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This post is based on a talk I gave at the EA Unconference and EAG Virtual.

Your career trajectory

From today, your overall impact can follow a number of different trajectories. Here are a few possibilities:

Small changes today can lead to huge differences 20/30/40 years from now. It’s a bit like investing in an index fund or planting a tree—the best time to do it was 20 years ago; The second-best time is today.

Eric Schmidt—Google’s first CEO—said

[A coach] can give you perspective. The one thing that people are never good at is seeing themselves as others see them. A coach really, really helps.

Common themes

These issues are very common in EAs; You are not alone.

  • procrastination
  • indecision
  • hyper-optimization
  • existential dread
  • excessive guilt
  • inner critic

A good coach will talk through these issues (and others!), offer alternate perspectives, and help you develop your own tools and processes to manage them.

Invest in yourself so that you may then invest in others

I’ve also seen EAs struggling in their own life but feel like they need to power through because others have it worse and feel obligated to help. They might even believe doing the work will alleviate their struggle.

The EA movement believes that everyone’s well-being matters equally. That includes yours. As the safety videos say, always put on your own oxygen mask or life preserver first before helping others. If you were hit by a bus and are recovering in the ICU, no one would expect you to do anything but recuperate. Mental or emotional recovery is no different.

Hospice nurse Bronnie Ware noted that the most common regret of dying people is I wish I’d had the courage to live a life true to myself, not the life others expected of me. With the help of a coach, you can start living a life true to yourself.

It’s cheaper and easier than you think

Coaching is super-inexpensive to try. Nearly every coach within EA (and many outside) will offer the first session for free. Coaching schools are always looking for guest clients, which can be either a single session or could potentially be a longer-term engagement. Some coaches also provide discounts for EAs, package deals, or a sliding scale for lower-income clients (such as students or nonprofit workers). Some employers also provide coaching (or coaching subsidies) as a benefit. You can also apply for a grant from an EA fund.

Given the huge potential upside, I believe it’s a no-brainer. (But I admit that as a coach, I am biased. 🙂)

Where you can find a coach

EA Mental Health Navigator—Coaches in EA

80,000 Hours career coaching

Upgrade Program

Be a guest client for a student in a coaching program.
You can also request to work with a student coach for a 10–12 session engagement.

Or just ask people you trust for recommendations.


Thanks for reading! I’d be happy to answer questions below, or you can ping me privately.

Comments2
Sorted by Click to highlight new comments since: Today at 4:10 AM

I couldn't have said this better myself! Coaching provides huge value towards career and impact growth, and I would love to see more EAs investing in themselves.

A brief and clear case for coaching - thanks for this, Dave! :)  However, for someone who isn't already convinced of this, the claim will likely come across as overstated and under-argued and I think it's reasonable to disagree with such a strong claim. So I'm providing a couple of additional links which support the claim by providing different and more rigorous  perspectives:
https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/DwiJBvnjxjptQePSs/coaching-reduce-struggle-and-develop-talent

https://forum.effectivealtruism.org/posts/aGTuQjvHrFqhgSuxZ/underinvestment-at-the-top-what-i-discovered-coaching-a