Stuck, frustrated, and unfulfilled with your career? Pay attention to the signs. It might be time to transform your career. I’ve been there and transforming my career was the best thing I could have done. Make no mistake. Transforming a career is not an overnight job. It takes courage,
perseverance and hard work but it can be life changing.
Healthcare administration had been my career for 25+ years. The majority of those years, I worked closely with physicians and their teams in the ambulatory setting. I was challenged, happy and fulfilled, and I knew I was making a difference. I experienced, first hand, the care and concern shown to patients by the healthcare team. I felt a deep responsibility to the healthcare providers to make sure they were well supported, their issues addressed, and they had the proper resources. About two years ago, I decided it was time to make a change. With the direction my organization was taking, I knew it was time to move on with my career. When I no longer felt as though I was making a difference, and no longer fulfilled, I recognized it was time to make a change.
As I pondered what was next for me, I took a long, hard look at what would need to change with my career. I wanted to build on all the experiences I had while in healthcare. As I looked back at the times I was most fulfilled in my career, it was when I was coaching and mentoring leaders and those aspiring to leadership positions. Nothing was more satisfying than seeing my direct reports advancing their careers. I had an amazing career and was very fortunate to be able to advance to higher levels of responsibility, eventually, achieving a Vice President position. It didn’t take long for me to realize that I would be most fulfilled helping others achieve the same level of success as I did. It was at that point that I made the decision to transform my career from Healthcare Administrator to becoming a professional Life and Leadership Coach. I pursued a second coach training program, became certified and started my own business.
Transitioning from healthcare administrator to being a full-time life and leadership coach required a lot of planning, a significant investment in resources and time, overcoming a few challenges, perseverance and hard work. Making the decision to leave my long-term and familiar healthcare career was not a quick decision or a fast move. My survival mechanism (also known as “ego”), who tries to protect and keep me safe within my comfort zone said, “all you’ve ever really known is how to be a healthcare administrator. Do you really think you will be able support yourself as a coach?” I suspect you know what I am talking about, those nasty little
annoying voices in your head that make you question yourself.
Then, there was the upfront expense. As many of you know, pursuing an advanced education program and starting up a new business is really expensive. I questioned whether I would really see a return on my investment. What I knew for sure, though, was the payback for my
investment was the impact I would make with the clients I supported. Being a professional life and leadership coach is my calling, my higher level purpose, the difference I want to make in the world.
I have an amazing life and an amazing career. I am happy, fulfilled and totally blessed. It is incredibly important to me to make this happen for others. I’d like to share with you my lessons learned so if you are considering transforming your career, you can do so effectively. Author Camilla Sacre-Dallerup in her book, “Reinvent Me,” suggests a few key steps:
Start with taking a very close look at your current career. What needs to change? What do you need to learn from the situation you are in now? Be honest with yourself. Remember, if we keep doing the same thing, we will get the same result. Recognizing what needs to change may be the most challenging step on your transformation journey. To help you with this first step, consider answering the following questions:
- What would I like to reinvent about my career?
- How is it going to make me feel once I have done it?
- If money was not an issue, would my answer to the first question be the same or different? If different, how?
- How will this new career bring me the fulfillment I am looking for?
Don’t get stuck on what you may perceive as barriers to your success. I’m too old to start a new career. I’ve always been in this field, how could I possibly be successful in a new one? I’m afraid of failing. Simply silence your survival mechanism and know you were meant for so much more. If you are burned out, frustrated and unfulfilled in your current role, recognize these are signs that it is time to transform your career. You know, deep within you, that you can make a difference in the world with your gifts and talents so make the effort to take the necessary steps now.
Put your goals in writing, your unwavering commitment to a better work life. It’s your plan to get from where you are to where you want to be with your career. Break down the goals into achievable parts, action steps, and milestones. Plan for the transformation from a financial perspective. It may take some time before you can actually leave one job to start another but it is definitely possible with proper planning. Sometimes a total career transformation can seem overwhelming. Remember all the times in the past when you’ve accomplished the goals you’ve set for yourself. You can apply this same inner confidence now.
Bring your new career to life. There are many techniques you can use to keep your vision and commitment alive. One particularly effective and beautiful technique I’ve used is a meditation exercise called, “Planting the seeds in the garden of opportunity,” adopted from the book, “Reinvent Me” by author Camilla Sacre-Dallerup. So, are you ready to plant your seed, your goal, in the garden of opportunity and watch it blossom? Put on your gardening gloves and take a walk with me.
- Find a quiet spot, free from distractions.
- Sit or lie down somewhere comfortable.
- Close your eyes.
- Bring your awareness to your breath.
- Start counting as you breathe in 1, out 2, in 3 and out 4 and so on until you reach 20. Repeat this a few times until you start to feel very relaxed.
- Now imagine that you are walking into the most beautiful garden you have ever seen. Notice all the trees, the flowers and any other surroundings. This is your garden of opportunity.
- As you look around the garden and all its beauty, you start to realize it’s all created simply by the seeds that were planted and then nurtured. Consider for a moment that when we plant a seed in the garden, we don’t stand over it and say ‘Grow, grow, hurry up.’ No, we plant it and walk away knowing that it will grow with water, sun and air.
- Imagine now if your goal can do the same. See yourself holding a seed in your hand that represents your goal/your dream career. Now plant it somewhere in the garden.
- After you have planted it, sit for a minute and imagine this seed growing and blooming and turning into an amazing flower or tree, just like your goal/your dream career, blossoming and happening.
- Imagine yourself taking action steps toward making it happen. Notice what it feels like, sounds like and looks like as you imagine doing some of these things.
- Finally, imagine what it will feel like once you have totally transformed your career. How do you feel? Are you happy, excited, fulfilled? Just notice what you notice without judgement, and then go ahead and open your eyes knowing that you have successfully planted your seed in the garden of opportunity.
Take action. Don’t wait for life to happen to make the changes you know you want to make. Listen to your intuition that has been telling you it’s time to transform your career. Using the meditation example, ‘taking steps of action is like planting lots of seeds. Eventually you will
have a beautiful garden filled with opportunity.’
Be Present, Practice Mindfulness. When you are making significant changes in your life, such as a career transformation, it can be stressful and overwhelming. Be present, in the here and now, practice mindfulness, and think about what you can control in this moment, rather than worrying about all the other things you can’t predict. You can then allow yourself to take it one action step at a time. Practicing mindfulness can also help you reduce stress, increase your focus and direct your mind in a more healthy and positive way. One consistent step after another will get you to your goal, your new career. If your intuition is giving you a strong message that it’s time to make some changes, pay attention. If you plan appropriately, you can successfully transform your career. Don’t let another year go by sacrificing your success, joy and fulfillment. Start planning for your career transformation today.
Robbie K Carlson
Life & Leadership Coach
Sacre-Dallerup, C. (2017), “Reinvent Me.”
Mindfulness, An Everyday Guide. Magazine, 2018