Lose your career and find a new life!Written by Cathy Goodwin, MBA, PhD
I hear from many people who feel trapped in a career after fifteen or twenty happy, productive years. It's been a good ride, they say, but now it's time to jump off train. They want to fulfill a creative dream, recover from burnout or just try something new. The old challenge is now a "been there, done that."
If you can relate to that description, you probably recognize that midlife career change is both easier and harder than starting out in world of work. Change is easier because you have resources to grease rails. You have savings, equity in your house, and a retirement fund. More important, you have acquired skills, contacts and networks. You may be able to use resources of your current employer to develop new skills.
On other hand, change is hard because you have invested in your career identity. In my relocation book, Making Big Move (New Harbinger 1999), I emphasize that moving is stressful because identity is interrupted. The change is equally stressful when you relocate your career.
Often people focus on skills and activities they want to incorporate into their new careers, but ignore impact on identity. Yet I have seen people falter and give up on new careers because they were uncomfortable with new way they had to define themselves. Just saying, "I amů" creates a new reality.
At same time, once you begin to acquire a new identity, you increase your risk. It will be more difficult to return to a former career or job once you have begun to enjoy a new identity. And your former colleagues will see you differently.
The wrong kind of waiting: what the film Clockwatchers can teach us Written by Cathy Goodwin, MBA, PhD
Clockwatchers is about living your life on someone else's time. Four temporary office workers meet in a featureless building. We meet heroine, Iris, as she spends much of her first day sitting in a chair where she was told to "wait till someone comes for you." The building, with its square corners and cubicles, becomes a metaphor for box that contains everyone's dreams. The temps feel ghettoized and eventually are physically segregated into a separate office. Their isolation is real: temps rarely cross border to permanent jobs in company. To escape they will have to think outside box,, yet as film begins, each temp focuses on her immediate four walls. Iris seems overqualified yet she lacks confidence. She tells her father she feels comfortable and accepted in this job and doesn't want to move on. Margaret deals with frustration by rebelling and acting out. She steals time from company and cosmetics from stores. Jane is engaged to a man who, we are led to believe, will offer her money and security but not love. Paula jams copy machine so she can flirt with repairman; she waits for a man to deliver her dreams in his toolbox. Everybody's waiting, like a hot summer day before a storm. The temps try to look busy and amuse themselves till they can begin at nine; at end of day, they crouch in their chairs, waiting to leave precisely at five.