Wednesday, July 17th, 2013

Career metamorphosis – transitions are a time of renewal



“Dreaming is easy. Acting on those dreams – saying to yourself, Hey, wait a minute, I want this – is another kettle of fish. It takes conviction and faith, even audacity.” ~ Martha Beck, Author

 Are you still feeling frustrated, miserable, under-valued, uninspired or trapped in your current job? Or do you just have a very real sense that soon you are going to make some changes? Perhaps you have already started to move toward your preferred future, but it feels like an uphill crawl?

The term transition describes the process we go through when we are managing change in our lives. It may be heartening to know that there are three stages to this – endings, neutrality and new beginnings.

The neutral zone is a time you may stay in the longest. It can involve pain and suffering, or at the very least it can be uncomfortable. This is a time when you can feel, all of a sudden, that what you knew and were certain of before, you no longer know now. It can be a time of incredible self-doubt. Experiencing many emotions – including hurt, sadness and anger – are often common.

You may be thinking a lot about the past and have serious questions about the future. It can be a time where nothing much seems to be happening. Don’t be fooled. In the neutral zone, there is much happening – you are letting go of what used to be so that you can make room for what is yet to come. And in seeking a resolution of the discomfort, there is great potential for creativity, regeneration and renewal.

Change, even when it’s something you’re actively seeking, isn’t easy. Sometimes the easiest thing can be sitting back and doing nothing at all, coasting down the same old path, sitting in the same old rut, doing the same old things and feeling that same old gnawing feeling that you could be doing something more with your life.

 Where Are You at?

Where do you feel you are in the change process? Has life, as you knew it, ended suddenly – perhaps as a result of restructuring? Do you still feel a sense of loss? Or are you feeling more in control of your career but still unsure and anxious about your future? Perhaps you are feeling excited and optimistic about your future? Are you in the mood to take a calculated, life affirming risk? Do you feel an increasing sense of purpose? Are you feeling motivated, inspired and enthusiastic? Are you actively planning to make your dreams a reality or are you still caught up in the excitement – your head in the clouds but, as yet, no firm foundations under your feet?

 A Window of Opportunity

Whatever forces are at work on you, know that they are providing a window of opportunity for a new vision for the present and the future, and for creativity and growth in life and career. Take heart, never lose sight of your preferred future and patiently but persistently work toward realising the life of your dreams.

Life Cycle Transitions and Callings

It can help to know that life planning experts believe a natural desire for change occurs as you approach the mid-years. In the first half of life, what you may feel ‘called to do’ typically links inner self-hood to major outer commitments, such as careers, interpersonal bonds, leadership functions and community roles.

In the second half of life, ‘callings’ are more often about inner values and concerns. They tend to be transformations within the self itself, downsizing your ego needs and increasing your concerns for life beyond yourself. At this stage in life many people say they are more concerned about finding meaning and purpose from their work activities. They are often drawn to: mentoring roles; servant leadership; advocacy of projects, organisations and causes; grand parenting; guardianship of human and natural resources; wise advisor; consulting with non-profits; and leisure-related activities.

Other experts believe the true profession of a person has always been to find their way to their authentic, true self. In mid-life we are often free-er to do that.

Despite knowing this, sometimes when you are about to change you can begin to worry excessively. Excess worry can increase feelings of anxiety, fear and self-doubt. It’s important to kick the worry habit the moment it takes hold. The exercise on the next page will help.

 From Despair to Joy

Carla Coulson left behind a corporate job in Sydney to move to Florence and become a photographer. She has since published several gorgeous books, including: ‘Paris Tango; and ‘Italian Joy.

“Ten years ago, I gave up the unthinkable, a comfortable life, a cushy job and all the financial perks that go along with it, on a whim, to chase a life and a way of living that would ignite my soul. I gave up a secure future, an eventual superannuation fund and a possible golden handshake on retirement. I swapped all of this for an old camera, uncertainty and hope. In the past ten years my passion for my new way of living hasn’t dimmed.

My reward has been great. I have been rewarded with love. Love for this thing called photography and the relationships, people, places and pure pleasure that it has brought me. My camera has led me down a path of its own, propelled me to do things I would never have done if it wasn’t by my side, propelled me into places and situations that would have otherwise passed me by. My camera has opened doors and worlds by simply existing and it has allowed me to communicate with people even when we don’t share the same language. My camera has opened up a whole new life for me on the other side of the world, in Florence and Paris, one I still can’t believe is true.

That woman who was dying inside is alive and well, living a rich tapestry of moments and emotions she always expected and hoped life would be.”

Carla’s words of advice for people who are considering a career change are:

Go for it but try and prepare yourself first. Try and understand what it is exactly you want to do and where you would like to establish yourself. Go about preparing yourself for the change. Take as many courses as you can, prepare yourself financially and start building up contacts. Try and meet other people who are doing what you would like to do and ask them how they achieved it.”

 Visit Carla’s blog and continue to be inspired by her:

Preparing for and managing change successfully

Reflect upon the questions and exercises below jot down your responses in an inspiring journal:

1)    What in your life is changing or about to change?

2)    What is there about your life or world that has remained constant or will remain constant?

3)    Recall a time in the past when you were preparing to make some big changes. What did you do back then to help you stay focused, confident and positive? What other strategies would be helpful to adopt now?

4)    Strengthen your desire. What are all the reasons you are making changes? What are you choosing to leave behind and why? List all the benefits that will flow when you have achieved your changes.

5)    Who supports and encourages you? Surround yourself with your fans. Get together regularly with other like- minded people, especially those who believe in the beauty of your dreams.

6)    ‘Act as if’ and picture yourself as having already successfully achieved your preferred future.

7) Heed the warning signs. Loosing sleep and feelings of depression or increased irritability are some classic signs to be on the lookout for.

8.) Kick the worry habit and manage your stress. Making a move, even toward something you are looking forward to can be stressful. Some helpful ways to kick the worry habit include:

1. Notice your worry. Jot them down in a worry journal. Pay close attention to common worry- filled thoughts. Noticing the thoughts that rob you of peace of mind is the first step in preparing for change successfully.

2. Change your thinking. Instead of thinking about all the things that could go wrong, think about all the things that could go right.

3. Distract yourself. Set a time for worrying. Perhaps it could be for 20 minutes each afternoon. The rest of the time keep yourself busy. Force yourself to keep your mind off your worries. Get out. Call a friend. Go for a drive. See a funny movie or read an inspirational book.

4. Talk about it. Talk to other people who have felt the same and ask them how they got through it. What techniques helped them manage change successfully?

5. Move! Exercise promotes the generation of feel good hormones, promoting feelings of well-being, calm and confidence. Go for a run, take a brisk walk, swim in the sea, cycle through the bush or shake your booty at the local dance club.

6. Take action. Most of the things we worry about never happen. Procrastination only increases feeling of worry and stops the change process. Nothing cures worry more than taking action. Feel the fear and take baby steps toward your dreams anyway.

7. Catastrophise. Lay all your worries out in the open. Imagine all the things that could go wrong, and then double them! Now challenge them. Is this realistic? What would you need to do to minimise this happening?

8. Remind yourself of your progress. List all the positive step and obstacles you have overcome to reach this point already. Start an achievement section in your passion journal if you haven’t started one already. Update and review it regularly.

9. Remind yourself of your coping and success skills. When you are feeling stressed or anxious it can be difficult to remember all the things you do well. Refer to your feedback journal and remind yourself about all the strengths and positive qualities you possess. Focus on what is going well and how you have managed stress successfully in the past.

10. Don’t fear failing. What’s the worst that could happen? Minimise its hold on you by developing a back-up plan.

11. Go for it! Visualise the end goal. What will it feel like when you achieve your dream? What will people say? What will you experience? Spend time every day experiencing your dream now. Take a deep breath and act with courage. If all else fails take a leaf from French artist Henri Matisse’s book and be stubborn and bloody-minded in pursuit of your preferred future. Keep your eye on the end goal and forging forward with your intent.


Change is inevitable and if you manage it well you can create a huge window of opportunity and personal growth.


This was an excerpt from “Happy at Work: job hunting for mid-lifers – A practical and inspirational guide for job-hunters and career-changers”

Aim Higher. Reach Farther. Dream Bigger.
A better career is out there. Happy at Work: job hunting for mid-lifers – your first step to becoming everything you want to be.

Order your own personally signed copy here 


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