A lot of women make enquiries about coaching programmes because they feel stuck in some way. That can be personally or professionally, and as mothers it can often be a bit of both.
Let’s reassure you from the get-go that we fully understand that feeling. Careering into Motherhood was built entirely around that feeling. We have been through it ourselves and come out the other side and want to change things for the better, for other women.
Our generation grew up being told we should work hard at school, maybe go off to college or university where we could study and become anything we wanted. We’d get a job feeling quietly confident and never really experience this so-called 'glass ceiling'.
Yes, we attended meetings where there were more men than women but we didn’t really pay attention when women left after having children, because we didn’t think that would be us. We’d be able to make it all work.
Then we became parents.
If it wasn’t us, it was our friends whose employers were turning down requests for flexible working; if it wasn’t us, we knew others who were run ragged trying to drop their kids off and run for the train, while salaries barely covered childcare costs; if it wasn’t us, we knew other women who were finding it just too much. Because they earned less than their partners, women were the ones to leave work and with it, their ambition and careers.
Whatever your story has been, chances are you now find yourself wondering if there isn’t something more, something better, something else you want to do. So you might be thinking about making an enquiry about coaching...
Here are three questions to ask yourself when you’re researching coaching programmes...
1) Does this sound like fun?
If it doesn’t, it will be a chore. You’ll lose interest and it will be a waste of your money. You have enough on your plate already. Don’t do it, buy a nice lipstick, listen to some podcasts and get yourself some books on careers.
2) Is this going to bring about the change I want?
I can introduce you to women who have done our programmes this year and gone on to get new jobs, launch a business, win more clients than they can actually handle, and get that promotion. But it would be totally wrong of us to claim that was all down to this course. They followed our programme, they put in the hard work and they kept to their plan. But THEY did it.
Coaches and coaching cannot change lives, I promise. Anyone who says they can is not being honest. Only you can change your situation and that takes quite a lot of courage and time.
What coaching can do, is teach you new ways of thinking about the challenges you face and how you can apply that practically. It is highly unlikely that any coaching programme will get you exactly where you want to be in a few weeks’ time.
A good coaching programme will help you understand which paths you could realistically take, what you will need to do differently in order to get there, and show you how to make a realistic, achievable plan.
You can probably get there on your own by reading books and researching coaching tools. But a coach will get you there faster.
Another thing to think about is accountability. How will you keep yourself on track after the formal coaching sessions have finished?
One advantage of group coaching programmes like ours, is the opportunity to build a network of supportive other women who help you stay on track after the course has finished. That's been one of the really beneficial add-ons for our participants – we actually teach some basic coaching techniques as part of our Path To Your Future programme and the cohort has gone on to meet regularly and coach each other. That part is free, which brings me on to...
3) How much should coaching cost?
This is a difficult question to answer. My son’s school shoes feel expensive to me because I know he won’t look after them and I’ll be back in six months' time for another pair. But I want him to be comfortable and not have problems when he's older so they do serve a purpose, and they are a bit of an investment in his development. Based on what is personally important to me, I choose to go to the shop that isn't top of the range but isn't at the bottom.
There is a lot of choice out there, and a big range in what you can pay for coaching. My advice is to find one that feels like enough of an investment for you to look after it, but not so expensive that you need to re-mortgage the house. If you really want to make a change, you will need to think about how much of a priority that is for you. Perhaps consider some of the small luxuries you might treat yourself to a couple of times a year - that pair of shoes or a face cream – and think whether that same kind of investment would actually bring you more happiness if you spent it on coaching.
If a coaching programme will get you where you want to be – back earning money or successfully negotiating a promotion sooner than you would have got there on your own, then it is probably worth it.
Founder of Careering into Motherhood