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Don’t Chuck Your Career Before You Take These Steps

I’ve spent eight years working with mid to high-level professionals and executives to achieve greater career success, growth and leadership, as well as to transform their careers completely.  I know a good deal about the process personally too, as I’ve traversed a number of diverging career paths over the past 20 years, including publishing, marketing, market research, marriage and family therapy, coaching, speaking, and teaching.

If you asked me my views on career reinvention five years ago, I would have said some very different things than I do today.

So what’s different?

In the past three and a half years, I’ve learned what’s required (for myself and others) to navigate through highly challenging financial times while at the same time successfully creating a more fulfilling professional life.

I’m not talking about pie-in-the-sky, follow-your-bliss nonsense here.  I’m talking about real-life positive career and life change that lasts and continues to reap benefit and reward.

The Myth of Career Ecstasy

Today, as new clients come to me – both men and women — I see an alarming myth that thousands of midlife individuals have been suckered into believing.  It’s hitting boomer folks hard, and truthfully, I don’t see this same myth prevalent in younger generations.  I call it the “myth of career ecstasy” – the damaging, misguided notion that all it will take to make your life happier and more rewarding is to chuck out your old, unsatisfying career, and land in a new one, despite what else is falling apart in your life.

Here’s how the story goes:

A midlife professional woman comes to me after 15+ years of corporate work.  She’s awakened to the following realizations, and they hurt:

  • It feels as if her work has no contributive value in the world any more (for instance, she feels she’s “selling” something that doesn’t matter at all or isn’t of positive influence in the world)
  • She’s bored out of her mind doing the work she knows best and desperately wants a change
  • Her family needs her substantial income of $100M+
  • Her husband and children have grown accustomed to her overfunctioning and her perfectionism, and don’t want things to change too much. (Note: she handles over 75% of the domestic responsibility as well as her full-time job, and she’s worn out, stressed and depressed.  And her overfunctioning has held her husband back from contributing his fair share, financially, domestically, and otherwise.)
  • She feels an urgent need to change her personal and professional situation
  • She’s in a financial trap, not having saved enough money to take several years off to re-strategize, gain new education or training, and reinvent her career path
  • On top of these stresses, there are relationship, behavioral and other issues with her family members (elderly parents, children, spouse, etc.) that need urgent addressing
  • Despite the fact that numerous dimensions of this individual’s life are truly in “breakdown” mode, she believes that it’s a new career she should focus on, as (in her mind) that will bring her life the joy, peace, excitement, meaning, health, and purpose she longs for.

The problem is, it’s simply not true.

In her case — and for hundreds of thousands of women professionals in the world today — it’s not a wholesale career change that will bring you the satisfaction and fulfillment you want.  Instead, it’s taking hard, urgently-needed action that addresses the root causes of your troubles that will make the difference in your career and life.

Busting the Career Ecstasy Myth: The Top Six Steps You Need to Take to Change Your Life for the Better

Here’s what needs to happen for your life to change for the better… and it isn’t job change, for now.


What are your top three life and career challenges today and are you addressing them head on?

What to Do When Options Run Out? Take a New Path

In the past several months, I’ve worked with a great number of clients who have found themselves at what seems to be a complete dead-end professionally.  Avenues they were fully passionate about pursuing (and would have allowed for successful employment only a year ago) have dried up, with precious few opportunities remaining, for the time being.  As we know, the world has changed.


For example, one of my clients reinvented herself completely over the past several years, from market research director to science teacher, only to find there are simply no jobs available in her geographic region.  Another client is crystal clear that she wants to write as a profession, but feels that starting up now as a freelance writer, given the implosion of the publishing world as we know it, would be a recipe for disaster.


What should we do when the path we desperately long to pursue is blockaded?  I say we turn a corner, take a fork in the road, and re-direct — ultimately find a revised path that allows you to succeed in these times, while honoring your authentic values.  There isn’t only one job in the world that will make you happy, or one career path (I feel this is true about choosing a mate as well – there isn’t just one person with whom you could build a happy, fulfilled life.)


So often, we become overly-attached to what we think will make us happy or get us out of our misery, and we miss the (rescue) boat completely.  What’s that story, about the man who finds himself in a flood, with water covering his home?  I think it goes something like this…


As the flood occurred, the man said to himself, “I know God will save me.  I won’t worry.”  But as the water rose, things become dire.  First, someone offers the man a hand to take him to higher ground, but the man says, “No thanks, I’m waiting for God to save me.”  As the water flooded his home, a group in a rowboat came by, and shouted, “Come on, come in the boat with us and be saved!”  The man said, “No thank you, I’m waiting for God to save me.” A day later, as the man clung to the roof of his house, a helicopter came to save him.  He yelled to the pilot, “No thank you, I’m waiting for God to save me.”  The man drowned. 

When he saw God in heaven, he said, “Why didn’t you save me??” God replied, “I sent three forms of rescue…it was up to you to take them.”


So the question is…what forms of rescue can you find that will keep your heart and soul intact while also keep you afloat, financially, emotionally, and spiritually?  Open your heart and mind to new avenues, and they will become apparent.


What rescue options have you pursued lately, and how have they worked out?


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