Mid-Career Changes as Opportunity – Whether the Change is by Choice or Circumstance – 6P Coaching (sm)
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
It’s tough to write about tough topics but tough times call for tough measures and let’s see how many times I can use the word “tough” in one sentence…
I’ve been working with people who are in transition in their work lives. Some are doing this by choice and some are doing it because of circumstances they didn’t choose. Call it anything you like but economic conditions, downsizing, lay-offs, restructuring and all the other words for it means that there are people who were used to doing one thing every day and suddenly they’re not doing it anymore. Along with that can go a loss of financial and emotional security, sense of self-esteem and work ego. It all can bring up lots and lots of issues but the emotional impact can be lessened, and a sense of empowerment and potential attained if it’s approached and dealt with in a proactive and positive way.
Transition Coaching and Mid-Career Coaching can be one of the most liberating and wonderful experiences of people’s lives, even if they came to it under circumstances that weren’t of their own choosing.
Jed G. got downsized from a job in a career that he’d been despising for the last couple of years. He was bored of the work, he didn’t like the CEO of the company who was the person he reported to, he worked too many hours for his own liking and there were facets of his working personality that he’d wanted to explore but had never taken the time or opportunity to do so. Then he got downsized.
I’d worked with Jed a couple of years ago on some training programs for his team and company and throughout the years he’d called me in to do some short term coaching for his employees for team-building, stress-management, conflict resolution and project management so I was familiar with his work situation and the work style that he was used to.
Things were different now. First we had to work through the shock and all the other emotions that came along with his downsizing. Although he was lucky in that he received a good severance package he could not believe that this had happened to him. He’d been working for over 25 years, working his way up the corporate ladder and he was in total shock. Part 1.
After working through some of the initial issues brought on by the downsizing and keeping in mind that it’s a process that goes through different emotional phases we began the work of looking at a new and different future for Jed.
“How do I know what I want to do? I’ve been doing the same thing for so many years I don’t know what I want anymore. I wanted relief, and I got it but not the way I wanted it.” That was what he said when we first started.
Enter 6P Coaching. (There are 7 steps but we’ll focus on the first 6 for now).
For those of you who wanted to know some of the elements of rediscovering yourselves, you can try this at home and let me know how it goes. I use the system with clients all the time and it’s a great tool. It allows people to articulate their likes and dislikes, to examine what’s been working and what hasn’t and to look toward the future in a new way. Whether they were actively seeking out a different and new future or whether life chose a new one for them.
Use any organizational method that works for you. This can be a tactile exercise or an intellectual and technological one or a combination of all three, whatever works best for you.
I usually recommend file folders for the tactile part since it includes components like pictures, articles, ads, sometimes even food wrappers! Anything that conjures up a thought, like or dislike. Computerized systems also work for files and information.
2. The areas will be called
We’ll also add one called Passes which will contain anything that you DON’T want. Think of this as an Ugh, No Way, Never-In-A-Million-Years, or Don’t-Even-Get-Me-Started folder. Anything that works for you to describe what you DON’T want.
3. Now Go! Write down and collect as many things as you can think of for each area. Fill the folders with words, pictures, songs, thoughts, anything that comes to mind. You can use magazines or newspaper articles, book reviews, movies. Look through trade magazines. If you see a movie or book ad or lecture series, anything can be relevant make a note of it or clip the reviews or outlines of any that resonate with you in one of the above ways.
4. Put it into the appropriate folder. For example; a place, or a feeling you’d like to have at a work situation, a skill you’d like to have, or something that you absolutely wouldn’t want. A work situation or supervisor you read about. A work environment that you hear about or imagine.
What you’re doing is articulating what works for you. If we were to do it in person or together we’d review and discuss the choices and analyze the patterns. Then the work of exploring new possibilities begins.
Combining this information with information we gather through the TIERS(c) (Temperament, Intellect, Expectations, Reality, Satisfaction) Coaching process we develop a solid picture with lots of information on what will work for you and sustain you professionally, financially, intellectually and emotionally as you move ahead to a new phase of your professional life. We then explore which possibilities will work and move ahead to get and achieve them.
In Jed’s case he’s always wanted to start a Non-Profit organization relating to a disability that his daughter has. We’re working together to make that a reality for him.
Jed’s initial reactions and experience of shock, dismay, fears, loss of self-esteem and sense of identity “this is who I’ve been for the last 27 years – who am I now?” have turned around and Jed said last week what I hear all the time from clients who have gone through the experience and worked their way through it “I never in a million years would have believed that I would think of being downsized as the best thing that could have ever happened to me!”
Good luck with the Priorities, Passions, Preferences, Perks, Promotions and Passes(c). If you have any questions or would like to send me some of your thoughts please feel free – I always love hearing from you.
Change is inevitable. Make the right changes for you.
Enjoy the day,
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Honestly I can’t begin to tell you how many emails I get about this post. I didn’t expect it although I do discuss it at workshops/seminars, in corporate settings and with private clients. It became obvious to me as I coached and as a student of people and behaviors. So here it is again – enjoy!
One of the things I love about the work I do is exploring and developing new theories in order to assist people to understand, articulate and achieve their goals. An interesting phenomenon that I’ve been studying and developing as a theory for learning and change is something I call “The Readiness Theory”.
In its simplest form people “get ready” and become acclimated to changes in their lives in different ways.
* Some people dive right in and get used to the experience while they’re muddling through it. An example of that would be *Anne who decided she was looking for a job as a corporate attorney without really understanding what that lifestyle entails. She took the first job that looked good for her and is in coaching to become adjusted to the work, the lifestyle, interacting with her colleagues and developing a career plan for the future.
* Some people need to have all the elements in place before they can make a change or move.
An example of this readiness personality would be *Gregory who is a graduate student at an Ivy League University. Together we’re exploring every avenue as far as his interests are concerned. We’re working together to enable him to articulae and decide on the kind of life and lifestyle he’d like to live professionally, intellectually, financially, personally, and as far as leaving a legacy. We will then combine all the information so that he can make the best choice possible for him to make with the information he has at hand. He’d like to know what he’ll be doing after graduation by the time his last semester in grad school begins.
* Some people make a change and then take a few steps back before they jump right in again.
There are a couple of ways that this manifests itself in coaching. *Marietta started her coaching after she’d very impulsively left a steady job with a career track she thought she’d wanted in order to become a professional animator which she had no experience in or knowledge of how it worked “in the real world”. With a very low frustration threshold Marietta was unable to manage the situation and went back to a different job on the same career track as the original. Six months later she resumed coaching while in the job to plan ahead for becoming an animator. After working that through a bit more slowly than she’d originally anticipated she is currently very happily working as an animator. “I took a bit of a detour” is the way she describes it.
* Some people make a change before they’re ready to live it and then act that out in different ways.
Where do I begin with this one? This can manifest itself in many ways. I worked with *Tom, a young man who was under extreme pressure from his family to go to medical school and go into his father’s medical practice. To put it mildly he DID NOT want to be a doctor but felt that he just didn’t know how to get out of it. Well, he kept failing all his pre-med classes and did miserably on his MCATs so that he would have a hard time getting into any medical school his father would approve of. Then he took a gap year (actually three years) to travel the world. Long story short, he finally told his parents what was really going on and we then began a course of coaching to discover what he really wanted to do. Happy ending he’s currently an attorney who works primarily with doctors!
Another way this manifests itself is when someone is making the best move for them but they really aren’t ready for it yet for numerous reasons. This comes out in the way they behave with those around them, passive-aggressive behavior, self-sabotage and more. An example of this would be *Therese who was a successful newspaper journalist but decided to leave it all and write a book TODAY. Therese was a great writer but wasn’t used to the long stretches of of solitary time needed to do the very solitary work of writing a book. She wasn’t used to people not responding to her the way they had when she had her newspaper and title backing her up. In short, she just wasn’t ready for it. After alienating just about everyone she knew and spending most of her writing time starting at a blank computer screen (or alternately crying and eating) she began coaching work with me and through the process became able to be the person she wanted to be and do the work she wanted to do.
Readiness will show up in many ways and will also impact the length of the coaching relationship and the amount of coaching sessions required.
What’s your readiness style and how has it impacted your decisions? I’d love to hear from you! Let me know at rebecca at dailylifeconsulting dot com or post here. Enjoy the day – your way!
*(All names and identifying character and work traits have been changed.)
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I often kid around that I’ve worked/work with people oh…roughly between the ages of 3 and 93. Um… I’m not kidding. I began my career as a Pre-K teacher and coach people of all ages (yes – I have coached people in their 90s who are still working). One issue that comes up over and over and is true for all ages is dealing with and learning to tolerate negative feelings. The issues are all connected so I’ll just dive right in.
Here are some of the questions –
“When is the right time to make a transition?”
“Am I too old/young to be feeling this way?”
“Am I too old/young to be making a career transition?” “HOW can I make the transition? It feels too difficult.”
“I’m in the midst of making changes but having trouble dealing with my feelings about it, I’m not sure, I can’t take the reactions of the people around me, I don’t want to hurt anyone else by my actions.”
“Maybe I AM a cliche but am I supposed to sacrifice myself and the rest of my life in order to keep on living the way I have and hating my career, life situations?”
“I’m in a career that I hate and would like to make a change but I need to keep working while I do it, it’s getting harder and harder to get up in the morning…”
“Why do I feel guilty putting myself first and making a change that will make my life better?”
“What do you mean by ‘tolerating negative feelings’”?
“What causes burnout or the desire for a change? Are there things that are ‘normal’ and those that are just silly and unrealistic?
I don’t think anyone is ever “too old” or “too young” to be making a transition. If somehow one finds oneself in the wrong career or profession why wait any longer? Why spend any more time doing something you don’t want to be doing and that is impacting negatively on your life? Here are a couple of examples of how the need and desire for a change can surface at any age. Clients who are making transitions in their
20s, 30s, 40s, 50s,60s, and yes – 70s, and an inspiring story from my 90 year old mentor who is still working!
T.N. is 28 and on the corporate track. He had it all planned out and was living out his plans. College, Grad School, a few years in the corporate world then on for an MBA which would lead him to the position that he wanted. All seemed to be going well on the surface, T and I began working together when he was researching MBA programs and realized that the life he thought he wanted was not actually the one he wants. What now? What next?
J.S. is 36 and a successful attorney. She recently had her first baby and took a 6 month maternity leave. She and her husband had agreed that she would go back to work after the 6 months since she’s the primary earner in the family. She’s ready to go back to work but her husband thinks she should take more time off to stay home with the baby. J.S. and I are working on different ways for her to work full time but spend some of that time at home as a compromise since she does want to spend more time with the baby than she thought she would when she was first planning her maternity leave.
A.D. is a 48 year old doctor with a thriving practice. A workaholic since high school, his studies and work served as a haven for him. He loves study, he loves work, he teaches at a teaching hospital and loves the interaction with the med students. During difficult times in his personal life his work was a way of getting away from all of it. He was able to concentrate fully on the needs of his patients and the work he loved. But during the last couple of years since his divorce he’s found that his work doesn’t provide him with the haven-like feelings it did. He wants more of a “life” for himself and that’s causing him to feel more resentful at work.
H.B. is a 54 year old filmmaker. She loves her work but has been feeling and putting up with the age-ism and sexism in her industry for too long. It’s making her hate the work atmosphere she finds herself in and resentful of her some of her colleagues and the system in a way that is impeding her ability to be creative and work.
V.L. is a 56 year old woman who is retiring from a career as a teacher. She wants to continue working in some area but not sure what or how.
B.R. at 64 was a successful business owner for most of his working life. It included working “all the time” and not spending as much time as he wanted to doing “the things I love” but now he’s not even sure of what those things are anymore. He wants a working retirement but isn’t sure how to structure it or how to fill the extra time he’ll have.
T.D. is in his mid 70s and has been retired for a couple of years. He’s gotten his second wind and decided he wants to become technologically savvy, use the internet and possibly write a blog/book about his life.
Then there’s my 90 year old mentor/professor who told me last week about the new patients she’s started working with! Yes. You heard that right.
Are any of these situations easy? No. Do they bring up uncomfortable feelings during the process of deciding to make a change and while making the change? Yes.
When it comes to feelings, let’s face the fact that we all have them all the time. We like some and chase experiences that allow us to feel them. We dislike others and try and mostly try and avoid circumstances that will bring them up.
The point is to acknowledge the discomfort and not let it dictate the choices you make. If you’re feeling uncomfortable about making a change or the process required to do it the point isn’t to say “this isn’t the right thing for me”. The objective is to be aware of it, figure out what’s causing it and make decisions based on what’s best for your future and the future you want to have.
That means tolerating some negative feelings. They’re just feelings. They’re not in charge. You are. They can be a useful tool. You can include them to figure out what’s working and not working. What you want and what you don’t want. Which techniques work for you and which don’t. Which changes work for you and which don’t.
So when you’re thinking of making a change.
* The first step is to work through what the right change will be for you NO MATTER HOW OLD you are.
* Then ask yourself what you’re willing to do and feel in order to get it.
Enjoy the day,
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Nice to see you here.
I suffer from what I call “go-to-girl” syndrome. I agree to last-minute
assignments, deadlines that are moved up, projects that grow beyond the
original scope (with pay) because I like being the one editors count on. But
it takes its toll. I’m crazed right now. Maybe I don’t need to be so
available and agreeable, but how do I change?
My answer –
Ok – you mention a couple of things ” I like being the one editors count on” and
“Maybe I don’t need to be so available and agreeable” and “but how do I change”. You also mention that all this takes its toll.
Ok – one thing at a time because it’s a multifaceted issue. But we’ll use your question as a guidepost. “How do I change?” Well, that depends on why you want to change. Not need – that’s clear by the “it takes its toll”. What you do want is to be the one the editors can count on.
Is there another way to be this person – perhaps a modified version with new limits set by you and still be the one they count on? How might you go about doing that? What are some new boundaries and “B’s Rules” that you could let them know about at the beginning of a project? And of course you’re letting them know this in the nicest, most professional way. “I’m happy to do x,y,or z however…..” which lets them know that you’re available to be the go-to-person but in a new way.
The other question to ask yourself is why you want to be the one they count on. If it’s strictly financial – you have your answer and making the change is more of an intellectual and time-management, stress-management one. If there’s something else going on – such as an emotional need or habit to be the one people can rely on then the changes will have to include an internal component including some thought about how that came to be part of your makeup and whether it’s still something you need and/or want.
Hope this helps as a starting off point – keep me posted!
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I did a chat with a group of terrific writers. Their work is all over the globe in every mode of wordsmith-ing you can dream of. If you’ve read anything you’ve read them. After the chat some of them sent me some questions. Here are the answers.
Thank you for coming to our rescue.
If you just sit and stare at the computer screen, with deadlines looming,
and are unable to decide what to do next, is that burnout? If so, what is
My Answer –
Hmmmm – that’s a tough question because it could be burnout but it could be a number of other things as well. We’d need to explore a couple of things first of all to find out if it’s burnout, or writer’s block or a situational or seasonal thing, if something’s going on in another area of your life or how you’re feeling about your writing life in general and the project you need to be working on, in particular.
Whew! Then we could start to come up with some solutions to the problem. What I would suggest as a start is to get up and walk away from the computer for a while if you can so that you don’t start to connect the computer with the feelings of frustration which might make it harder to approach it in the future. Another thing you might try is using the computer to begin to explore what’s going on. Ask yourself some of the above questions – and start typing away – do some automatic writing and you might find that some of your answers will find their way into words.
Putting the thoughts and feelings into words is the first step to becoming aware of them, understanding them and discovering solutions – the ways to implement the solutions is a step further down the road but sometimes all you need is a jolt of energy in the right direction and finding some answers is a good way to liberate some of the energy that’s tied up while you’re sitting and staring….
Hope this helps – feel free to email or call,
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
Thanks for your guidance, Kiki.
Burnout is a periodic issue for me and a lot of the questions I have are
already addressed in questions above. Here’s another issue on which I could
use your advice:
With three small children in the house, most of the writing portion of my
work occurs at night, which enables me to use any child care hours/nap time
during the day to interview sources or talk via phone with editors. But some
days by 9 pm my brain is on cruise control, at best. There’s little creative
spark left in my daily dose, unless I drink lots of coffee to perk up (which
is what I typically do), which then keeps me up nearly all night. Good for
work, bad for sleep. Lack of sleep, of course, can quickly lead to burnout
on all fronts.
Do you have any recommendations for people who have to work odd hours as to
how they can re-group (other than highly caffinating!) and re-charge for
evening work hours? Or how would you recommend shifting a work schedule
where caring for small children dominates daytime hours (keeping in mind I
am not a morning person, so getting up before these early birds is not an
Of course my first suggestion would be to wake up before the kids but since that’s not an option we’ve got to figure something else out.
First of all, cut yourself some slack and realize that you’re in a tough situation with small children around and a business to attend to which includes “being on” both verbally and intellectually. Tough stuff. But it won’t be this way forever so it’s a matter of organizing your time now to get through it the best you can.
A couple of suggestions – first of all, could you use one of the children’s nap times as a nap time for yourself? Biologically our bodies do better with a nap in the afternoon. That might decrease your caffeine need, which you’re right about – it can cause jitters, sleeplessness, anxiety if overused.
Another thought comes to mind as I put my teacher’s cap on. Play teacher. I don’t know how old the children are but try and prepare some activities for them that they can do on their own (it might take some planning of materials but once you get the hang of it it’s pretty easy – collage, cutting and pasting, easy needlepointing, books on tape, puzzles, writing and illustrating their own books) which might free up some writing time for you during the day and cut back on the night time work.
Remind the children that they can’t disturb you unless it’s an emergency – (outline what those are!) and set aside a few minutes after the activity to look at it and all around oooh and aaah and tell you about it – that will motivate them to do it again. You can also have them be part of the planning process – shopping for the materials, putting it on a calendar, getting “rewards” for a completed job or a job well done.
Hope this helps – good luck and let me know how it goes!
January 16, 2011 § Leave a comment
I’ve been doing lots of seminars,coaching and getting lots of requests for information lately about our Finding Focus workshops/seminars/coaching which I’ve been doing for many years. I saw the need for it years ago when technology was beginning to be a 24/7 part of life and realized that it would impact people’s lives in good ways and not-so-good ways.
This post was first published in 2007. If you’d like more information on Finding Focus coaching, seminars or workshops feel free to contact me at kiki at dlcecc dot com.
The proof is in the article. Thank you Scientific American Mind for explaining how Finding Focus is one of the greatest things you can do for yourself and your life.
Ok – so we’re ahead of our time here. What can I tell you? Our “Finding Focus” Seminars which I developed have been running for quite a while and continue to be a tremendous success. People walk out feeling more focused, more energized, looking at their routines and habits in a new way. Participants FIND new FOCUS in their work, creative endeavors, careers, hobbies, futures, whatever it is they choose to focus on. “Finding Focus” workshops have been ongoing at Barnes and Noble for a few years and writers, future-writers, blocked writers and creatives of all kinds have found themselves energized and inspired, and productive in ways they hadn’t been.
The article in Scientific American is Bored? by Anna Gosline. It’s full of information, a little boredom quiz, a short description of boredom in the brain as well as sources for further reading.
I believe and know that when you focus on what’s important to you and you move forward in whatever direction that takes you, you don’t bore easily. I also know that it isn’t always easy to figure out what it is that you want to do. Really want to do.
Often when coaching clients a big part of our work is uncovering the layers of “should do”, “what x or y wants me to do”, “what I always thought I should do”, “what I always believed I was meant to do”, “what society believes I should do”, “what’s best for me to do”, “what’s easy for me to do” (and more) and getting to “this is what I really want” and “this is what’s right for me”.
Finding Focus helps you in the short run and in the long run. Do it for yourself. Find your personal focus. Live the life you want to live. The one you know deep in your heart you were always meant to live. Live your life.
For more info on Finding Focus Workshops and Seminars and how to arrange for one for your company or group feel free to contact me at kiki at dlcecc dot com.