It can be a challenging time to realize your dream career no longer fits who you’ve become as an adult.
We wrap up so much of our identities in our work and to even fathom changing that is incredibly hard.
Admitting things are not working is hard but staying in something miserable is even harder.
When I was a middle school girl, I dreamed of a lot of things for myself. The big mansion. The nice cars. And the perfect job and family.
As I moved into high school, I had fleeting moments of wanting to be a fashion designer — but I couldn’t draw.
And, then was that moment I wanted to become a marine biologist — but I was scared to dive into deep waters.
There was yet another moment I wanted to become a magazine writer or editor — which was ultimately dream that started me down my actual career path that led me here to this moment.
However, my ultimate traditional dream career never really happened.
I am OK with that because all along I was following my life’s vision anyway.
My career path has not been linear or perfect. It’s been messy. It had long stretches of being unclear and unfocused. I followed one breadcrumb after another until things just took shape in a way I could have never imagined.
The truth is that I never really had the drive to stick through things that didn’t feel good for me.
And with that, my life vision just sort of took over and became my guide — and now I help women do the same.
The Set Up for Disappointment Begins during Childhood
As children, we were told we could be anything. An amazing life was offered to us — if we could just dream it up.
And dream we did.
But, like anything magical, some of those dreams got lost in the journey of adulthood or put aside for more urgent pursuits.
Some of those dreams were a good fit for our personalities — but others were idealistic and dreamy — and still live deep inside of us. These are often dreams like being a writer or an artist or some other creative pursuit that seemed less like a career and more like a hobby.
Others, were nonsensical like my love for beading necklaces that always broke and climbing trees and wanting to move to Australia.
The mistake most young people make is deciding who they want to be for the rest of their lives when they hardly know yet who they are becoming in this world at all.
This is what is unfolding right now for my own daughters who are 15. They are being forced to make too-soon decisions for a future they cannot possibly even imagine let alone plan for, but they are desperate to choose a path and so they agonize over their own possibilities.
And I want them to wait. Pause. Hold off as long as possible.
They don’t want to listen.
For my own career, I knew I wanted to be a writer. I had been writing and storytelling since a very young age. But the real domino effect didn’t begin until after college when I needed my name in print as a writer before I could get hired for a magazine — which led to a job at the small town newspaper where I grew up.
I was hired on the spot, surprisingly, and I walked into the newsroom on my first day thinking … I’m finally a writer!
But really they had me writing obituaries to start. Every day, I covered the obit desk. Every day I wrote notices about who passed in the last day or two. Every day for months, I felt demoralized but powered through hoping they would see my talents and skills as a writer.
It was the imperfect start to an imperfect career.
I eventually moved away from the obit desk and into real reporting and writing. I spent a decade as a journalist and loved every minute telling people’s stories and shedding light on injustices in the world.
Until I didn’t.
The result is so many of us end up in careers that no longer fit us as we grow up and mature and really figure out who we really are — but by then it’s harder to make a change.
We have to choose a job or career to focus on. There’s no way around it. Some may never outgrow their career.
But, I did. Well, I burned out on it and then it changed to something hardly recognizable in an industry I definitely had a passion for earlier on in my life.
When your career no longer fits you it’s time to make a change. But that change has to be in alignment with the other parts of your life.
That list of shoulds looks a lot like this:
- Family — kids or pets
This is how the traditional life works. We wake up, we do the next best thing and we aim toward the Good Life that is a set of images we’ve collected in our minds from other people, magazines, social media, books, television and movies.
Suddenly, after following everyone and imitating what you want to be and see in your own life you realize that you actually never did arrive at that pivotal moment of Yes, this is it.
You simply wake up and realize you didn’t end up where you thought and while you love your life and maybe what you do for a living, something is missing and time is slipping.
But now you sense something is missing in your life, like you aren’t living into your true purpose or passion and you wonder what you did wrong.
You actually didn’t do anything wrong.
Sometimes the traditional career path just doesn’t work for us, especially if we are changemakers and creatives.
When Life Circumstances Pull You Away from Your Life’s Calling
We blame ourselves for doing what we have to do to get through and survive but that’s not fair to us. The truth is there can be a lot of reasons why our traditional career or business is not fulfilling to us anymore.
The first and foremost is doing what our parents said was best.
Many of my clients tell me that they really wanted to be musicians, artists or writers but that wasn’t an acceptable job to their parents and so they went for the doctorate, the engineering or teaching degree instead. This was the safe, practical choice that is wrapped up in shoulds and almost always leads to an unsatisfying life and career.
And then there is just plain old timing. The first job offer you feel desperate to take. The job closest to your home. The job that is easy and effortless. The job that just lands in your lap without effort.
Either way, most of my clients get to a point where they realize that their current job or longtime career no longer fits them.
Making a change is hard. And it’s easy to think that there will be a better time. Such as when you wrap up a big project. Or lose a few pounds. Or finally have a little extra money in the bank.
Waiting for the perfect timing is a weight that keeps us in place — sometimes forever.
When we put these kind of conditions on ourselves, we put off our dreams for a time that may not actually ever exist. Who is to say that you’ll finally get that savings where you want it — especially when the dishwasher breaks or the vet bill is ridiculously high.
Relying on perfection isn’t a great way to decide to make a change. The only way to make a change is to do so when you’re ready to take yourself and your dreams more seriously.
Staying safe is all about staying where things are easy and that is what we will gravitate to if we don’t have enough self-trust and self-confidence.
But that’s not where we lead bravely.
That is not where passion lives.
There is no greater feeling than pushing ourselves into a place where inner courage and resilience is necessary and then doing it and thriving on the other side.
Sometimes it’s just the leap that we need to take to feel that.
Sometimes, though, the outcomes turn out way more beautiful than you can ever imagine.
What do you do when you’ve lost the love for your career and it no longer fits you?
If you hate what you do for a living or just simply hate your employer or boss, there’s several options to work with.
- Suck it up and stick with it for the money.
- Be brave and make a dramatic change.
- Find a way to do a little bit of both – which can become exhausting.
- Go back to school.
- Start a business.
- Create a more fulfilling life in other ways.
The truth is that the option you need to choose really depends on you. And I mean the authentic you.
No matter what, if your career no longer fits you the first step is always first finding out who you are — who you have become — and tune into who you are becoming in this Second Act part of life.
You are the heroine of your own story but if you don’t know enough about yourself you may end up in a new career you like even less.
There is no such thing, by the way, as a life purpose.
There is, however, your life’s vision and purpose for right now — for the woman you are right now and the one you are becoming.
When you realize that something needs to change that simply means you are in the midst of a career awakening.
6 Signs Your Career No Longer Fits You and You are Ready to Make a Change
And the next thing you know you are in your 30s or 40s waking up from endless days and weeks and years of of figuring it all out and shaping a perfect life and you look around and you are tired, exhausted and need and want a change but don’t know how.
For many Generation X women, like me, it’s not just boredom.
It’s stress and burnout, too. The long hours. The sleepless nights. The worries and anxieties because the work life has not been easy or meaningful for us. The sandwich generation.
But it’s also an awakening.
For some it’s a midlife awakening.
But for many it’s simply a career awakening.
For me, my first career awakening began in my late 20s when I decided to leave journalism for a more meaningful and life-fulfilling career. But even since then, I’ve reinvented myself a few times in order to live my values.
It is during this moment that you may experience a career awakening and realize you need a change.
In my work with women, here are the 6 signs you are ready for a career change.
- You suddenly feel trapped or stuck in a business or career that no longer fits your values.
- You long to work in a space that is in alignment with your own life’s passions and beliefs.
- You are ready to say YES to yourself but you’re not sure what that is — but something is definitely missing right now.
- You are dreaming about a lot of other options — even things that seem strange or out of character — because all of your life you’ve been overlooked and hiding.
- You feel overwhelmed by the idea of making a change but you long for it and daydream about it all day.
- You feel ready to step into your power as you are tired of playing small and being underappreciated.
And, more importantly, how when you feel trapped or stuck in your perfect, ideal life that isn’t really serving your whole self as well as you would like?
How do you figure it out? How do you figure out what’s next?
And how to you take the hard road to making it happen when you have a life that is very much settled? A life with kids and a dog that needs let out at 6 a.m. and dinners that need made and deadlines to meet?
How do you get unstuck? How do you move forward?
I like to tell my clients that my job is to help you dig out from the rubble of your life.
And it’s true. Our first few decades are all about trying things on and figuring things out and then we start to re-energize ourselves toward our life vision. And with that comes a lot of unlearning and unbecoming.
If you are interested in making a change but aren’t sure how to begin, it all starts with awareness that you matter, that you are worthy of feeling happier. If you feel stuck or trapped and aren’t sure which direction to go in, it’s time to focus on listening and understanding that your desires are worth paying attention to.
My mission as a coach is to help each of my clients find their “just right” life, business or career based on who they are now and who they want to be. This state of wholeness is based in both authenticity as well as resilience.
Because being YOU without apology is going to have some fall back.
If you are ready for change, here are Four Key Elements to Making a Change
- Listen to your career or midlife awakenings — My first awakening happened at age 28. Then 39. Then 46 when I was suddenly a mom of teenagers, a longtime coach for young moms who wanted to be more peaceful and realizing that I had so much more to offer the world in how I serve women. I was ready for a change. But what?
- Unearth your self-worth — In my last awakening phase, when I was already coaching women, I designed my own powerful unearthing you coaching process where I was able to rediscover my inner fire and self-worth and started to really see what value I offer to this world. I found my confidence and it was powerful. I now use this method with my private coaching clients and it is powerful.
- Say yes to you. It’s so easy for women — especially mothers — to put off dreaming big until the right time. That is often when all the kids are in school or when they are out of the house. But the truth is that saying yes to ourselves should happen as soon as we have the longing as that’s when the passion is greatest and worth chasing after — even when it’s inconvenient.
- Choose courage over comfort. It’s so easy to choose comfort over courage. In fact, our society promotes comfort and ease so much that many women can’t do discomfort, which is a vital resilience tool to use when making a life change. I spend a lot of time working with my clients on how to cope and thrive through the messy middle of change.
I never imagined that my own life and career would have been like walking a spiral rather than a nice tidy path. However, the spiral led me home to myself and now I can’t imagine doing anything else than coaching women to embrace their authentic selves and show up in the world more boldly.
I thought I would keep doing everything the same forever. I was spinning my wheels trying to find the energy and passion for something that I had felt restricted by since it only represented one of my parts.
But one of the most liberating shifts a woman can make is to realize that you have so much power over how you want to live your life.
You simply need to lean into the discomfort of change and uncertainty and allow yourself to flow toward flourishing.
Permission to Dream Bigger for Your Second Act
It’s easy to get to a point in our lives and think sure everything is good, everything is great.
I should be grateful.
I should be content.
I should not want more.
And then there’s that voice — who do you think you are to want more? To think you are capable of something bigger?
And some let that voice take over and stay in their comfort zone.
And others keep pushing that voice away and listening to their intuition.
One of my favorite aspects of helping women unearth their authentic selves is how new possibilities show up that my clients weren’t expecting.
Often they enter our coaching relationship with an idea but the idea is based on a should that they picked up somewhere from watching others. Social media has a lot of sway these days on pushing women into certain directions.
But when you unearth YOUR core self — the real you, the brilliant you — you start to see that you have so much to offer this world and so much you can bring to show up more boldly as a leader.
And the next thing you know you are dreaming bigger for yourself.
You don’t have to Burn it All Down, though
More often than not, when a woman comes to me for coaching, she’s ready for a life change and she is absolutely terrified.
And, yes, sometimes that change is necessary and the direction she ends up going in.
But sometimes a really big change is not the answer. Sometimes we need to make more subtle life changes to find greater fulfillment and joy.
We can live a beautiful, happy life even in a career that is lackluster.
That’s where my Brave Yes Coaching comes in.
Because maybe your job is isn’t working out but you want to keep it. What then, can you do to live a more fulfilled life in other ways?
Perhaps you want to spark your creativity and start writing or being an artist. Or, perhaps you just need to believe in yourself and go for a promotion or do the same work you’re doing but for a company that is more in alignment.
And, if you are a business owner, it’s possible that you don’t need to change your entire business. Perhaps you just need to focus on shifting how you are showing up and being seen in your current business so you can create the kind of ease and financial growth you want.
Sometimes we end up in fixed mindset where we can only see this or that as our options when we are not happy. But the truth is that what we need is to use our creativity and resources to dream a bit bigger and be more expansive with our options.
Then, the possibilities are endless.
But first it’s best to really get to know yourself and who you are right now and who you want to become … and then make a decision from that space of grounded self-worth.
Either way, my goal is to help you do whatever you need to do to thrive and flourish in this one life you have to live.
—> My Brave Yes Coaching Package helps you unearth your self-worth and life vision, map it all out for success and build your own ideal resilience + well-being toolkit so you have the courage to take bolder risks in your life, creativity, career or business. The work we do together includes 6 months of bi-monthly coaching sessions and lots of homework in between. Send me a direct message to find out if this is exactly what you need to start standing up and taking up more space in your life.
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