What is coaching?

(It’s sounds so smarmy, but it’s not.)

The view from here.

At the beginning of January, with 2020 in the rear-view mirror, I decided to do a reset on my coaching business. That meant slowing things down and re-assessing where I’ve been and where I’m going. 

I’m emerging from that process with more clarity and more excitement about my work in the world and the difference I want to make. The world is shifting, and I can clearly see that the work I do is positioned to support women as they reassess the shifting landscape of work and careers. 

When things look uncertain or unclear, I help women figure out what’s next. Sometimes that’s going after a dream; sometimes it’s finding a job in a pandemic, sometimes it’s retiring and doing what you really want.

As part of my reset, I went right back to the beginning and got clear about where coaches came from, which reminded me of why my work is even more needed these days. Things are changing fast. Coaches are here to help manage change and transitions.

Gaps in our culture. They're showing up more and more.

Coaching stepped into gaps in the culture where things were changing so quickly, but the structures of the culture couldn’t keep up.

For example, there are few cultural institutions in place to help navigate major life transitions: no midlife gap year; no cultural norms for career retraining later in life; no second-half guidance counselors. You’re on your own. 

Plus, we’re living longer, technology is disrupting everything, society is rapidly (and not rapidly enough) shifting, and we seem more youth-oriented than ever. 

We have more information than we’ve ever had, but we still get stuck and lost.

Life coaching emerged from these gaps.

Until the culture catches up, we coaches are out here “in the wild” dedicated to helping those people who need support navigating work and life transitions.

Coaches generally do this work because, at one time, we were you. We’ve been there, and we know it sucks to have change upon you and feel like there’s nowhere to go. 

We sought out help for ourselves, joined forces with other women, got trained in many modalities, mined every resource so we could become helpful to other women, so other women wouldn’t have to go through what we went through. Over the years, the tools and modalities of navigating transitions and creating shifts in lives has gotten better and better. It has a track record. Coaches are changing lives.

My particular brand of coaching focuses on women in the second half of life and in particular on our work in the world. 

These are my people, the women I help:

I have been calling my people … women in the middle of life, but I’m expanding it to call it “women in the second half of life” to be more inclusive (because the older we get, the more invisible we can become to the culture).

My clients have climbed the ladder of success, only to arrive at the top of that ladder with more questions than answers. What now? Did I climb the right ladder? Where’s the next rung? Do I need to go down my ladder, move it to another roof and start over? They usually face these questions alone.

I love working with women who know they have untapped potential. They yearn to step into bigger roles for themselves. They want to do work that matters. Not feeling like they’re contributing creates an ongoing ache and relentless search for work that fits the shape of our hearts. The problem is we’re not taught how to seek that out for ourselves.

Plus, we’re wedged in between the passion police (Do what you love!) and the protective parent (It’s a good job!) No wonder we feel stuck sometimes.

Work vs. Career.

This is the main reason I don’t call myself a career coach. I help with resumes and job search and Linkedin, but these ingredients are part of a larger whole. 

Calling myself a Work & Life Coach is a little awkward, but the word “career” feels so old-school and masculine to me. For me, it reflects puritan, non-inclusive, burn-out ways of being that don’t include an entire person. This can feel especially acute to women. 

This is the main reason I talk about “work” instead of “career”. While part of my work is help with resumes, job search, and Linkedin, it is so much more than that. What is the role of work in our lives? How do we make it more fulfilling? Do we need to trade paychecks for passion?

That said, my work includes helping women be more successful in their careers. Sometimes this looks like getting promoted, sometimes it looks like creating a side-hustle, a hobby, launching a new business, or finding a new job. Typically, it feels like one chapter is ending and another is beginning.

An Updated Framework for Coaching

I have also updated my coaching framework and the steps I take women through to create clarity, confidence, and calm. My new framework is also going to help me stay on track with the information I share in my emails so they’re as helpful as possible, especially as we navigate 2021.

Ask me anything.

Have a burning question? Hit me up! Ask a question about your career, about your next step, about the current climate. I’m happy to help. It’s a no-charge 30 minute consult.

Don’t let technology get in the way of getting what you want and need. Instead of using my scheduler, you can always email me at karen@karenharbin.com. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have or to book a session for you.

What is coaching?