By Alyssa Gregory

How a Career Coach Can Help You Bust Through a Roadblock

By Alyssa Gregory

roadblockWhen I graduated from college, I had a difficult time finding a job that kept me challenged and engaged. I had several different positions related to web design, in a few different industries, and each one started out with a lot of promise but quickly fell short in my eyes. Several months into each new position, it became harder and harder to get excited about going to work, even though I was doing exactly what I thought I always wanted to do – design.

There was nothing wrong with the positions themselves, the companies where I worked, or the people I worked with. In fact, these were exactly the kinds of jobs I envisioned having when I was still in school. So why did I feel so dissatisfied?

I knew I had a passion for business and part of me always knew that entrepreneurship was in my blood. So I decided to build a business on the side; create my own career satisfaction by being proactive. So I did and had a decent little client base, but guess what? I was still miserable.  What was wrong with me? Why couldn’t I be happy? Was I destined to a life of professional discontent?

Enter my first coaching experience. I don’t remember how I came to coaching or why I thought it would be helpful for me, but my first coaching experience completely changed my life. Through the process, my coach helped me learn a lot about myself, my goals and what it would take to find happiness in my career. It was through working with her that I discovered virtual assistance and started the journey of building my current business (and one of my biggest passions), avertua.

Coaching can be a very different experience for each person, but many of the benefits are universal. Here are some of the ways a career coach helped me and may be able to help you get your footing and build a life that invigorates you.

Strategy Development

One of my struggles was lack of focus. I knew I wanted to do something big, but had no clue what it was or where I needed to start. I was all over the place; there were a million different things running through my mind and I couldn’t focus on any one of them. I was running in circles.

My coach helped me get rid of the noise, identify my goals and figure out the best way to accomplish them. She helped me see the big picture when I was having trouble getting past step one. Together we created a plan, including a timeline that kept me moving in the right direction.


Planning is great, but the real value comes from the follow through. There were certainly some parts of my plan that I enjoyed less than others, and some I really dreaded.  This type of growth and stretching is vital with any kind of goal-setting. But it’s so tempting to skip over these less desirable activities and focus only on the good stuff. My coach held me accountable for doing the things I said I was going to do and helped me figure out why I was avoiding some actions.

Clarity and Confidence

I had moments of falling back into the I’m-running-but-not-getting-anywhere struggle. These were the times when my coach helped me take a step back and see what I was having trouble recognizing for myself.  It would have been very difficult for me to keep pushing forward without the stark lucidity that my coach helped me find.

This clarity not only helped me stay on the path to realizing my goals, but it gave me confidence. I knew what I was doing, even when I was nervous about it. My coach consistently reminded me that I created a strategy that focused on my strengths, and I had the power to follow through.


A good coach is a mentor, sounding board, and cheerleader rolled into one. The cheerleader part is so important, especially when you’re doing something new. Every good challenge is a test of your dedication and endurance, and I experienced this while creating avertua. Like most people, I hit snags when things didn’t seem to be progressing how I envisioned them. And like most people, I considered throwing in the towel.

My coach helped me stay motivated by reminding me of the benefits I identified in the beginning of the process and encouraging me along the way when I couldn’t do it myself. She helped me celebrate wins and recognize when I reached a milestone. Her support helped me acknowledge what I was accomplishing, even when it seemed like baby steps.

Coaching can be a powerful experience if you’re open to growth and self-inquiry. I probably would have found my way even if I didn’t work with a coach, but I am certain it would have taken me much longer, and been a much more stressful process. For me, coaching worked.

Have you worked with a coach? What did you get out of the process?

Image credit: BrianForbes37

  • keith5885

    Great article. I think I need to go down this path. Where do I start looking for a coach? I could use one to help me think through the next step after being at my first job for 3 years now…

  • Sven

    Thanks for a timely article. I had a similar experience of getting to the peak of all I’d been training for, only to be disappointed in realising it (or I) wasn’t suitable.

    Im now at a junction in age and career and family – all which make radical change very difficult. A friend has just started his medicine degree at 42 after teaching english literature at university which impresses me. Luckily for him though (and his family of 3 small kids) they have the financial foundations to buffer the process.

    What for me now? Stick with what I know so well as an expert (but no longer find the joy in), or attempt a change. The responsible part of me says to stay put. I think Im prime career coach material!

  • @Sven and @keith5885 – From my experience, being ready for change but being unsure how to get there is one of the biggest signs that a coaching relationship may be for you. You may want to start by looking through the International Coach Federation site. You can enter in your criteria and search for a coach as well as learn more about the coaching process.

  • phatman

    Hiring a coach isn’t just for careers, either. Coaches can help with physical health, dietary plans, dispute resolution, marriage and conditions such as ADHD.

    Coaching is a great form of personal education. It can be very valuable and have significant long-term benefits. It is truly the best money I’ve ever spent.

  • amzie

    what happens when you cant afford it?

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