Reflecting on myself and consulting other people I am struck by how while one may have a wish to change ones work life or career, at the same time one may do everything so that change doesn’t happen. It is particularly interesting to observe this in people who are highly engaged and loved what they have been doing. Even theoretically knowing theories of change, I found it interesting to think about what makes successful people so resistant to planing their career paths and pursuing them. They are circling around ideas of what they want to change and coming back with arguments as to why their previous thoughts were stupid and current reality is good.
Of course it can be the case that one may analyze alternatives, assess the reality and during this process, reality shapes itself and it appears that changes are not needed.
However I had this strong feeling that it was not always the case. What then?
“I am the teacher”, “I am the finance expert, “I am the high level manager”. Do you often hear people introduce themselves by describing their profession or job? When the listener hears such an introduction, it immediately triggers some thoughts about person’s competence, social status, maybe even the life style. When you introduce yourself while describing your job or profession, you obviously describe part of your identity. If you chose to start from this – it is clearly important.
Our careers/jobs/professions are the significant part of our identities. For some people stronger than the others. So if we think this is true – can a career change be easy? To shift career consciously or even unconsciously would mean to shift your identity. To let some part of identity go and live with some “incompleteness” for some time, while the new aspects of self will be “found”. So shifting career (or thinking about it) starts two processes (at least) – one quite practical and rational – to describe what you want to do and planning for it.
The second process is more complicated – revising your identity, dealing with emotions and letting “old identity” go. Perhaps rational change is more easy to plan, but when it comes to identity, it is much more uncertain. A formed identity serves as stable center for us – it is then more difficult even to open yourself to such change. Analyzing and shifting your identity (perceived by you and others) is a complex and longer process.
This is why sometimes clear actions are not completed in pursuing new careers. Why career action plans fail, when deeper analyses and inner work with self is neglected or left aside.
It is easier to plan excursion to an other stage of career.
It is more difficult to change identity and go to the excursion of unknown self.
*name of entry is the quote from I.M. Lyth “Social Systems as a Defense Against Anxiety”