Five Life Coach Questions to Ask Yourself: A Quick Guide to Getting Unstuck

When I started coaching over eleven years ago, and for many years after, I told my clients that my aim was to teach them how to do everything I did for them.

I taught them how to create—and consistently use—a structure for accountability, to listen to themselves with warmth and care, to perceive and transcend the systemic dynamics keeping them stuck.

After a while, though, I came to understand the neuroscience of how we humans heal our wounds, transcend obstacles, and clarify our next steps. I realized that humans are interrelational creatures like bees and ants and other primates.

Sometimes, we need other humans to hear ourselves into clarity. So I stopped promising my clients complete self-sufficiency.

That said, one thing that I do teach my clients is how to ask better questions.

In my coaching sessions, a client will often say—That’s such a good question! Supported by this frequent exclamation, I’ve discovered a set of three career coaching questions that consistently help my clients get clear about what matters most to them and choose their next steps forward.

In this article, I’ll share these three sets of career coaching questions with you. As you read along, I invite you to take a moment to get quiet, listen within, and write down your responses.

One. What do I need? What do I long for? What do I want?

When we’re stuck, we can make the mistake of asking ourselves, “Why can’t I… (fill in the blank)?” Or, “How can I get rid of (your problem goes here)?” But, if we focus solely on our problem, it can be much harder to see how to get to where we want to go.

I challenge you to take a break from focusing on your problem and instead, envision the life you want. What would it look like if your problem was magically resolved? What would you or others be doing differently?

If you’re unable to see a detailed picture of the life you want, bring to mind the puzzle pieces or ingredients that you are able to see. Allow yourself to write freely, jotting down any feelings, thoughts, or seemingly crazy notions that come up. And for help identifying your priority needs, I invite you to download my Priority Needs Wheel, a fun and quick way of assessing your current longings and priorities.

Two. What information do I need to gather? What questions do I have? What do other people—my ideal clients and employers, my current clients or employers, my family, etc.—want? Who might know something about this challenge I’m facing?

When facing a big decision, it’s important to get both the inside view and the outside view. The inside view is information you’re able to gather within yourself, including what you need, want, and long for (the focus of the last set of career coaching questions).

In contrast, the outside view is information you’re able to gather outside yourself, including what other people need and want and what the data or people in the know have to say about your situation.

For example, if you’re considering starting a business, it can be helpful to take a look at market data about how similar businesses are faring in the current economy.

A helpful step to getting the outside view is to brainstorm a list of questions you have about the career decision you’re facing. Then, take a step back and get curious about who might help you answer these questions.

Three. Next Steps: What next step(s) will I take?

After getting the inside view and the outside view, it’s time to choose your next step. You might feel crystal clear about your next steps. Or, you might still feel pretty confused.

One reason why people can get stuck in confusion when facing a career change is that they expect themselves to know the final answer—all the details about the next career path they’ll pursue.

But often, to get clear about the big picture, we must take many smaller steps. Often, we must ask questions, have conversations, try things out, and learn from what happens.

So, what next step(s) feel within your reach? What can you commit to doing in the next week to move toward clarity about what’s next in your career?

Now, ask yourself!

If you’re facing a big career decision, I encourage you to write this list of career coaching questions somewhere you’ll see them frequently or bookmark them on your computer.

Then, do your best to dedicate a few minutes each day to asking these career coaching questions—

  1. What do I need? What do I long for? What do I want?
  2. What questions do I have? Who might know something about this challenge I’m facing?
  3. What next step(s) will I take?

I’d love to hear how these career coaching questions land with you or if you have any questions about these career coaching questions. Feel free to share in the comments!

And, if you’re still struggling to get clear about what’s next in your career, please know you’re not alone. As I shared above, we humans often need another person to help us get clear—especially someone who knows the terrain we’re treading well.

If you find yourself struggling to get clear about what’s next in your work life on your own, I invite you to check out my career coaching services.

Sometimes, we need another person to come up with the questions that help us see what’s been hidden. With the right support, we can often move forward faster than we ever could on our own.

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