Does Your Career Change Itch -- or Burn?Written by Patricia Soldati
Two weeks ago, I received a newsy email from a former client. Dan gave me scoop on his life and new love, and ended by saying that while work had improved, he was feeling itch again to go after career change. He would soon give me a call for some personal coaching sessions. I replied nicely to all his news, and on itch, I said: “Call me when it’s a burn.” Why this tough love response? I meet scores of professionals who are unhappy with their work. In almost seven years, I’ve never seen an individual make a significant shift unless there is a burning desire to change. You must have a clear articulation of personal gain you see for yourself at end of career-change rainbow – and this personal gain must be greater than pain of staying in place. I didn’t want Dan to waste his time, energy, or for that matter, money. So, how do you know if you’re feeling an itch or a burn? Itches are usually situational. A confrontation with a fellow worker…a poor performance review…a disagreement with your boss…environmental stress. Itches create lots of smoke, like “I can’t wait to get out of here.” or “This is it. I’m leaving.” But no focused action towards change. And these “reaction” moments are often followed by patches where work is really okay – an interesting project in works, shared good feelings. In other words, motivation to change is externally driven. It waxes and wanes based on what is happening in one’s environment. All of us have career itches at one time or another. Burns go much deeper. They are itches that don’t go away…they’ve been around for a long time (a year or more)…and they have wrenched your value system to point that:
Career Change: A Glittering Invitation To The Emotional StalkersWritten by Patricia Soldati
As much as you are yearning for career-change, and as much as trends actually favor it, just contemplating a shift is a glittering invitation to four emotional stalkers who love nothing better than to play a nasty game of team-tag at your personal expense. When you unmask these bandits -- even a little -- they begin to lose their emotional charge – leaving you free to more fully explore opportunities to re-invent yourself.
Stalker # 1: The Devil You Know. Just imagine that you’re headed for work. You’re at station, briefcase and newspaper in hand, waiting in a narrow sea of gray look-alikes to catch 6:10 train. Or, jailed in your car, radio droning, you crawl along highway, hypnotized by swaying bumpers ahead.
You arrive in town, grab your daily coffee, rise silently in a packed elevator and pad to your office, numb before you even start your day.
Work done, you reverse direction, back and forth, each day more effort than one before. After ten or twenty years, once colorful work has faded. Yet how good it feels to know ropes! How seductively easy it is to stay stuck in what you know! To break out of your comfort zone, tap into most inspiring, personal benefit that your career change can bring you: More intriguing and challenging work? Being your own boss? or, perhaps it’s luxury of more personal time to pursue additional interests. Mentally scan your list of friends and acquaintances who are fulfilled in their work. Who has a working life that you would like to have? Who is demonstrating that hard work and life in full bloom are not mutually exclusive realities? Stalker #2: Clueless in Seattle. If you have a passion for particular work, or specialized expertise that you intend to lever, Fortune is smiling and waving you forward. Count yourself lucky, indeed! The rest of us face thorny battle of believing that there is work out there for us that is we can embrace with our logic brain and our heart brain. Two different animals, worlds apart! Intellectually, lots of options exist, but how do you make visceral leap that one of these options is right for you? This was my #1 dilemma in 1999. Objectively, I knew that I had good skills that I could leverage. But emotionally I was not a believer. Since I didn’t know what THE work was, how could I believe it was possible? I would have given up then and there, if it wasn’t for a friend who suggested that I was trying to accomplish too much, too early. He saw me desperate to “swing from tree to tree” and challenged my need to nail down exactly what I was going to do for work before I even started change process. “Figuring out what to do for a living IS process,” he explained. “The answers unfold slowly, with diligent work.” He encouraged me to explore my talents and work preferences fully and methodically. And to think with my heart. “It’s your heart,” he advised, “that allows you to leap.” Stalker #3: The Slippery Slope: Money. Our desire for financial security screams at a deafening crescendo and sabotages our willingness to step forward even one inch. Fat paychecks, bonuses, expense accounts, paid vacations and health benefits -- perks to flutter our hearts and, on occasion, puff our egos with a sense of status and independence. The green stuff pays our bills, educates our kids, entertains us and gives us a sense that all is well with world.