As a career coach, I have the pleasure of supporting people to make meaningful changes in their work. But often, before they move into work careers they love, they’ve got to move past a barrier that’s standing in their way.
You know that you’ve got a barrier to change if you’re making comments like this:
“I can’t stand my job. But it pays so well. So I have to stay.”
“My business isn’t making any money. So I guess I’ll take a corporate job, even though I dread commuting and working in an office makes me crazy.”
“I love the idea of being a teacher and educating and inspiring students. But you know, teachers are really flaky and not actually very smart. It’s an easy profession to get into. You just get a teaching certificate and you can get hired.”
In these types of comments, what’s apparent to me is a conflict. A tug of war. A dichotomy.
On the one hand, you’ve got a type of work you’d like to move towards. But on the other hand, you get stuck and held back by some idea of what is bad or wrong or otherwise with your vision. And you let that opposing view or idea keep you stuck.
So, what’s the real reason you’re not making the career shift you desire?
You’re experiencing resistance.
In other words, you’re resisting what your heart truly desires. You’re defying your own natural, innate gifts. You’re allowing your powerful ego dictate your direction, rather than trusting the truth of what you want.
Sure, you can come up with all kinds of logical reasons to oppose your desires, and not pursue what you actually want. You rationalize that there’s absolutely no way to earn decent money following your desires. Or you’d need to do tons of training that will take forever. Maybe you even worry about what other people will think of your change, and let that stop you.
But the real culprit here is resistance. Resistance is a natural force that all of us face when we want to shift our direction. I’m fond of the wisdom of one of my yoga teachers, who says “we live on a polarity planet.” Everything has an opposing force. So if you feel the tug of a desire, you will also likely feel the push against doing that.
If you’re finding that you’re at odds with yourself, constantly confused about the direction to pursue, constantly arguing with friends who are encouraging you to pursue your passion, those are all examples of encountering resistance.
To pursue your heart’s desire, you might sense the resistance and magnify the pull of your desires more intensely, and “muscle through” the resistance. I don’t recommend that effortful approach.
So, how do you break through your own resistance to making a career shift?
Generally, not harshly. You can avoid attempting a wham-bam-poof hardcore break through. That’s typically fruitless. Instead, I recommend a gentle approach. Acknowledge that when you’re confronted with the ability to have, do, or be what you want, you get scared. And you put the brakes on.
One of my teachers, Gay Hendricks, refers to this issue in his book, “The Big Leap,” as the Upper Limits Problem. It’s the idea that you may put a ceiling on your joy and happiness, because you unconsciously learned to do that when you were a kid, and you haven’t “unlearned” that habit yet.
For example, if you loved to put on little shows and performances when you were a kid, and your parents told you “stop it, you’re being a show-off” you might sabotage yourself as an adult when there’s an opportunity to shine. Or you deflect compliments about your “great performance on that tough project,” because deep-down, you’re terrified that you’ll be seen as hogging he spotlight.
So, back to this career change you’re contemplating. If you’re constantly catching yourself moving away from your desires, instead of pursuing them, here’s an activity to help you get unstuck:
(1) Make a list of your authentic desires about the kind of work you truly want.
(2) Look over that list. As you read it over, notice anything you say to yourself, in your head, about why you can’t have your desires. Make a second list, where you jot down the justifications for why your desires won’t work out, such as “You’re not smart enough,” or “You’ll never make any money doing THAT!”
(3) Now, read over your second list, the justifications list.
(4) Ask yourself, “When I hear those words in my head, they have a kind of voice. When I hear that inner voice, what kind of a character comes to mind?” Maybe it’s a whiner. Or a perfectionist. Or an angry, raging bull. The character can be anything.
(5) Notice that this inner voice is just a character, an aspect of yourself that you’ve learned to internalize. But it’s just an aspect. It’s not you. It’s not your soul, your spirit, your essence. It’s just a voice.
(6) On paper, write back to each of the justifications from step 2, from your own kind, generous spirit. Allow a sweet response to bubble up from the wisdom of your soul, essential self, Higher Self, or whatever you call it. Or a caring motherly or fatherly voice.
(7) Keep writing back to the justifications, until you feel some palpable ease. This may take time, so feel free to do this in 5-15 minute sessions.
(8) Over time, notice that the resistance eases up, you have more energy, and you’re building momentum in the direction of your career desires.
Use this transformative practice to free yourself any time you feel icky, sticky energy-sucking resistance.
The gift? You’ll have the energy and motivation to pursue your career desires.
So, what’s next?
Try this out. Now. Don’t wait and let the resistance pile up. And when you go through the steps, let me know what happens for you.
And if you need more help, reach out. I’d love to support you in being your most sensational self at work