Aberdeenshire work-life coach, Eyes Wide Opened workshop facilitator and ex-solicitor Leonie Gordon tells Jobs in Scotland how to overcome common stumbling blocks when you’re carving out a new working life, ahead of her intensive Get Unstuck weekend course in Aberdeen on February 10 and 11.
Why disruptive thinking is key to tackling career change
Are you facing big change in your working life? Maybe it’s been forced on you through redundancy or you need a career rethink for other reasons. So what’s the key to working out what on earth to do next?
It’s tempting to start by asking: ‘What job or career do I want?’ But I’d suggest turning your thinking on its head. Who are you, what makes you tick, what’s your unique story, what gives you a sense of purpose? How can you translate your work journey, your strengths, characteristics, skills and experiences into a package that no employer could ignore?
What I’m talking about is sharper, keener self-awareness. When you’re working out how to spend the next 25 plus years of your working life, a bit of quality introspection is never a waste of time, especially with some guidance. I have coached many ‘stuck’ career-shifters aged 30 to 60 after navigating four career changes of my own over 30 years. I now run my own counselling business, A Curious Life, and work with career-shift experts Eyes Wide Opened (EWO). Group-based and interactive, the intensive weekend course I will be doing with EWO (www.ewopened.com) can help disrupt your thinking about how you work, and help create a path to a more fulfilling working life.
Work is changing, but so are you.
The reasons we took a particular path in our 20s are different to our career motivations later on. I’ve met many people who’ve realised at 35 that the job or industry they’ve been in for 10 to 15 years was simply not allowing them to be themselves. “It just wasn’t me,” they say. “I was just meeting other people’s expectations.” Their choices paid the bills, but didn’t satisfy their curiosity or fulfil them. Don’t we owe ourselves more than that?
It’s tempting to find a quick fix to keep the wolf from the door. But before leaping into a too-similar role, or taking the first half-decent job you see, ask yourself some deeper questions about what you have (and want) to contribute.
What you’re ‘selling’ an employer or potential business partner is more than the accumulation of skills, status or project-related achievements. Your unique approach to life, to solving problems and to handling other people gives you a perspective no one else has. Your entire story to date is your USP. Do you tell it well? Translating that story requires help from friends and even professional experts, in order to escape the ‘I know myself already’ trap. What roles might you need these people for: fresh ideas, tough love, small details?
Why is change so uncomfortable?
Fear of ‘failure’ (it’s subjective), financial responsibilities, fear of not meeting family expectations, fear of having to downsize, fear of the risk involved in chasing a new dream, fear of ‘getting it wrong’ – these fears stifle you, they hold you down. You stay stagnant. They don’t let you grow. I see regularly how trapped people make themselves feel. But they aren’t trapped, they just think they are. Adapting to a new culture or redefining our abilities is daunting – but proper self-reflection can open up opportunities you didn’t know were possible. This takes energy, curiosity and a willingness to expand your view of yourself. You need to see yourself differently or at least more fully.
The first step to overcoming feeling ‘stuck’ is to realise you have most of the answers to achieving a meaningful working life, but you need to know how to access them. Just because you’ve always worked in oil, or always worked outdoors, or always worked in an office or always managed large projects and teams of people, it doesn’t mean that’s your only option now.
Disrupt your own thinking. A fixed mindset holds you back. When we’re ‘stuck’ we struggle to see life through any other lens. We follow the same routines and somehow expect different results.
If you just need a chat about how to start getting unstuck from a career rut, or if you know you’ve got a work-life upheaval on the way and need some clarity on how to navigate it, feel free to get in touch with me on firstname.lastname@example.org or 07989 970593. Talking it through always brings a different perspective, and in the last year alone, it’s been fulfilling to hear people we’ve helped say: “You gave me an invaluable opportunity to work out how I worked” and “You showed me that career planning should be more about the why than the what”. So, ask some new questions about who you are and the working life you want. What are you known for? What could you be known for? Be honest, and good luck.