Thursday, 11 November 2010

From Career Change To Career Transition

I sometimes feel I need different language for career change, because it doesn't really capture the reality of what needs to happen for most of my clients.

Career change is not changing jobs.  For most of my clients at least, they want to change jobs but they also want to change their lives.  It is about changing identity.  Identity is something that can help us make sense of the world, so it's understandable that our minds cling to it.   Yet identity can just as easily limit our options.  Cling too tightly to identity and we become functionally fixed.  In other words, we think we can only do what we've always done and our potential narrows.

This is why career change is, at its essence, a psychological exercise.  It is a process of creative reinvention in which we must geniunely think differently about ourselves, the world and the way we perceive it.  Identity often needs to be slowly unfrozen and reconstructed.

This is also way 'career change' is inadequate.  It is much more than a shift in your job  - which is much more to do with contacts, networking and scanning the classifieds.  Career change is a process of reflection and reinvention based on a better understanding of who 'you' really are.   Who you really are is based on a reflection of your experience and your aspirations.  There's no way round this process and no way to make it easy:

William Bridges puts this brilliantly in his book Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes:

“Change is a shift in your job... it is situational.  Transition on the other hand is psychological...the inner re-orientation and self-redefinition that you have to go through in order to incorporate those changes.  Unless transition happens, the change won’t work, because it doesn’t ‘take’.”

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