TAKEAWAYS FROM THIS EPISODE:
- It’s easy to rationalize our way OUT and convince ourselves we don’t need a career change.
- Asking for help at the outset can make all the difference.
- The transition to a new career can take different forms; there isn’t one way to do this.
- A midlife career change doesn’t mean starting from Square 1. We take with us all the experiences, skills, and perspectives that can only enrich our new role.
Changing careers under any circumstance can be a challenge. Doing so in our midlife, after we’ve built a successful career through years of training and dedicated work — that can be daunting. And what if you’re actually quite good at that job? What if the thing you do IS meaningful work and your clients need you. What if you’ve got kids and you’re the breadwinner in the family?
Faced with such responsibilities and expectations, it’s easy to rationalize our way out of a career change. We can persuade ourselves that we don’t need to make a change at all. That this is how things are and oh, by the way, it’s not so bad. Other people have it worse than us.
If there’s one thing that 2020 drilled into me, it’s that things can turn just like that. The rug can be pulled from under us without warning. Wouldn’t we want to fill our lives with the kinds of experiences we’d rather be having? Certainly, what we do during our working hours is a large part of that experience.
But… there’s also the reality of our lives. In our midlife, we’ve got responsibilities and obligations. People are depending on us. We can’t just walk away, yell YOLO, and throw caution to the wind.
I believe there’s a way to usher in a change in our careers and our lives without it being a cautionary tale of a midlife crisis. There’s a way to do a big bold move that’s also responsible and respectful of the people in our lives.
And Annie Schuessler’s story is one such example.
ABOUT MY GUEST:
Before she was a business coach, Annie was a trained and licensed therapist with a booming private practice. In this episode, Annie shares the inciting incident, that wonderful reunion weekend with some college friends that led her to admit the truth about her successful practice.
You can follow Annie Schuessler on Instagram
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A FEW HIGHLIGHTS FROM THE CONVERSATION:
I was a little bit on the fence, feeling like maybe what I need to do is just let this go. Go back to regular life and this feeling of wanting something different will pass. I even wondered if maybe I was self-sabotaging. That I had finally created success for myself and maybe, I was trying to sabotage it by thinking, Oh, I need something new. So I went through a lot of different ways of kind of trying to push this away.
As I continued to sit with it and think about what had come up over that weekend, it just kept returning to me this feeling of, actually there’s something here to listen to. There’s something here to really pay attention to and take seriously. And that was pretty scary because if I were to listen to that, then what did that mean? I had invested a lot of time and a lot of money into this. So that sunk cost fallacy was up in a huge way. Like if you’ve built it, you got to keep it.
One thing I was afraid of was talking to my wife about this because even though my wife is not a scary person at all, I just felt like she — who also goes by they — had just sacrificed so much and really had invested in this career with me in raising our kids together in. Being there on the weekends when I would go away for trainings, in advanced couples therapy, and all of that stuff. They had been so supportive and I felt like bringing this up with them and saying, you know, I’m thinking I need to change, that that would just not be fair.
I felt like there was something about time. There was something about feeling like time is very short in this whole equation of, should I make a career switch? Should I really invest in another way of doing my work? There was this awareness of time is very precious and limited and feeling like this is a queer woman’s midlife crisis.
There is also a lot of wisdom around getting beyond your zone of competence or excellence and into your zone of genius. And I really needed to hear that at the time. There is a way that you can get stuck in doing something that you’re good at and it can keep you away from doing the next thing that maybe, you’re even more meant to do.
I want to celebrate midlife and celebrate aging. I really work hard to embrace the changes like my aging face and my aging body, and to pour a lot of love on myself and honor that I’m stepping over time into becoming an elder. And I feel really drawn to that energy of becoming an elder. I’m also noticing as I’m getting close to 50, I feel like I’m getting more and more into a relationship with my ancestors — both in celebrating them and in also wanting to heal the harm that they’ve done. For me, that feels like something that I’m getting more into in midlife.
In my twenties, I was looking for validation in just about every moment. Looking for validation on the faces of other people and trying to figure out how to be and what to say that would have me feeling accepted and loved and valued, even though I wouldn’t have admitted it at the time. Today, I am focused on getting in touch with my grounded self, my wiser self, and the part of me that already knows what’s true, even though it’s still not easy.