Last month fellow Regent College alumni Nathan Olson approached me to write an article for his website. He is running a series on people’s stories of how they chose their career. Funny thing: a major part of my career is helping people find a career. The story originally ran on his website here.
I don’t even like the term “life coach” – coach maybe, but to me “life coach” has an odd new-age and ambiguous ring to it. Technically anyone can slap this title on a business card and voila – a new career. In fact, coaches of all kinds are popping up everywhere! Sleep coaches, personality coaches, dating coaches. It’s all the rage. Nothing grates on me more than this label. Yet, here I am: a certified life coach. How did this happen? Why did it happen?
At first glance, the story of how I became a coach is simple. I was looking for a career change, met a guy who told me about coaching, went to coaching school, got certified and the rest is history. There was no loud divine calling or long-winded decision-making. But as I began to look more closely, I realized there was something going on!
When making decisions like a MAJOR CAREER CHANGE, three steps are needed. I don’t mean, it’s as easy as 1-2-3. But before any action happens, you will need to (1) Look back, (2) Look ahead, and (3) Look inside. You must remember where you’ve been, where you want to be, and what you’re made of.
When I look back I realize that I spent the majority of my adult life doing two things: coaching swimmers and working at a small faith-based non-profit in the inner city. For the most part I loved and was good at both of these careers. But for reasons I don’t need to get into, I needed a change from both of them.
Looking back involved evaluating what I was and was not good at and what I liked and did not like about both careers.Helping/encouraging/empowering people – yes! Working with kids and parents (and addicts) – no! Pastoral care/administration/helping volunteers fit in – yes! Completely inconsistent working environments/working in the evenings – no!
When looking back, don’t forget to look at areas of your life outside your career. Volunteer work, friendships, travelling – all of these things shape us. I love when young women from my church would seek me out for advice or unofficial pastoral care. I love leading a team to get a task done at our church. I love encouraging people and calling out their gifts and talents. I don’t like the idea of working full-time because I want to be home with my kids and, of course, work on my domestic goddess skills.
You must also look ahead. Where did I want to end up? I wanted to work on my own and with people. I didn’t want to work full-time. I wanted a combination of caring/helping/encouraging people and organizing/administration/writing.
Lastly, I looked inside. What got me really excited? Did anyone have a job I was really jealous of? Was God calling me somewhere?
When I was in seminary a friend told me about a job at her church that she thought I would be really good at. It was a pastoral position at a big church where you would help new people find out where they fit and how then wanted to serve, etc. She mentioned the words “personality test” and I was chomping at the bit – ready to go. This job wasn’t a realistic option for me at the time, but I never forgot about it.
So there I was, ready for a change, doing some soul-searching or as my lovely husband called it, “searching for my vocational wholeness.” It was then that I met a former pastor, turned coach. His brief description of coaching sent me straight home to research my next move. I knew where I was headed.
After a whopping 15 minutes I picked a reputable, in person, coaching school. The training took about a year and I now have 7 more letters behind my name. Technically, and only if I was trying to win an obnoxious contest, I am: Jane Halton, BA, MDiv, CPCC, ACC.
Now as a self-employed coach, I work mainly with Christian women who want a change in their lives. Changes like: a new career, a healthier body, a different parenting experience, a spiritual revival. The people who hire me have typically never worked with a coach before – although this is NOT required to work with me.
We build a relationship. We figure out how to work together and what is important for the client’s success. I ask thought provoking questions, listen, and offer encouragement and accountability. Together we find actions steps to get you moving! I like to describe my coaching with the phrase, “pastoral care meets your to-do list.”
As I look back, forward and inside, I can see God at work and how I’ve been prepared to do the work I now do. I may have dropped the “life” part out of my job title but I sure love coaching!