So often, when change suddenly erupts in your life, you’re so shocked that you stop what you are doing and become quite still. In that frozen moment realisations start to emerge. You look back into the past and see that perhaps you wanted – and in some instances even longed for - the change way back then but were too scared to make it happen. Now the universe has brought it bang smack on your doorstep, and you feel the full force of crisis. This is a very common experience amongst my clients whose roles have been made redundant.
Be Prepared to Be Bold and Brave
The capacity to make bold decisions and courageous changes is something we all must master if we are to thrive in our ever-changing world. I am reminded of an IT Professional now in his mid-50s who was my client many years ago now. He had been in the same role in the same company for eleven years. Originally from a Middle Eastern country, he had left his home of origin as a young man just married and with a small daughter because there was no longer work for him there. He made the incredibly brave step of moving across the world to New Zealand where he secured himself a new role in IT and over seven years grew his family. After the initial productive start, he found it hard to get ahead or to realise a tradition in his family that demanded he not only provide a home for his family, but actually build them a new house. Determined to fulfil this responsibility he made another very brave step and moved his young family over to Australia. There he secured a new role in IT at a bank and built his family their home. Their lives were secure and happy for many years. Then, overnight the bank made over 100 roles redundant. His was one of them.
First, Slow Down and Give Yourself Time to Reflect
When he first met with me, this brave man was almost in tears, shocked to his core at what had happened. All the fear he had endured in his difficult past transitions bubbled to the surface and threatened to overwhelm him. The thought that he was a failure, that his family viewed him as a failure, was terrifying. One thought threatened to subsume him: how would he ever find another job at his age? I understood his fear and was nearly in tears with him having been in the same position many times in my own life. I knew exactly how it felt: the fear, the horrific anxiety, the shame, the regret. But I also knew he would get through it, just as I had got through my own difficult transitions. One day he would look back and congratulate himself on his achievements in this transition and realise how much he had grown as a result of facing the challenge.
As we reviewed the reality of his situation he realised that he had been stagnating in his role for some time and that if he could have he probably would have left the organisation quite some time ago. He had stayed believing incorrectly, as so many do, that it offered the promise of long-term security for his family. In our discussions I pointed out his many strengths, in his personality, his character, and the bold, positive choices he had made and actioned in the past. Across many discussions this man, perhaps for the first time in his life, embraced the opportunity to self-reflect and come to know himself in greater depth.
Let Go of the Way Things Have Been
The self- awareness he developed allowed him to accept that his previous dreams were over and something new was evolving. Although he wasn’t certain of what the future held for him, his newfound self-awareness led gradually to a profound sense of self-belief, then conviction, that he would make it through this change to a new beginning.
Know and Appreciate Your Skills and Talents
He realised it was important to not just accept any job he could find, but to find an opportunity where he could really add value. He now knew exactly what he had to offer and part of his challenge was to honour those skills and talents. He stretched himself to network: to maintain existing relationships, build new ones and find out what was needed out there in the marketplace, how his transferrable skills and unique experiences could add value.
Work With, Not Against Your Emotions
The inner territory my clients and I traverse together always starts with accepting what is happening in their life as if they had chosen it. In the wise words of Eckhart Tolle, “make the present your friend and ally, not your enemy.” The work of coming to know yourself, warts and all, freeing you of limiting beliefs and assumptions, is an art. I am privileged to act as guide and mentor in this process as well as teaching the career transition skills that see my clients embark successfully on the next phase of their journey: that could be getting a coveted promotion, leaving an organisation and joining another, moving into retirement, starting a portfolio career, learning to be a more effective manager, moving into a consulting career or starting a new business. Emotions act as helpful signposts along the way.
Plan, Take Action, Live Deliberately
It was through his now recognised key strength of being able to connect with and understand people that my client secured his next role at a university. Both within himself and his place in the world it was a major personal triumph. He was a changed man, now able to negotiate the transitions that would surely arise again somewhere in his future.
The full process of transforming yourself and then your world has six key parts. With support and guidance:
We live in tumultuous times of relentless change and greater isolation. By learning how to read the signs and putting in the effort to know yourself, you eliminate unnecessary fear and your transitions become more enjoyable, transformative challenges.
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