Why Changing Your Career Takes Time…

The term “you make the clothes and not the clothes make you” came to mind recently during a client Personal Style consultation..

On the outside, Rebecca has what sounds to be the ultimate career in marketing with an abundance of experience, but on the inside she is feeling frustrated and would like change, to follow her passion in health and fitness.

If you are stuck in a job that isn’t you or a career that was based around making others happy after graduation, but have no idea what else you could do or where to start, you are not alone. You would be surprised at how many people base their career on what was expected of them post university.

Whether you’re looking to change, further your own career or provide leadership development for your team, there are solutions that sometimes don’t involve updating your wardrobe.

We had the privilege of catching up with Judith Bowtell, Career Coach and Founder of Albany Lane. 

JudithBowtell

Here Judith shares with our readers, her experience and tips of understanding the different stages of change.

Understanding the five stages of change in your working life

We live in a world where we want results fast and we want them now.

I realised recently just how impatient I have become.  I will take stairs instead of wait for elevators.  I refuse to cue at the supermarket.  I order my morning coffee, based on the speed of the barista then the taste of my latte.

In the same way, in changing our working lives or careers, we often want to jump from where we are to something new immediately. That might be because the current situation has become boring, stressful or uncomfortable in some way.

However, making a reactive and unplanned leap into a new role could just keep the same problems in play. You may even add to your stresses and problems by taking on something new before you are really ready for it.

So, if you are looking to make a significant change in your working life, you will need to shift gears and allow yourself the space to work through the stages of change.

Understanding those changes can make it a bit easier.

There are many models for personal and organisational change, but I think one of the easiest to understand is the change curve, as developed and adapted into the business world by Elizabeth Kuhbler-Ross https://www.cleverism.com/understanding-kubler-ross-change-curve/

Under this model, there are five main stages to a major life changing experience, even the positive changes.  We may not go through them in exactly this order, and we may move back and forth, but overall we have a framework to understand our experiences.

  1. Denial: This is the stage where we defend the status quo as we take time to process what is happening.  In our working life this might be when the environment is profoundly changed: such as a close and trusted colleague leaves or a management decision has a major impact.  It might be when you are passed over for a promotion or miss out on an opportunity you felt you deserved.  It might be when you realise that the values of the organisation no longer align with what you hold most important.  There is a signal that the world has changed and will not be as it was before.  We sometimes need a bit of time to catch up to this new reality.
  1. Anger: When the realisation finally hits, we start to understand what it means for us. If a change is imposed on us, we can feel angry and resentful that this is happening and we have no control.  It is common to blame others, not just in your immediate work environment, but also general society.  You may also turn the blame on yourself with a series of “if only” or “should haves” keeping you up at night.  You might feel irritable, short-tempered and frustrated during this stage.
  1. Bargaining: Once the realisation that the change is inevitable, you might try to work out how to make the best of your situation.  You begin to explore options and may even take some actions, such as looking into courses or applying for other roles.  If you are optimistic by nature, you might try to reconnect to your current work situation, rebuilding relationships with colleagues and clients.  You will probably feel a bit better by now but also may feel fearful that the situation might happen again.
  1. Depression: This stage may not be full-scale clinical depression, but generally a feeling of sadness and loss.  In career change this can happen when you realise that it may take longer and more work than you first thought to make significant developments.  You may feel a tendency to withdraw from others or indifference to the work around you.  You may lack motivation, energy, loss of faith or trust in others and the world in general.  For most people this a temporary and natural part of the change process and needs to be sat with rather than “fixed” or “changed”.  Being attentive to your emotions and needs, practicing simple self-care and kindness will support you through this stage.
  1. Acceptance: This is the point when we stop fighting the change and accept it as part of our new reality. In our working lives this is when we stop putting effort into resisting or resenting the changes around us, and instead focus on what we can do from here.  This may be the point where you make a commitment, either to changing jobs now or making a plan to develop new work options in the future.  Unlike the bargaining stage, we no longer believe that we can influence the situation that impacted us, instead we have integrated that change into our new reality and can move forward.

This model of change is normal and natural, responding to our basic human (mammalian) needs to care for and protect ourselves in times of stress.  The better we understand the stages, the easier it is to move ahead.

However, many of us get stuck because it is hard to see ourselves objectively and treat ourselves compassionately, particularly when experiencing uncomfortable and even unfamiliar emotions like sadness, anger or fear.

This is where the support of a friend, counsellor or coach can help you to understand what is going on, give you feedback and allow you the space to come to terms with the change in your own time.

A good career coach will help you hold the vision for your new working life, give you the tools to make sound decisions and support you through the ups and downs of the journey.  You can read more about how we do it at Albany Lane here (http://www.albanylane.com.au/blog/post/rejection-sucks-what-to-comeback-from-missing-out-on-a-job/)

If you feel you are stuck in your career or working life, we would love to help. Please feel free to get in contact with us at Albany Lane:

If you want more:

Judith Bowtell of Albany Lane is an executive coach and consultant that supports individuals to develop their professional careers in the arts, cultural and creative sector and organisations to grow.

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