The dizzying reality of this process is now beginning to sink in, as this week I had the task of notifying colleagues of my intentions. This was difficult because I consider them friends and not just work colleagues. I also feel a sense of loyalty to them that my actions are about to betray.
I elected to speak to them individually rather than as a group because I had slightly different things that I wanted to say to each of them. I was perhaps a little surprised to find that the reactions I received ranged from disappointment and sadness to bewilderment and shock.
The range of reactions is driven by the fact that I work within a family business and have done so for around twenty years. Consequently, I’m sure people expected me to be there until the end; a lifer as they say. The truth is I expected to be that person myself and on the face of it I look happy in my work. However, I have long denied a sense that something was not quite right and as I said in my earlier posts, acknowledging this has been the key to making a change.
Having let people know, it’s a strange feeling to think that I am part of the companies past and present but I am no longer part of the future. That shift in tense represents a huge step into my new reality.
Its been a tough week. Self doubt has enveloped me on several occasions, leaving me convinced that I cannot be successful in my career change ambitions. I have found myself thinking – “I wish I was 25 again”, “how can I have the audacity to think that I can compete with people younger than me?”.
As these thoughts rattle, destructively through my brain, I am immediately convinced of the need to abort my plans. That voice in my head is so pursuasive, so utterly convincing that I cannot mount the counter argument. I am subservient to the superiority of its thesis.
Then I pause, walk away from myself, because I know my feelings will change.
Thankfully, it doesn’t take too long. And the catalyst? This weekends Wimbledon singles finals. A 37 year old in Venus Williams and a 35 year old Roger Federer. In the context of professional sport they are well into their twilight, yet there they are at the peak of their sport. What could be greater inspiration than that?
Does all change require conflict? After a lot of introspection, I realised that I couldn’t satisfy my ambitions or realise my potential if I continued to follow my current career path. However, I didn’t know this at first. The initial desire for change was driven by a personal conflict with a family member. How could I be sure that if I changed career I wasn’t just running, taking the easy way out of an awkward situation.
It seems clear to me that change is very often driven by conflict. The most obvious example of this is in war zones where once normal citizens flood across borders as refugees, desperate to better their lives and protect their children. As horrifically bleak as their plight is, the choice for them has becomes quite clear – initiate a change or risk death . In their minds, the risk of embarking on what promises to be an horrendous journey is significantly less than the risk of staying put. I may appear to be stating the obvious but with career change this calculation is not so clear cut. I recognised this and resolved to take time to think.
If your suffering at the hands of an unsupportive boss or colleague then the temptation is to run; to sprint towards something new, anything will do just to get away. The reason to change in these circumstances is completely valid but a complete change in career may not be necessary. Could you transfer to another department? Could you move to a competitor? Is there somebody you could raise your issues with?
All of these options and more should be explored before a massive career change is made. You need to be as sure as you can be that what you are changing to is going to make you happier than you are now. You should ultimately feel that you are running to something not running from something.
Conflict may be the catalyst but something like a change in career should come from inside you like a thirst that has to be quenched. For me I feel a deep seated desire to try something that I buried away because I believed it was beyond me. The carnage of conflict had uncovered something that I had denied was there. The pull to move towards that path is now stronger than the push to run away. The only question now is have a got the courage to actually make the change?