I realized yesterday that I’m terrified. Rattled. Completely unnerved.
Though it’s not something I’m thrilled to admit so publicly, I wanted to share because it’s helped me realize something important.
It started when I woke up yesterday morning from an uneasy sleep feeling generally (and disturbingly) anxious. I wasn’t sure why.
Then I drew a Mother Mary Oracle card and saw this: “Change is coming to you now, my dear child. It is a change that has been triggered by the loving prayers held deep within your heart. This change does not have to be difficult for you… I would like you to use your energy for more worthy purposes than worry…”
I immediately started to cry. And suddenly I knew why I was feeling anxious.
The Commitment Conundrum
An image had come to mind: I was standing on a deck on a beautiful late afternoon in Calistoga at a training I attended last week. I was saying out loud to the group that I was committing to bringing new things to life, to believing that my new dream for my business is possible, and to taking action towards building that dream. The woman leading the training told me to imagine a line in front of me and step across it to signal my commitment.
It’s a bit embarrassing to admit, but I didn’t want to do it. I was actually scared to step across an entirely imaginary line.
I did step across that line, however, and as I was holding that Mother Mary Oracle card in my hand yesterday, I realized that that’s when it had started: the fear.
I was feeling anxious because ever since I made that pledge, I’ve felt an underlying terror that I won’t be capable of delivering on my commitment or building it out successfully, that I’m unworthy of my dreams.
That’s the commitment conundrum: There comes a time when we’re no longer willing to remain in circumstances that don’t feel right for us, or that don’t make us come alive. And in that very moment of unbelievable strength when we finally commit to making a change, we open the door to the fear—fear that will do everything in its power to convince us not to move forward on our promise.
The Fear We All Feel
I think everyone who’s considering a career change, or any change at all for that matter, is facing fear.
Some of the clients I talk to experience the panic as worry or anxiety, others as a lack of confidence. Some are aware of it directly (What if I fail?What if I make the wrong decision?), while others feel it more as a lack of possibility: I can’t make enough money doing what I love, or I can’t do what I really want to because I have no idea how.
Regardless, when we’re standing on the precipice of something new, we all feel fear, and it can keep us from committing to what we want, or from following through on what we do commit to do. In short, it can stop us in our tracks.
The Crazy Simple Tool for Working With Fear
What I was reminded of yesterday, though, is that it doesn’t have to. Because there’s one, simple tool that can cut through fear’s paralyzing light and sound show, full of sound and fury, and reveal it for what it is.
And, to keep quoting Shakespeare, that’s the power of what’s in a name.
When our fear is vague and unexamined, it looms large. Like a shadow that falls over us, it can feel like a life-threatening tiger is about to attack.
When we take the time to look directly at our fear, however, recognize, and name it, we see the true threat rather than the shadow, and we realize that it’s not as bad as we previously thought.
When I got clear that what I’m afraid of is being incapable and fundamentally unworthy, my fear became right-sized. It was suddenly manageable.
When I named the fear, I reconnected with a felt sense of my own strength and value. It became clear that nothing I do (or fail to do) will ever make me unworthy.
As for being incapable, I realized that this is just a chance to see what I am actually capable of. I can be truly curious about that, learning and having fun along the way, since I know that my basic worthiness is not at stake.
I can also remember that I always feel fear in the beginning of something new. Though I can’t make it go away, I can offer it a seat in my car and take it along for the ride. Because I’m bigger than the fear is. And because the fear wouldn’t exist if I didn’t also have the profound strength required to commit to creating something new.
It’s a divine gift that, I believe, the infallible desire that we all have as human beings to open and grow and create, a longing that reasserts itself again and again in obvious and subtle ways, no matter how scared we feel.
Tips for Naming Fear
If you’re not sure how to name exactly what you’re afraid of, here are a few ideas:
Play the What’s the Worst Part game. Ask yourself what you’re scared of, what bad outcome you’re trying to avoid. Then ask yourself what the worst part of that would be. Then ask yourself what the worst part of that would be. Keep asking yourself this same question until you can’t break it down anymore and feel like you’re at the root of your fear.
Talk it out with someone else. Some of us are external processors, and the very act of putting our experiences into words can help to clarify them.
Ask for it to be revealed. Before I drew my Mother Mary Oracle card, I asked that the truth about what was upsetting me be made clear. Less than 5 minutes later, clarity came.
Don’t Let Your Fear Stop You
Part of the reason coaching is so powerful is that it helps us name and find a new perspective for our fears. I’ve worked with clients where this process alone is enough to get them unstuck and on the path to the work they’re meant to do in the world. If you’d like to learn how coaching can help you work through your fears, please click here to fill out an application for a free, no obligation Clarity Call.
I realized recently where 99% percent of my stress comes from.
Last month we had a mold explosion in our house. It started with a few spots on our window frames and closet shelves, and then suddenly three days later I noticed that it was covering everything—and I mean everything, up to and including my grandmother’s antique rocking chair—like some sort of evil new varnish.
My stress level rose immediately. But what I find interesting is that it wasn’t the problem itself that caused the stress. When I was resolving the issue by pouring Mold Control over everything in the house or buying a dehumidifier, I felt powerful, not stressed.
The stress came before I took action, when I was considering possible solutions and believing that they were all going to be very hard to make work.
The proverb’s wrong—it’s anticipation that killed the cat.
My sense is that many of us avoid career change for similar reasons: we believe it’s going to be extremely difficult to make work.
Many people I talk to worry that they don’t know what they want to do, don’t have the right skills, don’t know the right people, won’t make enough money, or don’t know how to transition properly. Most think they don’t have the time, energy, or wisdom to figure it all out.
So we avoid taking action, telling ourselves that our current job isn’t so bad after all. Or we put it off until later, thinking that next year will be a better time to make a change.
What the cat actually experienced
Though I expect every challenge I face to be nearly impossible to solve, they seldom are. The mold hasn’t come back since our thorough cleaning and the introduction of a dehumidifier.
And making a successful career change doesn’t have to be hard either. In fact, I’ve seen it be quite easy.
Here are three reasons career change might very well be more painless than you think:
1. Sometimes what we really want isn’t hard to find.
I had a client once who was a project manager at an engineering firm. When we first started working together, she was burnt out and pretty sure she needed to do something drastically different. We explored lots of ideas, from home renovation to graywater installation. None of them felt right to her.
When we explored further, we found that what she really wanted was to feel as if she was creating something tangible and needed. Shortly thereafter, a friend let her know about a job with a local government engineering infrastructure improvements. She applied and got the job, and everything about the process was easy—her skills easily transferred, she felt confident in the interview, and she got along well with her future team.
When you get clear on what’s most important to you, it can be very straightforward to find (and sometimes it even finds you).
2. A good fit makes everything easier.
After getting my MBA, I got an interview for an internship at a social enterprise investment firm. The interview went well until the very end. When I took out my calendar to schedule a time to meet with the partners, the woman who had been interviewing me suddenly frowned. “Is that an anarchist calendar?” she asked me disapprovingly. “I don’t think that we can tolerate an anarchist working here.”
I immediately flushed with shame as I realized my mistake. I wasn’t an anarchist, but I’d bought the calendar at an anarchist bookstore the year before and hadn’t thought about it since.
Just then the woman flashed a smile at me. “Just kidding,” she said. “I love Long Haul Books! I got my calendar there last year too.” She ended up hiring me, and I worked there for over 3 years.
When you find a great fit, things feel easier. You don’t have to try so hard. You can lack skills or experience. You can make mistakes. You can even break out an anarchist calendar at a company devoted to capitalism.
3. You inner wisdom will point you towards the smoothest path.
I had a client once who was having a really hard time finding a job. He was looking for a position in IT at a university. His search felt excruciatingly difficult, and he wasn’t finding anything good.
Then one day he found the job he had been looking for, and he promptly realized that he didn’t actually want it. What he did want was more autonomy, greater impact, and the opportunity to work with creative people. What he was truly excited about (and scared by) was freelancing. When he realized this, his search became much easier to take action on.
Following what we think we should do or what feels safe and secure often leads to struggle and hardship. Following our soul’s desire, our inner wisdom, and what we truly want usually leads to a much smoother, much more fruitful path.
Questions to Make an Easy Change
There are a few questions that I’ve found can help me recognize the smooth (and fruitful) path. They include:
What sounds good to me? What energizes or excites me? What sounds “delicious” when I think about doing it?
Where do I belong? With what types of people do I feel at ease, appreciated, confident, or valued?
What comes easily to me? Which next steps make me feel tense and stressed? Which allow me to relax and breathe?
Over to You
What helps you find ease in the process of making a change? Please share your experience and thoughts in the comments below so the rest of us can learn from them.
I want to talk about something different today. I want to talk about career change and depression.
I’ve struggled with paralyzing low moods since I was a young teenager. Depression, along with debilitating levels of anxiety, was what forced me into therapy in my mid-20s, which helped me to learn a lot about who I really am and how I operate in the world, which ultimately led me to coaching.
I say “forced” because I’m convinced that if I hadn’t been drowning in unbearably high levels of pain, I wouldn’t have taken the good, hard look at my life and what wasn’t working for me that was necessary for me to change paths.
And I’m not the only one. I’ve personally seen a strong link between career change and depression in others as well. I talk to people all the time who are trying to make a transition and feel hopeless, despondent, and lethargic. Sometimes they use the word “depressed” and sometimes they don’t, but the same energy can often be felt in their words and mood. It’s quite normal, especially when people are in or facing a big change.
The Negative Feedback Loop
For some reason, most of us don’t want to admit that our careers have us depressed. While my mood is much better than it used to be and I no longer need to take medication for it, I still have days when depression rears its ugly head (or traps me in its web—take your pick of dark metaphors here). Often it comes from stresses at work, but I hate to admit that.
I want to look like I have it all together, that I can handle it, that something as innocuous as doing my job could never get me so upset. I want more than anything for that to be true, because there’s a lot of shame in our culture (and in my head) attached to being weak, messy, or out of control.
But when I deny the depression, I just make it worse. Like a tar baby, the more I struggle to free myself, the more entangled I become.
I believe that’s because one of depression’s key features is a disconnection from feelings. When I deny my depression, I squash my emotions, becoming further alienated from myself and less likely to do what I need to feel better. So the depression worsens.
The Surprising Truth
The good thing about falling into the cycle of depression a lot is that you have the opportunity to break out of it just as many times. And what I’ve discovered over the years of dancing with depression is not what I expected to find in the beginning. It’s far better, in fact.
Here’s what I’ve learned:
Messy is good.
When I really think about it, I can’t really come up with any good reasons not to be messy. In fact, it seems to be a pretty common natural state in the world. Once you embrace your depression, uncomfortable as it is, there are possibilities to enjoy it—for example, using it as an excuse to get outside more, call a friend, or treat myself to an uplifting movie (if it says “heartwarming” or “makes you want to stand up and cheer” on the back of a DVD, I’m pretty much guaranteed to love it).
Being messy also connects me to my common humanity, because no matter how bad I feel, I can be sure that there are lots of other people all across the world feeling the exact same thing as I am right now (it’s estimated that there are over 14 million Americans feeling depressed at any given moment in time). If I weren’t humbled by depression, I would likely try to convince myself that I’m the one human being on the planet completely in control of her emotions. How lonely would that be?
Bad feelings aren’t bad.
One time a few years ago before I was married I went on a date that let’s just say didn’t go as well as hoped. I woke up feeling depressed the next day. As I lay on the couch observing what was happening, it occurred to me that I was really just feeling disappointed. When I let myself feel the heavy weight of disappointment in my body, the depression lifted.
Often depression visits because I’m resisting some emotion—anger, fear, sadness, etc. The emotion feels too overwhelming, or the reason for it too small and inconsequential for me to welcome it in. I’ve found, however, that if I can honor and treat each feeling like a welcome houseguest (like in Rumi’s amazing poem “The Guest House”), there’s relief and wisdom to be found.
Depression isn’t a cruel dictator; it’s a determined teacher.
Depression is kind of like that teacher you hated while you were in her class but then realized after you left how much you had learned.
In my experience, it slams you to the ground in order to make you listen. My depression almost always carries with it a message that I need to hear, but that I’ve been resisting. Sometimes it’s as simple as, “Slow down and get some rest.” Other times it says, “Speak up for yourself.” Or, “Pay attention! This isn’t the right path for you.”
Depression has taught me a lot. As I said before, I don’t think I would have sought out the support I needed or gone on the scary and difficult journey of learning the truth about myself if I hadn’t have been forced to out of sheer pain. And that journey has led me to my calling and brought me tremendous joy, purpose, fulfillment, and gifts to share with others.
The Way Out
If you’re feeling depressed, hopeless, or despondent, first of all, remember that it’s temporary. It never lasts forever. Every time I feel depressed, I think I’ll feel that way forever, but I never do.
Remembering this, the best thing I know to do is to reach out for support. Get out of your own head. Talk to friends and family about how you feel, or find a good therapist. Let them help you listen for what depression is trying to tell you.
We don’t need to be ashamed of our depression (or anxiety or fear or any other perceived neurosis). We don’t need to deny them. They’re part of who we are, which is both deeply flawed and utterly perfect.
I offer individual and group coaching programs at various levels of investment designed to help you listen to your wisest inner self, discover what you’re meant to do in the world, and get started actually doing it.
I’ve always found decisions stressful, probably because I’m usually trying to find the right answer. That’s how I know that having options can feel just as stressful as not having any if none of them feel right.
I meet people all the time who are incredibly discouraged because they feel stuck—they desperately want to find a new job but none of the alternatives they come up with feel good enough to pursue. It’s easy to become frustrated, self-critical, or even hopeless and depressed.
Even if you have a block, you’re perfectly capable of finding your path (and keep in mind that there’s probably more than one that lead to what you’re wanting). Following are 7 things you can do to find your way when none of your career options feel right:
1. Get more information.
Lots of times nothing feels right because we don’t know enough about what it would look, sound, taste, or feel like. It’s like we’re trying to make a decision about which house to buy when all we know about it is the color and number of rooms.
Take time to do research. Read. Talk to people. Go and visit. Sometimes we resist doing this because we’re afraid we’ll be disappointed and stranded without options if we don’t like what we find. But disappointment is inevitable if you’re truly living your life, and you’ll never be without options. At worst, what you find will prompt you to generate better ones.
2. Try it out.
This is really an extension of the last idea. Sometimes you can’t know until you try. If I asked you if you like walking on the moon, you’d probably have a hard time answering without trying it. Fortunately, trying jobs out is often easier than space travel. Shadow someone for a day. Get an assignment in a different department. Volunteer. Do a freelancing project on the side. Make something. Sell something. See what it feels like.
3. Get clear about what you want most.
Often we want multiple things, and each option offers part but not all of what we want. If this is the case, try to prioritize your desires. What’s a must-have and what’s a nice-to-have? What’s most important to you? What’s been key to your sense of well-being or fulfillment in the past?
4. Look for the should.
Nothing can scramble your internal GPS more than the belief that you ought to be doing something. When you feel you should be doing something—say, making more money, doing the “practical” thing, or pursuing what others think you should—you tend to become deaf to your actual desires. Hence, nothing feels right.
Make a list of all the things you think you should do. (Think: “Fathers should…” “Mothers should…” “Responsible people should…”) Now ask yourself: where might you be shoulding on yourself when considering your career options?
5. Distinguish between what feels scary and what feels wrong.
Sometimes we get a negative response from our bodies because an option is clearly wrong for us. Other times we get a negative response simply because we’re scared. The anxiety of a wrong choice feels different in the body than the fear of doing something desirable but outside of our comfort zone. For most of us, distinguishing between the two sensations is a subtle discernment we have to learn how to make over time, but it’s a worthwhile effort nonetheless.
6. Brainstorm more options.
It is possible you haven’t yet found the right idea for you. Once you’re clear on what you really want, take time to brainstorm possibilities. Allow yourself time to generate wild and improbable ideas without judgment (you’ll have time to get practical later). Ask others to help you. And play around with tweaking your existing options. How might you combine them? Could you do them sequentially? What would you need to add to or take away from each one to make it feel right?
If all else fails, wait. It might just be that the timing isn’t yet right. I had a client who felt stuck in a corporate job because none of her ideas for leaving felt justifiable. She was unduly hard on herself for not taking the leap. Then, after having some time to get her ducks in a row, someone offered her a job to work on an upcoming political campaign. Suddenly, what before felt wrong now felt right. She jumped at the chance and never regretted it. Timing really can be everything.
Over to You
What’s helped you move forward when none of your options felt right? Please share in the comments below so we can learn from your experience and/or insight.
Find the Right Path for You
Right now I offer a free, 60-minute Clarity Call to anyone who wants to find out how coaching can help them find clarity about their calling and how to pursue it. I won’t be offering this session for free for very much longer. I’ve gotten such good feedback on the calls and have had so many requests for them that once my new website goes live, I’m going to start charging for these in-depth sessions. If you’re interested in coaching and would like to experience it for free while you still can, click here to request a Clarity Call.
As somebody who helps people discover their calling, I meet a lot of folks who are desperately unhappy in their jobs. They often feel stuck, frustrated, down on themselves, or even hopeless and depressed. They imagine that the solution to their problems is to find better work.
They’re almost right, but not quite.
By the time my clients find work that they’re passionate about, they’re usually far more joyful, energized, and content than when we started. But it’s not really because they have a new job.
1. Wherever You Go, There You Are
You may find a job where you have a better boss. But if your boss’s negative feedback makes you feel smaller than a piece of cockroach poop, then someone at your new job is eventually going to say something that makes you feel the same way.
You may find work that’s better suited to your talents. But if you have a hard time giving yourself credit for what you do well, you’ll still feel like you’re falling short, no matter where you go.
You may find a more flexible job where work/life balance is allowed. But if you have a hard time saying no or letting things be less than perfect, you’re still likely to work long hours and push past your limits.
Sure, how well our job suits us can make a big difference in how we feel. But to find the type of joy, freedom, and fulfillment that most of us long for, we need to stop focusing on external changes and pay more attention to our internal world, because that’s what affects our mood the most, and that’s what we take with us wherever we go.
2. New Challenges Arise
I thought that when I found my calling in coaching and writing, all my problems would go away.
Hahahahaha. [Wiping tears from my eyes.] Whew. Yes, well, um, not exactly.
True, I love what I do, I know that I’m contributing my greatest gifts to the world, and I feel energized and inspired much of the time.
But you know what? Answering my calling brings up all kinds of new challenges: Fears, disappointments, failures, unforeseen obstacles, new skills I have to learn. I have to let the world see more of who I am and what I’m capable of (or not), and I can no longer hide behind the excuse of not really caring about it anyway.
3. Your Answers Change
No matter how happy you are in your job right now, chances are you won’t be forever. One of the great things about us humans is that we’re always growing and changing. As such, what satisfies us now is unlikely to fulfill us forever.
Sometime down the line, you’ll be faced with the same question: “And what should I do now?”
Your job, no matter how great it is, can’t answer that question for you.
What Really Matters
Don’t get me wrong—doing work you love is a good thing, and a worthwhile goal. It’s just that it’s a side product of something far more important.
What really matters is the journey we go on in order to find the work we love.
On that journey, we discover the truth about ourselves and our world. We stop believing every negative thought we have as we find out for ourselves what’s actually true.
We discover how powerful and amazing we are as we uncover our true gifts and all we have to offer the world.
And we make lasting connections with others as we find our home in the world and all the places that we belong.
What’s Possible Is Far Better Than What You’re Probably Imagining
The good news in all of this is that you can find what you’re looking for—contentment, purpose, joy, freedom, happiness, peace, and so much more—long before you make a change.
So the next time you find yourself criticizing yourself for not yet having work you love, remember that you’re on the most heroic journey anyone can go on.
And remind yourself that your journey isn’t successful only when you have a new job. So don’t evaluate yourself on that. Instead, check your progress by reflecting on how much more you know about yourself and the world, how many times you’ve stepped out of your comfort zone, and what contributions you’re making to those around you.
Find Contentment Wherever You Are on Your Path
If joy feels like a foreign concept, if you’re not sure what the next steps should be on your journey, or if you’re having a hard time taking the ones you’ve identified, click here to find out how to get some help. I offer free Clarity Calls to discuss your goals and challenges and whether the individual and group coaching programs I offer could help you find what you’re looking for. A much better question than “What’s wrong with me?” is “What kind of support would help me get to where I want to go?”
We’re all unique and infinitely complex. And yet, at the same time, we also share certain patterns of behavior with some of our other unique and infinitely complex fellow human beings.
The Enneagram is my favorite tool for understanding these archetypical patterns. It divides up all personalities into 9 types and offers a model for understanding the motivations, fears, desires, and patterns of behavior for each type.
It’s amazingly nuanced and powerful. That’s why I love the Enneagram. I don’t love the fact that it’s so hard to know how to pronounce (enn-ee-uh-gram), or how difficult it is to explain its cryptic symbol, but I do love the way it helps people find a way forward.
Why It Matters
We’re not as special as we think we are, at least not when it comes to our challenges. Though it can often feel like we’re the only ones who struggle in the way we do, that’s hardly ever the case.
I find that people in career change tend to get tripped up around a common set of issues that can be understood and explained through the Enneagram.
Identifying these shared issues can be extremely helpful—in better understanding ourselves, in realizing that we’re not alone in our challenges, and in pointing to ways to overcome them.
So without further ado, here’s a quick description of each of the Enneagram types in relation to career change:
Type 1: The Reformer***
Ones are conscientious, principled, and driven. They’re often looking for work that makes the world a more ethical place and that challenges them to be the best people they can be. They’re very concerned about doing the right thing, making constant improvements, and getting others to do the same.
Ones do well when they learn to relax (massage is a wonderful thing for a One!). They need to learn how to let themselves make mistakes and even fail, trusting that the world won’t fall apart if they do. Finally, they benefit from learning how to get in touch with their feelings, which they often try to control or ignore, thus missing out on what their emotions have to say about their innate desires.
Type 2: The Helper
Twos are empathetic, warm-hearted, and generous about doing things for others. They’re all about love and connection and therefore often want find work that’s social and allows them to care for other people.
Where They Get Stuck:
Twos can get stuck when they become so focused on others’ needs and desires that they’re unaware of their own. They might stay in a position longer than is healthy because they feel needed, or they might not allow themselves to go after what they really want because they see it as selfish. Twos are also prone to burnout because they don’t prioritize their own self care.
The Way Forward:
It’s helpful for Twos to learn to pay attention to their own needs and desires and give themselves permission to fulfill them first, before taking care of others. They benefit from realizing that it’s actually better for everyone involved when they put their own oxygen mask on first. When they pay attention to what they want and do more of what nourishes them, Twos often discover great passion and clarity about what they want to do in the world.
Type 3: The Achiever
Threes are self-assured, charming, and competent. They often seek work that allows them to shine. Frequently ambitious, they like to win.
Where They Get Stuck:
Threes often spend more energy pursuing traditional measures of success than defining what is really meaningful to them. Being multi-talented, they can get sidetracked by what they’re able to achieve and lose sight of what they want to accomplish. In short, Threes can struggle to know what matters most to them.
The Way Forward:
It can be helpful for Threes to learn how to stop doing and start simply being so that they can get to know themselves more deeply. They can do this by taking breaks, doing things that are fun rather than productive, and taking time for activities like meditation or journaling. It can also be helpful for Threes to re-familiarize themselves with their feelings, which contain big clues to what really matters to them.
Type 4: The Individualist
Fours are self-aware, sensitive, and highly creative. They’re able to dig deep into their inner world, learn about the human experience, and share what they find with others. Having meaningful work is important to them, and they tend to do well in jobs that allow for self expression.
Where They Get Stuck:
Fours sometimes struggle with feeling vulnerable and defective, so they can become reluctant to take risks, pursue their passion, or share their creativity with the world. They tend to disengage with others and retreat inward. They can get stuck in their own heads where they discount their own abilities and create fantasies that make everything in the real world pale by comparison.
The Way Forward:
Fours do best when they get out of their heads, into their bodies, and out into the world. When they develop more discipline in their work habits, share their creativity with others, and let themselves produce work that’s less than brilliant now and then, they can answer a true calling and find joy in what they do.
Type 5: The Investigator
Fives are independent, insightful, and innovative. They’re curious and want to understand how things work. They tend to seek work that allows them to investigate and develop novel ideas and capabilities.
Where They Get Stuck:
Fives can get stuck in their heads. Without access to their feelings and “gut”, they can struggle to know what option feels right to them. In addition, they can put off taking action while they endlessly “prepare.” Anxiety takes hold as they get stuck trying to think through every possibility before doing anything.
The Way Forward:
Fives often benefit from reconnecting with their bodies through activities like jogging, dancing, or yoga. In this way, they get out of their heads and in touch with their intuition. Connecting with others and hearing their point-of-view can also be very helpful. With a wider perspective, Fives often find great clarity and confidence in their path forward, without having to overthink it.
Type 6: The Loyalist
Sixes are reliable, hard-working, responsible, and trustworthy. They’re concerned about security and are often good at anticipating problems. They work well on teams, want to make a positive contribution through their work, and enjoy supporting others.
Where They Get Stuck:
Sixes tend to forget that things might go well and exclusively focus on what might go wrong. They get anxious, worried, and indecisive. They don’t trust their guts. They get stuck because they’re not sure what they should choose, they’re too overwhelmed to take action, or they worry that no option is going to turn out well.
The Way Forward:
It can be helpful for Sixes to find ways to quiet their minds, through meditation, exercise, or creative activity. Sixes are also helped by paying attention to their successes and noticing where the universe is supporting them—realizing that it’s not all up to them to make things turn out okay. Sixes have phenomenal inner guidance, when they are quiet enough to hear it and courageous enough to trust it.
Type 7: The Enthusiast
Sevens are extroverted, optimistic, and versatile. They constantly seek new and exciting experiences. They tend to look for jobs that are dynamic, busy, and novel.
Where They Get Stuck:
Sevens sometimes have a hard time staying still because they don’t want to be trapped in a negative experience. They can be impulsive and impatient, not giving themselves time to settle in or learn new skills. They often have a hard time making career decisions because they second-guess their choices, wondering if something else wouldn’t be better, more exciting, or more enjoyable.
The Way Forward:
It can help Sevens to appreciate what they already have and learn that negative experiences and feelings are part of life, and that they don’t last forever. By developing the ability to believe in their own ability to learn and handle challenges, they’re more able to stay with one thing and deepen their engagement with it. And by learning how to reconnect with a deeper guidance than what they think will be exciting, Sevens get clarity about what they want and what path is right for them.
Type 8: The Challenger
Eights are decisive, strong, and assertive. They like to be in control of their environment and even other people. They’re willing to do just about anything to protect those they care about and often seek work that allows them to lead, advocate, or fight for justice.
Where They Get Stuck:
Eights have a hard time admitting that they don’t know the answer, so when faced with uncertainty about their next step, they have a hard time letting themselves explore. They think they already have it figured out, and can be reluctant to take in new ideas. They also have a hard time admitting that they may have made a wrong turn somewhere.
The Way Forward:
It can be good for Eights to wait before taking action so that they can consider different perspectives and allow new answers to emerge. Similarly, it can be helpful when Eights allow themselves to admit that they don’t have the answer—at least not yet—and to sit in uncertainty until things become clearer.
Type 9: The Peacemaker
Nines are accepting, optimistic, and supportive. They often prefer social jobs and are good at working with other people. They dislike conflict and frequently play the role of keeping the peace.
Where They Get Stuck:
Sometimes Nines put off making big changes in their careers because they don’t want to rock the boat. They can struggle with procrastination and lack of follow through. Also, Nines are great at putting their talent and energy to work building somebody else’s dream, but they don’t often pay attention to developing their own vision. As a result, when Nines want to make a career change, they often have no idea what would make them happy and put off taking action that would disrupt the status quo.
The Way Forward:
The opportunity for Nines is to turn their spotlight of attention inward, paying attention to themselves and their own needs, desires, and intentions. (Exercise can be a great way for Nines to increase awareness of the feelings and body.) Routines, structure, and support can also be key for Nines to step into action now that risks making waves in their lives or the lives of others.
Find Out What Type of Career Changer You Are
If you’re still not sure what type you are, you can go to www.enneagraminstitute.com and take one of their assessment tests. I recommend the RHETI. Or, you can take a free test here. The tests aren’t conclusive, but rather suggest the types most likely to be yours. You can then read about each type and see which fits you best.
Almost anyone who has tried to make a significant change in their life has felt stuck at one point or another.
I talk to people all the time who:
Desperately want to make a career change but can’t get themselves to take any action.
Go over and over possible next steps but still have no idea how to move forward.
Apply to a bunch of jobs, don’t hear anything back, then lose all motivation and stop applying for anything else.
Stuck, stuck, and stuck.
Our Biggest Mistake
Feeling stuck is the worst. It’s frustrating and humbling. All sense of excitement dries up and it feels like all you’ll ever know is the same disheartening, unsatisfying, and miserable status quo.
And yet feeling stuck isn’t a sign that you’re making a mistake.Running into obstacles is actually an important part of the process.
The mistake comes in how you respond to these obstacles.
Most of us grew up in a culture that encourages independence and a pull-yourself-up-by-your-bootstraps mentality.
We don’t want to burden others. We want to look like we know what we’re doing. It feels like a personal failing to admit that we’re having problems and aren’t sure how to solve them.
So we do the only thing we reasonably can: we try to overcome the obstacles on our own.
Unfortunately, that’s where we err. Because the biggest mistake that people make when making a career change is that they try to do it alone.
How One Woman Got Unstuck
I had a client once who knew she needed to find a different type of job but didn’t know what to look for. The more she thought about it, the more anxious she became, and the less certain she felt about which direction to go in.
By learning to tune into her heartfelt desires and superb inner guidance, my client got clearer about what she wanted in a job. But she still didn’t know what jobs might offer what she was looking for, and her anxiety that she would get it wrong consistently got in her way.
So we worked on reaching out to others. As she shared openly and vulnerably with people she trusted, they helped her to see that everyone’s path is unique, and that despite her anxiety, she was exactly where she should be.
My client began to accept the notion that she was on the right path, even if it was longer or more crooked than the one she had imagined. She also received new ideas about directions she could explore and valuable feedback about her unique strengths and gifts.
The Possibilities are Endless
Other people help us:
See things from a different perspective
Discover new options we hadn’t considered before
See how others have overcome the same obstacles we face
Realize we aren’t alone in our mistakes or limitations
Feel loved and supported enough to take risks
Feel more energized, inspired, and optimistic
See ourselves and our capabilities more clearly
Learn about particular jobs and whether they’re a good fit for us
Find out about openings and opportunities
Get recommendations and land jobs more easily
Take a moment to consider your biggest challenge right now. What kind of help would be useful? Who might provide that help?
If you find you’re still reluctant to reach out, ask yourself what you’re avoiding. What would you lose if you ask for help? What would you gain?
My biggest challenges at the moment are incorporating my business and planning a wedding. Everyone from friends and family to lawyers and accountants could help me.
Part of me doesn’t want to reach out because I’ll have to admit that I’m intimidated. I’ll have to let go of my identity as someone who can do it all. And in the case of professionals, I’ll have to pay them, spending money on something part of me believes I should be able to do myself.
What will I get? Peace of mind. Ease. Sanity. An ability to stress less and have time for fun and joy. Not to mention better results.
Seeing it in those terms, the choice gets a whole lot easier.
Over to You
What have others helped you accomplish in the past? What help are you considering asking for now?
Please share your thoughts in the comments below. By sharing your need for support, you can challenge the notion that we should be able to do it all on our own.
If you’re trying to make a meaningful career change and don’t want to do it by yourself, join us on April 18th for Pathfinders: A Group Hike and Discussion to Find Your Calling.
You’ll go on a beautiful walk through the woods. You’ll have meaningful conversations with others who, like you, are trying to discover what they’re meant to do in this world. You’ll receive lots of support for identifying and taking next steps towards work you love.
If you liked this post, you can share it with others using the buttons below, or sign up for my newsletter in the box to the right. I’ll send you ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change every other week.
It can feel impossible to look for your dream job while still working full-time.
Your job is relentless, stressful, and requires huge amounts of energy just to show up each morning, so it’s no wonder when you go home all you want to do is lie on the couch and not think about anything.
You may dream about quitting your full-time job so you can look with leisure, but the truth of the matter is, most people need the money to come in until they find something new.
Not to worry. You have plenty of time and energy to find your dream job. Really. Many of my clients transition into new jobs while working full-time or juggling serious responsibilities.
Here are my top 3 tips for how to find the time and energy to look for your dream job no matter how busy you are:
Manage your energy like the precious resource it is.
When I coach clients with full-time jobs, I start by finding out what energizes them. Is it hiking? Cooking? Painting? Spending time with friends? Doing Yoga? Reading? Energizing activities can be active (like rock climbing) or passive (like watching movies).
I then invite clients to start to pay attention to their energy levels. Energy, after all, is a renewable resource. When our work requires us to expend a lot of energy, we need to take time regularly to put fuel back in our tanks. The more we take time to do the things that energize us, the more energy we have left after work to do the things that are truly important to us.
So start to notice what gives you energy and what drains it, and then make time for what energizes you at least once a day.
Get your priorities straight.
If you’re like many of my coaching clients, you don’t ever want to let others down. When someone asks something of you, you do it to the best of your ability, no matter how long it takes or what the cost is to you.
It’s a beautiful intention to do your best, but seriously–no wonder you’re so tired at the end of the day.
It’s a matter of priorities. You can’t take care of what’s important to you if you spend all your time working on what’s important to others.
If you know you don’t want to stay where you are, why invest in making your work perfect? Why not start getting curious about what could be good enough?
Not every email has to be flawless. Not every request from your boss has to be accepted. Working later isn’t always better.
There’s often much more room than we realize to say no, ask for more time, or do a good job, but not a perfect one.
Doing so isn’t a sign that you’re mediocre; it’s a sign that you’re committed to something incredibly important: finding work that preserves your sanity, brings you joy, and allows you to contribute your greatest gifts to the world.
Beware of your saboteur.
Often we say we don’t have the time or energy to do something when really we do. We can choose not to watch as much TV. We could decide to say no to a social invitation. We can spend less time on Facebook or activities that don’t truly bring us joy.
When this is the case (and it usually is), our saboteur is at work.
The saboteur is that part of us that tries to undermine progress towards what we most want. Why? Because it’s scared. It’s afraid we’ll fail, or not have what it takes, or lose all our friends if we step out on this limb. So it convinces us not to even try.
But if it told us directly not to try, we would recognize it for what it is. So it’s sneaky. It says, “You don’t have time to do this,” because that feels pretty true to most of us. We take its words at face value, not realizing that it’s actually fear that’s keeping us stuck.
I coached a client once whose saboteur convinced him he didn’t have time to do an exercise that would have taken 3 minutes out of his day. Being too busy seemed so reasonable, he never questioned it. But once he realized that “not having time” was a form of internal resistance, he was quickly able to choose to do the exercise anyway.
Awareness = choice. So next time you hear the familiar refrain “I don’t have time,” look around and see if you can’t find your saboteur.
Over to you
What do you think? How do you make space for what’s important to you?
Your responses might help others. Please share your comments below.
Find Time to Discover Your Dream Job
If you know all this but still have a hard time finding time to make a change, fear not. Knowledge is only one piece of the puzzle.
Sometimes we also need structure, encouragement, or practice to make these changes. That’s exactly what coaching provides.
You want to make a change. You really do. It’s just that you don’t want to make a change that you’ll regret.
How do you know this is what you really want? You thought the jobs you took up to now would make you happy, and they didn’t. Who’s to say the next job you choose will be any different?
And change requires money, time, and energy. What if you go back to school and then realize it’s not for you? What if you give up everything you have, start all over, and then end up back where you started—miserable in your job after the newness wears off? What if it’s all a waste?
This prospect is scary for anyone wanting to make a career change because the future is inherently uncertain. And yet your fear underestimates you and what’s possible when you really, truly listen to yourself.
You have a powerful GPS system already operating within you. When you tune into it and follow its guidance, any career change you make, no matter the outcome, will bring you closer to what you want.
Case in point: I’ve coached dozens of clients to answer their calling, and not a single one has regretted the change they made in their career. While their processes were quite different, they all had a few, key things in common:
They drew from all 3 types of intelligence.
Most of the time we use our intellectual intelligence to make decisions. We reason, analyze, list pros and cons, and try to find the option that makes the most sense.
Often this leads us to ping-pong back-and-forth between options without a real sense of which one is right for us, or which one we won’t regret.
That’s because while intellectual intelligence is great at solving certain types of problems, it has very little to tell us about passion, desire, and purpose, the very things we need to know about if we’re going to be fulfilled long-term.
So to identify work that they didn’t regret, my clients tapped into their emotional and somatic intelligence, both of which offered incredible information about what they loved and what was most important to them.
Emotional intelligence draws on the information contained in our feelings. Somatic intelligence comes from our body; it’s sometimes called intuition or “gut feeling.” When my clients learned to listen to these sources of wisdom, they discovered what they most deeply wanted, what was meaningful to them, and what would truly fulfill them long-term.
To apply this to your own life, you can start to notice how different options and possibilities make you feel. What emotions do they bring up? What body sensations? Which options bring up the most positive sensations?
Doing so can help you make decisions aligned with who you really are, which is the best way to avoid regret down the line.
We test drive cars before we buy them, but often not careers. Why? We spend far more time in our career than we do in our car (assuming you’re neither a truck nor taxi driver).
My clients all went through a thorough process of identifying what was most important to them in their work—from location, pay, and environment to job responsibilities, impact, and people.
They then brainstormed ideas for jobs that included these elements. Armed with a list of exciting possibilities, they became explorers: They tried out different routes to see which ones worked best for them.
They researched. They did informational interviews. They shadowed people. They volunteered. They did everything they could to get a crystal-clear picture of what a particular job would look like, sound like, and feel like day-in and day-out.
Then they checked in with their various intelligence centers—head, heart, and body—and noticed their response. In this way, they got a clear read from their highly accurate, state-of-the-art internal GPS system about which path was the best, not just in theory, but in reality as well.
They followed their fear.
Yes, that’s right. I know that our programmed response to fear is to freeze or run in the opposite direction. And that’s okay. If a giant, man-eating bird is trying to hunt us, that’s probably a pretty good response.
But if we really want to find our calling, we need to learn to follow fear.
We only fear a path when it contains something important to us, when we care, when we really, really want it to work. Those are all great signs that a route is a good one for us.
So, the next time you feel afraid, stroll right up to your fear, introduce yourself, and shake its hand. Let it know you’re pleased to see it—it means you’re on the right path. Then march right along past it and continue in the same direction.
As Stephen Pressfield says, “Fear is good. Like self-doubt, fear is an indicator. Fear tells us what we have to do. Remember one rule of thumb: the more scared we are of a work or calling, the more sure we can be that we have to do it.”
All of my clients took paths that led them, in one way or another, directly into the heart of their fear.
The path to work you love may not be a direct one. Sometimes you have to try things out, learn, or even fail; sometimes you have to start one thing to open the door to something else. But if you use your internal GPS when making decisions, each step you take will bring you closer to what you ultimately want, and each step will bring you lots of joy along the way.
Over to You
What do you make of this? What’s helped you make changes you’ve been happy with in the past? Do these point to any action steps you’d like to take?
Your ideas may help others. Please leave a reply in the comments below.
Make Your Career Change a Happy One
If you’re not sure how to tap into your full intelligence, or if you’ve had trouble exploring or following your fears on your own, click here to request a free clarity session. Sometimes all we need is a little guidance, support, and structure to be able to do things we couldn’t before.
I meet many people who are unhappy in their jobs or who labor in unhealthy work situations.
They often feel that there’s a better way to put their talents to use, that there’s something out there they could actually enjoy, but they either aren’t sure what it is or they don’t know how to make money from it.
So they ask the question: “How can I turn my passion into profit?”
I love when someone starts asking this question. It means they’ve woken up to the fact that things don’t have to be this way. They don’t have to spend a majority of their time doing something that’s exhausting, meaningless, or painful.
It’s great that they’re asking the question; unfortunately it’s the wrong question to ask.
Father of anthropology Claude Levi-Strauss once said, “The scientist is not a person who gives the right answers; he is one who asks the right questions.”
If we don’t ask the right questions, we won’t get good answers, and bad answers often lead us to spend lots of time and energy pursuing things that don’t end up giving us what we really want.
So what’s the right question in this case? I’m so glad you asked. It’s…
Why do you want to turn your passion into profit?
Some people want to make money off their passion because they want to enjoy the work they do for 8+ hours everyday. Others want to spend more time doing a particular activity they love. Some want to find more meaning or purpose in their work, some want to contribute their gifts more powerfully, and others want to create a particular positive change in the world.
The list goes on. There are as many reasons to want to profit off your passion as there are people in the world.
Over the weekend I saw a performance by Stic, member of hip hop group dead prez and leader of the so-called fit hop movement. Stic rapped about the benefits of a plant-based diet, working out hard, yoga, and even Bruce Lee. Needless to say, I was beside myself the entire time.
Why am I bringing this up? In part because I want you to know that I’m still a little hip (and perhaps more than a little nerdy). But the more relevant point is, here’s a classic hip hop artist who’s gone out on his own with a mission and a message: be fit and live a healthy life. He’s clearly passionate about hip hop and health, and the whole performance was energized, inspired, and frankly, unlike anything I’d ever seen before.
If Stic were to ask how to turn his passions into profit, he might come up with some less innovative answers. He could, for example, tour with his partner as the well-known dead prez or try to make it big with another group. Or he might become a personal trainer, wellness coach, or chef. If he had wanted to make money from his passion, rapping about health was probably not the most obvious answer. (Though it could certainly grow, my guess is that the market for vegetarian hip hop is still fairly small.)
If, on the other hand, Stic asked how he could put his greatest talents to use creating the change he wanted to see in the world, then starting a hip hop movement about being healthy was an obvious answer.
Asking the right questions leads to the right answers. It also opens up options that didn’t exist before.
Once you’ve gotten clear on why you want to turn your passion into profit, ask yourself how you might accomplish that.
How can you enjoy your work more? How can you do more of what you love? How can you put your greatest gifts to use? How can you have the impact you want to have in the world?
In my experience, these questions will open up tons more possibilities than simply asking how to turn your passion into profit.
Still hungry for more practical suggestions? I would be too. Check out my next post for how to go about finding what you now know you want.