Handling sudden career change
Keep a flexible attitude
WORK is a large part of most people’s lives but it is important not to let professional and personal identities become one.
In an era of constant change, workers must remain flexible or risk turning their life upside down if their career does not go to plan.
Psychologist Sabina Read says it is possible to use clear goals to find the perfect career match, but workers must also be prepared to reassess their situation as it changes.
“For those of us with a clear, passionate, purposeful road map that honours our strengths and authentic self, pursuing a clear and considered career path, industry or even company can result in a match made in heaven,” she says. “Such alignment can contribute to higher levels of happiness, competence, social networks, engagement, productivity and even reduced stress.
“Yet it’s also important to repeatedly evaluate whether the fit we once considered to be such a wonderful union continues to be a good match.
“Our strengths, needs, values and priorities may shift over time, leaving us with reduced job satisfaction, pleasure, engagement and meaning – or perhaps even the ire of our loved ones.”
She recommends having flexibility and an open mind.
“Wearing blinkers can prevent us from massaging and refining our goals and leave us wedded to an ideal rather than a more realistic pairing between who we are and what we do,” she says.
Workers must also be prepared for curve balls such as redundancies, life changes or roles that do not live up to expectation.
Former Triple J radio host Kyran Wheatley learnt this the hard way when his dream job became available but he was overlooked for the role.
After seven years of working toward the breakfast shift, he was forced to reassess not only his career but his identity.
“I had attached myself to a dream,” he says.
“It had become my identity so then when somebody else came along and ripped that away, they tore out a part of my soul and I wasn’t expecting it.
“It was crippling – I am not kidding around, I was completely lost.”
Still, Mr Wheatley believes it is good to have a career plan.
“My mistake was to chip that plan into stone instead of leaving it in pencil,” he says.
“We should open ourselves up to anything and everything.
“I was thinking ‘I will get a weekend show on Triple J and that will lead me to drive time or breakfast on Triple J and that will put me in a position where I can pitch TV shows’.
“I was thinking five jobs down the line when really I should have been thinking about what I want to do day-today.”
Mr Wheatley spent six months “grieving” his dream job then reinvented his career, now freelancing in podcasting, comedy and the arts.
He discusses this process in depth with Ms Read and other experts in the podcast SEEK
Alternate Route, which turns his lessons into advice for other career changers. Download Seek Alternate Route on iTunes or via a podcast app.
IT WAS CRIPPLING – I AM NOT KIDDING AROUND, I WAS COMPLETELY LOST. KYRAN WHEATLEY