Topic Summary: People often tell me that they seek career change but don’t know how to gain clarity around what their new path might be. This blog provides guidance on this issue.
When we sense that our career path may not be right for us long term, we often first feel fear because we no longer see a clear path ahead. We might worry: “What would I do if I’m not doing this?” This is normal. The unknown can feel uneasy. But, the possibility of change can also feel exciting. We can enjoy excitement if we allow ourselves to see the change ahead as an opportunity to align our work with our most authentic selves and who we are becoming. As we grow and evolve, we notice more what type of work we like and dislike; we notice the environments that work and don’t for us; and we notice what motivates us and what drains us.
When we feel the rumblings of career change, we can move toward clarity and open up our vision of our new path by the practice I refer to as taking “permission to dream moments.” This is a fun and impactful practice where we allow ourselves to suspend logic and limitation due to our current responsibilities or views of ourselves. Instead, we give ourselves the freedom to call on our higher selves who know about our paths ahead or at least can reveal the next steps to move forward. Each of my two major career changes were ignited by permission to dream moments. These occurred in different settings and each moment provided a different type of clarity. They are:
1. Permission to dream moment revealing strategy to open a new path
My first permission to dream moment occurred when I was a rising star lawyer. At this point in my career, I felt like I was on a great career path, but the wrong one for me. I felt really stuck because I didn’t know what would be my right path. All I knew was I wanted to do something more fitting to me, where I could feel happy and like I was helping people. Since I had no idea what to do to gain clarity, I signed up to attend a life and career empowerment seminar. There, I was able to get into a dreaming state. At this time in my life, I didn’t yet know myself well enough to have my new path revealed, but what was revealed in that seminar was how I could take the time and space I needed to get to know myself and explore my career dreams. During the seminar, I had an epiphany that I could create what I now call a “transition role” for myself. Law firm life was too demanding for me to take time to explore my career dreams, so I realized I could instead work as a freelance legal writer while I figured things out. I had very strong skills in this area and many lawyers had hired me to write for them while I was a law student. This was a clear strategy and next step to help me take space to create clarity of my right career path. And it worked! I did this consulting work for one year, and during that time I identified, interviewed for, and was hired for my next big career move. I became the founding managing director for Step Up Women's Network, an emerging nonprofit advancing women and girls professionally, which was a perfect fit for my passions and talents at that time.
2. Permission to dream moment showing vision of the new path
My second permission to dream moment occurred about five years into successfully serving inside that nonprofit. I had taken the organization through the start-up phase, which I loved, yet I could feel the desire emerging within me to start my own business. And while I felt a new path opening, I didn’t yet know what kind of business I would start. More mature in my career and more in control of my schedule, I was able to make time and space to reflect while still in my job this time. My “permission to dream” moment came as part of my participation in a business book club I formed with friends where we all gathered once a month to talk about strategies for growing and improving in business. One month, rather than read a book, we used our time to create our individual 10-year career visions. During this time of taking permission to dream about my career future, I got my first vision of the business I run today. I saw that I could create a business out of teaching others to do what I had done: to discover their best talents and passions and turn them into a job or business. Again, this dreaming process was a success! About one year after receiving the vision, I gave notice to the nonprofit and was on my way to launching my own company.
These permission to dream moments in my life provide guidance and a road map for you on how to get clear around your career change. Career change always begins with a vision. The vision may include a specific idea of what you want to do - as occurred for me in seeing the vision for my business - or the idea may just be glimpse that you know you desire something better, something more meaningful or more authentic - as occurred for me as a lawyer in that seminar. To create the opportunity for your own dreaming, use the examples in my stories: you can sign yourself up for a self-empowerment seminar or you can take the DIY (do-it-yourself) approach and do a career visioning exercise. For the later, you can use my free online tool, the Career Vision Guide, as your structure to call forth and clarify your dreams. Access HERE.
From these stories, most important to remember is this: if your sense of career change first comes up and does not feel feasible - that doesn’t really matter. What matters is whether the feeling toward change is truly based in your heart. If it is true to your heart, it has been planted with a higher wisdom and you have all the genius needed to bring that idea to fruition with application of your energy, effort, and time. And because you won't always feel like your dreams are possible, let my examples give you confidence to know that your visions are the coming attractions for your career future. Simply allow yourself the permission to dream.
For more on this topic of “Permission to Dream,” check out my interview on WGN Radio with Pete McMurray and Jane Monzures. Access HERE.