Why so much fear around Career Change

My spectrum of work as a Career Coach & Consultant, has me engage with professionals coming from a mix of age groups.

With clients who in their late 20’s and 30’s feel that something is missing from their current careers. Most of them super well qualified, intelligent, driven, ambitious, yet unsatisfied with where they are and with what they are doing. What was the meaning behind my impressive studies?, a young male client reveals. I am not fulfilled in my current job. I am paid well, my work is appreciated, yet if I’m not doing something exceptional or feel that my work has an impact in the world, I feel I’m wasting my time, says another successful young woman professional in her late 20’s. Another one says, I feel like I have been crucified; I wish I hadn’t listened to other people about what I should study and what career to pursue’. Similar comments and expression of feelings I hear from other, more experienced professionals in the range of 40-60 who declare unsatisfaction, disappointment and who overall realize they are going after goals that do not represent them any longer.

All of them feel a relinquished need to move on without knowing the what and the where and their frustrations remind me of what Scott Dinsmore in his TED talk “How to find work you love” very rightly pinpoints, ‘there is no Major at university, on PASSION, PURPOSE or CAREER’!

What I often witness, is a commonality in the main reasons for my clients’ frustrations but also lack of action to better their situation:

  • their fears often emerge from a lack of healthy boundaries, from intense people-pleasing behaviour or a drive towards overloading themselves that stems from perfectionism – doing more than is necessary, healthy or appropriate
  • they have outgrown the subject-area they studied at university – which many times was not their own personal choice but what their parents or other authority figures told them was the right thing to pursue, so that they had security, stability and status
  • they have evolved, they are different persons now, looking for a line of work that matches who they are. They earned qualifications, they made breakthroughs and achieved important landmarks. Now they are ready to walk down a new path that will leave them fulfilled, excited and happy. They’ve worked hard, enjoyed some success, but their current work just doesn’t fit the person they are today.Over the years they’ve invested time, achieved important landmarks, qualified as recognised professionals, but all this somehow leaves them feeling empty, frustrated and pressured.

All of them, would love to shift into more meaningful, fulfilling and enjoyable jobs, yet they only talk about it putting themselves in a complaining mode or do not know what steps to take to alleviate the situation or, cannot define what it is they want next. They know they don’t enjoy the ‘now’ and in front of them lies a big question mark.

The truth is when I see people being at cross-roads, I consider it a wonderful sign and a great point for Re-start! It’s like we are given another opportunity to reflect on our life anew, reviewing and assessing it along the way and deciding where we want to take it next. It’s an invitation to enter into some deeper inner exploration, digging in to discover more about us, to ask questions, to search, to learn and to create a plan. And to put down some points of action. Because without action, any goal, any idea, remains exactly that.

And I am not talking just from a theoretical point of view here. I speak from personal experience too as I have been through a number of career transitions myself. Some where imposed, others were the result of the choices I made. One of my most significant career changes happened when at 38 I was informed that I was to become redundant from a 10-year job I held at a big multi-national corporation, with Africa & Middle East offices in Cyprus.

I recall that back then, I put myself under this exact process asking me ‘What is it that I really want to be doing next?’. ‘Continue working for someone else in the corporate world or do something else? The idea of creating my own business had been toying in my head for some years before. In fact when I was 30, I had drawn a small plan about setting up my own personnel recruitment/placement company. I still have those initial notes!

While I didn’t know exactly what my business would be about, one thing I was certain on was that I wanted to be serving people! I thought, if I ever was going to be the founder of something, I wanted it to be in areas that I valued most and felt close to my heart’s passions. And even as young as that, I knew that these areas were:

  • young people’s support & development – through formal education but also other more experiential ways that would lead to a deeper understanding and awareness of Self, substantial learning & acquisition of skills
  • women’s empowerment. My interest lay in activity that would be targeting towards elevating women’s important role and contribution in family, society, business and the world at large
  • living lives of happiness, joy and fulfilment

And this is how I went on to create the next big chapters in my career and build my first successful career guidance & educational consultancy, S.M.A.R.T. Options Educational Services back in 1998 and my second Coaching & Consulting Practice www.marlenemichaelidou.com, in 2017. And the rest is history as we say. Very interestingly, the areas my work focuses on today, are still the same as 25 years ago!

I will share more about my own story in another article as for now, the point I want to make is that when I did find myself at that turning point in my career that entailed Change, I had to make a choice. And I opted for the most difficult path, having no idea where it would lead me or whether it would work. In retrospect, it was a bold move but I was prepared to take it as far as it went and face any consequences.

Therefore, if you are at that stage where you feel that something’s got to change, to differentiate, I understand you. I get you. For I have been there too. Change can be scary. It is often a very difficult adjustment as it causes us intense feelings of fear and uncertainty. Particularly fears about failure, money, going broke, not being able to care for our families financially or sustaining a lifestyle that we’ve become accustomed to. Adding on what others will think about us, plus the lack of knowledge and awareness about what else is out there, can be people’s biggest obstacles. My clients talk to me about the fear of leaving their “comfort zone” even when they see that perpetuating the status quo is excruciating and damaging.

Transitions in life are healthy. They signify evolvement, growth, progress…Some are expected, others unexpected. Some are welcomed, some unwelcomed; chosen or imposed; sudden or gradual. As I said before, they are life’s way of asking us to reexamine our present way of being and force us to develop and grow as individuals. But even when we know that these career/life transitions are for our own benefit, they can still be very difficult to deal with emotionally. The prospect of a major career transition can take people into a state of ‘analysis-paralysis’ which leaves them stagnant. And until we can get in the cage with our fears and address them head on, fear will keep us stuck in quiet desperation.

Making more lists, searching more job sites, doing more psychometric tests or sending out CV’s, doesn’t seem to be the solution anymore. If the answer lay in your head or through more analysis, you would have found it by now. To discover what makes you tick and what you have to offer the world, can be a quest that can take forever.

It is very clear in my mind: you can either continue down the same path with the same results, continue to feel stuck and keep wondering if maybe there’s a better way for you to live, or you can learn the easy steps to not only help you make the BEST transitions in your own life and career, but also to help you determine what will give you the most satisfaction and happiness along the way.

I know for a fact and I am certain you do too, that those who are most satisfied and motivated by their work, are in careers which reflect who they really are, in careers which reflect their true nature and their real passions. They are in careers which draw on their innate strengths and employ their favourite skills and careers which allow them to honour their deeply-held values.

To live a happy, rewarding life on your own terms, it’s critical to starting saying “yes” to your authentic beliefs and values, and stop living someone else’s life that feels so wrong, even if it’s the one your beloved parents wanted for you. Life’s too short to be unfulfilled at work.

Let’s face a very real truth. You know there’s never a perfect time don’t you? if you do nothing, it’s unlikely you’ll feel any better this time next year. In fact if you ignore your unhappiness, you could be experiencing anxiety and be in a much more difficult place. When you’re feeling low, it’s harder to find the energy and drive to create a life that excites and fulfills you. Perhaps, instead of feeling a failure, it’s time to get excited and take a long cool look at what a fulfilled working life means to you.

I can help. Career Coaching will provide you with the dedicated time and space to sit with someone who will be objective, a great listener and who together, will work on really defining your career options, putting in to place an action plan to help you achieve them. It is also important to note that what you get out of Career Coaching isn’t just about your career; it’s about your life! It’s about how you feel every morning. It’s about how that rubs off on your health and your relationships. And ultimately, it’s about the impact that you can make in the world through being alive in what you do!

Please don’t be alone in this.

Let’s have a conversation! I will be honoured to serve you!

Love,

Marlene 🌻

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