A Research Paper By Michaela Calhoun, Career Coach, UNITED STATES
When I think about my journey to becoming a professional coach, one of the things that always strikes me is the twists and turns it took to get me here. I have always loved learning and have found so many subjects, concepts, and ideas interesting. It was hard for me to narrow it down and pick just one thing to focus on, but I knew I would find fulfillment in helping people. That did not narrow down my options too much, but it was a start. I went to college knowing I wanted to major in business, so I decided to specialize in human resources in an attempt to have a career where I could help people. I worked in recruiting and employee relations because both seemed to like that will give me some level of personal fulfillment. I very quickly learned, however, that it was not about helping the employees but about protecting the company. I knew, then, it was time for me to move on.
While working in employee relations, I thought maybe going to law school would be a good next step for my career. I love learning and knew I wanted to further my education but was uncertain what I wanted to go back to school for. Practicing law felt like it would be the true way for me to help people. What would be more fulfilling than helping people right the wrongs they’ve experienced? After 3 years of challenging education, a two-and-a-half-day test, and a four-month wait, I was a lawyer. I found an associate attorney position with an employment law firm that only represented employees and felt like I had finally found my career home. As I started practicing, I realized the constant state of anxiety, tension, and confrontation that naturally comes with litigation was not sustainable for me. While I was able to help people to a certain extent, I knew that practicing law was not the right fit for me.
I started to think about all of the other things I might like to do that didn’t require years of additional education or training. My ideas were all over the place. I thought of things I naturally enjoyed doing and tried to find ways to turn that into a career. Unfortunately, I never found anyone willing to pay me to read books or learn. I thought about things I found interesting but all of those felt like I would need to start my career over. I didn’t want to disregard the work and education I already had but knew the traditional careers in those fields were not what I wanted. I felt stuck, scattered, unfocused, and uncertain of where to go next.
After months and months of this, I decided to find a career coach to help me figure it all out. Secretly, I just wanted someone to tell me what to do with my life. I quickly learned that is not a coach’s role. My coach explained she would help me make sense of everything going on in my head by helping me tap into my values, skills, interests, and several other factors to help me figure out what I wanted to do. I felt desperate to do something in an attempt to try to move forward, so I signed on to work with my coach while thinking there is no way this is going to help me.
I am so glad that I did. During the time I spent working with my coach, I discovered the power of coaching for the first time and was in awe. By assessing my career situation objectively and without judgment, I was able to focus on what I value while also thinking about all of the different jobs I ever had to determine what I liked and didn’t like and so much more. I was able to work through my doubts, fears, insecurities, and the circular thought patterns I had created for myself. This gave me the clarity and direction I was unable to find on my own. From there, I was able to look at different options that married all of the things I uncovered about myself together. That is when I realized I wanted to help people who are where I was, who feel what I felt, and who want to try to move forward despite their fears and reservations to find the career they’ve always wanted. That is the power of mindfulness in career transition coaching.
Mindfulness in Career Transition Coaching: What Is a Career Transition?
A career is defined as “a set of events, activities, experiences, and decisions that occur over the course of an individual’s work-life” (van Rensburg &Ukpere&Ukpere, 2014: 725). Our careers take up a huge portion of our time and, in exchange, provide us with an income. Several people see a career as a means to an end – they want to do be able to afford to do the things they want to do. However, a career can be so much more than that. It can provide a sense of challenge, purpose, and fulfillment (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732). It can be a source of identity, a way to express one’s creativity, or even tied to one’s social status. (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732). Therefore, one’s career can be more than just a means of survival; it can be a foundational way of expressing and developing oneself (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732).
Transition is defined as “an event or non-event [that] results in a change in assumptions about oneself and the world and thus requires a corresponding change in one’s behavior and relationships” (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 725). While the triggering event may be external, transitioning is an internal process involving the individual, his/her background, and the relationships between that individual and other roles or people in his/her life (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 725). Going through any type of transition has a life-long impact on that individual (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 725).
A career transition, then, can be defined as “the period during which an individual is either changing roles (taking on a different objective role) or changing orientation to a role already held (altering a subjective state)” (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 725) (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 1). Traditionally, a career was such that an individual continued with a steady upward trajectory in the same area within the same company (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 725). Today, however, career transitioning is much broader than entering and exiting the workforce and includes an entire range of movements going in every direction – left, right, up, down, zigzag, or any other direction you can think of(van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 725-726). In addition, research has shown that people are transitioning within their careers more often, and more frequently “across the boundaries of occupations, industries, organizations, functional areas, and the labor market” (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 1).
There are five major theoretical perspectives as it relates to career transitions (Sullivan &Ariss: 2019, 2). While they are presented separately, they are not discrete and multiple perspectives can be present at the same time (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 9). The first is the career stage perspective; the major premise of which is “career transitions are fairly predictable events,” and “transitions occur as individual ages and moves from one period of development to another across his/her career” (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 2). The second is the decision-making perspective, which focuses on “determining what factors influence the decision-making process of individuals faced with the opportunity to make a career transition” (Sullivan &Ariss: 2019, 5). According to the adjustment perspective, the third theoretical perspective, the adjustment to a career transition is not a discrete event but occurs in phases over time (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 6). The fourth is the relational perspective, which holds career transitions are socially embedded constructs (Sullivan &Ariss: 2019, 7).
The fifth perspective is the identity perspective. “The main focus of the identity perspective is that an individual’s evolving narrative about who they are, how they feel, and how they act may trigger a career transition”(Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 8). A career is a major source of identification for many individuals, such that transitions in one’s career may, in fact, impact that individual’s identity (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 8).
Many studies have confirmed that career transitions may be triggered by identity changes (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 8). It makes sense that the reverse is likely true, meaning that career transitions can also trigger identity changes in an individual (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019, 8). As such, studies have started to explore what happens with individuals who are unable to successfully make the desired career transition (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 8). Individuals stuck between the job they have and the job they want, “often engaged in negative, self-deprecating identity talk that highlighted the overwhelming structural and social barriers they faced in trying to transition” to the desired job (Sullivan &Ariss 2019: 8-9).“Instead of their identity being defined by the desired career change, they became defined by being locked out of the ability to transition to their preferred position and locked into a position they did not want” (Sullivan &Ariss, 2019: 9).
In looking at it through the lens of these five theoretical perspectives, the process of going through a career transition begins when the individual is triggered, either by something happening or not (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732, 736). It is important to note that these triggers do not create the necessary change, but they do create the need or desire within the individual triggered to begin to explore their options (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732). What these triggers vary from person to person and are based on each person’s individual beliefs, ideas, experiences, and preferences (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736). For some, external triggers will be a huge factor, while others will be triggered by internal changes or processes (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736). It is interesting to note that these triggers are perceived by some as barriers such they should maintain their status quo. Others, however, use these triggers to move towards a transition (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736).
All people will identify barriers as they begin to think about making a career transition. It is each individual’s perception that allows them to make the distinction between barriers that can be overcome and those that are insurmountable (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732). Therefore, it is a “person’s self-concept, what they think about themselves and how they want to be,” that defines the types of barriers identified (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732). A person’s viewpoint and self-concept, however, are not fixed and can evolve, as long as the individual is willing to do the work to shift his/her perception, viewpoint, and self-concept.
Once an individual is triggered, they must decide to transition or not (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736). Although external elements frequently influence this decision, “the decision itself is an internal process” (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736). While making this decision, people need to consider their values, interests, and passions, as well as elements of a job that make them happy (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736). People also need to consider their experience compared to what experience is needed to make a transition, as well as “their skills, competencies, level, and type of qualification, as well as their talents and willingness to learn” (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736). This is inherently an internal process and is dependent on one’s personal perception, viewpoint, and self-concept (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 736).
Therefore, going through a career transition is a truly individual process. “Individual differences in personality, attitude, ability, identity, self-concept, and emotions play a role in the choices the individual makes about [his or her] career” (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 732). Furthermore, “personal preferences as a set of interrelated beliefs and passions not only influence but also lead the career transition of professionals from beginning to end” (van Rensburg &Ukpere, 2014: 730).
As an individual begins the journey of going through a career transition, there is a lot of internal work and discovery that needs to be done to help someone achieve their desired career transition. This work will lead to new awareness and discoveries about oneself, which can be overwhelming. Therefore, individuals going through career transitions can be served by developing a new mindset as well as tools to help them during this time.
What Is Mindfulness?
The idea of mindfulness has been around for several years and is strongly rooted in Buddhist psychology (Brown et al., 2007: 212). There is also a “conceptual kindship with ideas advanced by a variety of philosophical and psychological traditions, including ancient Greek philosophy; phenomenology, existentialism, and naturalism in later Western European thought; and the transcendentalism and humanism in America” (Brown et al., 2007: 212). The concept of mindfulness has been commonly described across cultures and schools of thought, which suggests it is foundational to the human experience (Brown et al., 2007: 212). It has even been said to be an innate capacity of one’s mind (Brown et al., 2007: 215).
Mindfulness, as a term, is derived from the Pali language word sati meaning ‘to remember” (Brown et al., 2007: 212). Mindfulness is“a deceptively simple way of relating to experience” (Germer, 2004: 24). It connotes a mode of consciousness and conveys the idea of a presence of mind (Brown et al., 2007: 212). Mindfulness has been defined as “the awareness that emerges through paying attention on purpose, in the present moment, and nonjudgmentally to the unfolding of experience moment to moment (Germer, 2004: 26). “By not judging our experience, we are more likely to see it as it is” (Germer, 2004: 26). When we are mindful, we accept or are willing to be with what is, instead of avoiding, controlling, or dwelling on what could have been (Brown et al., 2007: 227). Mindfulness encourages perceiving what is happening within and around us without judgment while also discouraging “automatic, habitual thought patterns” (Brown et al, 2007: 226).
Based on this definition, one could think that mindfulness equates to being aloof or some type of detached spectatorship, but it is not (Brown et al., 2007: 214). Instead, studies have shown that mindfulness actually promotes greater interest in life, as reflected in increased levels of compassion, empathy, and ecological stewardship (Brown et al, 2007: 214). Mindfulness is also not a form of escape or disconnection from life; “rather, it is thought to bring one into closer contact with life by helping to circumvent the self-generated accounts about life that act to pull one away from it” (Brown et al., 2007: 227).
Research has demonstrated that mindfulness is comprised of at least four elements: awareness, attention, time, and acceptance(Passmore, 2007: 131).“Awareness is the brain’s ability to constantly monitor and recognize internal and external systems and stimuli” (Passmore, 2007: 131). “Attention is the brain’s ability to focus the awareness to a specific phenomenon and so increasing the sensitivity to it” (Passmore, 2007: 131). “Time refers to ‘the now;’ the only place where we exist, experience and act” (Passmore, 2007: 131). “Acceptance represents our ability to let go and to be non-judgmental; our ability to observe and absorb reality ‘as is,’ without embarrassment, satisfaction or disappointment” (Passmore, 2007: 131).
Another way to think of mindfulness is one’s mind naturally reflecting what passes before it without the filter of our conceptual thoughts, emotions, and judgments regarding the experience (Brown, et al., 2007: 213). Being unbiased in this way has been found to create insight into reality highlighting things that are otherwise obscured or allowing for greater understanding or clarity (Brown, et al., 2007: 213). There are several reasons various experiences can be hidden from our conscious awareness, including those items that threaten one’s self-concept (Brown et al., 2007: 213). Mindfulness encourages us to recognize “all consciously perceived phenomena, including thoughts and feelings,” are just that (Brown et al., 2007: 226). Thoughts are just thoughts and feelings are just feelings (Brown et al., 2007: 226). Further, they do not always reflect reality accurately (Brown et al., 2007: 226).
“Mindfulness thus involves the capacity to be aware of internal and external events and occurrences as phenomena, rather than as the objects of a conceptually constructed world” (Brown et al., 2007: 212).“Because mindfulness permits and immediacy of direct contact with events as they occur, without the overlay of discriminative, categorical, and habitual thought, consciousness takes on a clarity and freshness that permits more flexible, more objectively informed psychological and behavioral responses” (Brown et al., 2007: 212).
As such, mindfulness fosters a different relationship to thought (Brown et al., 2007: 213). Processing information mindfully requires a receptive mind where one’s attention is focused only on registering the facts observed (Brown et al. et al., 2007: 212). Then, the inherent power of awareness and attention allows the individual to be present in reality as it is instead of reacting to it or automatically processing it through predefined filters (Brown et al., 2007: 212). The mindful mode of processing “does not compare, categorize, or evaluate, nor does it contemplate, introspect, reflect, or ruminate upon events or experiences based on memory” (Brown et al., 2007: 213). Mindfulness focuses on the simple act of noticing what is taking place, internally, and externally, at a given moment (Brown, et al., 2007: 213).
“When mindful, the activity of conceptual thought can be engaged and disengaged more choice-fully, and because one can be aware of thoughts as thoughts, and their accompanying emotions as simply reactions to them, thoughts are less likely to be colored by beliefs, prejudices, and other biases that are not supported by objective or experiential evidence” (Brown et al., 2007: 213). Therefore, “the mindful state of being is inherently empirical, in that it seeks possession of the full facts like that of the objective scientist seeking accurate knowledge of some phenomenon” (Brown et al., 2007: 213-214). “This stance encourages a deferral of judgment until a careful examination of facts has been made” (Brown et al., 2007: 214). “Mindfulness, then, is noticing what is present, including noticing that one is no longer present” (Brown et al., 2007: 214). “Recognizing that one is not being attentive and aware is itself an instance of mindfulness” (Brown et al., 2007: 214).
Benefits of Mindfulness
Mindfulness is not the answer to life’s problems, but it does allow us to see life’s problems more clearly by creating a clear mind (Passmore, 2007; 131). When in a mindful state of being, our attention is focused on the present moment; we are not thinking about the past or future or judging or refusing to accept what is (Germer, 2004: 25). “This kind of attention generates energy, clear-headedness, and joy” (Germer, 2004: 25). “Mindfulness can help us to step out of our conditioning and see things freshly” (Germer, 2004: 25).In fact, research has shown that mindfulness can improve our well-being (Brown et al., 2007: 220). An individual can achieve a higher sense of well-being just by being in a mindful state (Brown et al., 2007: 220). Furthermore, mindfulness encourages nonjudgmental and acceptance, both of which can facilitate “direct contact with uncomfortable realities or experiences” (Brown et al., 2007: 213).
Mindfulness directly affects our ability to assess what is happening and view those events for what they are (Passmore, 2007: 133). This allows us to see these events more objectively, which, in turn, allows us to maintain greater control over our response (Passmore, 2007: 133). This can occur because mindfulness allows us to observe internal and external information at the moment without judgment and facilitates our ability to make choices informed by our beliefs, needs, values, and feelings that realistically fit with the options available to us (Brown, et al., 2007: 223). More simply, “the fuller awareness afforded by mindfulness facilitates more flexible, adaptive responses to events, and helps to minimize automatic, habitual, or impulsive reactions” that may not be serving us (Brown, et al., 2007: 223).
Furthermore, “contentment, job satisfaction, and communication significantly increased after mindfulness training, while tension, anxiety, nervousness, and physical symptoms of stress significantly decreased” (Passmore, 2007: 133). Mindfulness has also been found to positively influence “control, creativity, burnout, productivity, attentional processes, and learning” (Passmore, 2007: 134). Also, mindfulness “has been demonstrated to positively affect brain faculties and other physiological and psychological functions; blood pressure, cortisol levels, and IgA levels are among some of them” (Passmore, 2007: 134). Mindfulness can also be “an effective stress management intervention” (Passmore, 2007: 134).
The nonjudgmental acceptance created through mindfulness can facilitate a state of calmness and ease, which then can create a stable sense of well-being that is not contingent on any circumstances (Brown et al., 2007: 227).“The fact that mindfulness is associated with enhanced executive functioning, better self-regulation, greater autonomy, and enhanced relationship capacities, all attests to the fact that when individuals are more mindful they are more capable of acting in ways that are more choiceful and more openly attentive to and aware of themselves and the situations in which they find themselves, all things considered” (Brown et al, 2007: 227). Therefore, “mindfulness and its cultivation support healthy, adaptive human functioning” (Brown et al., 2007: 227).
Research published to date demonstrates that mindfulness has beneficial “psychological, somatic, behavioral, and interpersonal effects” (Brown et al., 2007: 229).“Mindfulness facilitates a loosening of attachments to notions of self, others, and the world, so that life events can be approached with greater equanimity” (Brown et al., 2007: 230).
To summarize, “mindful moments are:
- Non-conceptual. Mindfulness is awareness without absorption in our thought processes.
- Present-centered. Mindfulness is always in the present moment. Thoughts about our experience are removed from the present moment.
- Non-judgmental. Awareness cannot occur freely if we would like our experience to be other than it is.
- Mindfulness always includes an intention to direct attention somewhere. Returning attention to the present moment gives mindfulness continuity over time.
- Participant observation. Mindfulness is not detached witnessing. It is experiencing the mind and body more intimately.
- Non-verbal. The experience of mindfulness cannot be captured in words because awareness occurs before words arise in the mind.
- Mindful awareness is always investigating subtler levels of perception.
- Every moment of mindful awareness provides freedom from conditioned [thoughts, behaviors, or responses]” (Germer, 2004: 27).
What Is Coaching?
The International Coaching Federation defines coaching as “partnering with clients in a thought-provoking and creative process that inspires them to maximize their personal and professional potential” (https://coachingfederation.org/about). “The process of coaching often unlocks previously untapped sources of imagination, productivity, and leadership” (https://coachingfederation.org/about). Therefore, coaching is a “learning and development process, framed within the respect for ethics and values, during which the client (known as coachee) becomes aware and changes their way of being, feeling, and acting based on their objectives and goals” (González, 2018).
As a consequence of coaching, individuals can develop new processes resulting in a greater sense of personal and professional well-being (González, 2018). Therefore, the focus of coaching is creating a space for the client to learn, grow, and develop (González, 2018). It is important to remember that the emphasis centers on the client’s responsibility as the client is the author of their own story (González, 2018). Clients have the ability to discover their own answers to all of their questions, and it is our job as coaches to trust that while using our own curiosity to help them explore new or different ways of thinking.
Research conducted to date has verified that coaching is an effective form of intervention and promotes well-being and performance, both at a personal and organizational level (González, 2018). While promising, the scientific study as it relates to coaching is still in the early phases (González, 2018).
The Importance of Mindfulness in Career Transition Coaching
In a survey conducted by Liz Hall, 83% of the coaches used mindfulness techniques with their clients (González, 2018). “The main reasons for doing so included increasing self-awareness, managing stress, and reactions, generating focus, clarity, and well-being, promoting greater alignment with their values, and developing emotional intelligence” (González, 2018). Mindfulness and coaching are similar in several ways. Both focus on curiosity, acceptance, values, and non-judgment (González, 2018). Mindfulness and coaching both:
- “Address the growth and development of human potential.
- Promote personal development and change through customer awareness and responsibility.
- Conceive the human being as an integral whole composed by the interaction of all their dimensions.
- Consider respecting quality and ethical standards as essential.
- Require having been previously experienced on a personal level to be properly implemented in other people.
- Lastly, both disciplines recognize open-mindedness, acceptance, curiosity, mental clarity, presence, or authenticity as essential skills” (González, 2018).
There are, however, foundational differences between mindfulness and coaching (González, 2018). “The main difference lies in that coaching emphasizes the promotion of change as a long-term approach, whereas mindfulness promotes the unconditional acceptance of the present moment” (González, 2018). It may seem as though mindfulness and coaching are contradictory, but it has been found that it is “precisely because of these differences that mindfulness can optimize the coaching process’s effectiveness” (González, 2018). Coaching and mindfulness both “promote change through the client’s awareness and own responsibility” (González, 2018). “Coaching gives people the possibility of discovering new opportunities, with mindfulness being the way to achieving these opportunities” (González, 2018).
The clarity created by mindfulness is “thought to facilitate unhindered access to all of one’s relevant knowledge (e.g., intellectual, emotional, and physical/intuitive) to aid in negotiating life situations” (Brown et al., 2007: 213). This is incredibly important for individuals going through career transitions. It can be difficult when trying to think through all of your knowledge objectively while also feeling a variety of both positive and negative emotions about making such a change.
Career transitions can be a challenging time. “Most people experience the transition to a new working life as a time of confusion, loss, insecurity, and uncertainty(Ibarra, 2003; 52). Usually, this time, and more specifically these emotions, “lasts much longer than anyone imagines at the outset” (Ibarra, 2003; 52). Individuals going through career transitions could be in one or more of the following categories: (1) people who know what they want to do next but are worried about the uncertainty of taking those steps, (2) people who have no idea what they want to do next but know they do not love the career they are in right now, or (3) people who are returning to the workforce and are unsure of what to do or where to get started. This is where coaching can help.
Individuals focused on ego or self-worth that is contingent on other factors may find it difficult to practice mindfulness (Brown et al., 2007: 229). “It is highly plausible that cognitive, emotional, somatic, and behavioral factors can foster or inhibit mindful states, given what is known about the effects of stress, fatigue, lifestyle choices, and other factors on the quality of conscious states of mind” (Brown et al., 2007: 229). Coaching can help shift these perspectives or help individuals accept these factors in ways that then encourage mindfulness if the client is willing to do the work. However, there may be circumstances an individual is not ready to face, or facing it would actually be detrimental to his/her well-being (Brown et al., 2007: 229). If this seems to be the case for a client or if this occurs in a coaching session, it may be time to look outside of coaching and refer the client to therapy, counseling, or some other form of assistance.
Mindfulness strengthens one’s self-control, which in turn allows individuals to be more effective in attaining their goals (Brown et al, 2007: 224). Our behavior is frequently guided by our goals, but only to the extent that we are aware of them and they are clearly defined (Brown et al., 2007: 224). With greater self-control and mindful attention to our goals, mindfulness in our day-to-day tasks can facilitate goal attainment by integrating those goals into everything we do (Brown et al., 2007: 224). The clarity and understanding created through mindfulness paired with the skills of a qualified coach can create clear goals, drive, and forward momentum allowing individuals to not only discover the career they’ve always wanted but also the steps to successfully transition to that career.
Mindfulness is concerned with having more accurate perceptions of reality, which creates adaptability and acceptance (Brown et al., 2007: 230).In this context, acceptance “refers to a willingness to let things be just as they are the moment we become aware of them” (Germer, 2004: 26).“It is only from this radical acceptance that real change can emerge” (González, 2018). Acceptance requires us to stop rejecting or avoiding what is happening, and it is through that action that mindfulness promotes real change (González, 2018). “It is acceptance [that] opens us to a mental state characterized by the breadth of perspectives and lets us remain calm during difficulties” (González, 2018). Thankfully, mindfulness “is a skill that can be cultivated by anyone” through practice and dedication (Germer, 2004: 25 (Passmore, 2007: 131, 134).
By assessing these circumstances through the lens of coaching, a client can work towards this radical acceptance as they define it to aid themselves in moving forward. This is especially true as it relates to career transitions. It is common for individuals to try to avoid issues at work or the way they are feeling about their job because it can be easier to maintain the status quo or they don’t know what else to do. By working with a coach and practicing mindfulness, clients can accept their circumstances and emotions for what they are and objectively determine the best way to move forward for themselves.
Mindfulness frees our minds “from the constraint of our mental models; it stimulates creativity and allows us to pay attention on purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally” (Passmore, 2007: 132). A client can be “caught in the vortex of their own pressures and anxieties and are likely to carry unhelpful baggage that holds back progress in the coaching session” as it relates to their potential career change (Passmore, 2007: 135).“Mindfulness can provide them the opportunity to focus their attention to the session and their learning, effectively providing the ground for personal development and self-actualization” (Passmore, 2007: 135). Mindfulness helps a client to explore the relationship between their own cognitions, behaviors, and emotions (Passmore, 2018: 48).
Mindfulness is also important for the coach. When a coach demonstrates mindfulness in a coaching session, he/she is truly being present with the client (González, 2018). This will create a relationship with the client where he/she feels heard and will allow the client to connect with himself/herself constructively, trusting in his/her own self, and generating the changes that enable the client to realize his/her potential (González, 2018). One of the challenges as a coach working in career transitions is to aid clients in becoming aware of their attitudes, values, and limiting beliefs, to name a few, and help those clients link those to new awareness regarding how those existing thoughts influence the clients’ behavior (Passmore, 2018: 48).
As a coach in the career transition space, I want clients to develop an awareness of their current thoughts, feelings, and beliefs through being mindful, and then use this awareness to find alternatives that better serve them and facilitate a successful career transition (Passmore, 2018: 48). As a coach in the career transition space, it is important to explore where a client currently is, both in the transition process and with their thoughts, feelings, and beliefs, as well as where they want to be. To do this, a coach can ask the following questions:
- What does your current career give you?
- How is your current job serving you?
- What do you want from your career?
- What is getting in the way of you taking the next step?
- What are the core values that will inform and guide you through this career transition?
- What information can you use from your previous and current jobs to help you move forward?
- What attitude can best serve you as you think about the tasks you need to complete?
- What else may be possible?
- What would it look like to remove judgment?
- What do you need to do to look at this transition without judgment?
Career transitions, like any transition, are challenging. There are so many thoughts and emotions, both positive and negative, in play that it can be difficult to see the forest through the trees and figure out the best way to move forward. Wherever an individual is on the spectrum of going through a career transition, engaging in coaching and practicing mindfulness will aid them in gaining clarity, understanding, and direction. Coaching allows clients to discover and explore new opportunities while mindfulness will help them achieve them.
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