If you are like me the period following Christmas and New Year’s is always an emotional letdown. The presents have been opened (or returned), the parties have come and gone, the decorations have been taken down and packed away for another year, and the Christmas turkey, including the leftovers and treats, is nothing more than a distant memory.  Like credit card bills and the extra pounds gained over the holidays the reality of a new year dawns quickly with a stark awakening.

Part of that reality may be the need to either find or change employment.  If you have friends or family members who have been struggling unsuccessfully to secure a new job why not consider giving them a unique post-Christmas present.  Give the gift of a coach.


What is a coaching gift?

Coaching, just like theatre tickets, a gift card or a dinner voucher, can be packaged up as a gift.

So…who might need coaching?  Actually, pretty much anyone.  In terms of career coaching the most likely beneficiaries might be recent college or university graduates, persons returning to the workforce after a prolonged absence, persons whose job search has gone flat, or individuals who have been terminated from their employment and have not been provided with outplacement support.


How does a coaching gift work?

A place to start might be with you approaching a coach, and asking him or her to provide you with a quote on what it would cost to provide, for example, 5 one hour coaching sessions.  Once you arrive at agreement on the terms either you as the gift provider, or even the Coach, could approach the recipient to advise them of the offer.  Assuming they agree, and I would be surprised if they didn’t, a schedule of coaching sessions would be arranged.

Those five hypothetical coaching sessions for someone seeking a career change might be packaged up to include:  a review and re-writing of a resume and cover letter; a review and revisions to social media profiles; interview preparation; and advice on how to develop a job search strategy.

The beauty of this approach is that it doesn’t have to focus just on career search.  It could be broadened to include or address any significant problem or issue an individual is facing in his/her personal life (e.g. smoking cessation; health and fitness; eliminating obnoxious habits; etc.) where that person has reached a stalemate, and doesn’t know how to proceed.


What are the Benefits?

The benefits of giving coaching as a gift are numerous:

1. It is a clear and tangible demonstration of your emotional support and interest.  All of us, at one time or another, have watched friends or family members coping with a stressful issue or challenge.  Sometimes, we struggle internally on how best to provide support and counsel.    Our responses waiver between remaining silent versus offering well-intentioned but sometimes unappreciated advice.  If our counsel is spurned we lapse into indecision or sulk off in dismay frustrated as much by our own actions as the way in which our overtures may have been received.

2. The benefits of objectivity.  Persons faced with a challenge or personal struggle, or those who are close to someone who is, are often too close to the issue to provide impartial support and advice.  A trained coach has the advantage of a clear eyes, no preconceived ideas, and a willingness to help a client identify and explore new perspectives.  Simply put, a neutral observer can often help a client secure a breakthrough that is beyond the capacity of close friends and family to achieve.

3. Coaching provides a structure for problem identification and resolution.  This is especially important in the case of those who have been working at a problem or issue for a long time, and may have given up.  Having a paradigm to follow, or a plan of action, can be both positive and rejuvenating.

4. Provides accountability.  A good coach will help their client identify a course of action, set goals, and create a method of measuring success.  By regularly conferring with a coach on the attainment of those goals a client learns to take responsibility for their success, and taking responsibility is one means by which individuals achieve self-actualization.  Having someone to challenge and hold a person responsible can be hugely impactful.

5. Exploring unique or unusual approaches.  A trained coach can help a client identify options or possibilities to address a problem that they may have never considered previously.  In business, this approach is referred to as “brain storming” or “blue skying”…which means stepping back from an issue or project and spending time exploring fresh or new ideas or approaches.  A trained coach can facilitate this type of exercise which is best conducted in an atmosphere of quiet reflection, trust and lack of pressure.

6. Assisting in overcoming roadblocks or impediments to success.  An effective coach can help clients identify potential problems and then deal with the inevitable roadblocks and obstacles to success. Developing the resilience to deal with these challenges can be daunting, but a trained coach can assist their clients in preparing for these kind of eventualities.


A Final Thought

January is a time of new beginnings.  It is a time when people make New Year’s resolutions and commitments.  But it can also be a time of profound remorse, loneliness, frustration and despair, all of which can be manifestly more challenging when coming on the heels of a festive Christmas season.

Coaching….whether Career, Life, Executive, Fitness, etc.…..can be a practical and welcome gift for a friend or loved one coping with challenges or facing changes during a difficult time in their life.  From time to time all of us need a shoulder to cry on.  However, sometimes what people really need is a figurative “leg up” rather than just a reassuring pat on the back.

So, the next time you think about someone in your life struggling with a personal or emotional crisis, and you want to provide useful support but don’t know how, think about giving the gift of a coach.  It may just be the best investment in a friendship or family relationship you ever made.