Do you know how to navigate your journey through the world of work?

Despite having spent almost every holiday over the last twenty years walking up a hill or along a coast, I am not that good at reading maps.

On a recent holiday in the glorious scenery of North Devon, I had my usual attempt at a bit of navigation. My unbelievably patient husband took me through the process as usual.

Step one: where are you now? 

Step two: where do you want to be?

Step three: what obstacles are in the way? 

It struck me that these are the same questions I ask my coaching clients.

Step one: where are you now? 

We establish their current location: that can be trickier than you’d imagine. Sometimes we have to retrace their steps to find out how they ended up in this particular role or situation. Just as I have to look around for a church steeple or a dry stone wall to help me find my place on the map, we have to take a look at what surrounds my client – his organisation, his team, his current workload, his situation outside work – in order to be sure he knows exactly where he is.

Step two: where do you want to be?

Part of my map-reading issue is that I have a terrible sense of direction. Asked ‘which way do you think we should be headed?’, I will likely wave my arm vaguely and answer ‘over that way?’ in a very questioning tone.

In the same way, my client may be unsure as to her final destination. Is it management? Is it a sideways move? Is it a complete change of career or lifestyle? We need to establish that before moving on.

Step three: what obstacles are in the way?

Sometimes, I can see exactly where I’d like to end up but I can’t get straight there: there’s a stream in the way and I’ll have to go a long way round to find a bridge. I may decide to walk up to the stream and see what if it’s as much of an issue as it appears on the map – maybe I can take off my boots and wade across? Perhaps some earlier traveller has been this way and helpfully laid out a couple of stepping stones. It could be that once I get there, it’s a pretty deep stream and the only sensible option is to walk along the bank to the stream.

Do financial implications lie between my client and her end goal? Does she need to grit his teeth, wade through the chilly waters of taking on extra responsibilities to prove herself? Would it make most sense to take a side step, study for a qualification and then cross over to the final destination?

where am I know where do I want to be what are the obstacles

These questions apply just as much to decisions about how we lead our lives as they do to work situations.

Today’s pebble for you to consider: Where are you now? Where do you want to be? What obstacles stand in your way? 


Turning over pebbles is the blog of Thinking Space Coaching.

If you’d like a companion to help you navigate your way through your work or your life, why not email me to see how we can work together?

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