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  • Writer's pictureBetsy Kent


I was inspired to write this article as I was listening to a podcast about running a coaching business. One of the coaches who called in said she had tried everything to get new clients with almost no results.

She felt discouraged, hopeless and frustrated.

She was also angry because she had done all the “things” everyone out there in the business coaching world had told her to do. Nothing worked.

So she stopped doing most of those things. The things she managed to continue to do felt like empty gestures, a waste of time. She “knew” that wouldn’t work anyway.

She was ready to quit and go back to what she was doing before. 

And then the person she was talking to asked her the best question I have heard in a long time:

How would you approach your business if you couldn’t quit?

I know this doesn’t sound so amazing at first glance, but think about it. 

Here is what happened: 

She immediately realized that the way she was feeling was not how she wanted to feel and if she couldn’t quit to get relief, she would have to find the answers within her business. 

She acknowledged that doing all the “things” that business coaches prescribe is NOT the entire set of things she could do. 

She decided that she would approach her business like a scientist in a lab. She immediately started coming up with some creative ways to find clients. Ways that no one else had ever suggested to her. Ways that  sounded fun and interesting. She decided to test them out, collect the data and assess. Her decided goal would be to do 5 “experiments” a month.  

Her entire mood changed in an instant. 

So - how does this apply to you?

If you have been searching for a job with little to no results and you feel like nothing is working you can try the following three steps. I suggest doing them all and in order, but any one of them alone can move the needle for you.

I bet you haven't tried any of them before, so aren't they worth a shot?

They don't take long and there is no downside.

STEP 1: Review the last year (or more if you need to) and list all the reasons why you are the hero or warrior in your life. Don’t limit yourself to your professional life or your job search. 

  • Include ONLY those things you did well and succeeded at (hero), OR you didn’t quit, even if it was hard and even if you didn’t get the result you wanted (warrior). 

  • Did you go to the gym twice a week even when you didn’t feel like it (warrior) ?

  • Did you figure out how to take a great vacation and stay within your budget (hero)?

  • Did you attend a conference and talk to people in your field (hero)?

  • Did you learn something new about a subject you are interested in (hero)?

  • Did you improve on a skill you already had (hero if you succeeded, warrior if you are still trying)?

  • Completely omit everything else! Those things don’t matter. We don’t have a time machine so we can’t go back and fix them. They only make us feel bad.

  • The only exception is if you earned a great lesson from something then don't ignore it but make it part of your success list. Learning something new from an apparent misstep (warrior)!

  • Look at your list and realize how strong, successful and resilient you are. 

Then, from that hero/warrior energy, move to step 2.

STEP 2: Actually answer the question: How would you approach your job search if you couldn’t quit? 

Be careful though, the question is not - what would you DO differently if you couldn’t quit until you got a new job? 

The question is HOW WOULD YOU APPROACH your job search differently. 

This is a question about your mindset, not your actions. 

The minute you change your APPROACH, then you will organically change or up level your actions.

The coach in the podcast decided to be a scientist rather than a coach selling her services. 

Could you approach your job search as a researcher - trying to write a report or book about a specific role, industry or skill or (even how to find a job) -  rather than an employee looking for a job? 

How would that change your actions? 

  • What would you be doing differently? 

  • What would you stop doing?

  • What would you start doing?

STEP 3: Ask yourself other positive questions and then answer them.

Our brains look to answer the questions we ask, whether or not they are helpful answers.

If you ask yourself why you can’t find a job, your brain will definitely be able to give you a ton of reasons, and none of them feel great! 

If you ask yourself if you should quit - I promise, you will come up with a lot of reasons to quit.

That, together with our brain’s evolutionary, natural negativity bias does not bode well for reigniting a stalled job search.

Instead ask questions where only helpful answers will come up:

  • What are the reasons to keep going?

  • What can I do differently this week that would be fun or align with my natural preferences/strengths?

  • What haven’t I tried yet?

  • How am I a perfect candidate for the jobs I am applying for?

  • What hard and soft skills am I great at?

CAVEAT: You are not allowed to say “I don’t know”. Come up with something, no matter how outlandish. You don’t have to do any of the things you think of if you don’t want to. The real power of this exercise is to show you how creative you really are and how much you have left to try to achieve your goal. 

Not only will you feel better, but you might surprise yourself at what you come up with. Especially if you do this in conjunction with the first two steps.

To be transparent - I don’t know what happened to the coach from the podcast. I don’t know if she started getting more clients or not.

BUT - I am pretty sure that, regardless:

  • she is enjoying the process of getting clients more than she was before 

  • she is learning to think for herself and not limiting her success to the strength of outside advice

  • she will eventually figure it out

  • she is now a better and more creative problem solver - a skill which will be super useful in her coaching career

What questions can you ask yourself that will help you to move forward and not quit on yourself?

Feel free to leave some in the comments. We can all benefit from hearing your new ideas!

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