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  • elizabethvautour

To Quit or Not to Quit...

Many times when people begin coaching, it's because they're secretly longing for a transformation or for someone to notice that what they've been doing for so long just isn't working anymore.

In coaching jargon, this is called an "opening"—when the client is ready for a change in their life and seeks the perspective and support to help them figure their way through that change.

In my career coaching work, it's probably not surprising that my clients usually show up with a desire to be coached toward a different career or a different way of integrating their career into their broader life goals. So it follows that during the course of coaching, many of my clients who are unhappy decide to quit their jobs—often without the next job lined up. What may be more surprising is that other clients decide not to quit.

What happens in our coaching work that helps them process such a significant—and sometimes scary—decision?

First, we work to sort through their feelings, their wants and desires, their needs, and their realities:

  • Assessing what they really LOVE to do and whether their current role or career path has room for that.

  • Looking at where, and how, they may have gotten stuck within the organization's hierarchy and whether there are options to get around that.

  • Understanding how they'd like to grow, and whether there are opportunities for that in their current company.

  • Digging into any office politics, team dysfunction, or lack of support, to determine whether those are solvable problems or dealbreakers.

  • Checking in on their overall priorities (including how those may have shifted since they jumped on this career path) and how their current job is (or is not) supporting those priorities.

  • Noticing their stress level as it relates to work, as well as their level of ambition and willingness to put up with the hard stuff.

I provide insight into what's normal and abnormal in work settings, help them notice the patterns, and explain what I hear beneath what they're sharing. But, I withhold my advice about the "right" decision, because each person's path and realities are different. My job is to support clients through the decision they make and help them create a strategy to get them where they want to go.

Through our work, some of my clients come to terms with how unhappy they've been for a long time and reach a breaking point where they have to quit.

Other clients realize that the career path they've been on was the default "safe" option, rather than one they had intentionally pursued around their strengths and interests. And then, mid-way into their career, they find themselves thinking about how they would really like to be spending their work time.

Some clients need a kick in the pants to see the value that they bring and get comfortable talking about their contributions to be stronger self-advocates for a promotion or a different opportunity within their current company.

And still others find that what they really want is to maintain their current job so that they can pursue some more meaningful things on the side, whether just for now or long-term. This can be an excellent option for individuals who want to see their career through to some milestone or those who have financial commitments they need to meet.

When we work to get clarity on what's most important to you and train a spotlight on your current situation, it can make your decision about whether or not to quit more straightforward.

It's no longer a nebulous, scary, dark future where you can't see any possibilities beyond your current situation. Instead, you have a roadmap to the future, which allows you to see different options and establish realistic goals to work toward. And when the future looks brighter, and the roadmap is not actually that long—well, that can make it feel safer to quit or recommit to a sometimes challenging situation because you're not that far away from taking some meaningful action on your career.

Through coaching, I hope that each of my clients can get the clarity they need and find confidence in whatever decision is right for them right now.

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