Shopping For A Career Coach?

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If a doctor says you have six weeks to live, you get a second opinion and maybe do a little online research of your own. That's also how it should it be if a coach tells you to quit your job without a Plan B, or to invest your life savings in an unproven business model or to otherwise take a flying leap off a 3,000-foot cliff.

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Sadly, I've heard far too many stories of flighty coaches telling naïve clients, "Leap, and the net will appear," and those naïve clients complying without so much as batting an eye. Sure, that sentiment makes a great bumper sticker. But if you leap before you look and that magic net is suddenly nowhere to be found, you could be making a tragic mistake.

"If your coach is not actively talking about and helping you look at the potential risks of any and all behaviors, fire them," said Karissa Thacker, a management psychologist based in Rehoboth Beach, Del. "Helping people learn to manage risk is a fundamental part of being a coach."

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In other words, talk to friends, family, financial advisors, trusted colleagues, industry experts and those who've taken the same leap you're considering -- before you reach the point of no return.

"Never put your fate in the hands of one person's opinion" said Janet Scarborough Civitelli, a psychologist and career coach based in Sugar Land, Texas. "Good career coaches won't be offended if you do this. In fact, they will recommend it, especially if the stakes are high in terms of time, energy, money or emotional well-being."

This work is the opinion of the columnist and in no way reflects the opinion of ABC News.

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Michelle Goodman is a freelance writer and former cubicle dweller. Her books include "My So-Called Freelance Life: How to Survive and Thrive as a Creative Professional for Hire" and "The Anti 9-to-5 Guide: Practical Career Advice for Women Who Think Outside the Cube." Follow her at @anti9to5guide.
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