Career coaching is an investment — of your time, money and energy. Is it worth it? How can you determine the return on your investment? While the exact figure varies from person to person, if you put in the work, career coaching will return benefits that far exceed the costs.

Only 34 percent of U.S. workers are engaged at work, according to Gallup’s 2018 employee engagement survey data. That leaves 53 percent not engaged, and 13 percent actively disengaged.  While these numbers have marginally improved over the past decade, they remain alarming.

Given that you’ll spend between 90,000 – 100,000 hours of your adult life at work, according to Jessica Pryce-Jones, loving what you do isn’t a luxury. Pryce-Jones, researcher and author of Happiness at Work, asserts that work satisfaction depends on five critical factors:

  • Contribution—the effort you make;
  • Conviction—the motivation you have;
  • Culture—how well you feel you fit at work;
  • Commitment—the extent to which you are engaged; and
  • Confidence—belief that you have in yourself and your job.

All of these factors require alignment — between you (your natural abilities, interests, skills and values) and your career. Any dissonance will likely result in stress or dissatisfaction. In fact, work was cited as a significant source of stress by 61 percent of respondents in a 2017 study released by the American Psychological Association, (Stress in America: The State of Our Nation). While the study reported that people found healthier ways to cope with stress than in earlier surveys, managing stress is different than examining its source and coming up with sustainable solutions.

A certified, professional career coach will help you explore why your career feels stressful, why your career may not be not advancing in the way you envisioned or why you feel stuck. While working with a coach can be very validating, the process yields far greater results than simply venting to a sympathetic friend or family member. And that’s where you’ll see the return on your investment.

The Hidden Costs of Being in the Wrong Career

Working in a career that doesn’t align with your innate abilities or values impacts your psychological and physical health. You can’t sleep — or you sleep too much. You can’t focus. You’re irritable. You feel crummy. The stress of “not knowing” — either what your best-fit career is, or how to get there — can morph into overwhelm, especially if you feel like you’re running on a treadmill, stuck in place.

If you’ve risen in the ranks in a particular industry (or at the same company), you’re probably well compensated, which might make you feel even more trapped. At this stage of the game, you’ve established a lifestyle that depends on that income. Making any kind of change seems like too great a risk — for you and your family. Even if it’s tempting to consider a more fulfilling career, you play devil’s advocate in your mind and, before you know it, you’ve talked yourself out of exploring any other options.

A multitude of factors come into making prudent career choices; giving each of them the proper weight in the big picture requires objectivity and prudence.   Attempting to figure it out on your own can be tricky, given your own cognitive biases — as well as the countless opinions offered by well-meaning family members and friends. Fearful of making the wrong choice, you remain stuck. Over time, expending that much mental energy while staying in the same place takes a toll.

Many of our clients report shelling out large sums of money for psychotherapy, psychotropic drugs or remedies to treat psychosomatic or chronic physical conditions. Unfortunately, as they later realize, they had been chasing solutions to the symptoms, instead of addressing the underlying source of their pain. Like patching the paint over cracked drywall, treating symptoms is a short-term solution. If you’re frustrated, stressed or unhappy at work, career coaching is one of the most direct — and cost-effective — routes to resolving the underlying issue(s).

The Great Multiplier: Making the Wrong Career Move

It’s common to underestimate the cumulative cost — in time, money and energy — of making a career (or job) change that isn’t the right change. The emotional roller coaster that often accompanies the job search and interviewing process is just the beginning. Jumping from one job to another limits your upward mobility at any given company.

The consequences of making the wrong career move can quickly multiply. Moving from one job to the next, only to realize that it, too, is wrong, leaves you looking for the next. Without taking the time to figure out why any of the jobs were the wrong fit, you’ll very likely land in another mismatched role. Before you know it, you’ve made three career moves in a short time,  jeopardizing your personal brand — as well as your opportunities for advancement.

Whether you repeatedly jump ship or stay on board in a job that makes you miserable, your career choices impact your quality of life. It’s impossible to compartmentalize career dissatisfaction; eventually, your self-esteem and your relationships suffer when you’re unhappy at work.

How to Determine Your Personal Career Coaching ROI

A lot of people consider “finding a new job” their ultimate goal. In most cases, career coaching ultimately does lead to a change, which could mean a new job, a new company or a new career. The reason: the true ROI of career coaching lies in its power to facilitate an internal change, which is far more powerful.

It’s impossible to make any change — internal or otherwise — without doing something (or thinking) differently. Career coaching is that catalyst for change. Many clients echo this statement, made by a former client who made an incremental shift in his career path to find satisfaction: “I entered career coaching thinking I had to make a career change; by the time I was done, I realized that I had to change.”

The often-overlapping quantitative and qualitative benefits of career coaching include:

Career clarity — “What do you want to be when you grow up?” is one of the most important questions you’ll answer in your life. Career decisions impact everything from your sense of self (your identity) to your lifestyle and even your relationships. It’s too important a decision to leave to chance, but sadly, most people do. They follow in parents’ footsteps, they acquiesce to others’ expectations or they take any job rather than find the right career.

The good news is that it’s never too late to decide what professional path to pursue. Once you identify the right career, the question no longer haunts you. Knowing gives you a solid foundation. It’s both a relief and, at the same time, empowering to achieve that clarity.

Financial reward — The trajectory of your career exponentially increases when you’re in a career that aligns with your talents and aptitudes. Loving what you do, you’ll expend less energy and achieve greater results. Emerging as a superstar, you’ll surpass those around you who are vying for the same promotions. People who are in the right career fit make more money — quicker — than those who try to power through a mismatch, even if they’ve taken an initial pay cut to make the shift.

Increased confidence — Career coaching empowers you to believe that you can do it, whatever your “it” may be. You’re no longer paralyzed or constricted by your insecurities. Rather, you’re able to move closer to your goals thanks to a new level of confidence — in yourself; your talents, skill and abilities; and your convictions. You develop the self-efficacy necessary to take calculated risks, and to grow.

Accountability — Your “say-do” ratio takes a dive when you repeatedly fail to do what you say you’re going to do. So many people promise themselves (and vow to others) that they’re going to make a change. Three years later … five years later … or even longer, they’re still in that same job. A career coach can be an objective accountability partner as you identify and take steps toward achieving your goals. Moreover, by taking action, you’re increasing your accountability — and trust — in yourself.

Related: Why Radical Accountability is a Game-Changer

A shift in perspective — Your thoughts, moods and behaviors all profoundly impact your results, for better or worse. Your belief systems either help — or hinder — your performance. Unfortunately, your blind spots can blur your awareness. A career coach can help you take a step back, examining the stories you tell yourself and, if necessary, reframing them. Even a small shift in your perspective can dramatically change the way you interact with — and show up in — the world around you.

Personal brand — Career clarity is foundational to building a strong personal brand. Career coaching can help you articulate your goals — and identify your strengths. Your value in business escalates when you cultivate your personal brand in a way that establishes credibility as a subject matter expert or thought leader in your field.

Relevance — If you’re shifting careers, it can be hard to recognize how the skills you’ve honed in their current job can be applied in other roles (or industries). An objective career coach can help you find the language to translate these skills and talents — in your own mind, and when you frame your story for prospective employers.

Strategy — Creating a bridge from where you are to where you want to be involves many critical steps. A career coach can help you create a plan, including specific action steps, tailored to your unique situation. Having a sound transition strategy in place provides a roadmap to success.

In determining your own ROI of a career coaching engagement, start at the end. How do you want to feel? What plans do you want to have in place? What are those end results worth to you? Most clients find that they overwhelmingly outweigh the cost of their investment.

If you feel like you are stuck in the wrong career, it’s likely due to the powerful force of inertia. Because venturing into the unknown can raise many fears, it might feel easier to simply stay put. But ignoring the stress and dissatisfaction that stems from being in the wrong career will keep you on the same path to nowhere. Our free ebook, Stuck in the Wrong Career? can help you break the cycle of inertia.

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