Is your dream job out of reach? Which skills would help you pursue your dream career with confidence and ease? Powerful shifts happen when you re-frame your challenge into a skill-building game.

Notice What You Tend to Avoid

My client, Deb (not her real name) wants to pursue a career in landscaping. Deb loves just about every aspect about this career: the physical challenge, being outdoors, creating beauty and seeing tangible results every day. However, Deb confessed, “The thought of driving a big truck makes me anxious. My anxiety about driving is holding me back from pursuing my dream career. It’s so frustrating!” I thanked Deb for bringing this frustrating dilemma to her coaching session. With my personal choice of a car-free lifestyle, I could easily empathize with her dread of driving. “Would you like to find a way to release your fear of driving?” I asked. Deb affirmed, but wasn’t sure, if that was even possible. 

How about YOU? What are you avoiding? Here are some of the most common situations people tend to avoid: conflict, e-mail, interviews, public speaking, and saying no. From your personal reflections and consulting this list, which situations ring true for you? Which situations would give you the greatest rewards, if you found a way to approach them with confidence? Jot down your insights.

Re-Frame Your Challenge into a Skill-Building Game

I shared with Deb an effective, fun way to release a fear. You engage, in a safe setting, in an activity that scares you in small, incremental, playful ways. “How could you turn driving into a fun game?” Deb paused for a moment and suggested that there were a few places that she would really like to get to, but they were only accessible by car. “Great, Deb! That’s a fun incentive!” I cheered. 

At her next coaching session, Deb shared that she had embarked on her driving practice. She enjoyed the fun destination, and she also chose to drive to a temp work location, despite her nervousness. That drive also went fine and saved her time. Together we celebrated Deb’s success.

Over to YOU! From your list of scary situations, pick the one that you feel most eager to transform, one that could open doors for you on your career journey. What are the specific skills that would help you meet that challenge? Take a moment to reflect on what you would need to learn to tackle your challenge and write down your insights. How can you learn these skills in a fun way? 

Play Your Skill-Building Game Often

Deb still felt a bit concerned that it might take too long to become a confident driver and that the thought of driving a big truck still made her knees shake. I encouraged Deb to stick to her driving practice and continue celebrating the incremental improvements she noticed. “How could you increase the frequency of your driving practice even further?” I probed. When it comes to learning a new skill it’s best to engage in the activity as frequently as you can in small ways. Deb committed to seek out more short driving opportunities, such as grocery shopping.

How about YOU? What would help you turn your challenge into a fun game? Shrink the size, create a safe space, make it into a game and play daily! 

Approach Your Biggest Challenge in Fun Ways

As you play your skill-building game, you will most likely become aware of your personal hot spots, the elements of your challenge that are most challenging for you. While Deb became more and more confident with driving, she realized just how terrified she was about parallel parking. When Deb brought her fear of parallel parking to coaching, I asked: “How could you isolate parallel parking as a separate challenge in a safe setting?” Together we brainstormed some ideas and Deb committed to practice parallel parking in an empty parking lot near her home, eliminating traffic and impatient drivers. As a first step, she decided to put colourful strings on the ground to mark a pretend car that she could parallel park to. With all the external pressures and hazards gone, Deb could focus on building her skill.

How about you? Which elements of your challenge most scare you? Brainstorm ideas on how to hone your skill in playful, experimental ways. What could make it safer and more relaxed for you to practice?

Become Aware of Your Perspective Shift

During her following coaching session, Deb shared that she didn’t get to drive and parallel park as much as she would have liked to. Her 5-year-old son, let’s call him Finn, had to stay home with a nasty cold and Deb stayed home to care for him. “I really missed my driving challenge on those days when I cared for Finn. It surprised me! I seem to focus more on the fun anticipation of my drives as well as on that sense of accomplishment I get after each successful drive. The nervousness I feel while driving isn’t as dominant in my awareness anymore.”

Together, we celebrated Deb’s powerful re-frame of driving. It truly had become a fun skill-building game that Deb was eager to play.

Soon, Deb felt confident to apply for landscaping jobs and quickly got interviews. Thanks to her growing confidence, she shared openly and authentically about her driving challenge and landed her dream job where she is not required to drive the company truck. Deb is thrilled about launching her dream career and excited to continue playing her skill-building games.

Just like Deb, you may surprise yourself and enjoy your skill-building game a lot more than you thought you might. If it’s more challenging than you thought it might be, don’t despair. You don’t have to walk this transformational path alone. I am right here to support you every step of the way.