“Your career transition doesn’t have to be this difficulty—this unwanted disruption. It can be a brand new door that’s open for you…”
Your whole life, you’ve been dreaming of doing this job.
You went to school, studied hard, passed the tests, got the credentials, made the connections, and landed the perfect position.
Except…now that you’re actually doing the dream job, it turns out that it’s not at all what you thought it would be.
You finally found a job you love—a job that’s a great fit for you—and then that job disappears. Suddenly you’re starting over again.
What are you supposed to do now?!?
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How can you water yourself?
If you hang out in the in-between place of a transition for a while, it can start to feel like you don’t even know who you are anymore.
A drawn-out period of “figuring it out”—or the even less-empowered period that you may experience before you are taking active steps to figure it out—can get exhausting and draining to the point that it leaves you feeling like a muted, immobile version of yourself.
I’m reminded of a passage in one of my favorite YA books, The City of Ember by Jeanne DuPrau.
It’s a fantastic and brilliantly written story of a boy and girl growing up in an isolated city that is struggling with dire shortages of food and electricity, and working to find a way to save their city before the lights go out forever.
In this scene, Clary, a greenhouse worker, talks with Lina, a teenager.
“Clary put a hand in her pocket and drew something out. ‘Look,’ she said. In the palm of her hand was a white bean. ‘Something in this seed knows how to make a bean plant. How does it know that?’
“I had no idea what I was going to do…I had zero plan… Now I realize what a gift it was.”
Meet Diane Matkowski. She has been a lab aide, a landscape gardener, a car salesperson, a massage therapist, and a business owner.
Join me as I talk to Diane about her multi-stop hop on a career path that led to opening her own business.
Are you thinking, “I could never do that!”?
Well, Diane had nooooo idea that would ever be possible for her, either.
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Sometimes there’s no such thing as finished.
One of the hardest parts of an ending—whether it’s the end of a relationship, a job (or a whole career), or your residence in a home or city—is the knowledge and acceptance that this will have been it.
When you’re going—really going—a particular insidious voice can show up in your head. I call this voice the Never-Dids.
“But I never finished…”
“But I/we never got to…”
“But I haven’t gotten this perfect yet.”
When there’s always a tomorrow in that place, job, or relationship, there’s always a possibility to do better, to complete more, to enjoy or experience more, to perfect and hone.
When tomorrow will find you somewhere new…that’s when the Never-Dids come out to play.
When I was 27, I had a tonsillectomy. After years of having horrible throat pain and other complications every time I had so much as a flicker of a cold, I finally saw an ENT who suggested I get the nasty things taken out.
He warned me that as procedures go, an adult tonsillectomy is “not pleasant.”
I nearly screamed, “I don’t care! Take them OUT!!!!!”
I was ready to put the years of tonsil torture behind me.
As it happened, in the couple of weeks before my tonsillectomy, I had fallen—hard—for someone I’d started to date.
This was one of those horse-before-the-cart deals; strongly encouraged by the signals I was seeing—and, yeah, okay, probably by some signals I wanted to see—I let myself fall way too fast.
How do you turn want to into did?
I used to think that people who created certain things—who built businesses, or were on the radio, or wrote books—were fundamentally a certain kind of person.
A kind I certainly wasn’t.
As if there was some sort of predestination involved—and I was not one of those people.
Because who the hell am I to think I could do that?
I always felt I had something inside me to share on a bigger scale, but it seemed downright silly or deluded to even share that feeling with myself—let alone anyone else!
Everyone and their mother thinks they have a book in them, I thought.
But one day, I was in the shower, listening to an interview of a researcher/writer on NPR, feeling a slight twinge of envy, and suddenly, I had a Duh Moment (this is my term for an Aha Moment that seems obvious to the point of idiotic in retrospect):
Is your “Someday” list weighing you down?
By the time you’re in your thirties, you’ve been carrying around a lot of “shoulds” and “somedays” and “by the times” and “when I’ms” for a long time.
There are the promises you made to yourself as a little kid—“When I grow up, I’m going to_______!”
There are the dreams you grew in high school and college.
There are the frameworks you got from your family model of what you should or would emulate someday.
It’s important to hold onto to your dreams, and it’s never too late to go after the ones that are really important to you. When you’ve lost your way, tapping back into your earliest childhood dreams can be profoundly helpful in finding clarity.
But sometimes you outgrow a dream without realizing it, and instead of being fueled by the inspiring energy of the dream, what you carry around with you is the “should have” and the “have to” and the “still haven’t gotten around to” roughage of having this unaccomplished item on your bucket list.
As these bucket list items keep getting added over time, the accumulation can really start to weigh on you.
Monday and George are on the case.
When you’re in the midst of a career change, sometimes it can feel like you have no idea who you are or where you’re going.
It’s disconcerting to look ahead and see a big question mark.
We often feel grounded by what we do for a living—we hook our identity onto it.
This is encouraged by a culture where the question “So, what do you do?” is often the first point of connection after “What is your name?” when meeting someone new.
Similarly, your whole internal identity can feel called into question when you’ve just ended—or are considering ending—a long-term relationship.
Even if you consider yourself a pretty independent lady or fella, putting a big question mark next to a human constant in your life can start the identity wheel spinning.
When you’re feeling confused, unrooted, and uncertain due to a huge looming question mark, here’s a little game you can play, inspired by one of my favorite TV programs growing up.