Life coach, K’an Bealer, says downtime and coffee dates might be the missing link in your job search.
First, please tell me what you do.
I am a motivational and inspirational coach. I help people who are stuck. They might be transitioning from a dead-end job, or they might have a vision but don’t know how to make it happen. Or, they might not have a vision for the life they want to live, but they know they want to make a change.
Some people come to me who want support for their fitness, health, and nutrition goals. Lately, I also have a lot of clients who want guidance in finding a career that validates and makes use of their talents. These are the reasons why people originally come to me, but we end up addressing other parts of their lives as well.
Can you give me an example of the types of clients you work with and the successes you’ve had with them?
The clients I work with are generally women who have a plan or a general idea of what they want, but they’re not sure how to get from A to B. And the uncertainty makes them feel overwhelmed, frustrated, stuck.
A recent client came to me for health and fitness support because she wanted to lose 40 pounds. Our work together began in the gym focusing on workouts and nutritional guidance, but the more we spoke, the more we got the core of what the real issue was. So, although we did continue to work on shedding the pounds, we also approached it from other angles. This particular client spent all of her time at work. What I helped her connect with was that the lack of fun and self-care in her life was directly related to her inability to lose those 40 pounds. So her program included some closet-recovery time (where we made sure that everything in her closet supported her in feeling her best) as well as scheduling time to socialize with friends. At the end of our six months together, she had not only lost the 40 pounds, but she had also gained an understanding about the importance of balance in her life.
Please explain how you might work with a job seeker or someone who’s looking to “upgrade” their employment.
No matter who it is I am working with, our first piece of work together is to get honest. It’s important that my clients get rigorously honest with themselves and be willing to be vulnerable with me.
For a job seeker, the first thing I might ask about is his or her financial situation. Do you have savings? Do you have a spouse or a partner who is supporting you? Or are you on your own and in immediate need of an income? What we do next would be determined by those answers.
If our first step is to generate an immediate income, then we’d want to set our sights on something familiar and easy to jump right into. For me, it was bartending. I tried the corporate route for a little while but found myself too exhausted and spent to use my off-time trying to get to where I really wanted to go, which was the work I do now. The familiar work of bartending allowed me to focus on longer-term goals and visions.
But if you have some savings or other financial support, we might start our conversation with that vision. The question to consider here is where do you want to go? Not where do you think you should, ought, or have to go but where do you actually want to go?
And then, from there, the question I ask is what are you willing to do to get from A to B?
Well, there is no one formula that works for everyone. But when looking for jobs, it’s important to put your energy in the right place. The job search can be overwhelming, and it’s important to focus your search. It’s more efficient to use your time applying for the jobs that make sense to apply to — either because they use talents and skills you already have or because they will help get you to where you want to go — than just randomly sending out your résume and hoping for the best.
Another thing to take seriously when looking for work is networking. That can be as simple as taking someone in your field to coffee. So many people find work and other opportunities by talking to the right person.
But one thing that often surprises my clients is when I suggest that they go for a walk or invite a friend to lunch or otherwise treat themselves to something pleasurable during scheduled breaks. They don’t have to be long breaks, maybe ten-minutes every hour, or an hour after four hours of work, depending on a person’s needs. These breaks can serve the purpose of clearing your mind so you can keep your focus, but they can also make it easier to get started. If you know you have a set amount of time for a task, it can make it seem easier and more manageable.
It seems counterintuitive to spend time relaxing or seeking pleasure when the need for employment is so urgent. How does it work, and why do you think it’s so important?
If one goes out looking for work coming from a place of exhaustion, fear, anger worry, and resentment, that is what he or she will give off. Those looking to hire will feel this energy. I don’t think I need to explain how that could hurt one’s chances of getting a job.
What do you charge, and how do you justify the expense for those who are unemployed or underemployed?
I charge between $60 and $250 per session. The rates depend on what the client can afford as well as what kind of program we decide to put together. We might do 30-minute sessions every other week or 45-minute sessions every week for the first four weeks and then taper off to once a month. With some clients, we work more by email than by phone.
But I also leave a certain amount of space open to work with those who are not currently in a financial place to afford my services. What I ask of these clients is that they be willing to let me see their finances. It’s about mutual trust, but it’s also about getting clear and honest about the numbers before we get started, since this will be a major area that we’ll be looking at.
Can you offer one solid piece of advice for job seekers, or anyone else hoping to make some changes in the New Year?
Yes, I have two. The first is to get honest. You have to be honest about where you are at this very moment in your life, where you want to go, and what is really important to you. And the other is to let others help you. This can be as simple as reaching out and talking to a friend to help alleviate some of the stress, or mentioning in casual conversation at the gym that you’re looking for work. Both the de-stressing and the networking can have the potential to impact the job search in a positive way.