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by Rachel Collis

Ryan, many of the people we work with at The Career Psychologist are in exactly the situation you describe. They feel stuck in a job they hate. They have also often made a number of career decisions that have turned out badly and have lost trust in their capacity to make wise career decisions.

It is even harder when those career decisions impact on the people you love.

This conflict between your desire to support your family and your need for a fulfilling career is painful. It also means that you need to be very strategic in developing your plan for the next step in your career. So that the next move is more likely to be successful. There are lots of resources on this site to help you think about how to move forwards with care, and of course Rob’s last post was written from precisely this perspective. However, it is likely to take some time to come to a wise decision.

Whilst you are working out your best next step, you will probably have to continue to do something hard (a job you hate) because you love your family. It may be that you have to do this for a number of years. There is a practical risk in this. It would be easy to become irritable with your family and cranky and disinterested with colleagues at work. If this happens, you lose twice. Not only are you spending part of your life doing work you hate, you also aren’t being the person you want to be.

If your sacrifice isn’t to be wasted, then you need to do two things at the same time. Firstly, you need to develop a sound strategy for improving your work situation in the long term. Secondly, at the very same time, you need to make peace with your life as it is in this moment. So that you can then show up as the person you want to be with the people who matter to you.

Professor Kelly Wilson (one of the originators of ACT) wrote a post about the challenge of making peace with life as it is rather than as you want it to be, here is an excerpt:

‘We humans are always bumming out because we are not enough or because we do not have enough. We think enough is a thing and if we can just get that thing “enough” then we will finally be OK.

But notice how elusive “enough” is. Notice how many things we have chased in our lives thinking… “Once I get this! Then I will be OK”. But as soon as we get “this” it turns out that we need the next thing and the next thing…endlessly. Always in the midst of too much and not enough.

And if all that were not enough, we have a world full of people out there telling us what we ought to have. Things that promise to make us or to give us… enough!

Here is the good news.

Enough can be a verb. Human beings, through the amazing miracle of verbal behavior can achieve a state of perfect enoughness by declaration. They can “enough” the very moment they are inhabiting.

That moment, where you declare peace with the moment you are, in is a moment of freedom; of liberation, where you can choose.

No “have to” no “must”.

Albert Camus’s brilliant retelling of The Myth of Sisyphus is an example of how to declare peace with the moment you are in.

Sisyphus was punished by the gods for some slight. The gods gave him what they assumed would be the ultimate punishment. Sisyphus would be condemned to an eternity in which he would push a stone of such enormity up a mountain, requiring every ounce of his strength. But, upon reaching the top, the stone would roll again to the bottom, and, up he would go again.

But Sisyphus beats the gods. How? He claims his own fate. He decided that the rock is his to push. He says ‘Yes’ to the task. He embraces it.

“All Sisyphus’ silent joy is contained therein. His fate belongs to him.”

 “I leave Sisyphus at the foot of the mountain! One always finds one’s burden again. But Sisyphus teaches the higher fidelity that negates the gods and raises rocks. He too concludes that all is well. This universe, henceforth without a master, seems to him neither sterile nor futile. Each atom of that stone, each mineral flake of that night–filled mountain, in itself forms a world. The struggle itself toward the heights is enough to fill a man’s heart. One must imagine Sisyphus happy.”

Albert Camus

Ryan, I think this is the question you are confronting. Can you give energy to improving your work situation in the long term whilst also making peace with your life as it is in this moment? Can you decide, like Sisyphus, that this moment, as difficult as it is, is enough?

And, from that stance, can you also repeatedly try to show up as the best father, partner and work colleague that you can?

‘In this very moment, will you accept the sad and the sweet, hold lightly stories about what is possible, and be the author of a life that has meaning and purpose for you, turning in kindness back to that life when you find yourself moving away from it?’

Kelly Wilson

For more on Kelly Wilson’s work, take a look at this website:  http://onelifellc.com/

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Dear Ryan,

my heart ached for you when I read your email, and your question about competing values struck a chord for me personally.  Like all good questions, they provoke something in others, and I feel like you’ve helped me to reflect on values conflicts in my own life.

So here’s my own personal take on your questions – in two parts.  Don’t take this as advice per se – we’d need a more in-depth discussion for that.  These are only my personal reflections, but I hope you find some of it useful in turn.

My own experience of being trapped in a job I hated was that I got trapped inside my own head, like this:

Step 1 Video 5 How the Mind Discounts Alternative Careers - YouTube

Unlike me, you’ve already been brave enough to change roles a few times.

But I’m wondering whether these changes have ever been really strategic?  Have they been organised around the things you want, or around the stuff you don’t want?  Does your current role feel like you have defaulted to something, rather than chosen it?

If so, you must address this first.  You must choose, even if that means choosing to stay where you are for the sake of your family.

ACT is great, and very useful in career change, but it is especially great for problems that aren’t really problems to be solved.  This is largely a problem to solve.

So it felt to me like you have to somehow make a decision – and use ACT as part of this process (that’s part 2).

The Need for a Good Decision

You already know there’s no ‘right’ decision.  All of your options involve compromises.  But you can make a good decision.

A good decision can still go horribly wrong, but it will de-risk those chances considerably.

On a bad day a good decision feels like you took the least-worst option. On a good day, a good decision feels like you’ve permanently stacked the odds in your favour.

And without a decision, it is harder to be more mindful and focused on one’s current life.  You’ll always be wondering about the alternatives.  And then values are more likely to appear as though they depend on external forces, rather than our own choices.

So, how?  Funny you should ask, as in our experience there are…

5 Key Stages (of a Good Decision)

Some of these stages might take 5 minutes, some may take 5 months.  But each is critical to the process of getting unstuck.

Step 1 – Understand your Stuckness

Your mind will be impatient to press on with the process.  But try not to.

Slow down.

You may well be feeling exhausted – and so busy that it is hard to think.  It may take some time for the world to stop spinning.

See if you can find some time for reflection.  Take a long weekend. Try to get some distance (physical and mental) from your situation.  In your case you’ve been stuck a few times.  What experiences in your life may help explain this?

Step 2 – Identify your Decision Criteria

Should you quit and start your own gig?  Stay put for the sake of your family?  I don’t know.  You don’t know.  No one can know, because we haven’t specified what ‘good’ looks like for you.

Imagine you were buying a house.  You can’t visit every house in the world, so you need a set of criteria to help you narrow the list before you start visiting.

Step 2 Video 1 Why Define Decision Criteria? - YouTube

Your list of criteria will include lots of stuff, and some of it will conflict.  Somehow when we buy a house we see this as normal – it’s all a tradeoff.  Career choices are just the same.  Not all of your criteria will point conveniently in the same direction.  That’s normal, too.

But sometimes our minds want to punish us for our lack of consistency.

Step 3 – Identify your Options

Humans make decisions based on comparisons with other options.  So without fully understanding your options you cannot make a good decision.  For all you know your ideal job could be out there, but you’ve never heard of it.

Therefore, you need to dedicate at least some time to understanding what your options are.  This means a period of creative thinking, generating as many ideas as you can think of.

Of the options you know about, like starting your own business, bring them to life by specifying exactly what type of business and what your role in it would be.

Step 4 – Make a Decision

Now everything gets real.  You need to get out of your mind and make some real-life experiments.  But where to start?  Most people need to whittle down their options first.

One helpful way of doing that is to score all of your options against all of your criteria.  This isn’t perfect, but it’s definitely rigorous.

Once you’ve scored all your options, get rid of the options that score badly.  As you narrow your options you can spend more time researching the options that remain. Eventually, most people are left with one or two options to take forward, so they can…

Step 5 – Make a Plan and Get into Action

Now it’s all about getting out of your mind and into your life.  You can’t make a good decision in your mind, you’ll have to get out there and test it.

So you’ll need a smart plan to help you articulate your goal and then get moving:

As you know however, the plan is one thing but reality will look more like this:

So you will need a support team around you. And you will need a plan to manage your risks.  That’s a whole other post, but I suspect you’re already good at this bit.

Does it work?

This is a long post, so that’s the question I’d be asking by now.

I guess it depends on what you mean by ‘work’.

Does life get easier when you make a decision and get out of your mind and into your life?  Undoubtedly not.  It may even get harder.

But I think most people feel that life somehow gets more meaningful and satisfying.  So in my view, that’s a ‘yes’.

For me personally it is ‘yes’.

But in the end, you must decide.

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Rachel and I recently got a brilliant email from a reader who is stuck in his job and struggling to deal with what he calls competing values.

Ryan wrote:

“Supporting my family is a very strong value for me.  I managed to find a job that is secure and pays very well, but the problem is that I’m utterly miserable every single day I go to work.”

We’ve heard this kind of story so many times at The Career Psychologist.  So many people feel stuck in this way…Ryan is brave though, and has tried to solve the issues many times before:

“This is the third career move for me; each time I was hoping I would enjoy the next place more, but I hate every place I work with increasing dislike.

I understand providing for your family is more than just financial, but I hate the thought of uprooting them a fourth time and moving for potentially yet another job I dislike. My family is happy where we are (but I literally feel like I’m dying inside).”

“My family is happy…but I literally feel like I’m dying inside.”

Try not to gloss over those words too quickly.  How would it be to feel like that, yet at the same time feel that you had no choice but to suck it up?

Ryan goes on:

“My other values are adventure, exploration, innovation…I have taken on hobbies to satisfy these values, but there are only so many hours in the day… I keep staring at my job, and feeling like I need to make a change…I’m sure my wife is thinking “oh not again.”

Ryan’s dilemma becomes really acute when he starts to plan for change:

“I really want to throw caution to the wind, and start my own gig up. One would think that I’d be able to start actively planning and preparing for my own company….. but I know I will make less money and it will be a bigger time commitment, which goes against the value of being there for my family. Thus I resign myself to not trying.”

Finally, Ryan asks, how does ACT help deal with these situations where values seem to conflict and actually contribute to stuckness?

“I love ACT, and believe in it strongly. …but value conflicts are something worth exploring if you haven’t already.  I just can’t seem to get beyond this problem.”

So this was such a powerful and essential question, I wanted to get others’ perspective on this.

What should Ryan do?  How can ACT help Ryan deal with these values conflicts?

If you have any thoughts please comment below the line and in about a week’s time I will also offer my own thoughts.

Let’s see if 2018 can be a happier new year for Ryan – and what must be millions like him.

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By Dr Fiona Day

At The Career Psychologist we know that nearly all of our clients have feelings of anxiety around their careers, and also that fear of change can keep many of us trapped in unfulfilling jobs.  It is classic career paralysis.

Here’s an evidence-based 5 step plan to help manage your career anxiety with the aim of helping you to start getting unstuck:

  1. Recognise what is happening. Start by paying attention to your thoughts, feelings and bodily sensations. They might be a big soup of difficult experiences, but little by little we can learn to separate them out from each other.  Start to put labels to your experience, such as noticing that there is a feeling of anxiety present at this moment. Naming it also helps to see it for what it is, and to put some distance between you and the thought, feeling or sensation, such as ‘I am aware that there is a feeling of anxiety present at this moment’. This helps us to step back from the difficult emotions and create some space around the intense feelings so that we don’t get so caught up in them.
  2. Pay attention to how often the anxious thoughts, feelings and sensations are present. All emotions serve a purpose and can give us valuable insights into our situation. If the difficult emotions are there a lot of the time and interfering with our ability to sleep, work or live our normal lives, it can be a sign that you need to seek professional help from a Cognitive Behaviour Therapist, community mental health service (search the internet for ‘IAPT’ plus your town if you are in the UK), or a General Practitioner. If your symptoms are not too severe then there is a lot of self-help that you can do to help to manage your symptoms outlined below.
  3. Visualise your thoughts as leaves on a stream. We’ve created a short mindfulness practice for you to listen to in a quiet moment where you can learn to mentally place your thoughts on leaves and watch them flow downstream. This is a skill that can bring some space to the intense feelings and help you to refocus on taking wise action.
  4. Call to mind all the resources which can help you. What resources do you have inside yourself, in other people, and in the world that can help you at this time? Our mindfulness practice includes a visualisation exercise on the resources you have to support you during your career change.
  5. Take wise action. What can you do right now that would be helpful and kind to yourself? When you are feeling a lot of anxiety symptoms, it’s important to slow things down and to focus on doing one thing at a time with your full attention. Paying attention to a conversation with another person, relaxing and really enjoying a bath or a shower, doing gentle stretching such as yoga, listening to a piece of music, looking at a nature scene or being outdoors can all help.

If you notice your mind slipping into thoughts about the past or future then kindly but firmly bring your attention to what you want to focus on, and do this repeatedly. When your mind is feeling less scattered, ask yourself what small step can you take today towards improving your working life? Do it, and get a sense of agency as you little by little move forwards in your career.

If you want to know more about The Career Psychologist and how we help people to get unstuck, contact us today. We’d love to hear from you.

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So, what now?  

Florencio Avalos had just escaped  from a dark, sweltering hole in which he must have assumed he would die.  But now he had a chance for life, and  his response was salutary:

“I’ve been buried for 40 years of my life.  The truth is I’m going to be living more, along with my wife and daughters”. 

Death sheds light on what’s important about life.  Just as sorrow deepens our capacity for joy, we need death to remind us to live.

When I tried to imagine what I would want to do in this situation I realised I would worry less about happiness or stress or image, and more about life.  More work, better work, more attention to friends, more present with clients, try more, fail more, live more.  Less TV.

Less social media.

Yet in the humdrum of daily routine it’s easy to wander through our days largely on autopilot.  We don’t notice the autumn trees.  How we disconnect from others over time.  How our jobs, roles, identities can steal time from us.

“Welcome to life.”  

Those were the words uttered to each miner by the Chilean President Sebastián Piñera, as they arrived at the top of the mine shaft in the narrow and battered pod that hauled them.

Well, welcome to life.  What now?

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You may have seen the video of US Senator Maxine Waters, staunchly and assertively repeating ‘reclaiming my time’.

In US senate committees, each senator has a certain amount of time to ask questions. If the person they are interrogating, wastes that time, perhaps by talking about something irrelevant, then the senator can reclaim the time, which is what Senator Waters did.

I'm reclaiming MY time says Maxine Waters to Steve Mnuchin - YouTube

The video went viral and sparked hundreds of tweets. Whilst some of the tweets celebrated Senator Waters refusal to tolerate deliberate time wasting, many of them considered the moments where we all wish we could reclaim wasted time. You can see some of the best here.

Reclaiming Wasted Time at Work

Although these tweets are funny, they highlight something important.

Life is short and sometimes your precious time is pointlessly squandered.

Take a moment to consider: what wasted time do you wish you could reclaim?
Which moments from your work day, do you wish you could say, ‘reclaiming my time!’

How about some of these?

  • Badly run meetings
  • Training sessions that are poorly run or irrelevant
  • Developing detailed plans and proposals for projects that never get off the ground
  • Political manoeuvring
  • Destructive conflict
  • Gathering data that no one looks at
  • Chasing up on colleagues who don’t meet deadlines
  • Checking the work of colleagues who repeatedly make mistakes
  • Listening to colleagues droning on about their pet topics or telling their war stories
  • Having the same conversation over and over without making any progress
  • Overly complex bureaucratic processes
  • Team conversations where no one is really engaged, everyone is just going through the motions
  • Being ‘consulted’ when really the decision has already been made
  • Working long hours, being preoccupied by work at home, missing key family events and then being made redundant.

I suspect some of these examples will resonate with you… and you will likely have some examples of your own.

What Can We Do About It?

It is painful to notice the many times in a working week where you feel that your precious time hasn’t been used well. Sadly, we don’t have Senator Waters ability to reclaim this wasted time. But there are some things you can do about this lost time.

Firstly, you can use these experiences to get clear on what you are looking for in your next job. Noticing these moments can help you to get very specific on what you do and don’t want. As these moments arise, jot them down. They will give you some rich fodder for reflection on the specifics of what matters to you at work. See if you can convert them into some positive decision criteria for what you are looking for in your future career. For example, you know you don’t want, ‘team meetings where everyone is just going through the motions’ and after some reflection you convert that into something you do want: ‘rich, collaborative working relationships’.

Secondly, it may be possible for you to try some subtle job crafting to see if you can decrease the amount of wasted time. Job crafting is the process of changing the tasks, relationships or boundaries of a job, so work becomes more meaningful.

Perhaps there is a meeting that seems particularly pointless or a process that is time consuming and inefficient. Could you work to influence key decision makers to improve the meeting process? Or suggest ways to use technology to improve the unproductive process?

Job crafting can be a helpful approach when it isn’t the right time to leave your current job (perhaps because you are taking some time to work out your next move). Job crafting can also be important when you move jobs. No job will suit you perfectly – so learning how to craft something satisfying from what is available can make a huge difference. You can read more about job crafting here. If you get good at it, you might have fewer moments when you wish you could say, ‘reclaiming my time’.

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Took my little daughter to the athletics, and we watched the mighty Usain Bolt in the 4 x 100m heats (though my daughter was far more interested in Hero the Hedgehog).  We then cheered the British team on to qualify, before – incredibly – they snatched gold in the final this evening, winning by 0.05 seconds.

That’s half a second over 400 metres, shared between 4 people.  With such tiny margins I always think of this speech by Al Pacino in Any Given Sunday, which one of our brilliant clients first put me onto.

I guarantee this is worth 4 mins and 40 seconds of your time:

.

Al Pacino's Inspirational Speech - YouTube

When I first watched this, it captured my experience of being stuck in a job I hated.

Sure, being a consultant was safe and comfortable, but it was killing me.  At times it really did feel like hell.

If I had stayed where I was I would have crumbled.  I would have died.  But at the same time, I was petrified of the alternatives.

Many of our clients feel the same, stuck between an unwanted present and an uncertain future. Stuck between fear of death and fear of life.

If you recognise this then, just like Pacino’s team, you have a choice.

You can stay where you are and get the shit kicked out of you or you can fight your way out, one inch at a time.  This is painful and scary – I didn’t have the guts to change for 5 years.

If you choose to change career it will be painful.  You will need to fight for every inch.  But watch the clip again; what’s the alternative?

Could you be willing to fight for that next inch?  And the next?  Because that’s the difference between living and dying.

If you’re in career paralysis right now, the inches you need are all around you.

Now.  What are you going to do?

The Career Psychologist specialises in helping people who are stuck in careers they dislike yet who feel uncertain of the alternatives – career paralysis.  If this is you, and you want to fight for some inches, get in touch.

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by Dr Fiona Day

 Suzanne was working for an NHS (UK National Health Service) organisation which was being dissolved following a reorganisation. As a qualified physiotherapist she really struggled with the idea of being transferred away from the NHS and into an arms-length body, and she couldn’t see a way forwards for herself. She identified very strongly with the label ‘NHS staff’ – this was, she felt, at the very core of her professional identify.

With no easy way for her to remain employed within the NHS, Suzanne was rapidly becoming stuck. The label ‘NHS staff’, which had given her so much drive and determination for the last 20 years, was now becoming a barrier to her ability to move forwards in the face of the reorganisation.

What can we learn from Suzanne’s difficult experience? We all use labels about ourselves as a form of sense making in the world, these are like mental short cuts which may represent a much larger pattern of behaviours, roles, standards and values, as well as job titles.

Sometimes labels are really helpful, for example ‘I want to drive more carefully now that I am a parent’; ‘my partner is ill and I want to be a good partner and support them to get better’; ‘as a professional teacher, I make sure that I attend my annual update training to keep my skills up’.

But what happens when labels start to limit us in our thinking and limit our choices? This is particularly true when we are considering a change in career direction, so it is important to be aware of how the labels we habitually use to make sense of our world and our working lives can help or hinder us.

Try these 5 steps

You might like to take a moment to ask yourself whether your labels are still serving you well, by following these steps:

  1. Notice the labels you use about yourself – spend ten minutes writing down all the roles you identify with, and all the labels that you use, perhaps specifically focusing on those in a work related context.
  2. Be kind to yourself –it might feel a bit overwhelming to see them all written down, so take a moment to acknowledge that you are doing your best with all these different roles and labels, and that it is normal to find it difficult to balance them all.
  3. Go through each label one by one – asking yourself, ‘does this label still serve me?’. If it is helpful to continue to hold on to that label, perhaps because it is really important to help you to move your career in the direction you want it to go, then do hold on to it and use it as part of your compass of what you want your life and career to stand for.
  4. If you find that holding tightly onto that label is actually taking you away from what matters most to you, then be open to the suggestion that it may no longer be serving you well. It may be really scary to even begin to think of letting go of it even a little, so notice any thoughts or feelings of discomfort which arise at the thought of holding this label a little looser, and be willing to imagine that in the future this label may no longer be as important to you as it is at the moment.
  5. Check in with these labels over the years, and make sure they are still bringing you closer to greater meaning, purpose and satisfaction in your working life.

Suzanne learned through coaching that the label she called ‘NHS staff’ was actually a mental short cut that she used to mean ‘making a difference and helping people in need’. With this greater insight and flexibility, she was able to make the right decision for herself in her difficult situation, and is now flourishing in her new career.

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by Ross McIntosh

Rob’s post about the importance of energy management in career transition resonated with me because since I started my career change process over four years ago I’ve come to recognise the importance of recovery in my own life.

So in this post I wanted to look at what the research says about psychological recovery, particularly through demanding career transitions.

Professor Sabine Sonnentag has led much of the research into recovery processes and found that recovery is particularly important if our existing work or career change process is draining our energy and positive mood.  Without recovery, transition slows.  Indeed, without adequate recovery, the initial load of the stresses and strains of career change (such as fatigue and low mood) can develop into chronic health conditions.

So what makes a good recovery activity?

Sonnentag’s research presents four important ingredients of recovery experiences, which are set out below.  The most important recovery activities for me have been cycling and cartooning, though not at the same time.

Both activities meet all 4 criteria and I feel like they really deliver for me in terms of fun, creativity and fitness.  They’ve added huge amounts of energy, perspective and creativity to my career change.

The Four Key Ingredients to Psychological Recovery
  1. Control.  The first ingredient is a sense of control over leisure time. Therefore, scheduling leisure activities in your calendar not only makes the activity more likely to happen but it also provides a greater sense of purpose and control over your life generally.
  2. Mastery.  Mastery activities are those which allow us to learn, progress and develop, and these are strongly associated with psychological recovery. Whether you decide to learn a musical instrument, get on your bike or learn to dance the Charleston, anything that allows you to develop mastery over time will aid recovery. I’ve been able to track my cycling progress using the Strava App and it’s been rewarding to watch my performance and fitness improve.
  3. Relaxation. Transitions are psychologically demanding – so recognising the need for relaxation and self-compassion is key.  Sonnentag’s research unsurprisingly indicates that physical pursuits can be one of the most effective leisure time activities, but taking a walk in the countryside (Hartig et al, 2003), meditation (Grossman et al, 2004), listening to music (Pelletier, 2004) or even a long hot bath (Bourne, 2000) also have a positive impact.
  4. Psychological detachment. The temptation is to fill every spare available minute outside of work working on your career change.  However this leaves people exhausted and short of inspiration.  Sonnentag’s research emphasises the importance of psychological detachment, and in particular refraining from using the same functional systems as those required at work. So, if you spend much of the day sitting in front of a computer, you’ll need to shut your laptop and put your phone on silent every now and again to allow your mind to recharge
How are you doing on these 4 elements?

We’d love to hear below the line…

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By Mick Darby

A friend told me an inspiring story this week. As a child, his son had been accepted into the academy system of an English Premiership football team. However, things didn’t go as expected.

His son didn’t develop like the other kids; he remained physically small while his peers progressed within the academy and his confidence dropped, which affected the way he played. He left and moved from club to club, feeling further and further from his goal of becoming a professional footballer.

There came a point when my friend and his wife quietly took their son’s coach to one side to discuss if he should ‘hang up his boots’. The coach listened sympathetically and  replied “I wouldn’t write him off. He might be a late bloomer.”

They walked away from that conversation with a realisation that as a parent they can’t do very much to change their son’s past struggles or his rate of physical development, but they can give him the emotional support he needs to grow from difficult experiences, rather than continue suffering from them.

Moving past ‘Career Paralysis’

As a coach I meet people who are suffering – rather than growing – as they consider their next career move. They come for coaching because they feel stuck and unsure of their next move. If you find yourself in this position, you’re possibly experiencing a period of career paralysis.

Many people at mid- or late-career feel an urge to embark on a new direction but are held back by thoughts like “I’m too old and tired to change”, “I don’t have the transferrable skills”, or “I’m not brave enough”.

In short, they keep writing themselves off.

Why “sorting my thinking out” doesn’t work

 Often when we feel psychologically stuck, our immediate response is to try to “change my thinking”. We might read books or try some motivational, confidence-building courses to remove the anxiety  that inevitably arises when we feel stuck.

But have you noticed that “change my thinking” tends to make your issues bigger rather than smaller?

You are not alone.

Don’t write yourself off: You might be a late bloomer

If you’ve felt stuck for too long, you might find it useful to reflect upon the idea that you have a highly-evolved and efficient human mind, which has been working overtime to protect you from a threat that may not even be out there.

Adopting a more compassionate understanding about how and why you feel stuck can be more helpful.

Try to engage openly (and kindly) with the thoughts and fears that have held you back, rather than changing them. Once you understand your ‘stuckness’ you should find it easier to support yourself psychologically as you make the career choices that matter to you.

Through coaching, you can discover how to grow, rather than suffer, from your fears.

So, what about my friend’s son?

Today, my friend’s son is in his twenties. He was spotted by a talent scout and is now planning his move to the USA this summer on a highly sought-after soccer scholarship with a leading American college. He will train under and be nurtured by some of the country’s finest coaches at an age that many people would have written him off.

More importantly, my friend tells me his son has grown to be kind to himself, regardless of whether he makes it as a professional footballer . In my opinion, this kind of change is something all of us can achieve; regardless of our age, career history, or even if we have been held back by thoughts such as “I’m too old and tired to change”.

 When will you decide to bloom?

Perhaps, instead of writing yourself off, you could try asking yourself this question “When will I be ready to bloom?” and if the response is “Today!”, why not take the first step.

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