This is a story about giving up and sabotaging your goals. I was working with a career coaching client whose goal was to develop a clear career path. She was at a cross roads. Should she go back and get an MBA or some other advanced degree or should she focus her efforts in a new career field. Ultimately she wanted to start new businesses.

From a career coach’s perspective, she has a fairly broad range of career aspirations, so my approach is to narrow the choices and dig deeper into the areas where she has the desire and aptitude to be successful.

For the first two sessions, she took and received feedback on the Strong Interest Inventory to learn about her career interests and the Herrmann Brain Dominance Instrument (HBDI) to help us understand her decision process, potential blind spots and stress thinking style. During these coaching sessions, the goal is to discover what you don’t know and confirm what you do know about your career aspirations. This approach is critical in laying ground work to tackle a career exploration problem.

I give homework between each session. There’s a reason for that – you can do a lot of the discovery work yourself within a framework. Is a perfect system? No, because things happen that distract you from your goal. That’s what happened coming into our third session. It was an important topic that could impact her career, so we dealt with it.

Career exploration is like sailingA few days later she contacts me about how she feels like she is off course. In a coaching process, that can happen because there rarely is a direct or straight line from a problem to your answer. If there was a straight line, you would have already solved it.

Think of sailing a boat to a point far off. The sail boat doesn’t charter a direct course; they often veer right or left and finally arrive at their destination. The water may be choppy. The wind may not be at your back. The coaching process is very similar.

Ultimately, she decided not to continue. She was in the midst of the discovery process and gave up.

Why do people give up? People give up for many reasons. Here are a few:

  • You expect others to tell you the answer and not working to find your own answer.
  • There is distrust in using a process to find a solution.
  • Making a decision means you have to perform.
  • Fear gets in the way – the fear of failure or being successful.
  • Sabotaging your efforts means you don’t have to face the final decision.
  • You think you know more than you do.

The next time you are thinking about giving up or sabotaging yourself on something that is important to you, ask yourself this question: “Is this a pattern?” If the answer is yes, discuss it with your coach because that may be the real problem that needs to be addressed.