave—they create an interim plan to help them get there. They set new boundaries in their role to create time and space to reflect on what they want. They network, they hone their stories and they make their search a priority WHILE they’re at their jobs. They may not be knocking it out of the park at work, but they’re doing well and what they need to do to get the job done. For some, this is possible and it’s a busy, but exciting path forward.
For others, their paralysis takes up so much mental space and energy, even the smallest baby step feels like an exhausting marathon. The idea of looking for a job while they have a job sounds practical, but completely impossible. In the midst of a crisis of self-esteem and confidence, the exercise of listing strengths and passions feels more like a creative writing assignment than self-reflection.
When I sit across from someone tangled in knots like this, we open an investigation.
What would a reboot look like? Is a short break—or better yet, a sabbatical—to figure it all out possible? We brainstorm all the data points that need collecting so an informed decision can be made.
Here are some of the questions we ask to go beyond the fear and emotion and get grounded in the facts.
- What are your monthly expenses?
- Can you decrease your expenses for a period of time?
- Do you have enough savings to take a short break? And if so, how long would it be?
- If you don’t have the savings, is there a more temporary, flexible job you can take on for a period of time to create more space for you?
- Given that we are in a time of streamlining organizations, is there a way to raise your hand for severance or a package at your company?
- Do you have a temporary way to cover health insurance?
- If you have a partner, are you and your partner on the same page about your break?
- Do you have the emotional support of your family and friends?
- What are your goals for your sabbatical?
- What action will you take during your break to refuel and rebuild?
- What do you want to learn on your break?
Then, they crunch the numbers. They map out the scenarios. They review their choices that are based in data and reality and not in fear. For some, that exercise may be enough to remove the anvil from their backs. Simply knowing there’s a way out if they need it, is a way to help them begin to move forward with their search while still in their jobs. And for those who decide to take the sabbatical, they show up in my office with wide smiles that glimmer—one part pride, one part disbelief and the rest knowing an entire world is theirs for the taking.