How to Coach Yourself for Career Growth

David Shindler is a coach, facilitator, speaker, and blogger on jobs, careers and employability development. He runs an online school, Career Navigating for Young Professionals, and is author of “Learning to Leap, a Guide to Being More Employable”.

You want to get from A to B in your life. However, sometimes you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You may not have a clear picture in your mind of what A or B look, sound, and feel like. Or, you might not know why (or if) you want to make that leap. That’s where coaching can help. This post looks at a common coaching framework that you can use as a starting point for becoming clearer about changes in your job and career.

What is coaching?

Coaching is the unconditional belief that the answer lies within each of us. We release our potential by tapping into our talents and strengths and removing the psychological barriers holding us back from being at our best. Yes, external barriers do exist – like the availability of jobs – it’s how we respond that’s key. Because our attitude is within our control.

The coaching process is one of self-exploration with a balance of support and healthy challenge. A professional career coach will ask you the questions you might not ask yourself. They will reflect back your capabilities, achievements, and progress as you test and learn. They walk alongside ready to catch you if you fall as you work through what is right for you. Try this bite-size online course to develop your coachability.

However, not everyone can afford to hire someone or they want something less formal. Alternatively, friends, peers, and colleagues with good coaching skills can be a source of support and guidance. Also, coaching yourself for career growth is possible with the right mindset, skills, and toolkit. Here’s how you can start.

Coaching yourself for career growth is possible with the right mindset, skills, and toolkit. Here’s how you can start.


The GROW approach

Try using GROW, a common coaching framework. It stands for:

  • Goal – where you want to be
  • Reality – where you are now
  • Options – what is possible
  • Will – what is likely

Now let’s translate this into practical ways to coach yourself for career growth. For example, let’s say you’re thinking about changing your job or career and don’t know where to start.


Consider who you want to be, what you are trying to achieve, and why. For example, your personal Goal might be to find purpose in your working life or to become self-employed or to get promoted. Buy yourself a journal to write down your answers to the questions that follow:

  1. What is my Goal? Is it clear, fuzzy, or true? If you don’t have one, move to the next stage (Reality). Be focused.
  2. What would success be like? What would I feel and be doing? What would others would be saying? What would be the impact on my life? Be imaginative.
  3. Why is this Goal important to me? How does it fit with my values? Motivate and inspire yourself.


Whatever your answers, check them out and be honest with yourself. That’s what the Reality is about – checking assumptions about your current situation and what you believe, know, and don’t know. That might mean further job and career research or testing out whether what you say you want is realistic or true. Exploring your Reality involves data gathering, being curious, formulating the right questions, and genuinely listening. Consequently, you may need to revisit your Goal if the Reality is different than you expected. Ask yourself:

  1. What assumptions am I making about my current situation? Play Devil’s advocate.
  2. What will I check out to confirm, reassure myself or discover? Get busy.
  3. Is my Goal still the right one for me? Get clear.


Options are about possibilities – the potential avenues to realize your Goal. It’s tempting to reach for the first idea that comes to mind. However, stay open and come up with several options. Then you can weigh them up against each other before deciding which way to go. Ask yourself:

  1. What options could I pursue to reach my Goal? Be curious.
  2. What will I explore in more depth? Be proactive and organized.
  3. What are the pros and cons of each? Which one pulls my heart strings the most? What does my intuition tell me? Find the balance between being optimistic and realistic.


We all have good intentions, but sometimes we don’t follow through on them. Procrastination takes over. Do you have the will to act and succeed? Do you want it enough? Will is about holding yourself to account and ensuring you commit to pursuing your Goal intentions. Remember, employers want accountable and responsible employees. So, show them. When you have decided on the option for you, ask yourself:

  1. How likely am I to pursue this option? What score out of 10 would I give myself? Be honest.
  2. If I score less than 8, I’m not serious about doing something. Say I score a 6, what would a 7 mean for me? Take small steps to increase your commitment.
  3. What will I do next and when? What might stop me? How will I overcome that? What will help? Be purposeful and resourceful.

It’s worth bearing in mind that the GROW approach is not linear or fixed. You might want to start with assessing your Reality to get clarity about your Goal. Through exploring Options, a different Goal might emerge or change shape.

Whether you coach yourself or seek coaching help, the process builds self-reliance, ownership, and responsibility for your career growth. Become clearer, more confident, and purposeful so you take the right job and career actions for you.

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