The Surprising Truth About Career Change and Depression

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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.

Find Support to Make a Change

If you think your depression is related to a career change, please feel free to get in touch with me.

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.

To find out more, schedule a free 1:1 call with me. We’ll illuminate your goals, clarify your challenges, and discuss what each program involves and how it can help. There’s no cost for the call and no obligation to buy anything. Click here to apply for your free call today.


Photo credit: David // CC

 

7 Things You Can Do When None of Your Career Options Feel Right

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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.

Is it the options, or is it you?

It may be that you haven’t yet found the right idea. But it’s equally possible, if not more likely, that something is blocking your ability to recognize what feels really right.

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?

7. Wait.

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.

What Type of Career Changer Are You?

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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***

Overview:

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.

Where They Get Stuck:

Ones want to get things right, so they often get stuck in career change because they’re not willing to risk making a mistake.  This often involves paralysis in decision-making, or bouncing back-and-forth between options without being able to decide.  It can also show up as resistance to taking any action towards making a change.

The Way Forward:

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

Overview:

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

Overview:

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

Overview:

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

Description:

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

Overview:

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

Overview:

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

Overview:

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

Overview:

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.

Find Your Own Way Forward

I offer individual and small group coaching that can help you learn how to move beyond personality to unlock you innate gifts and find your path.  Find out more here.

***Some of the general information about each type is adapted from the Enneagram Institute website, which has a wealth of other information and resources.


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3 Proven Ways to Stop Procrastinating

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We all do it.

We want to make a change.  We have the best of intentions.  We’re going to clean the house, apply for a job, or start exercising more.

We plan, prepare, and get excited.  And then, when the time comes, we think: “You know, today isn’t such a good day after all.  The weather’s no good; I’m not in the right mood; I didn’t sleep well last night.  I’m sure this will be much easier tomorrow.”

In other words, procrastination’s siren song sinks our ship before we’ve even left the shore.

It’s Not Just You

Nobody is immune to the sweet promises of procrastination.

I can’t tell you how many people I talk to who desperately want a new career and know what they need to do to make it happen but who find, again and again, that they can’t get themselves to take any action to actually achieve it.

I myself have been meaning to write the next installment of my fictional series for some time now, but “later” seems to always be the best time I can find to write.

You Can Stop Beating Yourself Up

We don’t procrastinate because we’re lazy, and truthfully there’s nothing wrong with us.

We put things off because we get scared, anxious or overwhelmed.

We may anticipate how hard something is going to be, and it feels like more than we can handle right now.  Or perhaps we feel anxious because we don’t know how to proceed, the outcome is uncertain, or things may not turn out well.  Not taking action can seem like the perfect way to avoid unpleasant experiences and unsavory outcomes.

Procrastination promises to help us feel better, if just for a little while, and who doesn’t want to feel better?

The Way to Action

The key to dealing with procrastination is to recognize the duplicitous nature of its siren song and then do what we can to make our sailing smoother.

Step 1: Remind Yourself of the Lie in Procrastination’s Promise

As we’ve all experienced, we may avoid some potential discomfort by sticking close to the certain shores of the status quo.  But we also don’t make progress towards what we want and what we’re called to do.  And what’s more, we can’t help but notice that we’re not taking action on something that’s important to us, and that never feels good.

By procrastinating, we’re simply swapping one type of discomfort for another.

So, the first step to taking action is to acknowledge that procrastination isn’t really delivering on its promise of tranquility.

Step 2: Make It Less Overwhelming

If you’re still putting action off, you’re likely feeling at least a little overwhelmed.  That’s okay.  Don’t fight yourself.

Instead, be your own mentor:

  • Break down large or daunting tasks into smaller pieces.  Think through what’s required and list it out, step-by-step.  Then break each step down into smaller pieces.  Keep breaking each step down until you find an action that feels doable right now.  Then do it.
  • Lower your standards.  I had a client once who never cleaned her house because it felt so overwhelming to do it the way she felt she should.  Meanwhile the house got messier and the prospect of cleaning it even more overwhelming.  When she gave herself permission to lower her standards by, for example, clearing just the top of her dresser or getting her house clean-er but not spotless,  she found she was able to take action where she hadn’t been before.
  • Give yourself a reward.   Make a deal with yourself: if you do this challenging or unpleasant task you’ve been avoiding, you’ll get a reward.  It could be a bath, a cup of your favorite coffee, a TV show, or anything else you enjoy.  (Find some inexpensive, non-food ideas here.)  Just make sure you actually follow through.  Your inner mentor is going to lose credibility fast if you make promises to your inner procrastinator that you don’t keep.

Step 3: Find Support

What’s wrong with me? is a terribly useless question to ask.

Much more productive is: What would help me get started?

So ask yourself: What makes me feel stronger?  What would make this task easier?  Then look for the people, activities, environments, technology, and other resources that do exactly that.

Support that has helped me or my clients step into action includes:

  • Having a partner with whom to discuss strategy and check in on progress
  • Finding a new and inspiring environment
  • Doing something energizing, like exercise or a creative activity, before taking a difficult step
  • Finding an app or other technology that makes the task easier
  • Joining a community of peers with similar goals and challenges

Over to You

Odysseus found that ropes and lots of wax were key to resisting the sirens’ song.

What’s your wax?  What support helps you resist procrastination and step into action?

Please share your experience in the comments below.

Take Action Towards Work You Love Now

The next Pathfinders (a group hike and discussion to discover your calling) is coming up fast.

On this hike, you’ll find loads of support for taking action, including:

  • Connections with others  facing similar challenges
  • A beautiful environment
  • Inspiration and ideas for next steps
  • Loving accountability

…and perhaps even some yummy snacks as well.  Because what’s the point of answering your calling if it’s not fun and delicious?

Click here to take the first step towards making a change.


If you liked this post, you can sign up for my newsletter in the box below and share it with others using the buttons that follow.  If you sign up for my newsletter, I’ll send you ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change for free every other week.


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The Real Reason What You Want Feels Impossible


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I was talking to a client recently who had a sense that what she really wanted was simply not possible for her.

Either her dream job didn’t exist or she didn’t have the qualifications for it or there was no way it would pay her enough to live on.

She could think of a lot of solid, air-tight, realistic reasons that a positive outcome wasn’t possible, so she felt defeated before she even started.

I myself am no stranger to the art of impossibility.  My default response to any new idea is to think of 101 reasons it wouldn’t work out.  I spent years telling myself that I couldn’t be a writer because if I relied on it for money I would no longer enjoy it, and if it didn’t pay the bills, then how could I take it seriously?

My mother used to call this “putting yourself in a box.”  It turns out I’m exceptionally good at it

We Have Good Intentions

Those of us who have a hard time seeing possibility don’t mean to rain on anybody’s parade, least of all our own.

To be fair, we’re actually trying to help make things happen by being practical, pragmatic, and down-to-earth.  Our intention is to be more effective by anticipating obstacles and planning for difficult circumstances.

And yet the actual effect of our focus on the negative is the opposite.  We miss out on opportunities because we’re focused on what can’t happen instead of what can.  We feel demotivated and discouraged.  And too often we don’t even start because we think we already know it won’t work out.

The Real Reason We Do It

When we’re having a hard time feeling a sense of possibility, it’s not because we know something other people don’t.  It’s not because what we want is impossible, or even unlikely.

The real reason we think something can’t happen is because we’re trying to protect ourselves.  Deep down, some part of us is afraid of failure, or rejection, or finding out that we’re not as capable as we thought we were.

We don’t want to be disappointed.

So we convince ourselves it’s not possible so that we don’t even try.  If we don’t try, after all, we can’t be disappointed.

But the Truth of the Matter?

We are capable beyond measure Sure, we have limitations.  But we also have great gifts to give, and our limitations are simply landmarks that orient us and point to where our greatest gifts lie.

We can handle disappointment, failure, and rejection.  In fact, these things can make us stronger and take us closer to success.

So much is possible.  There are no boxes except the ones in our heads.  No matter what roadblocks we hit, we always have choices and can always find another way.

Seeing Possibility

So the next time you find yourself thinking about all the reasons something won’t work or all the things that could go wrong, stop.

Remind yourself that:

  • The future is unknown. 

No matter what’s happened in the past, and no matter how you feel in the present, you cannot know what will happen in the future.

Remember that it’s just as possible that you’ll be surprised by a new opportunity or solution as by an unforeseen problem or obstacle.

  • There are more possibilities out there than you can think of right now.

We tend to think that we know everything and have thought of all the possibilities that exist.  In my experience, that’s almost never true.

For example, though the idea never would have occurred to me when I was younger, I now use writing as part of my work without having to rely on it entirely for income.

And if my client can’t find a job doing what she loves, she can go into business for herself.  If it doesn’t pay her enough, she can subsidize it with other types of work she doesn’t mind doing.

  • Things change.

The only thing constant about life is change.  If something isn’t possible now, it may be that all you need to do is wait.

Our economy changes all the time—for example, college degrees are becoming less important in hiring, and the highest-paying jobs are not what they used to be.  The context and constraints you are now in will not be the same next year, next month, or even next week.

It Takes Courage

Seeing possibilities is a skill we can learn.  But we have to be willing to not know.

We have to learn to see the bigger picture.  We have to allow ourselves to trust and begin to have faith.  We have to be willing to be disappointed.

When we’re ready to take that risk, possibilities are everywhere.

Over to You

What have you achieved that felt impossible or unlikely in the past?  What helps you to see the bigger picture?

Please share your experience so that others can learn from it.

See What’s Possible for You

This is the last week to sign up for this month’s Pathfinders: A Group Hike and Discussion to Find Your Calling.

You’ll meet others like you who want to make a meaningful career change and go on a beautiful walk in the woods—one of the best places you can find to see the bigger picture, reconnect to yourself, and begin to see the possibilities.

It’ll be fun, fulfilling, and free your first time.

For more information or to register, click here.


If you liked this post, you can share it with others using the buttons that follow, or sign up for my newsletter in the box just below.  I’ll send ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change to you every other week.


Photo credit: Joe Hastings // CC

The Biggest Mistake People Make When Changing Careers (Or Anything Else)

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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

Your Solution

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.

Get Unstuck

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.

To find out more or to register, click here.


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.


Photo credit: David Noah // CC

Nobody Understands Me–And That’s a Good Thing

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Sometimes they just don’t get it.

You sense that there’s something out there for you, something better.  You believe you can find work you would actually enjoy and be good at, and that would help you make a positive difference in the world.

But others around you don’t seem to understand.

They don’t get why you can’t stay in your current job.  Shouldn’t you feel lucky to have one at all?

Or if you’re not working, they don’t understand why you don’t just take the first job you can find.  Why are you taking so long to decide what to do?

They don’t understand why this is such a big deal to you.  They don’t get why you worry so much about your next step.  They don’t know why you’re so picky, or unhappy, or unsure of what you want.

It can be hard when our loved ones don’t understand us.  My own family and friends try to be very supportive, but there are still times when they don’t understand what I do or why I do it.

Their intentions are good as they point out the risks in my plan or question my reasoning, but it hurts when they don’t get it.  I’m a human being, wired to be social, evolved to care about what others think of me.

Which is why it helps to understand that we all have a different truth inside of us, and we all wake up to it at different times.

Why Nobody Understands Me

If you feel the call to do something more with your life, you’re beginning to tune into a powerful fact about yourself: you are here to do more than earn a salary or achieve what others think you should.

We all have incredible gifts to give the world that change it in powerful and positive ways.  We all have an innate joy within us waiting to be released when we follow our own truth and discover what the world is calling for from us.

And we all wake up to this truth in our own time.

Sometimes others don’t understand because they haven’t yet woken up to their own call.  They’re not yet in touch with what’s true and alive within them and still find contentment in doing what they think they should.

Other times our courage ignites the fears of our loved ones.  They fear failure, humiliation, or rejection and don’t understand that our desire to contribute is bigger than all of that.

Sometimes others forget that their truth is different than our own.  They forget that we all have something different to offer the world, and thank goodness, or else we wouldn’t have ways of meeting all the world’s needs.

Why It’s a Good Thing.  Really. 

Our culture teaches us that success is earning a certain amount of money, or wielding a certain amount of power, or impressing a certain number of people.

The truth is, we are capable of so much more than this.

If you feel like nobody understands you, please know that this is a good thing.  You are waking up to what truly matters in life; you’re finally hearing your own inner guidance, which will show you how to change the world in a way that only you can.

What to Do About It

Being different is hard, but the good news is, your happiness doesn’t have to depend on what others think.

You are an expert in your own truth.  Learn about that truth, discover its subtleties, and let it guide you–this process will bring you great joy, regardless of how others respond.

The next time somebody questions the path you’re on, remember that you’re walking the path less traveled, and that’s a great road to be on.

See if you can lovingly wish for the other person to hear their own calling as soon as they’re ready.  Or try to feel empathy for the great fear behind their doubts.  Or get curious about what’s true for them that makes them think this way, and what part of that might not be so true for you.

Above all, remember that somebody out there does understand you.

Often our loved ones support us more than we give them credit for, if we share with them openly and hear them out.

But even if they don’t, there are many others who are waking up to the same truth you are.  I promise you they’re out there, because I talk to them everyday.

It’s just a matter of finding them.

Connect With Others Like You

Want to find people who get you?

Pathfinders: A Group Hike and Discussion to Discover Your Calling is starting next month.

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.

Click here to find out more and to register so you can connect with people who really get you.

Over to You

What don’t others seem to understand about you?  How do you handle it?  Where do you go to find your tribe?

Your thoughts help others, so please share them!


If you liked this post, you can share it with others using the buttons below and sign up for my newsletter in the gray box.  I’ll send ideas, tips, and resources for meaningful career change to you every other week.


Photo credit: aliciat89 CC BY

You Can’t Find Your Dream Job While Working Full-Time —True or False?

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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.

Click here to request a free clarity session and take action towards finding your dream job, no matter how busy or tired you are.


Photo credit: Alan Cleaver / Foter / CC BY

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