Class preview: Surviving Career Change

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 Image from Flickr, courtesy of avrene 

Do what you love.

If you’re consistently unhappy at a job that isn’t making good use of your talents and strengths, it’s time to make a change. Life is short.

As Howard Thurman said, “Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.”

Perhaps only a small change is needed to make you come alive. If switching to a different role at your current company does the trick, you’re lucky. But sometimes, a larger leap is called for.

If you’re contemplating changing companies or careers, or if you want to become your own boss, be prepared.

It’s always more challenging than you would expect.

When you’ve been at a job for a while, you know how things operate. It’s predictable. You can often take care of your responsibilities relatively easily while having the security of a steady paycheck.

But when you leap into a career change, either by necessity or because you decide to give up “good enough” for your dream, predictability goes out the window.

As Murphy’s law so optimistically states, “Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong.”

Nothing goes as planned. Your brilliant career move or business plan doesn’t map to reality. You keep getting rejected. And you’re feeling more and more frustrated, lost, fearful, and out of control.

Overnight success is a myth.

Many of us have absorbed the cultural myth that switching careers should be fast and easy.

We hear stories of billionaire rappers who have reinvented themselves and think that change actually works that way.

It doesn’t. For anyone. If you look closely at any example of “overnight success,” you’ll discover chapter upon chapter of unglamorous effort leading up to the finale of glory and fame.

The problem is, we know what the final destination looks like, but we have very little knowledge about the journey itself.

We need a better understanding of the process of change.

While nobody can predict the exact sequence of events that will happen when you change careers, the process of change is actually quite predictable.

My favorite model of change, developed by Martha Beck, maps out four stages or “squares” of change, and what to do and not to do in the particular stage we’re in.

The final square, called “The Promised Land,” is where you want to end up. Once you’ve reached Square Four, your new career or business is running smoothly, you’re doing creative work that you love, making plenty of money, and have time left over for travel, hobbies, long trips to Italy with your sweetheart, or whatever your heart desires.

But to get there, you have to travel through squares one, two, and three, which are far less sexy.

Square One is called “Death and Rebirth.” It consists of a lot of grieving, confusion, and turmoil. We’re thrown into Square One whenever we initiate a major life change, such as getting laid off or quitting a job.

Square One, uncomfortable as it sounds, is a useful and necessary step in the change process.

If you don’t realize this and think that being in Square One is a big mistake, you’ll be tempted to jump right back into the frying pan of the job you hated, or try to skip ahead to a more fun square. But that would only cause more difficulty.

Come learn more and get some support!

I’ve just given you a taste of this model. Would you like to learn more about this model of change and how it can help you navigate your career change?

Then join me on the evening of January 16th at Makeshift Society for a workshop on Surviving Career Change. Learn more and RSVP here.

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