Often it’s when we’re hurting that we feel compelled to make a change, but we sometimes can’t imagine a way out.
Rather than letting your pain dictate your next steps or allowing life to happen TO you by chance, you can proactively get involved in charting and following a vision you’d like to create.
Even when there is a massive crash, it is possible to rise again and find a new way to be in the world.
If you want to change, you can.
Our dreams do not always come in the packages we expect.
When obstacles change our course, sometimes simply showing up to be around the passion, doing whatever is needed (even the small and tedious tasks) will reveal new way to be with what you love.
You hear it all the time, and admittedly you’ve heard it here: “Follow your passion!”
It’s not always the best starting place because you might get stuck, not sure what that means. However, as you explore, develop skills, and find work that brings value, your passion may emerge.
If you haven’t found your passion yet, don’t despair! Passions aren’t lying in wait for you to uncover them, nor is there just one “true” passion for each of us.
Our core interests aren’t whetted to one path or career. Rather, they can be cultivated – growing and developing over time as we explore new areas of interest and approach the world with an open, curious mind.
These days it’s very rare to find anyone who stays in a job for life the way our parents did.
If you find yourself in the situation looking for a change, here are some tips to help you get through:
“Fear of failure, of looking silly, of being rejected, of losing status — it’s the single biggest dream killer in the world of work,” but don’t let that stop you from making what could be your best move yet!
Mental illness, suicide and depression have been everywhere on broadcast and online media in the last week due to the tragic deaths of Kate Spade and Anthony Bourdain. The reality of changing careers by choice or by force can put many of us on a shaky limb with our mental wellbeing. Let’s address some of the reasons why and some factors that can help steady the course of big changes.
Money + Uncertainty + Identity Crisis = Troubled Times
In my experience, money is the first factor that shakes one’s stability in the career transition journey. Even people with ample savings or the ability to start retirement (although not their preference) get anxious about finances when facing a change in job or direction.
Add uncertainty which in and of itself can set people off. Then throw in the identity crisis which creeps in from even considering giving up a role that has defined for decades, and you have a fertile breeding ground for emotional disruption. Change, for most people, is no picnic. But, that doesn’t have to be a deterrent to making one.
Richard came to work with me recently after being let go from a high paying job. He had enough money to retire if he had to, but he wanted a few more years of earning a top income to feel more secure. The opportunities, however, were not showing up and the truth was, we discovered, he had no motivation to pursue them. He was feeling down.
The lack of motivation was due to really wanting to do something more fulfilling, but he didn’t see any way for his interests to equate to any salary remotely close to what he was making. The result? Complete paralysis.
Through the Now What?® Life Story process Richard began to see what he wanted to weave back into his life. However, his mood did not automatically improve. He still found more reasons to doubt a happy outcome than to believe in one, and he couldn’t see beyond his doubt. Music and songwriting was a long-gone passion that he wanted back in his life, but he knew he was not going to be a more than-middle-aged rock star so just as quickly as some excitement showed up, his spirits were quickly dampened.
Before one particular session, I had an intuitive inkling to mention to Richard an idea about an artistic space where music recording, lessons, and performances could all take place. As soon as I did, the light bulbs started going off! One thing led to another, and as I write this he is exploring a few opportunities to do something along these lines. Some already existed and others he would need to raise some funds for (which he can certainly do)! He also took on another creative project or two , and his spirits are lifting tremendously.
Richard and his wife decided to downsize their home to make their finances more comfortable. And, as sometimes happens, an opportunity to do some of his old work without a stressful full-time job showed up as well. Things are still in flux, but the darkness has dissipated. There is a light at the end of the tunnel.
How do you do this yourself?
First, don’t go down the path of thinking that he has money and you don’t. I’ve seen results like this without financial freedom. Secondly, decide which “wolf to feed.”* Do you want to keep dwelling in dread or do you want to invest in possibilities – things that just may work out?
Like all my clients, once clear on some possible angles, Richard took small step after small step to talk to people, network, ask questions, and follow the leads where they took him. You can do this too.
Here are a few tips:
● Take extra good care of yourself—sleep, drink plenty of water, eat right, take walks, whatever is right for you, do it.
● Gather support—don’t go at it alone. Engage someone to hold you accountable, have cheerleaders, join a group of like-minded folks and make it happen together.
● Maintain rituals– the things in your life that work and comfort you and do more of them, whether it’s journaling, exercising, weekly dinner with particular people, etc.
● Take small steps—Small steps are more easily attainable, they get you moving forward, and when they bear fruit, they encourage you to take more.
To keep emotions and fears from eating you up, to navigate the lack of structure that comes from being out of work, and to stay mentally fit, try some of the above. If you’re suffering or feel afraid of your own feelings, please do get help. Here are some helpful resources for those in need.
National Institute of Mental Health 1-866-615-6464
What Jay Williams describes as his “worst mistake” in this conversation with Oprah, we at Now What?® would call an Interrupted Dream – to the extreme.
This story shows how one man overcame a devastating loss in his life, where he found support, and how he connected his past passion with his current career. So much goodness here to inspire us all!
Richie had a high-powered job in the financial industry. He’d been “between things” for three years when he came to coach with me. He was stuck in circular thinking that left him with only one choice that tortured him. He kept looking for another job in the same field, although there was no traction. He saw no other way. In his mind, nothing else was possible, and he felt powerless to change that.
Except . . .
Truth be told, Richie wanted to get back to his roots as a musician and lead a more creative life. He wasn’t willing to start living off his retirement savings (although he could), and the odds of becoming a rock star were slim. He declared it a dead end.
However . . .
Before one of our sessions, in my mind’s eye, I imagined a studio space where lessons, recording, small performances and a jovial musical play space could all coexist. I shared that with Richie and sparks flew. He knew people he could talk to, and off he went! What he found was that such places already existed, and that some of his contacts were open to investing in something like this.
Which one was the dead end? The new road or being stalled on the old road? The final destination is not wrapped up yet, but the momentum has been carrying Richie to new possibilities that will pay him. Not at finance industry rates, but likely enough to leave his savings intact for now.
So now, I challenge you, dear reader.
How powerless are you? Are you truly powerless or are you simply unwilling to jump into the wave of uncertainty? Like the old Robert Frost quote says: “The only way out is through.” The only way to know is to dive in. Explore, make inroads, and assess from inside an idea. It’s so much easier to discover from this vantage point rather than from the outside where it’s protected in a glass cloche that makes it impossible to touch.
As I say in “Now What?,” you don’t have to decide. Life will tell you if you’re wrong. Explore a path. If it gains traction, it has merit. Finances will, of course, be a factor, but you have to be honest with yourself. You may not WANT to begin touching your retirement, or you may not WANT to invest in yourself to get on your feet in a new endeavor, but if you CAN, why keep pursuing the path that hurts you mentally, emotionally and spiritually?
For those who can’t even fathom the thought of living without immediate income, this does not mean the end of the road for you. It means that you will want to include aspects of the newfound direction in whatever you do next. It means that you are back in touch with your “Life Blueprint,” or your unique way of contributing to the world that will bring you the most satisfaction. It MUST be included in some way.
It’s not what you do for a living that will make you happy. It’s who your job allows you to be.
Let us know how we can support you to make it happen. We’re here cheering you on!