Author: Ken Allen
It’s been harder than I thought. At times I wanted to crawl into a hole and give up. I still have days like that. I don’t know what lies ahead but I am proud of myself. For me, it takes more courage to be myself and live life on my own terms than any other act.
Many days I am still not sure what I am searching for and other times I feel I have great clarity. I have learned to be kinder to myself. A wise man once told me self-esteem is ‘empathy turned inward’. I am giving myself more empathy and allowing forgiveness.
Most people love the thought of being a rock star. But they don’t love the idea of playing guitar for four hours per day to get there. Multi-millionaire? Yes! But bootstrapping and risking everything for six years, learning how to run a business? Not so much. Being a best selling author? Wow! Cultivating a daily writing practice? That doesn’t appeal.
And that’s why more people aren’t rock stars. That’s why not everyone is a spiritual leader.
It’s one thing to want the outcome – it’s quite another to want the process. And with career change, you’re also usually grappling with the challenge of not really knowing what you want your outcome to be.
You want to be in a career or business you love. But you don’t really know what that career would be, and the process of getting there (wherever ‘there’ is) looks unpleasant at times. How can you take action on your career change when you don’t know for sure what you want? How can you get started when you don’t know which direction to head in?
Start by doing things you enjoy. Start hanging out with people that excite and inspire you. Immerse yourself in all the things that peak your interest – and if you’re already doing them, look for ways to ramp those things up to a new level. These small, individual, seemingly unrelated actions will become your process. One action will spark an idea for another action. You’ll go to a seminar or mastermind and meet someone with a great piece of advice. You’ll try something else and realize it’s the polar opposite of what you thought it was, and sigh with relief that you’ll never fall into the trap of doing that again. You will need a shift in perspective – from chasing an outcome to immersing yourself in a process.
It’s not about making a giant leap from one thing to another. It’s an unfolding, a revealing, a chipping away, an opening up. It’s about relaxing into rhythms that nourish and inspire you, and trusting – yes, there’s a lot of blind faith in here too – that those rhythms will carry you to your inevitable destination.
In the simplest terms, without diving into the finances and the who-will-employ-me, should I start my own business or looking at the job listings on LinkedIn of it all, what would you love to wake up and do every day? Start doing it, every day, even if only in the smallest possible way.
Challenge yourself not to think about the end-point of your career change for an entire week. Instead, just focus on enjoying the process of figuring it out. This is your chance to poke into lots of different things that interest you; research topics that fascinate you; reach out and connect with people that inspire you. What if there was no ‘end point’ to your shift at all? How would you approach your career change if it were a never-ending process?
Make a list of all the industries, careers and ideas you have for your future work. Then for each one, find someone who does something connected with it. Invite them for coffee, request a 15-minute phone call, drop them e-mail. Find out about their ‘process’. What do they do all day? What’s the daily reality of their work? What’s great about it? What’s not so great? Get your head out of goal-mode and get with the process.
Life owes you nothing. It will not rearrange itself for you. It will not adjust your circumstances at any point soon, suddenly making your career change path clear and open. It’s messy. You must demand what you want from it. A career change is, by its very nature, a significant disturbance. It’s a rearranging, a realigning, and a major adjustment.
And when your life is chugging along in an organized manner, ticking smoothly along its rails, and you decide to change tracks… You’re summoning a derailment. And derailment requires upheaval. It’s uncomfortable, to begin with. That’s why there seem to be so many reasons why you can’t make a shift.
Making a shift might require going to a lecture, to a class, to a networking event, and that might require changing your schedule. It might require making requests of people that you wouldn’t normally make. It might require spending money on a coach or a course. It might require difficult conversations with your family. It might require putting yourself out there to the world in a way you’ve never done before. It might require vulnerability, or an extra level of strength. Those are all excellent reasons to stay right where you are, doing what you’re doing, behaving how you’ve always behaved. It would be very reasonable to decide to simply stay on the tracks.
Ask yourself what is worse, the pain of moving forward or the pain of staying the same? The answer to that question will tell you what you want.
Celebrate the fact that you’re growing and developing as a human being and have stepped outside a Groundhog-day existence. Experience what it means to shift and transform. Would you rather live 70 years or one year seventy times?
But if you’re hearing a call for something more, reasonable isn’t going to help you answer it. Reasonable settles. Reasonable gives in. If you’re committed to making this year the year you finally start feeling motivated, inspired, and fulfilled by what you’re doing, it’s time to get a little unreasonable. Yes, you might have to change your schedule. Yes, you might have to spend some money. Yes, you might have to get some new friends, have tricky conversations with your family, and push the boundaries of your comfort zone. And in the context of living a life you love, that’s probably not too much to ask.
Be honest with yourself. Love yourself. Love and forgive others. Be true to yourself.
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