How do I give up my career when I believe it partially defines me?
Why is this question important?
Because it marks an ending. And life is full of endings:
- The end of children at home
- The end of a relationship
- The end of a career, i.e. retirement
How we deal with all these endings paves the way forward to a fuller, more satisfying, and joyful life.
The psychological principle behind the question.
A good place to start finding your answer to a question like this is to consider that you may have arrived at this moment in your life still identified with some role or expectation that no longer serves you. Your way forward could be to dis-identify with this role or expectation.
There are two tempting ways to mis-handle this situation, both defensive and, in the long run, defeating:
- to repress or
- to blame.
In repression mode we try not to pay attention – to suck it up and soldier on – to distract ourselves with irrelevant activities. This helps us dampen down the immediate pain, but the issue may show up later as medical or emotional illness.
The second way to mis-handle the situation is to blame it on our childhood experience, our parents, or on some outside force like the boss or the economy.
Healtheir ways to find your own answer
Here’s how to deal with the situation. Instead of repressing it, bring it fully into your conscious awareness. And instead of blaming your past on some external influence, take full responsibility, and respond as best you can with some positive action.
Try this experiment right now
Side-step the chatter in your head that keeps you stuck in your situation by setting aside some time in a place free of distractions. Sit in a relaxed but upright position. Bring the focus of your attention to your breathing. Notice the rhythm of your inhalation and exhalation. Notice the length of time you take for each, and see if you can gradually extend the length of each to six seconds. This helps disengage you from the trap of your chattering mind, and opens you to new messages from other more visceral areas of your body.
Scan your body starting with your feet and going upwards. Notice any tightness. As you continue to breathe, focus on these areas one at a time. Become curious about what this tension represents. Is this something you are holding onto that you can let go of when you are ready?
Now bring your attention to the issue that is troubling you. Welcome it into your consciousness not as your enemy, but as a friend who has a message for you. Become curious about what that message might be. For example, if your issue is the potential loss of a career identity, ask what you can learn from the experience. If it is anxiety about what comes next in your life, ask what new room it provides for expansion of your possibilities. Then take full responsibility for exploring and bringing these possibilities into your life.
Decide what next, specific, positive, small action you can take, and do it.
The benefit of this exercise is to damp down your anxiety without repressing or ignoring it and to help you take a few steps forward, no matter how small.
So there you have it. Two Life Coach backed tips to “Live long and prosper” in today’s aging society – no co-pay required.
- Resist the temptations of avoiding or blaming
- Instead go inward using deep breathing to consciously explore your situation, investigate, and take even the smallest steps toward what new opportunities it may present for you.