“When I let go of what I am, I become what I might be.” Lao Tzu
Career transitions create discomfort. Often times, it is not clear where you are headed. At other times, you aren’t sure if you really want to make a change. Like a snake shedding it’s old skin, you had adjusted to the “old skin”, your current career, but it just doesn’t fit any more. As you become more uncomfortable, you realize you must make a change.
One key question to ask at this critical stage is, “What will I take with me and what will I leave behind?” As you begin to get clear on the answers, you will begin the process of letting go and moving on with greater clarity and confidence.
Bill, a software consultant I worked with, was miserable in his job. An ambitious person, Bill and his new wife had moved to Bahrain to work because the income looked promising. He achieved the high salary he desired, but he also moved into a job that was less satisfying and more time consuming than he expected.
Prior to accepting the consulting job, Bill had done the same type of work for a large corporation. Now as a consultant for the software company, he had to bid on work for multiple companies. His expectation had been that he would just do the consulting work. Instead, he had to bid on the work before he could consult. He hated writing responses to bids. To make matters even worse, Bill was required to respond to every request even when Bill knew there was no chance of winning the business. This made Bill angry and frustrated.
Bill enjoyed working with his clients and they liked and respected him. Bill found he was frequently advising clients on other matters not just the software. He started to enjoy the advising more than the consulting he was hired for. As a result, he found himself impatient with the software consulting.
In addition, Bill disliked the travel he needed to do in his job. Bill was a newlywed and did not think about the travel when he accepted the job. Now he resented being away from his wife several nights a week. When he had to be away for a birthday or anniversary, he was especially upset. Bill felt the software consulting job was controlling his life.
The situation finally got too difficult for Bill to bear. He decided it was time for a change. He admitted to me that there were several aspects of his work that he would miss. The money was really good and had enabled him to save quite a nest egg. He enjoyed certain perks such as a spacious home with a swimming pool. He would never have had such a luxurious lifestyle in his own country.
Bill was finally willing to let go of those pieces though for a career that was more fulfilling, that he had more control over and that allowed him to be with his wife more.
He also noted that thanks to his software consulting he could take with him business know how, excellent computer skills, good writing and presentation skills, and strong leadership skills, all of which would be helpful in his new career. He felt good about what he had gained—much better than he had in a long time.
Career transitions are not easy. It is often a time when people feel confused and uncomfortable. Growth comes when you can shed what is no longer useful to you (your old skin) and have the courage to move on to something more meaningful and exciting. After completing his work on letting go and moving on, Bill felt optimistic, energized and ready to explore the possibilities that lay ahead of him.
Based on Chapter Two of Now What? 90 Days to a New Life Direction by Laura Berman Fortgang —With Every Gain, There Is a Loss