If you won the lottery tomorrow, would you still work?

For the vast majority of U.S. employees, the answer would be “thanks, but no thanks!” Gallup consistently reports that only one third of U.S. workers are engaged* at work.

Work doesn’t have to be a four-letter word. But if you face Monday mornings with a sense of dread, it can bleed into other areas of your life, impacting your performance, your relationships and your overall wellbeing.

If you feel stuck in your career, you might fantasize about making a change — but relegate those thoughts to the not-now or not-me bin.

After all, looking for a new job can be daunting, and considering a career shift can be even more overwhelming. What else could I do with my degree or experience? … How would a career transition impact my lifestyle? … Can I even afford to think about making a change?

career coach ChicagoPartnering with a career coach can provide you with clarity and direction — whether you’re thinking about changing careers (but don’t know where to start), feeling frustrated or bored in your current job or feel like you’re not living up to your potential.

“What If … ?” 5 Common Career Coaching Questions

At the same time, perhaps you’re hesitant to reach out to a coach because of concerns about the process, the cost and the appropriateness for you. Because career coaching can be a significant investment of your resources — time, money and energy — it’s a decision to make with careful consideration.

Anna Bray and Maura Koutoujian, career coaches in our Chicago office, respond to five common questions about career coaching services:

1. What if I don’t have the time / money / energy to devote to career coaching?

As with any investment, determining the cost/benefit of career coaching is very individualized, and will be influenced not only by your degree of discomfort — but also by your drive to find greater meaning and fulfillment at work.

The decision to engage in career coaching should be made carefully; it does take work, both during and outside of sessions. That deep effort is necessary to achieve clarity, and is akin to the work you’d put in at the gym partnering with a personal trainer. The trainer can guide you through the process, but it’s up to you to sweat if you want results.

career coaching San Francisco While career coaching is one of the most prudent investments you can make — not only in your career, but in yourself — the price tag will be driven by the value that you would hold for gaining clarity and accuracy in the answer. Some career coaching programs are more robust than others, allowing you to peel back the layers of the onion, exploring not only where your skills, talents, interests and values intersect, but also what factors, like self-doubt, might be holding you back.

When you work with a certified, experienced career coach, you can expect a higher degree of accuracy in the results of your engagement. The more individualized and in-depth the career process, the more accurately you will be able to identify your best-fit career.

2. What if pursuing my best-fit career involves taking a pay cut?

Indeed, making a career change can involve lower pay — at the outset, at least. But, as you begin to accrue experience in your new role or industry, your pay will also likely begin to increase.

Moreover, your performance will be higher when you work in a career that is aligned with your talents, which will often catapult your career advancement — not only catching up to your current salary, but more often than not, surpassing it. The trajectory of your new career could unleash even greater earning potential than your original path, especially as you become more engaged in your work!

While you can certainly get a feel for salary range as you do your research, it’s hard to know what offers you might actually get; sometimes an industry standard might look like a pay cut, but because you’re bringing in professional — and life — experience, the offer could be higher than you expect.

questions about career coaching 3. What if I find out that my best-fit career requires additional education? 

Let’s face it: not everyone is in the position — or has the desire — to head back to school, whether for a different (or an advanced) degree, licensing or certification. At the same time, the reality is that many careers require additional education. As such, it’s a critical factor to include in the equation as we explore possible careers for you to consider. (In our process, there are certain careers that wouldn’t be on our radar if going back to school was not feasible.)

4. What if I figure out what I want to do next. Will a career coach help me find a job?

Once you articulate what you want — and why you want it — you can begin to develop the most effective strategies that will allow you to put your knowledge and insights into action. While career coaches are not recruiters or headhunters, they can help you develop a sound transition plan.

Your career transition will likely include setting both short- and long-term goals, identifying priorities and ensuring that you have the right support system in place.

(Note: While coaching companies vary in the structure of their programs, our Career Discovery program concludes with a few sessions specifically focused on career transition. We also offer adjunct resume writing and interview coaching services to help you along the way to securing your next job.)

career coach partner for empowerment5. What if I go through the career coaching process — only to find out that I’m in the right career after all?

It does happen — but very rarely. Our coaches can very quickly ascertain if it’s a case of a bad fit, or something else, from a difficult boss to an unhealthy corporate culture.

If the engagement does reveal that you’re in the right career, there can be something very peaceful in knowing that a few tweaks can make a significant difference.

Sometimes, those adjustments come in the form of working in the same industry, but in a different type of position. Sometimes, it’s about finding that you love what you do, just not where you’re doing it.

And sometimes, it’s a matter of making internal adjustments, eliminating self-sabotaging thoughts and behaviors. Often, we create our own “disturbances” — anxiety, frustration, even anger — that show up in our work. Or, we point the finger, blaming and complaining. Once you recognize these patterns, you can own them — and take steps to correct them.

Coaching isn’t always about making a career change; sometimes it’s about “staying where you are because you’ve changed.”

If you go through the process and do come to the decision that you are in the right career, it can help you build confidence and feel more settled. This knowledge can actually inspire you to recommit to your career goals in a very empowering way!

*Gallup defines engaged employees as: “those who are involved in, enthusiastic about and committed to their work and workplace.” As of December 22, 2017, the Gallup Employee Engagement rate stood at 33.6 percent.

Look Forward to Mondays

A four-step guide for getting unstuck in your career, featuring our best advice for breaking the cycle, based on 22 years of coaching mid-career professionals. Download the guide now >