Life and work have ups, downs and different seasons. Things don’t stay the same. Over time our priorities change and what was once satisfying can become frustrating.
For many hard-working, caring professionals, mid-life (40’s – 50’s) is a common time for questioning the status quo. Energy levels change and domestic, and work situations do too.
The prospect of one or two decades more in the same work environment or having the same day-to-day experience, may not seem desirable or even practical.
Being unhappy with the status quo and uncertain about change is uncomfortable, especially for motivated people used to motoring through life purposefully. It can result in confusion and indecision.
My clients describe their experience like this;
“I’m not happy in my work. I’m fed up / bored / disillusioned / frustrated / exhausted / stressed etc. It’s not me anymore. I can’t work at this pace for another 15 years. I don’t know how to change. I don’t know where to start. I don’t know what I’d want to do instead. I do know but it seems impossible. It’s risky to make changes now, it might not work out. I’ve got to make the right decision. I’ve got a mortgage to pay and my pension to consider. I should put up with it until I retire”
While a period of uncertainty can be a valuable precursor to change, especially when you embrace it as part of a process, it can also feel difficult and be tiring. Fear is often present too, putting pressure on decisions.
Some people are so good at thinking up ideas for a new future they get confused about what to do for the best. Others see few or no options.
One client described it like this: “My head feels like the bottom of my grandma's knitting bag, lots of different coloured threads all tangled up, you know there’s some good stuff in there, but it’s such a mess. I just don’t know which way to turn.”
I’ve known people stuck at this point of confusion and indecision until something bad happens and catapults them into action, a health issue or redundancy for instance.
One client approached me for help with her exit strategy from a big job. For decades the next promotion had always been lined up for her, and she’d been so work focused, life beyond the 9-5 (or 24/7) didn’t much feature. The prospect of a new less demanding career chapter felt as terrifying as it was necessary. The challenge – who would she be without the status afforded from being a high-profile VIP? How to let go of the reigns? And, what on earth to do with the freed-up time?
Being on the brink of change is often a confusing time. The old ways aren’t working anymore, and the new ways haven’t even come into focus yet, let alone into concrete reality. Confusion can though, give rise to creativity and new possibilities.
“One's action ought to come out of an achieved stillness: not to be a mere rushing on.”
― D.H. Lawrence
For many professionals with busy lives, precious thinking space is a rare commodity. This is where coaching is effective. Dedicated time and space to think and feel with expert support make all the difference.
One client finished his job after 25 years with the same organisation. He bravely gave himself 6 months without the pressure to find new work: “I am making big changes and am committed to this - but I do not have clear goals, a clear vision, a plan or even starting point. I need to give myself a period to be under no pressure and have complete freedom to discover my own agenda, whatever that is.”
If you’ve recognised it’s time for a change and are experiencing confusion and indecision, remind yourself this is OK. It’s normal when change is required.
When you engage with the process and allow yourself time, space and support, you will find your way to the next rewarding chapter of your career and life.
For more insight and expert advice, connect with me on LinkedIn where I share guidance and tips through short video clips.