Becoming Unstuck

Asperger’s & NLD Career Letter, September 2020

Many clients begin coaching because they are stuck … in the wrong job or career… in under- or unemployment … or in poor communication with their supervisors or co-workers. Andy, for example, felt stuck in his retail position because he wanted to work as a writer. Kaylee believed that she would “never” find a job because she did not know how to describe her qualifications during job interviews.

Andy and Kaylee were both frustrated because they made the mistake of trying to make The Giant Leap to Change. In other words, they saw themselves achieving their goals all at once, rather than creating a step-by-step action plan. They made long lists in their minds about what needed to be done and became overwhelmed.

A key to becoming unstuck is to plan small, realistic action steps to achieve goals. Clients who take consistent action, over a reasonable period of time, are often amazed at the progress they make.

We broke Kaylee’s interview preparation into three phases. Phase One was information gathering. She visited Web sites to learn more about the interview process and the meaning of common questions.

Phase Two was applying the information she gathered. She practiced how to introduce herself to an interviewer, and express enthusiasm. We developed a list of questions she would likely be asked, and determined the main points she would make in each of her answers.

Phase Three was implementation. At first, Kaylee practiced her responses (out loud) on her own. As she became more confident, we did mock interviews of three questions at a time. Slowly, we built up to practice sessions of one hour.

Andy was stuck due to a knowledge gap. He did not know how to become a writer, or where to begin to find out.

Step one of our plan was preliminary research using the Occupational Outlook Handbook (available in the United States, free of charge online). Andy discovered that the writing profession is diverse. There are writers of news, marketing materials, magazine stories, textbooks, and more!

Andy wanted to learn more about technical writing related to the technology sector. He visited the Web sites of several professional associations. These are organizations for people who work in the same field, or at the same type of job. Professionals pay a fee to join, but typically an association will offer free information, such as information about careers.

The more Andy read about the profession, the more excited he became. Still, he had questions. So the next step was setting up informational interviews. He spoke with four IT technical writers who gave him “insider” information about the job duties, educational requirements, and the local job market. He was surprised to learn that there were boot camps and certification programs available.

Since Andy did not have IT experience, he enrolled in two computer classes at his community college. This way he could evaluate whether the field was a good fit.

If you are wanting to become unstuck, identify what you need to take a step forward. For example, do you require more information, a plan, specific action steps, practice, or feedback? Commit to doing at least one thing per day that will bring you closer to a goal. Keep your action steps manageable so that you will not become overwhelmed. And ask for help if you need it.

Copyright 2020, Barbara Bissonnette, Forward Motion Coaching