At least a couple times a year, I want to quit coaching.
The clients are so annoying, they don’t want to do the work, they don’t want to change, and I start to feel like being a coach is pointless.
The money (while good) is unreliable, it feels like I’m always just a few canceled contracts away from being stressed about money. Sometimes I’ve got plenty of prospects other times it feels like I only have a few.
The work (while rewarding) is super difficult. I have to be the constant stand for deep possibility for each one of my clients. Even when those clients are being asshats. I have to do this even when I feel like I’m not present to much possibility in my own life and in the world in general.
Wanting to quit is a normal part of life.
During my marathon, I wanted to quit.
During most of my long term relationships, I’ve wanted to quit.
Hell even while writing this post, I wanted to quit.
Stepping into anything worth doing creates tension.
There’s the desire to complete the task, to keep going, to do the work, and the desire to get out of the tension, to take the day off, and do something easier or more enjoyable.
Getting out of the tension always feels pretty good. At least for a moment.
Before the desire to quit shows up I feel this pressure to execute, then a thought occurs to me I could quit! and a wave of relief comes over me. I could be free of this whole thing if I just walk away.
But of course, whenever I do this I eventually look back and wonder, “Why did I quit?” If I had just kept going I would have:
- Written that book
- Learned something about myself
- Created something I was passionate about
So while the tension is uncomfortable, removing it as a strategy rarely leads to lasting satisfaction. And yet in the moment, it feels so tempting. A temptation I’ve given into so often I can hardly imagine listing all the things I’ve quit, though I can start with a sample:
Singing in groups
Writing my first book on coaching
My last engagement
I could go on . . . and on. . . and on. . .
This brings me to my desire to quit coaching. . . or anything else
Coaching as a profession is all about sitting in tension.
I sit in the tension of my client’s desires.
I sit in the tension of conversations around commitment.
I sit in the tension of a client having paid me and a sense that now I owe them some form of transformation.
Like I said. A lot of tension.
And if I think of that tension as a burden. If I come from a place of needing to prove myself then it’s not worth it.
There are a lot of easier ways to make money. A lot of easier ways to prove myself.
But when I let all of that go. When I just remember what it’s like to be with someone as their life and the way they think about the world changes. My desire to quit fades.
And that’s because I’ve found my calling, a practice where my purpose can fully manifest, a path that demands everything from me.
My desire to quit is a part of that. A human part. And it’s a part I’ve learned to love and accept.
So when I want to quit I remind myself that the reason I love coaching is because of the tension, the pressure, and the possibility.
But you’ve got to decide if that’s enough for you or not.
So my advice for you. If you want to quit sometimes is this:
First, let go of any idea that you’re a failure if you quit.
Quitting takes courage and commitment. So let the shame go, it will just cloud your judgment.
Next get really clear on why you’re quitting.
Maybe it’s because you’ve decided that you feel called to a different kind of work.
Maybe it’s because you actually prefer working for someone else (which by the way most people secretly prefer).
Maybe it’s because coaching asked you to become someone you don’t want to become.
The reason doesn’t matter. What matters is that you get clear on it.
You were creating yourself as a coach. Now you’re going to create yourself as something else. Not because creating yourself as a coach is hard, but because you feel called to create something else.
Don’t quit. Even a little bit.
Go outside, take a walk, and remember why you started this.
Feel the tension of what it means to be a coach.
The annoying, hard, challenging, tension of it.
Feel the heartbreak of clients who resist change (just like all humans do).
Feel the discomfort of asking people to commit to something.
Feel the challenge of declaring you’re going to help someone change their lives.
Feel it all and choose it.
Shake off the excuses. Love yourself.
And choose it.
The whole big ball of wax of it.
And get back to work.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to quit.
It’s why you need a coach.
It’s why you need a community.
It’s why you need other people standing up for who you are.
If you want to quit, do it.
And if not, choose back in.
It’s this simple act of choosing back in, that separates those who make it from those who don’t.
It’s an act I do every day and have to do in real earnest a few times a year.
Every path worth walking will give you the desire to quit.
It’s what you do with that desire that matters.
Whatever you choose. I believe in you. I hope you remember to believe in yourself too.