How to Know When It’s Time to Hire a Career Coach (TFLP 091)

A question that comes up for a lot of lawyers, especially when they’re trying to figure out something else to do with their law degree, other than practice law, is “How to Know When It’s Time to Hire a Career Coach?”

I actually think that the answer to that question is pretty simple:

You should hire a coach when you’re not making the progress in your career that you would like to make. 

This includes figuring out how to get out of it or when you find yourself thinking about getting out of it a lot, but not actually doing much about it.

Essentially, you should hire a coach when you find yourself thinking about needing to make a change often, but are not actually taking action towards that goal.

Knowledge Isn’t Enough

Here’s the thing about our lawyer brains, we feel like if we have the knowledge of what we should do, that should be enough. We also feel like we should be able to figure out everything on our own, including our career stuff. 

So, we’re unhappy in our career, we know we want to make a change, we have some idea of what we should do – maybe you’ve been listening to the podcast for some time, you’ve heard what other people talk about doing to figure out what they wanted to do next – and you feel like, “Well, I have the information, I should be able to figure it out on my own.” 

The thing that we, as lawyers, find very hard to accept is that having that knowledge is not necessarily enough. It has to be accompanied by action. 

The Value of Career Coaches

In most cases the value of a career coach lies not in them giving you some information that you may not have, their value is in helping you take the action that you need to take.

This can be especially helpful because our brains can be insidious. We can get to a point in our careers where we are unhappy in our jobs, we feel like we know what we need to do, but we aren’t doing it, and instead of using that as motivation to take action, we rationalize with ourselves that if there was a way out or a way to improve our career, we would have already done it. So, because you haven’t already done the steps needed, your brain tells you there is no solution, there is nothing better than what you are doing now. 

That is the direct result of thinking a lot about the problem, but not taking action. And as always, I am not saying this to shame you, because I speak from personal experience here. I understand how the lawyer brain works, I have the lawyer brain.

The Question You Really Need to Ask Before You Hire a Career Coach

With this in mind, the question you really need to ask isn’t, “Am I at the point where I need a career coach? Do I need to hire someone to figure out what else I could do other than be a lawyer?”, instead, it’s, “Am I making the progress that I want to make? Am I thinking a lot about this issue, but not necessarily doing a lot about it?”

If that’s the situation that you’re in, then that is when I would recommend that you hire a coach. There’ve been a number of them on this podcast. I will link to their episodes below if you want to go check them out. 

And then, of course, as an alternative to having a one-on-one coach, The Former Lawyer Collaborative is a group experience that gives you coaching, and a framework, and a community of people who understand this experience of knowing what you should do, but not actually finding the time to do it, or struggling with some of the identity things, and other pieces, that might be holding you back from really taking action.

Ask Yourself

So if you are wondering about this idea of a coach or a group coaching experience, ask yourself the key question “Am I moving forward in the way that I want to be moving forward? Am I taking action, or am I just thinking a lot about this issue?”

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Hello, everyone. This week, I want to talk about a question that comes up a lot for lawyers when they’re at that point where they are trying to figure out something else to do with their law degree, other than practice law. 

And this is the question of, “How do I know when I’m at the point where I need to hire a career coach?”

I actually think that the answer to that question is pretty simple. You should hire a coach when you’re not making the progress in your career that you would like to make, including figuring out how to get out of it, and you find yourself thinking about it a lot, but not actually doing much. So, just to phrase that another way, you should hire a coach when you find yourself thinking about needing to make a change often but not actually taking action towards that goal.

Because here’s the thing about our lawyer brains, we feel like if we have the knowledge of what we should do, that should be enough. We also feel like we should be able to figure out everything on our own, including our career stuff. So, we’re unhappy in our career, we know we want to make a change, we have some idea of what we should do. Maybe you’ve been listening to the podcast for some time, you’ve heard what other people talk about doing in terms of figuring out what they wanted to do next. And you feel like, “Well, I have the information, I should be able to figure it out on my own.” The thing that we as lawyers find very hard to accept is that having that knowledge is not necessarily enough, right? It has to be accompanied by action. And in most cases, a career coach, while they will be giving you some information that you may not have, a big part of the value of having a coach is having someone who helps you take the action that you need to take.

And here’s why the way our brains work, I think can be so insidious. If you’re unhappy in your job, you feel like you know what you should do, but you’re not doing it. At a certain point you get to this mental place where you decide that if there was a way out of your job or a way to improve your career, you would have already figured it out and you would have implemented it, and so because that hasn’t happened, your brain tells you there is no solution, there is nothing better for me than what I’m doing right now. Okay. So, that is a direct result of thinking a lot about the problem, but not taking action. And again, as always, I am not saying this to shame you because I speak from personal experience here. I understand how the lawyer brain works, I have the lawyer brain.

And so really the question that you need to ask yourself right now, if you’ve been wondering, like am I at the point where I need a career coach? Do I need to hire someone to figure out what else I could do other than be a lawyer? Just ask yourself, am I making the progress that I want to make? Am I thinking a lot about this issue, but not necessarily doing a lot about it. And if that’s the situation that you’re in, then that is when I would recommend that you hire a coach. There’ve been a number of them on this podcast. I will link to their episodes in the show notes, if you want to go check them out. And then of course, as an alternative to having a one-on-one coach, the Former Lawyer Collaborative is a group experience that gives you coaching and a framework and a community of people who understand this experience, understand this experience of knowing what you should do, but maybe not actually finding the time to do it, or struggling with some of the identity things and other pieces that might be holding you back from really taking action.

And as always, if you’re interested in learning more about that, you can go to formerlawyer.com/collab. But again, the key question that you need to ask yourself, if you’re wondering about this issue is, am I moving forward in the way that I want to be moving forward? Am I taking action, or am I just thinking a lot about this issue? So, that’s my answer when I talk to people about whether or not they need to hire a career coach. That’s the question that you should ask yourself, if you’re trying to figure out whether you need to get some help with your career transition. I hope that has been helpful for you. I will talk to you all next week.

Thanks so much for listening. I absolutely love getting to share this podcast with you. If you haven’t yet, I invite you to download my free guide, First Steps To Leaving The Law at formerlawyer.com/first. Until next time, have a great week.

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