No less than five very successful men have approached me in the past two months, each looking for advice and counsel for their careers.
The conversations featured them telling me what they've accomplished in their careers (often, a lot!) followed by a description of the inner struggle of wanting something different. One felt as if his expertise should be highlighted more online. Another was willing to quit his job just because he was so unhappy at work. Each man was the same- talented and discontented at work.
This is what is often called in the Ignatian tradition, "discernment". It's a feeling out of options and an inventorying (if that's a word) of what truly makes us happy when we are working.
If my small sample size is any indication of wider realities, why are so many men (and surely women too) hungry for change whent it comes to work?
I suggest that the forties are a time when the "important things" of life really kick in. We've climbed some amount of ladder in our careers and we've tasted success. Our relationships and life commitments are stable. And, we realize that retirement is real and will be here sooner than later.
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If all of that is true, then what might some advice for someone in their forties who is looking to possibly make a change at work? I suggest three things:
1. Pay attention to your inner life. You could keep running on the career-hampster-wheel. Or, you could pay attention to the days that energize you most. Write these down. Talk about these with someone you trust. Pay attention to these things...
2. Seek counsel. A wise spiritual director or mentor is worth his weight in gold. Find someone you trust and establish a formal relationship of guidance with him or her. There are professional mentors out there who are experts at helping you figure out your inner struggle. There's no need to be sheepish about this.
3. Consider your brand. This is even more scary than the first two steps for many professionals. Many will tell me that they
a) have no idea what their brand is and
b) are scared as heck to package their expertise into one brand.
Chances are, if you've been successful in your twenties and thirties, you're most likely "almost an expert" at something. I say that the forties are the perfect time to put all of that wisdom to work in the shape of a blog, website or social media platform. This serves two purposes. First, it gives expression to what's in your head and heart. Second, it will make finding your next job a lot easier. I was at an interview once when it became apparent that the person interviewing me had studied my Twitter profile. Funny and useful at the same time!
It can be scary when you consider a job or even a career change. I speak from personal experience on this one, trust me. There will be naysayers. You will doubt yourself. It may feel like a mistake for a period of time. All of that is normal.
The key is to push through it, keep focused on what brings you peace, and follow what you think is God's will for your career. Be smart. Be wise. Be brave.
Can I help you with this process? Just use the Contact Form to reach out. I have a customized coaching program that is designed for seekers just like you.