Career Advice: Coaching By Cath

How to Feel Secure When You're Changing Your Career

We all have a natural desire to feel secure. Change shakes up our lives and we often feel insecure when we're going through major changes like changing jobs or careers. And then when we feel insecure, we try to avoid change or we try to control change by creating lots of goals and plans and rules... and then we end up being rigid and restricted and limiting our possibilities and results...

I think we've all seen examples of individuals and organizations that haven't been able to survive this recession and other big world changes because they've been too rigid and inflexible and stuck in the old rules of how things should be done. The people who are thriving right now are the people who are willing to challenge and change the old rules and assumptions and create new ones all the time.

Building A Little Fort To Feel Secure
A common strategy people use when they feel insecure, is to work harder to build their "fort" of "stuff" and to try to find themselves a more "secure" job in a more "secure" industry. The reality is that the sense of security that we try to get from our external circumstances, like having a job, a house, a partner and so on - that sense of security is just an illusion. And all those external, tangible things can easily be taken away at any moment.

When you try to derive a sense of security from those things that are so easily lost, rather than the things that are changeless and enduring, you're actually making yourself less secure. That kind of security isn't based on reality, but on our faith in the illusion that life will continue to be the same and we'll continue to get what we expect and have all that stuff around us.

A lot of people have had that illusion of security shattered by the recent economic recession, and I think more people are starting to wake up to the realization that no job guarantees security, and we're needing to find other ways to feel secure in spite of the lack of security in our circumstances.

The people who'll thrive in this era are those who know how to create a feeling of security regardless of what's going on around them, because they recognize that circumstances don't create feelings. We create our emotions and experience of life through the stories we tell ourselves about those circumstances.

Developing Real Security
Susan Jeffers, in her book, Feel the Fear and Do It Anyway, talks about the fact that all fear is essentially the same structure, and has the same underlying assumption - the story that you won't be able to handle that "thing," if it were to happen. If you knew deep down that you could handle anything, you wouldn't be paralyzed by fear and you wouldn't fear change, and you'd feel deeply safe and secure, regardless of the chaos that might go on around you. In his powerful book, "The Work We Were Born To Do" Nick Williams talks about how true security can never come from building a fort in the physical world or creating plans to try to control the world and prevent bad stuff from ever happening, because we can't control all of that and we can lose the fort we've been building at any moment. True security comes from knowing that you have the imagination and flexibility to be able to adapt and earn a living and feel the way you want to feel no matter what happens - even if bad stuff happened or everything you've built in your life is lost.

So if you want to create emotional security for yourself as you're going through major change in your life or work, here are some tips:

1. Focus On Changing The Part That You Have 100% Control Over And Which Nobody Else Can Take Away
Focus on controlling or changing your own thoughts, feelings and behavior, rather than placing all your focus on trying to change the external circumstances that you don't have 100% control over and which can be taken away at any moment. When you're able to change your own thoughts, feelings and behavior, you'll have the flexibility to learn and do anything required to be able to change your circumstances and you'll become much more powerful and effective at reshaping the world around you so that you can love the work you do or make your way into work that you love. And when you focus on what's changeless and most essential to who you are - your values and who you're being, you'll be able to anchor yourself with that as you endure the changes and challenges around you.

2. Anchor Yourself With A Daily Practice
If you start or end your day with a relaxing, preferably physical practice, you'll create an anchor that grounds you and reassures that part of you that often freaks out when everything else is changing. Reading, writing, drawing, listening to music, walking, running, yoga, or any other practice that allows you to be alone, quiet, reflective and/or moving your body is a powerful way to relax and centre yourself.

3. Develop Your Imagination
If you develop you imagination and ability to invent and create, you'll always be able to invent and create solutions to the challenges of life, and then you can trust that, whatever happens, you can handle it. Activities that are great for developing your imagination include art-making, music-making, song-writing, poetry, impro story-telling, acting, reading both fiction and non-fiction, and playing board games and strategy games.

4. Multi-Skill Yourself And Commit Yourself To Life-Long Learning
From a work perspective, specialist skills are still valuable, but no longer enough. If you want to remain marketable, keep learning and extending your skills so that you can always make a side-ways shift into another role or department or industry, if you need to avoid a major challenge or want to grab a great opportunity. Make it a priority to invest in your ongoing self-directed learning and you'll always feel confident that you'll be able to develop the skills that you need to handle any situation.

Author: Cath Duncan

Cath DuncanCath Duncan is a life and leadership coach and CareerJunction's resident Career Coach. Through one-to-one coaching and projects like the Bottom-line Bookclub, Cath helps people learn the Agile Living Strategies for thriving at work in this high-change era.

Read more about Cath | Get in touch with Cath

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