When it comes to career change, despite months and even years of contemplation my clients come to me because they feel stuck, frustrated and hopeless. They can easily list what is wrong with their job- financial renumeration; unhappiness; dissatisfaction; lack of respect; loneliness; boredom; lack of autonomy; conflict – to name just a few. Despite having an idea, however nebulous, of what they are looking for – improved current clinical practice; changing to another practice; finding non-clinical work; exploring non-medical fields; deciding to retire, they still have not been able to take action and move.
They are trapped in the paralysis of analysis.
A catalyst for jumpstarting lateral thinking comes from the concepts of the three C’s- creativity, courage, commitment. These are not novel concepts to these hard-working professionals, yet they are not what always springs to mind when it comes to deciding on a new career.
Without creative thinking, possibility and choice cannot raise their optimistic heads. Medical education, training and practice follows a very linear path. Career change means beginning to imaginatively zig zag on that path. When we use our imagination, we are no longer trapped in thinking that is predictable and stuck in well-worn grooves. Can you allow yourself to listen, explore and think in different ways? To find a path that is truly yours?
Wild Geese – Mary Oliver
“Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting –
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.”
Zig zagging involves stepping into a degree of uncertainty and unpredictability. Although, steps can be taken to mitigate uncertainty, at some point there has to be a leap of faith, a harnessing of courage. Courage comes from a place of deep knowing and trust in oneself. An inner strength that acknowledges that whatever the outcome, it can be faced and handled. An understanding that recognizes that standing still is more destructive than moving forward; an appreciation that past fears have been faced with courage; a recognition that life reflects this quote:
“Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one’s courage.”-Anaïs Nin
Ultimately, commitment sets the whole process in action. No-one has stated this more eloquently than the Scottish mountaineer, William Hutchison Murray:
“Until one is committed, there is hesitancy, the chance to draw back, always ineffectiveness. Concerning all acts of initiative and creation, there is one elementary truth the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too.
All sorts of things occur to help one that would never otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents, meetings and material assistance which no man could have dreamed would have come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets:
Whatever you can do or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, power and magic in it. Begin it now.”
The beauty of these three concepts is that they really aren’t locked into any set order. They synergistically interact in a manner that generate shifts in our energy, engages our spirits and opens our eyes to the universe in ways far beyond what we might have expected. From this awareness we can see career change as an exciting opportunity, rather than simply a problem to be solved.