September has always and will always bring with it a whole string of back-to-school feelings, even though I haven’t been back to school since earning two post-graduate degrees a number of years ago. I love reading and learning and will forever do both, but that’s not quite the same as embarking on an actual school term, no matter what age you are.

When fall suddenly arrives–the day after Labor Day–I am hit with the distinct smell of autumn, which I hadn’t noticed the day before; the memory of an ominous stack of heavy, hard-backed books being hoisted onto my back; newly minted pens, pencils, and paper at the ready; multi-colored leaves crackling beneath my new pair of shoes; opening a strange classroom door, with a mixture of excitement and dread in my gut; and once, at long last, opening that door and finding the love of my life.

In September, it seems as if the entire culture shares in the back-to-school/back-to-work mood. My phone rings with more frequency, and each new client seems ready to tackle something they’ve been meaning to tackle for a long time. There is sort of a “fun’s over, let’s get to work” kind of mood. A similar thing happens when the next term begins–in January–but that’s even more intense, loaded, as it is, with New Year’s resolutions and all.

Right now, in this very September, I am excited about getting to know my newest coaching clients. Each one, as I tell them, triggers the feeling in me that I am about to open a new book. I love reading books, and I can’t wait to read the one they represent! They are the hero or heroine of their life story, and I am rooting for them; I will use everything in me to help them get where they want to go! I can’t wait to get into the work we will do together.

Inevitably, I have more faith in them than they have in themselves, because one of my primary gifts is that I can “see” things–like potential! I can’t help it. Plus, I have been doing career and life coaching for almost 25 years–while they were doing whatever they did for the past 25 years. I have tremendous confidence in the work because I have seen the work “work” so many times. My office wall is full of thank you cards and emails from former clients who got where they wanted to go, and from some who got somewhere they didn’t even know they wanted to go.

My newest thank you email came from a client with whom I am still working. She has moved through a very painful transition from a job she loved deeply at one time, but one that, years later, turned into a bit of a nightmare. It was extremely painful, and she had to grieve the loss before she could move on. Now that she has, and is much clearer about who she is, what she wants, and has developed criteria for the next step, she has several possibilities in front of her. I am confident she will hit her bull’s eye–the clear goal she will share with all of my past and future clients–because that’s the point of our work together. In an email in which we were arranging our next appointment, she said this, which I share with her permission:

There is no concrete news on the job front, but this has been a good time for me to have flexibility in scheduling, with all three of my family members starting a new semester. For many years, we have all four been caught up in the busy-ness of the beginning of school, each in our own separate way, and I appreciate having the capacity to focus on supporting my family–preparing their meals, shopping for their supplies, listening to the stories about new teachers, classmates, and in the case of my husband, new students. It is almost palpable for me to see the difference it makes to them. . . For sure, your support has had a tremendous impact on my life, and I hope you can see and feel that. Perhaps it is difficult for you to see it, when I keep falling apart during our meetings! But for me, having that opportunity to fall apart has been rare and valuable. And it makes me realize how little slack I usually allow myself in my work and in my relationships. It’s something to work on, but it’s an old habit and will take some time and effort to change. . .

Sometimes people come with their eyes focused on one thing, and they find out something else they didn’t even know they wanted or needed.

Our dear Bonnie Bonetti-Bell was the force behind our Career/Life Coaching services, until her passing in 2019. As a principal of our firm, Bonnie had an innate talent for seeing the best in people. Moreover, she helped others see the best in themselves. Bonnie is fondly remembered and deeply missed.

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