Career Transition: A Gateway To Authenticity

Transitioning from one career to another has the potential of opening portals to the innermost places within us that have been forgotten in the passage of time. Many spend a lifetime pursuing goals that take them further away from the authentic self they knew in the early part of their life. Changes such as a new job, relationship or death can be a catalyst leading to an existential awakening and trigger a pursuit for deeper meaning in life, a life lived with intentional purpose.

Much of what is written about career transitions deal with conventional best practices and the step-by-step activities necessary to move from one professional engagement to the next. However, my work with transitioning professionals, reflections of past experiences and conversations with contemporaries, reveals there might be a greater phenomenon occurring now. Somewhere in the course of a lifetime of pursuing goals, people have lost sight of the passions that once inspired them. As the years pass, the finite nature of time becomes palpable. Meaning and purpose that might have been sidelined in pursuit of the traditional indicators of success—money, education, career, marriage, family, etc.—have left in their wake a vacuous feeling of longing. The term “mid-life crisis” is whispered, but something deeper and more profound is taking place.

In his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, author and psychiatrist Victor Frankel quotes German philosopher Friedrich Nietzsche as saying, “He who has a why to live can bear with almost any how.”  And to be certain, Frankel’s book, originally published in the 1950s, continues to be read by hundreds of thousands of people today. The onset of this existential search of “why” might be rooted in seeking greater depth in emotional, intellectual and new experiences at any point in life.

Change causes the treadmill to stop long enough to allow for a look at the world through a fresh lens, increasingly resulting in a wistful lament, “There has to be more to living than this.” Regret for opportunities not taken, realization of mortality, unfulfilled and forgotten passions can no longer be ignored as they flood the conscious mind creating the need for a shift in priorities. The search for meaning and the questioning of current realities during this stage might trigger secondary reactive changes such as divorce, entrepreneurial pursuits and a shift in priorities from materialism to mind-body-spirit fulfilment.

These cascading transitions add more complexity to the overall process, but might be essential components of a new type of success.

The process of transitioning from one career to another is exactly that—a process. The journey is different for everyone. Change is not linear and the zigs and zags it reveals will spark more awareness that can lead to greater self-discovery and clarity of purpose. It makes sense to pay attention to the feelings they stir and less to the advice of conventional best practices about what “should” be happening.

In today’s multigenerational workforce, there is a wide and diverse spectrum of people who are all experiencing a search for meaning in their respective stages of life. Imagine how good it would be to see how the integration of multigenerational experiences, an appreciation for being authentic in the workplace and innovative ideas help design the workplace of the future? The knowledge, experience and vision that the baby boomer generation’s transformative life experience is revealing is as important as embracing the fresh viewpoint of the millennials.

Herein lies the potential of creating experiential bridges that will connect generations and mindfully cultivate a workplace culture that is inclusive, engaged and robust.

Wherever you are today, take a minute to pay attention to what is going on inside your head, heart and gut that may be paralyzing or blocking you. Pause and linger for a few moments to be mindfully present and allow your conscious self to experience your unique situation. There are clues embedded in your feelings that can guide you toward the next step of your life journey. Discovering your authenticity begins with an internal evolution—an increased inner strength yet unapparent to the outside world.

Change is a spark to evaluate opportunities that can lead to self-actualization and a transformative future of success, redefined on your own terms.

Dorothy Patrick is the founder and CEO of Sparx International, a firm dedicated to providing organizations with ideas, products and services to develop leaders, improve communications and employee engagement. It specializes in growing companies and post-merger culture integration. Patrick has been a corporate executive for Morgan Stanley Wealth Management, UBS Financial and IFCO International. Contact her at dorothy@sparxinternational.

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