Losing a professional career is like getting
Many clients begin coaching
when they seek to change careers. Often a coach provides critical
support because few friends and former colleagues understand
the unique dilemmas of midlife
Most of us are aware that we need to grieve the death of
a close friend, relative or favorite pet. We are beginning
to learn that other events -- relocation, divorce, illness
-- can also be experienced as loss.
Losing a professional-level career can also be a source of
grief, anger and frustration. Starting a business is a death
as well as a birth. You may feel as though you are getting
a divorce after a twenty-year marriage. Here's why.
1. Sometimes the career leaves you. The field wants "younger
people." Or you have to change in ways that violate your
sense of self.
2. Sometimes you leave a career that seems perfectly wonderful
and fulfilling to those on the outside. "The money's
so good," your mother says, "and it's not as if
you're scrubbing floors all day. Can't you just hang in there
and pretend you like it?"
3. You feel disloyal. After all, you've gained a lot from
this career. For the rest of your life, you will view the
world through the lens created by your training and experience.
You will question assumptions, criticize, challenge, argue,
prepare, organize, or negotiate.
4. Friends take sides. After you leave, some former colleagues
no longer return your calls. Others try to engage you in a
rousing session of "Aren't they horrible," which
you don't want either.
5. Those left behind begin to feel abandoned. Are you leaving
for a new love, an opportunity that will be livelier, more
exciting, and yes, even sexier? Worst case: you're leaving
for a new career that your former associates find entirely
6. You have started projects that you will be unable to finish
because your new life has no room for them. Anyway, without
your former big-name affiliation, you have no credibility
to raise them to a level you can present or sell.
7. Your new identity gains you access to new and exciting
places, but people treat you differently. You feel naked without
the old title on your business card.
8. The rules of the game have changed since the last time
you were unattached. And this time around, you're less interested
in those "how to get lucky" sessions.
9. You spend more time in the gym. You spend hours walking
the dog. You try new hair styles, dare to enter an art gallery,
read your first self-help book and consider talking to a professional
who bears little resemblance to Jennifer Melfi.
10. You're starting to think, "Being on my own for the
rest of my life may not be such a bad thing."
|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.