Cat looking in mirror with reflection as a lion

Self-Reflection At A Crossroads Of Change

Change, in relation to careers, is something we will experience at some time or another, through to retirement and beyond.

Self-Reflection – Your Secret Weapon

Change, in relation to careers, is something the vast majority of professionals will experience at some time or another, through to retirement and beyond.

Over the past few years and especially since the global pandemic, changes have brought significant shifts and transformations in the world of work. Today, across industries professionals are questioning their roles, their passions, and their purpose.

I’ve spent a lot of time in conversation with educators from all over the sector and also from HRD. A common denominator in these conversations tends to focus on the disillusionment of a role or context. This also means people are faced with the challenges of standing at a very perplexing career crossroads:

“Iʼm trying to determine if a new career path, inside or outside of education, is right for me.”

“I just feel so trapped in a dilemma – stay with my familiar and unhappy or move into the uncertainty of something completely different.”

Oftentimes as the urge to change becomes a reality, we race to the classifieds and job searching begins. Resumes are written, job descriptions appraised, and applications sent out to a zillion employers. This of course is swiftly followed by disappointment, accompanied by a sense of ‘failureʼ, of not being good enough. Finally, comes surrender. The job search slows down and for a while the ‘familiar and unhappyʼ become bearable once again!

Do The Inner Work First

I have taken this route only to find myself out of the frying pan and into a very hot fire. Hereʼs the thing though, whatever change you make, you have to take yourself with you. There is a Japanese term, used in Buddhism called ‘esho funiʼ. It refers to the body and the shadow being one and inseparable. They are two things, but you canʼt separate them. Applied to our everyday situation it refers to the person and the environment being one – like the body and shadow. One influences the other and vice-versa!

It made perfect sense to me and it also, for the first time, gave me a lot of control over the career decisions I was making. I have to take myself with me wherever I go so I really need to make sure I’m ‘fit for purpose! And, it begins with the all important self-reflection. I also began to realise that there is no one correct pathway in the world of work. At least not now here in 2023. So it is really  amazing how much insight one gains when you dig deep and reflect before leaping into something new.

The Power Of Self-Awareness

The concept of selfreflection has now become an all important and recurring theme in my client conversations. Career transition is a transformative experience and its success can depend on your willingness to do the groundwork. By understanding ourselves better, we facilitate a smoother transition into a new role or career. We set the stage for longer-term satisfaction and professional and personal growth.

At times the desire for a career shift is triggered by a kind of disconnect with personal fulfilment, alignment and/or purpose. Itʼs not necessarily a dislike for the work itself. So, itʼs crucial to understand the whyʼ behind this desire to move. Why are you craving change? Why do you feel burnt out or disillusioned? Getting to the bottom of these questions will help you consider carefully so you’re confident about making decision that align with who you are.

Some say too much inward looking is bad thing. To some extent one can agree. It’s possible to fall into overthinking and then grind to a halt as you hit the old procrastination wall. However, the need for self-reflection or a time limited introspection, in relation to career or life change, which tends to be high stakes, cannot be understated.

In Self-Reflection You Are The Protagonist

An in-depth understanding of oneself is essential for both a career change, and also for our own personal development. As life progresses our needs are constantly changing. It’s important to re-visit our aspirations, interests, and motivations. This self- awareness can help us identify any underlying causes of burnout or dissatisfaction. It can give us valuable insights that guide our decision-making and ultimately increase overall work-life balance and satisfaction.

The process isn’t a walk in the park; it requires time, patience, and honesty with oneself, but itʼs an inner journey thatʼs definitely worth it. Throughout you’ll get a clearer vision, clear away negativity,  and gain confidence in understanding your true potential. As the fog clears you’ll be sure of your core values, strengths, and the direction you want to move in.

So, if you find yourself at a career or life changing crossroads, remember firstly, that the protagonist on this journey is you! Pause before rushing into any major decisions. Take the time to look within, explore your emotions, your desires, and your aspirations. Unravel your ‘whyʼ. Get clear about what is revealed which could then be key to unlocking an incredible new way forward. And anyway one also should ask what’s wrong with having a squiggly career. reflection-key-career-change/ career-assessment

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