Research Paper By Anita Swartley
(Life Coach, USA)
This case study highlights a coaching process that is transformational in nature. This study reflects the use of self- awareness and self- knowledge as foundational tools to help create a platform from which the client is able to more realistically assess her current situation and subsequently prepare to make decisions that help her move towards developing and implementing an attainable action plan. Over a period of three months and six sessions, through the help of a coach, the client examined her current situation, worked on self-awareness and with perspective shifts was able to see her true self. This realization created the ability to make decisions and put an action plan in place to reach the client’s goal.
My client is a twenty-four year old woman named Alyssa. Her name has been changed for confidentiality purposes. Alyssa came to me feeling distraught and overwhelmed. She knew she was unhappy and that her job was a significant source of her discontent, but she was unsure as to why. She felt she wanted to change jobs, but didn’t know what she wanted to change to, nor did she know what type of job would best suit her. She currently works in a medical office processing patients. She has tried going back to school several times, but each time took a few classes and then dropped out. Her family is very supportive of her as a person but she does feel a bit inferior to them as all of her siblings have gone on to master’s level education. They are highly successful in their careers, but she has added that they don’t make her feel badly about her life, she recognizes that those feelings come from her alone.
Session One: Lovely to Meet You
This first session was designed as a get to know you time where Alyssa could feel free to share her feelings and concerns. I discussed with her my background and coaching approach and allowed her time to freely speak about why she was interested in coaching. Alyssa shared her frustrations and aggravations she experienced with her current job. She spoke about how torn she felt in thinking of leaving because she thought she did not have a valid reason to be discontent. She felt that maybe she was just an’ unhappy lazy person’ that couldn’t seem to find a way to ‘be ok’ with a job. She thought the job she had was as good as any other job so the problem must lie within her. When asked, “If you could have any job in the whole world, with no obstacles, your dream job, what would it be?” She replied “I don’t know, sometimes I feel I could be a baker, or a real estate agent, or a receptionist or a stay at home mom, but I don’t really know.” She said any time she thought of a potential job she would talk herself out of it. She felt random and unfocused. I asked her what her goal for coaching would be, and she said she wanted to find a career that she could love and be proud of- she liked to work and felt she had a lot to offer, she just couldn’t identify it. As the session came to a close, I asked her if she would be willing to work on a strengths worksheet over the next week. The worksheet was designed to help someone discover their strengths. She was very excited about the idea and agreed to work on it and bring it back for the next session.
Session two: I had no idea!
Alyssa came into the second session very energized and excited. She felt that she had a clearer idea of what she wanted her coaching goal to be. She definitely wanted to work on finding a new job. She said in being able to talk about her situation out loud, she realized she really did want to change jobs. She was also very excited about the results of her strengths worksheet. We discussed what she discovered and she shared that she never realized and never thought about herself as having strengths. Being able to see them in print and then say them out loud during our session brought a realization to her that she had never had. She noticed that some of her strengths had diminished over the past few years. She discovered that in her job she wasn’t using her strengths or she would hide them because they were threatening to her coworkers. She said she felt that she was becoming a shell of a person, not recognizing her own self. She discussed the option of looking for a new job or going back to school. We explored a little deeper her relationship with school to see if it was a viable option for her. I asked her if she were willing to do another little test to determine what her learning style was, she was eager to find out so she agreed.
Session three: What was I thinking?
The beginning of the third session was dedicated to discussion of the results of Alyssa’s learning style assessment and what she discovered. Alyssa realized and finally accepted within herself that she did not like school and really did not want to go. She felt as if she should because her siblings all completed their bachelor’s and master’s degrees. She realized she was not being true to herself by accepting that school was not a good fit for her. In reflecting back on her strengths list, she began to see that she had a lot to offer and that she was not less of a person because she did not have a degree behind her name. This was a startling discovery for Alyssa, she began to see that one of her limiting beliefs was that she was not good enough without a degree. In discovering more of her strengths and gifts, she realized that the underlying belief was not true and it was driving her to feel inferior and to self-loath. It also drove her to stay in the job she was in because her title sounded important, and working in medicine was helping people, and helping people was a noble cause. She felt that if she worked in that field, she would then measure up to her siblings. She realized she had a deep desire to have a job with purpose but that in reality, she actually hated medicine. She also disliked working in customer service, but felt that she couldn’t admit that, that it would make her a bad person for not liking to work with people in that capacity. I asked the question “Is that true?” All the pieces started to fall in place. She realized that the way she had been thinking had prevented her to feel confident about who she was as a person and it had caused her to stay stuck in a job that she hated. There seemed to be a weight that lifted from her, her face lit up, and she said, “it’s time to make a change! “ She wanted to explore these new discoveries even deeper, so I gave her a tolerations tool which is designed to help you discover what isn’t working for you. She decided to be specific to her job and was excited to get started.
Session four: That explains it.
This session Alyssa wanted to talk about the details of what she discovered through her tolerations homework. She discovered that the specific things she didn’t like about her job were in direct conflict with her strengths. She realized that every task she was required to do, was structured in a way that not only did not use her strengths, but was contrary to who she was as a person. As she became more comfortable with who she was, she could see much more clearly why her current job was such a poor fit for her. She began to realize that it wasn’t because she was an unhappy, lazy worker, but on the contrary, she had so much to offer, she was just out of alignment with what worked for her. Her place of employment was not only stifling her abilities but was draining her of energy. The energy it took to just work in an environment that was so opposite of what she needed left her little energy to deal with patients and even less to take care of herself when she got home. It wasn’t who she was that wasn’t working, it was where she was! Although she sensed that on some level, she finally had clarity as to why. She was thrilled at this realization and wanted to determine what jobs would be a good fit for her. She felt that she was ready to explore the types of jobs that would work for who she was and now that she was valuing herself, she was also ready to dedicate some time to self- care. I asked if she were interested in doing a values assessment to see what she valued and she agreed to have that completed before next session.
Session Five: This is what I want!
Pulling from what Alyssa had learned over the past few sessions, and reflecting on the values she discovered, Alyssa wanted to explore some job possibilities for herself. She was able to list jobs that were a definite no and I asked her again what her dream job might be. She was able to come up with a job she would have never thought she would say- Her dream job would be a curator at a museum. Knowing that the job would not be a realistic one due to her desire to not pursue school, we examined what about the job that made it a good fit.
Her list was as follows:
Creating this list was so revealing to Alyssa. She was able to narrow her focus on jobs that she would like and would be a good fit for her personality and strengths. She was now ready to work on an action plan to begin finding her next new job. She decided her next action step was to research jobs that had these elements and come up with a list of potential jobs that she may like to do. She determined that her research would focus on corporations/ business or financial institutions. She had a clear understanding that she would not like a job in customer service, social service, human services, retail, medical or restaurants, and she was accepting of herself in that decision. She was relieved to discover who she was and that it was ok to say no to a job that was not a good fit.
Session Six: Action is our next step
Alyssa came to the next session literally a changed woman. She had cut her hair, changed her style and walked in with such confidence. She was glowing. She sat down and proceeded to share her discoveries. She had done the research and had a list of potential positions she would like to look for. She said she had begun researching these jobs in the area and had a list of companies that were hiring. She was so excited! She said as she searched for the positions, she kept in mind what she was looking for in a position, and was able to weed out jobs that were not a good fit, something she would have never been able to do two months ago. She was proud of who she was and she no longer apologized for herself. Her next action step was to complete revisions on her resume and to prepare for her interviews. She now knew what she wanted and what she had to offer, and she was confident that she could look for something she could be excited about and proud of.
Session Seven: Evaluate and Celebrate
Although we had celebrated her wins as we worked through each session, this session had a sense of accomplishment like no other. We evaluated where she had been and what her goal was at the start of our sessions. We talked about her discoveries and how far she had grown since our first session. She felt her actions steps were timely and appropriate and a great foundation for her next phase of life. She already had applied to several companies and had already landed an interview. She stated that she had a lot of questions for them as well and was so excited for the exchange. Alyssa was confident and secure about who she was and even though she did not know exactly where she was going to end up, she felt she was on the right road to her destination. A road she had chosen, one she was proud of, and one she could call her own. She was introduced to herself and she had become true friends with who she was. She felt that what she had discovered in our sessions could be carried through to all aspects of her life, and she was finally comfortable in her own skin.
Coaching is a process that uses many different tools and influences to support and help a client to discover, visualize, plan, and put into action their dreams and goals. It is designed to help a client go from where they are, to where they want to be. Alyssa had everything inside of her to be able to make the decisions she needed to find a job that would be a better fit for her. Alyssa needed someone to help reflect back to her what was already there, her strengths, gifts, and abilities that she just didn’t recognize in herself. Through reframing of perspectives, encouragement, and awareness tools, Alyssa was able to have deeper clarity in who she was and was able to let that person shine through. As she acknowledged her inner strengths and validated herself in who she was, her confidence grew and she was able to change the negative thought processes that held her captive. She could see her reality and how she had control over her decisions and her life, she was no longer a victim of her circumstances or her negative thoughts.