In working with Connecticut career counseling clients for the last decade, I know that one of the biggest areas where we help our clients involves embracing reality. Perhaps because of our perceived career expertise, our career counseling clients often leave our meetings “knowing what I have to do.”
“I have thought about…” our clients begin as they mention a field that represents career change. In most every case, they haven’t done much beyond think about the field. When we present what needs to be done to pursue the field, then our clients move forward. Or they don’t!
Here’s what I mean: I recently worked with a great young guy that I’ll call Chris. He grew up in Madison – which becomes relevant – and attends a private college in Connecticut. As we discussed, his confused career issues, he noted that he often thought about construction and also mixed martial arts. That he is from Madison, Connecticut, an affluent Connecticut suburb where few, if any, college bound kids head into either made him conflicted about taking any step towards each.
As we fleshed out his interest in construction, it became clear that his interest in building things and having an action oriented job (at least one not behind a desk) was authentic. No family member was in construction. He loved wood shop. He would look at construction sites with interest. His business idea for an entrepreneurship class was focused on construction. When someone has an interest so distinct that comes from oneself – as in no parental or cultural influence – it is often a sign of inner wisdom’s direction. I provided the plan to move forward towards exploring construction management. He loved it, even the parts about working as a day laborer during the summer. He embraced reality.
As for MMA, I also laid out the plan. To be clear, I don’t burst bubbles of my career counseling clients but I also present reality as clear as possible. One of the things that I do for “tough guys” who grew up in our idyllic Connecticut community is explain my experiences living elsewhere and dealing with real tough guys. Chris should explore MMA as a hobby and if it proves that he is a natural then he can pursue his path further. But those very tough guys who enter MMA for the most part do the sport 5 hours a day, every week and have thresholds of pain that are beyond normal. Chris liked the part about beating people up but I emphasized that – even at best – he would have to go through a few years of being the person being beaten up. If he embraced that reality, then he could continue going for it. He understood.
Embrace reality. That’s how we help our career counseling clients.