Hello Career Transformer,
“We’re gonna be ok.”
A sentence spoken by my son, 10 at the time, when I shared with the kids that I had left my job. Hugging my daughter as she cried after sharing “I’m so happy …”, attention turned to my son, waiting for his response. I was nervous and close to tears myself at the end of what had already been an emotional day. Packing up personal items. Saying good-bye to peers and my team. Walking down the pathway one last time.
He had been sitting in an office chair. His frame looking extra small in the adult-sized piece of furniture. When he spoke that sentence, it was done with a confidence that made me believe in his words.
5 years later, I reflect on that moment. The family had so much confidence in that choice that had been made. For them, me, in addition to our future.
A mid-career retirement, had never been a part of any succession plan over a 15-year career.
Once word of my mid-career retirement filtered out to various networks, the emails and texts came.
“You must be so excited!?”
“What did the family say?”
“What did the company say?”
“Can we meet up?”
In those first few post-retirement months, many days and evenings were spent visiting a wide range of cafes and restaurants in the communities around me. For the first time in my life, I felt like the popular girl in school that everyone wanted to know, because I seemed to have something, like a secret tool or process, that others wanted to know and learn about.
What many of these women that I met with wanted to know, was how the choice was made to walk away from my career.
“I’d love to do what you did, but I can’t. How’d you do it?”
There was a sense of longing by the women for something in their career to change. An unexplored restlessness. A growing frustration. In many cases, it wasn’t that they wanted to fully up and leave their careers (‘cause really, who does that?!?!?! wink wink), they were desperate for a change. For instance, a change in:
- What they were doing (aka – boredom)
- Who they reported to
- How they managed their team
- How they solved a recurring problem
In some cases, yes, there was a desire to just quit.
Burnout. Frustration. A need for more flexibility. A desire to feel like there was a bigger purpose to what they were doing … or were holding back on what was possible. So many different reasons for wanting something to change. Unique and individual to each woman’s own career journey, where they were in their life, and their own experiences. However, for most of them, there was no action taken to make any type of change.
They wanted a change, yet, something was holding them back.
Completely understandable. I’d been there.
Fear. Oh that 4-letter word that is so small yet so powerful. Nothing paralyzes you from moving forward, or making a change, more than fear.
Fear of judgement – from others on yourself. Financial commitments if radically changing up a career path. Uncomfortable having different kind of career conversations with their partners, families, friends and most of all … their bosses. Fear of making a mistake. Looking foolish. Not knowing where to turn to for help. Not having the time in an already busy life to take the time to answer the question:
What do you want in your career? What do you want from your career?
At the time that these first conversations, coffee and wine dates were being had with women from diverse industries, and organizational levels, I was a 40-year old wife with a mortgage and mom of 2 kids, who intentionally walked away from a 15+ year career with no plan.
At the time, there was only the experience of the moment to share. The courage conjured up to make the decision to commit to a mid-career retirement. The present outcome on my mental, physical, and emotional health. Now, more than 5 years later, there’s just smidge more wisdom to share from the journey of:
- Creating an award-winning business
- Returning to the workforce in a role aligned to supporting others through their career transitions
- Discovering, plowing through fear and following through on a passion to empower women to create choices related to their carers that feel good via a TV show
- Speaking on the topics of confidence, attitude, conversation pillars and career transitions
- Acting as a career and business mentor for high-school girls and women
It was absolutely crazy when looking back on that choice. Some might say it was reckless. Some might choose bold as an adjective. Purpose-driven. Self-less. Or incredibly selfish.
If there was a possibility of a “do over” would that mid-career retirement still be taken?
Yes. But differently. Based on the wisdom that comes from leaving your career – and identity in my case – behind. The journey to discover who I was and instill the mindsets to create the person I wanted to be (#truthmoment – so incredibly challenging at times).
If you’re at that point in your career, 10-15 years in and wanting to make a change in your career (subtle or bold), below are 3 question to ask yourself and consider.
What is/are driving factor(s) behind your need for a change in your career?
This could be anything from needing more flexibility due to new family commitments, to boredom, an upcoming opportunity, burnout, or a situation at work where you didn’t feel equipped or prepared. Having clarity around what’s causing the need for the change helps to identify what action to take to incorporate something new. For instance, what conversations need to be had, with who, and what help or support is needed.
Is it a new perspective or piece of knowledge needed? Or a skill gap where you need to seek out additional training or mentoring? Are you needing a fresh approach or mindset to staying engaged?
Are your current role requirements no longer suitable, or meeting your personal priorities?
What results do you want to achieve from making the change?
Using traditional goal-setting processes (hello SMART goals), your desired results can be qualitative, quantitative, or a combination of both. It can be something easily measured, or a result that is summed up as a feeling.
Yes, feeling good and fulfilled are results that can’t always be quantified by traditional methods. But they are results that can be pursued. If you work best with visual metrics, you can create an emoji-based rating system to identify your current and desired feelings ( to ) to assess and reflect on your desired results.
From an adult learning perspective, results can also be identified as the attainment or development of knowledge, skill or awareness, such as:
- Applying a new approach to handing team conflict
- Acquiring a new tool for assessing performance
- Becoming more aware of negative thought patterns that are talking you out of that promotion
Between your driving factor and the desired results, a picture can start to form as to what resources you’ll need to leverage, or attain, in order to get moving forward.
What resources do you have?
Make a list of those you trust who you may need to turn to for advice, support, or to access a larger network to help you make the change you desire.
Knowing your network can make it easier and faster to access help, be pointed in the direction of the solution you are searching for to close the learning gap, knowledge or skill attainment, or feel like you are receiving the specific support you need. Additionally, it can help to define online search criteria.
For instance, examples of Google searches for career help include:
- Career resources in ___(city name, region, province)____
- Companies that train ___(type in job title)____________
- Professional development organizations for ___(type in industry or job title)___
On your list may be a mentor, training company you’ve accessed in the past, local schools or chambers of commerce. Depending on the size of change, or cost for re-training/up-skilling, your Financial Advisor, may be a key resource.
In conclusion …
Any time you’re making a commitment to change what you do, or how you do it, you are opening the door to discovering your potential, and transforming your career. And it doesn’t have to be a drastic change. Subtle changes made over time can create massive transformations.
Like those women I spoke to after my mid-career retirement, your reasons for changing up what you are doing, or how, or why, are personal to you. There’s no single best method for starting to put together a plan or process to take you from where you are to today, to where you want to be. Above all, if you are ready to start taking steps to owning your career journey, even baby ones at the start, and are not sure what mindsets and attitudes are needed of you as you start the process, you can learn more about that here.
Most importantly, one thing I’ve learned from that day 5+ years ago when I shared with the family I was no longer working, is that I should have aimed for higher than ok. It’s now part of the ‘why’ behind what I want for you – my wish for you as you begin owning your career journey is to be more than ok. You will be stronger. Brilliant. Fulfilled. Empowered.
You will be better than ever.
One conversation at a time.
photo credit: Canva.com