I’ve spent eight years working with mid to high-level professionals and executives to achieve greater career success, growth and leadership, as well as to transform their careers completely. I know a good deal about the process personally too, as I’ve traversed a number of diverging career paths over the past 20 years, including publishing, marketing, market research, marriage and family therapy, coaching, speaking, and teaching.
If you asked me my views on career reinvention five years ago, I would have said some very different things than I do today.
So what’s different?
In the past three and a half years, I’ve learned what’s required (for myself and others) to navigate through highly challenging financial times while at the same time successfully creating a more fulfilling professional life.
I’m not talking about pie-in-the-sky, follow-your-bliss nonsense here. I’m talking about real-life positive career and life change that lasts and continues to reap benefit and reward.
The Myth of Career Ecstasy
Today, as new clients come to me – both men and women — I see an alarming myth that thousands of midlife individuals have been suckered into believing. It’s hitting boomer folks hard, and truthfully, I don’t see this same myth prevalent in younger generations. I call it the “myth of career ecstasy” – the damaging, misguided notion that all it will take to make your life happier and more rewarding is to chuck out your old, unsatisfying career, and land in a new one, despite what else is falling apart in your life.
Here’s how the story goes:
A midlife professional woman comes to me after 15+ years of corporate work. She’s awakened to the following realizations, and they hurt:
- It feels as if her work has no contributive value in the world any more (for instance, she feels she’s “selling” something that doesn’t matter at all or isn’t of positive influence in the world)
- She’s bored out of her mind doing the work she knows best and desperately wants a change
- Her family needs her substantial income of $100M+
- Her husband and children have grown accustomed to her overfunctioning and her perfectionism, and don’t want things to change too much. (Note: she handles over 75% of the domestic responsibility as well as her full-time job, and she’s worn out, stressed and depressed. And her overfunctioning has held her husband back from contributing his fair share, financially, domestically, and otherwise.)
- She feels an urgent need to change her personal and professional situation
- She’s in a financial trap, not having saved enough money to take several years off to re-strategize, gain new education or training, and reinvent her career path
- On top of these stresses, there are relationship, behavioral and other issues with her family members (elderly parents, children, spouse, etc.) that need urgent addressing
- Despite the fact that numerous dimensions of this individual’s life are truly in “breakdown” mode, she believes that it’s a new career she should focus on, as (in her mind) that will bring her life the joy, peace, excitement, meaning, health, and purpose she longs for.
The problem is, it’s simply not true.
In her case — and for hundreds of thousands of women professionals in the world today — it’s not a wholesale career change that will bring you the satisfaction and fulfillment you want. Instead, it’s taking hard, urgently-needed action that addresses the root causes of your troubles that will make the difference in your career and life.
Busting the Career Ecstasy Myth: The Top Six Steps You Need to Take to Change Your Life for the Better
Here’s what needs to happen for your life to change for the better… and it isn’t job change, for now.
What are your top three life and career challenges today and are you addressing them head on?