Improve Your Career Strengths, Not Weaknesses

I’ve been out of school longer than I was in it, yet somehow the fall remains my time for starting fresh. Were I Jewish, this would make a lot more sense. But I know I’m not alone in making new commitments this time of year. So my question for you, dear reader, is what career or other change are you committing to this fall?

And is it a change that makes sense for you, in particular?

I ask this partly because every fall and every January, I decide I’m going to be better organized. I’ve read probably 100+ articles over the years on being organized, purchased countless books on organizing (and of course a gazillion organizing containers), watched all those shows on HGTV and TLC, even gone to time management and organizing classes.

This is my desk today:

desk photo

Organization--not my career strength.

This state of mess is nothing new for me. At least since I was a teenager, I’ve not been good at managing paper and clutter. Yet I keep trying to change that. Kind of silly on my part, to be honest. I keep insisting I can change a deeply rooted weakness into a strength, or at least something neutral.

Does that mean you shouldn’t try to change, to improve yourself? Of course not! But you might be better off working to improve a strength than remedy a fault. Aside from just enjoying your work more, you might actually get better at your career. You usually don’t get that message at work or in our culture at large, but you should, according to many management experts.

Maybe you’re feeling so overwhelmed by your job or life that you don’t even know what your strengths are any more. A life and career coach can help you sort that out.

If you have a good grasp on what your strengths are, by all means please go out and work on them. Your life will improve.

But I’m guessing that if you’ve read this blog more than once or twice, you could be having trouble figuring out your strengths, let alone how to actually improve on them.

Coaching can help you with that puzzle. You get accountability to keep you moving forward. I don’t mean dehumanizing, Jillian Michaels-style accountability. I wouldn’t do that to anyone, particularly my clients, whom I really I like! I think my clients are amazingly resourceful, creative, and whole just as they are. They don’t need to be motivated by fear, but by moving from their core values toward their best selves. That is what is sustainable, and how I coach.

Typically, in my coaching sessions we start out with a check-in, to see how you’re really doing. Then we move to an issue you want to work on in that session, or if you don’t have one, we figure one out. We explore things a bit, poke around and get curious, looking at your issue from different angles. Then we decide on some funwork—a task or some focused thinking that comes from our discussion. You commit to a date for completing that task or thinking. And that is a coaching session, in a nutshell. Much of the real work of coaching happens afterward, from you mulling things over and doing the funwork.

Not sure about coaching? You can get a sample session for free to see if it’s something that would be useful for you. There’s no high-pressure sales tactics during or after, I promise.

I wish you great success in whatever change you embrace for this fall, and beyond.

Jennifer Alvey is a recovering lawyer and life/career coach who will probably never have a terribly organized desk, but offers a great free coaching session. She can be reached at jalvey AT

One thought on “Improve Your Career Strengths, Not Weaknesses

  1. One less lawyer, one more career coach? I think that’s a new positive to the universe.

    Have you linked up with Duke Law Career Services? I seem to reacall that they had some postings a few months ago regarding career coaching. You could probably get them to put you up there if you aren’t already linked there.

    Back in the late 90s when I was at Duke, the entire purpose of career services seemed to get us to either New York or D.C.

    I wonder what they are doing now that the legal market has a large gaping hole in it.

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