Get everyone on board
Q. "Self-help books are written for people who are living
on an island. What am I supposed to do with my family while
I'm writing up these dare-I-dream stories?"
A. Any transition, especially those involving career or relocation,
will involve others. As fictional detective Sharon McCone
says, a journey doesn't mean much if it's not shared.
Family obligations can be obstacles but social support is
an essential component of your freedom
inventory. They extend your supply of money, just as a
wildnerness supply pack is designed to extend your supply
of food with matches, blankets and (in my Alaskan days) a
On a career journey, you can stretch your money through social
and personal support. Feeling isolated can lead to frustration
and, ultimately, lower-quality decisions that cost money and
time. The challenge is to not only maintain but also to revitalize
your support system as you grow in new directions.
Wanted: A new support system.
Alice enjoyed "doing lunch" with peers and clients
on her job. Every Friday, her department met for its own happy
hour at the local pub. Drinking was optional but relaxation
was taken for granted.
As she planned her midlife career change, Alice realized
she would be older than many of her new peers. Her life experience
and hard-earned standard of living would set her apart.
Alice identified new sources of professional support, including
her college alumni association, professional organizations,
a women's support group, art museum boards, and book clubs.
She could also take advanced classes at a local university.
By creating this network before she started her new career
path, Alice would maintain her sense of identity through the
Include the family in your career planning.
When Thomas was offered a position at a prestigious university,
he told his wife, "I need to work extra hours for the
next few years. I won't be around as much as I would like.
But this is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity and I don't want
to mess it up."
Today Thomas is a tenured full professor at this university.
His family recently accompanied him on a memorable to the
French countryside, where he held a visiting position. Now
he has ample time to spend with his wife and children and
the family has a solid financial base.
Thomas's decision won't work for everyone. What works is
getting the family on board before you start the trip.
Some families will be extremely supportive. They are ready
to scale down and make sacrifices for a new life. Others point
out that leaving a home or a school district will be painful
Bottom Line: Career transition is a social process, and your
social support must undergo a transition along with your career.
Social support helps you maintain perspective, focus and motivation.
By incorporating social support into your career transition
plan, you can enjoy a happy and productive journey to career
|Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D. is an author, career coach, and
speaker. She works with mid-career professionals who want to make a fast
move to career freedom. Visit her site http://www.movinglady.com
or call 505-534-4294.