Well, the longer version of the title is “Being a coach or a therapist is not necessarily more meaningful than any other career” but my imaginary projection of my future publicist would disagree with such a long title. Bare with me for the whole argumentation. Caution: you may find yourself in the following train of thought so please don’t refrain from sending me a message with your own reflections.
These thoughts may be relevant for any professional out there but especially for my fellow coaches or therapists.
A lot of us have entered this area of work from the intention to help others and in search for a “more meaningful career”. Helping others is, after all, way better than filling in your regular excel spreadsheet of that internal report that your boss is still requesting while nobody is actually using it and, as a consequence, you are feeling useless. But searching for your answer in an external setting that will solve all your current issues may by less than half the answer.
For example, maybe the most important thing a professional coach has to learn is to tame his “savior syndrome” and get away from his client’s path. Because operating outside of the belief that “people actually help themselves” makes you a lousy coach under most of the accepted coaching definitions. I know this may be hurting for your ego but the ego is the exact thing you need to work on in order to be better off with yourself and also to better assist your clients.
But, if it is out of usefulness that you are taking your next career decisions just be prepared to manage feeling useless in any field of work. This stands also true for meaningful/meaningless separation.
And this is because it is ourselves who actually attach the meaning to any activity, relationship, object, event etc. We are to stop searching for meaning and start giving meaning to something. The “search for meaning” is a never ending process and I have seen enough of my peers in coaching, therapy and related fields losing themselves in this search. The search can be meaningful in itself but postponing gratefulness, validation, tranquility and even happiness until we “find our meaning” means postponing living all together.
Let’s take a random example from my field of work. While working on perfectionism in the therapeutical process there is a big trap ahead: being perfectionistic about the therapy itself. I have heard narratives about trainers saying that training is not really producing results. So, they turn onto coaching. Then, they came to the conclusion that coaching is not that powerful either… the true power in the therapy. So they became psychologists. Then, they started dismissing cognitive behavioral therapy and being just an “ibuprofen” of the therapeutic journey. It is just alleviating the pain but not solving the “real” root causes. So, they came about psychoanalysis. It is much deeper after all. Then searching for the 0-3 years developmental becomes just halfway the journey one person is due to person to true liberation. One should search for the intrauterine traumas. Or, even better, go into transgenerational therapy up to the 7th generation. Of course, then there comes the spiritual path over millions and billions of years on this planet and others.
While I have put some jokingly emphasis on all these paths, I have encountered them in practice and learned how to hold the space for various belief systems. Bottom line is that anything that works for you will therefore make sense to adopt as a solution.
Let’s take a very different example! How is sweeping the floors not a career for helping people? How is this not meaningful enough? Doing this with responsibility and involvement will prevent germs to prevail… signaling the wet floors will help people to avoid slipping and get injured. Is this not meaningful? Who assigns the meaning to it?
So, any judgement suspended, the bigger question stands:
Who is actually giving meaning to all of these?
Yes. That’s right. It’s YOUrself!
And the second aspect to be mindful of is the temporal one. We may live a better life if we stop judging our former systems of beliefs (and past selves for that matter). We are normally in a continuous evolution and therefore these shifts in perception and “truth” will be ever changing. So, meaning attaching has a second important aspect to it: it is time dependent. When were we making those judgements and decisions is an important question.
Conclusion: while going after any “meaningful” career encounter just be mindful of your reasons. If you are not managing this awareness along the way you will be postponing “gratification” until reaching a certain “holy grail” that will save you. And this is perfectly normal and acceptable as long as it is an assumed process. If it is not, it will only mean that you are embarking on a “beating yourself up” journey until shifting toward the perception of being good enough. If it is assumed, that means you can start an evolution journey, driven by more aware, assumed and potentially healthier reasons.
P.S. If you are a coach or pondering to become one check this out: https://www.coachingafterschool.com/