Outing Career Change Obstacles

Whether we are executive or emerging leaders, work in corporate, non-profit or are self-employed, there is a twin burning desire in many of us – to keep growing ourselves and make a difference in the lives of others.

Yet heartstring tugs and rising expectations for career and personal advancement pose formidable challenges:

How do we figure out what to do next with our career? 

How do we access the role or mission we’ve identified?

I know the deep stirrings well. Sometimes I despise the state of not-knowing. Other times, I appreciate the adventure.

I recognize it in clients who come with their own their version of:

I want to discover my strengths and find a way to make a positive impact.

Ever wonder if this is possible for you too?

It can seem murky as lake water to arrive at the realization that it’s time (or past-time) to shift from a familiar role to a fresh one.

We become aware of the tension between the ache to discover who we can can be and the tendency to dodge effort necessary to make that discovery.

The contemplation alone comes with all kinds of obstacles and roadblocks as well aspirations and hopes.

It comes with thoughts like:

But there is no evidence I am capable of this.

I don’t have enough education or experience.

But I’m not miserable enough to leave.

I’m too old to start something new again.

It might not be worth the effort.

I don’t have what it takes.

I will let others down.

I’m afraid of choosing the wrong thing.

And then there are the external messages – from family, friends or co-workers after we share the shift that we are considering. We absorb messages like these:

But that field is too crowded, how could you possibly break in?

Why can’t you be content with what you have? If I made your kind of money, had the achievements you do, I wouldn’t leave…

How could you support yourself or your family doing that?

Have you heard what ___ is doing? Now she can write her own ticket.

What if it doesn’t work out?

It’s no wonder that considering, let alone committing, to change what’s familiar is charged with doubt and fear. It’s a face-off: Stories we perceive as true get pitted against trust that we can get through the unknown and come out the other side as activator of change that matters.

Here’s an example. “Going for it” takes effort, to be sure. Yet it does not mean it has to be complicated or require suffering. Sara Blakely, Founder of Spanx, says in an interview on The James Altucher Show,  that people ask her all the time how she got her first account. This is her reply, “My passion for the idea fueled me. After my email messages went unanswered, I picked up the phone and called Nieman Marcus.” Blakely sits at the head of a billion-dollar company.

The thoughts we have, the perceptions and limitations others have of us, do not need to define us.

You can grow into the story you want. You get to discover your strengths and navigate a new way to make a positive impact from where you are now.

Don’t believe me? Write down the messages on repeat in your head. Ask yourself for each message you take as fact: Is it really true? What else do I tell myself? Is it true?

Take these real-life examples of coaching clients who discovered their strengths and are making a positive impact (names have been changed to respect confidentiality):

Marta, who left a position held for decades to lead global health initiatives.

Glen, who moved from a global executive corporate role to launch his own consulting firm.

Sandy, who was resigned to endure years until retirement, instead he located a department within the same organization that recognized, and needed, the talents he wanted to use at work.

Sometimes next-stage discovery finds us. But, truth is, most times we need to find it. Click To Tweet

Although the tendency is to try to muscle it, force it to show it’s face, I have found this approach rarely works.

Try softening instead.

Try getting curious.

Try paying attention to discovery’s whispers, gentle taps and sensations.

This is where discovery lives.

What is your experience with next-stage discovery? Leave a comment below, Post on Facebook or Send me a message. I’d love to hear!