Hands up. As the calendar ticked over into September, and our workplaces filled up again (along with tales of holiday highs and lows and dubious ‘gifts’ brought back), how many of you felt the familiar feeling settling down around you? The ‘back to work’ blues?
Although we celebrate ‘the New Year’ as December rolls into January, for many of us, September feels like a new beginning. Maybe we’re all somehow programmed from childhood and the start of the new school year in September, or maybe it’s simply that the lull over the summer period gives us cause to reflect, to take stock and evaluate. Whatever the reason, September is often seen as a time for a fresh start – but also a time when frustrations and dissatisfaction can raise their heads.
For some, September means being invigorated, and full of new ideas and resolution, followed by malaise as the energy quickly dissipates and comes to nothing without the clarity and direction to take them forward. For others, it’s a feeling of returning to a rut, often a very stressful one, and a desire to change this but no opportunity or clear idea of how to go about achieving this. Whatever the cause of your ‘back to work’ blues, coaching can help.
The Back to Work Blues
Our attitude to work can be formed from a complicated cocktail of feelings and emotions. Unhappiness and workplace stress, low motivation levels, boredom and acceptance of mediocrity, or feelings that there’s just no way to move forwards are just some of the negative traits that typify the ‘back to work’ blues. We often feel we have no choice about the situation we find ourselves in – which can often be compounded by feelings of low self-worth and a lack of motivation.
In these circumstances, the confidential one to one dialogue between you and your coach which will result in you being more empowered, and recognising that you have choices. Coaching can also improve self-esteem and confidence in your own abilities, and provide fresh motivation to take forward ideas for change in a structured and measurable way. By offering an impartial sounding board to explore your options, you will find your motivation levels increasing as you develop your strategy for change.
Structured space and reflection time
In a hectic and pressurised world, where work and home life compete ever more for time and attention, coaching offers the opportunity for space and reflection time to help you identify the issue (or issues) causing your frustrations and holding you back. Of course, you need to recognise that taking the time out to attend a series of coaching sessions is a valid use of your time. For many people, this can be a huge step, but the fact is that things will never change unless you make the opportunity to understand the root causes of the frustrations or dissatisfaction you are feeling, and to work out a plan to address them.
While a course of coaching sessions will be structured around the issues you are facing, a fundamental aim of most sessions will be to raise your awareness – both your self-awareness and awareness of how other people and situations trigger certain reactions within you. This raised awareness, combined with the insights your coach has observed during the coaching sessions, will offer you an enhanced perspective on your situation. This new perspective will then allow you to see things more clearly, to identify where change is necessary. You will also find that coaching will increase your feelings of responsibility; your innate understanding that only you can change things, and it is your responsibility to do so if your situation is to improve.
You may feel uncomfortable with the idea of sharing your feelings, fears and frustrations with someone who is essentially a stranger. Coaches are not here to cast judgment on you or your situation, but to create an environment in which you feel comfortable exploring the things that are troubling you. Your coach will feed back observations and insights she has gathered during the course of your dialogues and from the answers you’ll give to insightful questions, but she will not be judging you. Your coach is neither friend, colleague or manager and is only concerned to support you to reach the outcomes you need. It is key to the coaching relationship that you choose a coach with whom you feel comfortable at the outset. Take time to speak to a few coaches, look at their websites, ask if there is anyone you can speak to who will talk to you about their own coaching experience with a particular coach. Your need for resolution may be pressing, but it’s worth taking some time to decide which coach is right for you.
As your relationship with your coach develops, and levels of trust will increase you will appreciate the opportunity to strategise and work through a plan without fear of being judged or seen as unable to cope. Once you’ve identified the root of your back to work blues, your coach will help you recognise where you want to go, to probe out your goals and then help you develop structure through which you’ll be able to piece together a new road map for your professional life.
Ongoing support for greater fulfilment
Taking the step to embark on the coaching road to greater satisfaction in your working life, a road that will result in you feeling more motivated, more connected, happier to be at work is a sure-fire way to beat those back to work blues. Not only that, the coaching relationship isn’t just a temporary solution. Your coach can continue to support along the way, to help you work through challenges – both anticipated an unexpected – that may crop up on the way, and keep you focussed on your plan for greater fulfilment. No longer will you dread the post-holiday return to work!