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Common Career Vision Roadblocks

One of the most common reasons to work with a career coach is because you want to have a career vision, and you need help picking the “right” path.

As your coach, I want to help you do that!

To get started, it can be helpful to understand the common roadblocks that prevent people from having a career vision at all, and how the coaching process can move you past them.

road sign
Why can't your career path be straight and easy to follow?!

1. You’ve never given it thought or attention

It’s easy to become distracted by your day-to-day responsibilities, and put off planning for the future. In fact, this is most people’s default mode, and that is okay. You don’t always have to be planning and climbing to be happy. Career success takes a lot of hard work, and sometimes people have other priorities, so give yourself a break.

However, if you’re reading this article, it’s likely that you want change. If that is the case, it’s time to set aside the time and attention necessary to make the change happen.

The Coaching Solution:

All of my client conversations start with career reflection. I ask people to think about a future where nothing changes, because this is the option we’re all hurtling towards unless we take action. If that future seems bleak, it’s probably time to start planning.

2. You don’t understand the options

I remember in high school I took a job aptitude test that asked personality and preference questions, and then gave me job recommendations. My recommended jobs included teacher or trash collector. I am neither, and it is kind of ludicrous to think that a 50 question survey is going to dictate what I do all day. At the same time, I see the appeal of having the path given to me.

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone handed you a menu of your different career options, as well as the exact steps to getting there?

Unfortunately, this won’t be happening. I won’t even do this as your coach. (I mean, I could, but I doubt it would be any more useful than that test.)

The Coaching Solution:

In the absence of these pre-defined options, I help clients understand what types of work they want to do. We might decide together that working for a mission driven organization is really important, or they like speaking with clients, or they prefer stability at this stage in their life.

None of these are job titles or industries, but they can help the client understand what they are trying to solve for in their next role.

3. You don’t have enough information

To start, you’ll never feel like you have enough information. It’s just how it goes.

Instead, you should work towards getting more comfortable with imperfect information. You truly won’t know that you’ll like/dislike something until you’re doing it. Putting off trying something only delays the surest way of getting enough information to know what you want.

The Coaching Solution:

Just because perfect clarity is unattainable, it doesn’t mean you can’t get more information than you have today. How do you do it? Research!

As a coach, one of my jobs is giving the people I work with homework. If you want change, expect to work for it.

4. You’re worried you’re giving up future choices

People falsely believe that if they put off making a decision, they are keeping their options open. This can be true in the short term, but eventually the options change or disappear anyway. All you’ve done is made the passive decision to keep doing what you’re doing, while pretending you’re still in control.

The Coaching Solution:

My role is to help you decide if you’re ready to put in the work to make the change. If you're not there right now (which is fine), I want to help you proactively make that decision. That way, you can continue doing what you're doing through choice and not out of fear.

5. You’re worried you’ll choose the wrong path

This one trips up everyone I work with. Making decisions is scary, and choosing a career path is especially scary. People build it up in their minds as a critical activity where both their identities and livelihoods are at stake. I don’t mean to make the decision small, but it is almost never as serious as it seems.

The Coaching Solution:

Something I talk with all of my clients about are these two truths:

  1. There is no such thing as a “right” path

  2. You can always change your mind


Career visioning isn’t a one-time activity where you sign your name in blood and get certainty and step-by-step instructions in return. Career visioning is about being intentional in how you spend 40+ hours of every week.

When creating a career vision, there are often many good paths, and they all have their own challenges. So if you feel like you’re on a path that is hard but mostly good, you’re doing it right.

If not, no stress! You can always pick something different.


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