Health coaching is a gratifying career choice, especially if you are passionate about guiding others through lifestyle changes that lead to greater well-being. I have been lucky enough to support people as they reach major weight-loss milestones or finally free themselves of their nicotine addiction. Nevertheless, I have faced moments in my career when I felt discouraged, confused, bored or generally dissatisfied. Fortunately, I have discovered a variety of ways in which to regain my spark. Here are four strategies for overcoming the doldrums that any health and exercise professional may experience, including health coaches.
1. Anticipate occasional lows.
It is unrealistic to expect to feel like you have reached new heights in your coaching career every single day. I know it is normal for some days to seem ho-hum, so I don’t get concerned if I am feeling a little flat or restless every once in a while. On those occasions, I look for ways to remember why I chose to become a health coach. I read notes, cards and emails from former clients that I keep in a file I call my “good job” file. It is heartwarming and uplifting to review personal messages from people expressing how I have made a positive difference in their lives.
2. When dissatisfaction persists, get curious.
If taking time to personally recharge isn’t enough, it’s a signal to explore further. Avoid the mistake of ignoring your sense of dissatisfaction. This could lead to burnout or a missed opportunity to learn from the experience. Ask yourself questions, such as: What bothers me most about my situation? If I could change one thing, what would it be? To what extent is the solution to my predicament under my control? These types of questions have led me to overhaul my website, reorganize my office space to make it sunny and fresh, and attend different networking events where I might meet new types of clients.
3. Embrace professional development opportunities.
When I first began my coaching career, my sole focus was weight management. After a few years, I began to feel restless and wondered if my interest in health coaching had run its course. After some reflection, I realized I loved my work and wanted to stay in the field but that it was time to expand my areas of focus. This led me to get certified as a Trained Tobacco Treatment Specialist. Now, in addition to helping people reach or maintain their weight-loss goals, I also support people wanting freedom from smoking or other forms of nicotine addiction.
ACE has been a valued professional resource, helping me stay energized about the field of health coaching. I especially enjoyed the Behavior Change Specialist program. I recommend it to health coaches wishing to accrue continuing education credits while learning about exciting research and the latest developments in the science of behavior change.
4. Keep it interesting.
The key to keeping my work as a health coach feeling fun and worthwhile has been to vary what I do throughout the week. I treasure my one-on-one time with clients and have noticed, over time, that I sometimes benefit from working outside my main office. This has led to interesting and professionally satisfying collaborations. For several years, I worked part-time as a staff health coach at a concierge medical practice, where I was part of a care team that included a nurse, registered dietician and exercise physiologist. More recently, I have been working as a wellness consultant at Princeton University, devising programs to help undergraduates practice and explore the mindsets and behaviors that are linked with greater well being.
If you have ever felt stuck in your work as a health coach, I can assure you that you aren’t alone. Consider some of these strategies to help you rediscover your mojo.