How Satisfied Are You with “You” in Your Career?

It happens to just about everyone during their careers. Those who say it doesn’t are fooling themselves.

The “it” I’m referencing is a period of doubt about where they are and what they are doing in their careers. It’s a period of self-questioning that can lead to change or just more of the same.

Some people grow bored in their jobs.

Others take stock of their lives thus far and are disappointed at where they find themselves. They remember the dreams of their earlier days when they believed they understood what they would do to be themselves at their best. The gap they feel between the present state and those earlier dreams for themselves is dissonant.

For some, work becomes a grind and an ever-increasing source of stress that drives them to do something radical.

An Extreme Career Makeover

One of my college roommates was an accomplished surgeon who gave it all up.

He had grown tired of everything about the practice, especially the lawyers and insurers.

He worked most of the year for insurance, and it was sucking the life out of him.

He made the decision to walk away from medicine one day while sitting at his pool in the backyard of his mansion. He told his wife, and she left him immediately. It was more important for her to be married to a surgeon than the individual behind the label.

It took him over a year to unwind his practice, and then he wandered the world on an odyssey that is book-worthy. Eventually, he ended up in Los Angeles, broke, and eating out of garbage cans. And then he pulled himself out of the slump and built a new career outside of medicine and found a better partner.

While his was a radical story makeover, it forced the changes he knew he needed to make. He might have overshot the low point as part of the reinvention process, but ultimately he ended up at a place that worked for him. He was and is happy.

Sometimes you have to stop, pivot, and head in a new direction on a new journey.

Does Your Story About Yourself Need to Change?

And sometimes the story you tell yourself has to change.

Seth Godin wrote an excellent piece entitled, “If what you’re doing isn’t working.” In his words, “Perhaps it’s time to do something else. Not a new job, or a new city, but perhaps a different story.

I agree.

We all write a story about ourselves. And when that story is challenged through hardship or disappointment, we struggle. Often, we remain stuck in the old story, when a new one is the best way forward.

Again, Seth’s word’s, “What if we search for a useful story instead? A story that helps us cause the change we seek to make in the world and to feel good doing it.

Purpose and Cause

In my work coaching later career clients, finding the means to cause a change in the world they care about is the central issue. It’s about finding or rediscovering a purpose in their careers.

Some individuals tune-in to the dreams that propelled them earlier in life. Armed with wisdom born of experience, they refresh those dreams and start down a new path, emboldened and energized.

Others love what they’ve done and what they do; they need to change where and how they do it. They find a place that fits them at this stage of their career. Or, they hang out a shingle and cut the rope to the comfort of a more significant employer.

And still, others focus less on what they’ve done than what it is they do particularly well. They tune in to their superpowers and build around those.

Creating the New Story is Never Easy

It’s exciting to think about shifting to a new direction. It should be. Success demands you learn, grow and strive to be yourself at your best.

And sometimes you fail. You hope not to be a former surgeon eating out of garbage cans, but it can happen.

The motivation to change comes down to a cost analysis. How much are you willing to pay to remain true to yourself?

The Bottom-Line for Now:

My college roommate’s story inspires me. While his example is extreme, he knew how much he was willing to pay to regain the person he wanted to be. But first, he had to rewrite his story about himself. How’s your story progressing? Is it time for a rewrite?

Art's Signature