© 2016 JOHN K MCILWAIN.

Career Change

 

Looking for a new job or career is both stressful and exciting.  I can work work with you to ease this stress, to help you identify the opportunities that call you, and find the best ways to achieve your goals. Please contact me to discuss how we would  work together as you consider changing your job or career. 

My experience and approach.  I have changed my career seven times; each change has been a time of major challenge that brought up a host of doubts and anxieties.  Who am I, and what do I truly want to do with this "one wild and precious life," to quote Mary Oliver?  Should I stay where I am (if that is an option) even though it may be unsatisfying, or am I better walking into a new, unknown career or job?  Can I make it work, and what will happen if I can’t?  And more.

 

I have found each of these changes painful, exciting, and rich.  Looking back, I can see now that each stimulated deep inner growth, even though at the time I was often more focused on survival than that elusive quality of growth.   I have also found that the more consciously I moved through these experiences, the less struggle I experienced, and the more I was aware of the rewards of inner growth they offered. 

Simply put, my intention in career or job change mentoring is to coach you in being present and open as you face the normal anxieties.  My support should enable you to look clearly at the situation, see what teaching it offers you, and to make clear, balanced, and thoughtful choices.  My role is to be present with you and to create a safe and confidential space within which you can rest and feel held as you work through all the issues you may face.

 

How to approach a job or career change.  There are, of course, many books on job and career change.  Many of them, in their own way, can be helpful, especially in the practical aspects of a search.   The following three can be especially helpful:

 

 

There are many more books and approaches, and you can fall into the trap of making a career out of selecting a career.  Remember, there is no one “right” way to find a new career, nor, for that matter, is there only one perfect career for you.   Given the rapid pace of change in the world today, your next job is unlikely to be your last.  Knowing this takes some of the pressure off of having to make the “perfect” choice or get the “perfect” job. What you are considering now is only your next step in what is likely to be an evolving series of careers over your lifetime.

 

What makes for satisfying work?  The answer is not what you might expect.  The research of the Cambridge dons reported on the website "80,000 Hours" mentioned above found that six factors need to be present for a job to be satisfying:

 

  1. The single best predictor of whether a job will be satisfying, according to the research, is that the work is engaging, i.e., there is a sense of flow to it.  For a job to be engaging, there needs to be:

    • A sense of autonomy;

    • Clear tasks;

    • Clear and regular positive feedback; and

    • Variety.

  2. The work needs to be highly meaningful and contribute to the well being of others.

  3. It is work you are good at.

  4. You have good relations with colleagues.

  5. The overall job conditions are pleasant, with a reasonable commute, pleasant work environment, and fair pay.

  6. The job fits with the rest of your life, including family time, recreation, and your spiritual life.

 

Notice that none of these criteria are about the content of the job. People, their research suggests, are surprisingly bad at predicting what it is that they will like doing in a job. Instead, they found that if these six criteria are met, people become interested in and enjoy the work they do. The content of a job is not the best predictor of satisfaction. My experience agrees with this.

It is my experience as well that that the second criteria is also very important; even when all the other criteria have been met, I have never been satisfied for long at a job unless I felt that in some way I was contributing to the world.

Pay, of course, is important, but only to the extent that it is sufficient and "fair."  Beyond that, the actual level of income is a less significant indicator of job satisfaction.  This is because, past a certain level of income, more money adds little to our emotional well-being.  For instance, a study on happiness and income shows that in 2010, past about $75,000 additional income adds little to our emotional happiness.  (This “satiation point” may be higher or lower depending on where you live and the cost of living there.)  The point is that as you consider a new job, what the job will pay, while important, should not be determinative as long as it is fair and sufficient to live on.

Beginning the work.  My approach is to balance an exploration of your intentions, values, and goals with the practical steps needed to select and land your next job.  I like to start by asking questions such as the following ones.  There are no “right” answers to these questions; their value lies in considering them and seeing what your own personal take is. 

 

  • What does work mean for you?  What is the true nature and importance of work?  Of course, it is a way to make a living and support ourselves and our families.  Important as this is, there are deeper aspects to work.  For example, work engages us in the world so we can contribute to the well being of others.

  • It  is also a way to express and fulfill ourselves, and a way to learn about ourselves and grow.  Where better, after all, to see the strength or limits of our practices of kindness and service than in interchanges with bosses, co-workers, and clients or customers

  • What is pushing me to want to change careers?  In what ways does my current job not meet the six criteria above, or are there other reasons why I want to change jobs or careers?

  • What is pulling me to want to make this change?

  • What is keeping me from making this change?

    • What are the external obstacles?

    • What are my internal obstacles, like fear of failure or of change, a sense I won’t be successful in a new career, or fear of giving up the security of the known?

  • What balance do I want between my career and job and all the other aspects of my life, including my family, recreation, and relaxation.

 

And there are, of course, the practical questions to consider:

  • What income do I really need?

  • Can I afford to take a break from work to consider this change, and if so, how long can I go without a steady income?

  • Where do I want to live?

 

While exploring these questions it is also important to do the inner work.  It is only when we move into our heart and listen to its wisdom that we begin to sense who we are and what we are called to offer the world.  It is at this point that I can be especially helpful. 

 

For instance, we live in a culture of scarcity, where we are told constantly that happiness is to be found outside ourselves in our circumstances, but that there is not enough money, time, or things to fully provide that happiness.  This leaves us with a mindset of scarcity, that whatever it is that I have, it is still insufficient.  This can cause us to approach a career change from scarcity, and to look for a career that gives us the external things and experiences we are told we need.

 

The deeper reality is that we are already whole and complete just as we are, and that once we have the basic necessities of life, our work is about how to give to the world that which we uniquely have to give.  So ask yourself what it is that gives you passion, and think about how your highest good aligns with that of the world.

 

Experiencing yourself as whole and complete just as you are enables you to choose out of wholeness, not out of scarcity; out of a sense of fullness, not of something being wrong.  It is a different and powerful mindset to look at the world.

 

There are practices that can serve to bring about this shift.  One practice, for instance, is to take time with whatever it is that fills you up inside and opens your heart.  This may mean time in nature, listening to or playing music, looking at art you love, or reading or writing poetry.  Whatever it is, let it seep into you and fill you. It is helpful to work with a mentor to guide you through them and to be present with you as you open to them. 

It is also helpful to sit quietly by yourself, either in meditation, contemplation, or just looking out the window at a sunset.  This allows the chatter in your mind to settle, and to set aside for the time being the doubts, wants, and insecurities we all feel.  As you come into the present moment in stillness and silence, only then may you begin to hear the soft voice of your heart and soul. 

 

These and similar practices allow you to slow down (one of the hardest thing for anyone in a culture such as our addicted to intensity), and to open to a sense of fullness and well-being.  As this emerges, begin to think of what it is you are drawn to contribute to the world.  What is your special passion, your unique gift that you want to share?  Create in your mind ways for this to manifest.   Out of this will emerge possible pathways quite different from the ones you may see out of a sense of scarcity.

 

This brief summary cannot do justice to this inner work.  It is a practice rich with inner growth, and you will come out of it happier and more effective than before, though it requires time and hard work – I know as I’ve gone through it.


Synchronicity. 

 

According to the Jungian psychologist and scholar Marie-Louise von Franz:

 

 “Synchronicity means a ‘meaningful coincidence’ of outer and inner events that are not themselves causally connected. The emphasis lies on the word ‘meaningful’.”

 

As your inner work deepens, you may begin to notice the effects of synchronicity as you are offered gentle but unexpected pointers and connections that, if followed, will have surprising results. 

 

As we become more aligned with our higher purpose, and as our spiritual practices deepen, the experience of synchronicity increases.   Unexpected people and events will occur that offer connections and openings that, if we pay attention to them, will help walk us through any kind of life changes.  As this happens, you may begin to understand that we are not alone, and that we are part of a far larger picture in a deeply interconnected world.

 

Conclusion.  If you’ve read this far, I hope you see that I consider the process of changing a career or job is both a very practical one and, at the same time, an opportunity for inner growth.  Take time, if you can, and approach this process with confidence knowing the world wants you, your passion, and your skills.  I find it exciting and very satisfying to work with people at this time of their lives.

 

If you have questions or want to talk with me about this, please contact me