April 21, 2014

5 Mind Traps to Avoid in Your Career Change Process

What's In Your Way Roadblock Barricade SIgn

Save yourself from yourself! Check and see if any of these mindsets towards the career change process apply to you. If you find one or more that do, don’t be hard on yourself, they’re very common.  With a little shift in perspective, they can be avoided and needn’t become roadblocks.

1. Wanting to rush through the process. “Are we there yet?”

The most common question I’m asked is, “How long does career change take?”  It takes however long it takes.  I’ve had clients find solutions after one session and others who are doing several transitions over a number of years.  Rushing through the process to escape an unhappy situation can result in the “out of the fire into the frying pan” scenario.  An alternative approach is to view this crossroads as a time of discovery and adventure.  It’s a great opportunity to ask some mountaintop questions such as, “What’s really important to me?  What do I want in this next phase of my life?  What am I missing out on? How do I want to grow?”  You don’t have to actually go off to a mountaintop or an Ashram in India to find your answers, just allow yourself time.

2. Needing to know how it’s all going to work out.  “I can’t take the first step until I can see the end point.”

The path to becoming a doctor wasn’t easy, yet you knew exactly what steps to take.  You may have hiked uphill all the way with an 80-pound pack and leaden boots, but there was yellow paint on the trees and you had a map.  The destination was marked with a big “X.”  Once you venture beyond clinical practice however, it’s as if you’re lost in the forest. There’s no yellow paint, no map, and your internal GPS is broken. It can be overwhelming and paralyzing, though it doesn’t have to be.  Instead of being anxiety-provoking, uncertainty and the unknown can allow for something new and dynamic to enter into your life.  Martin Luther King Jr. said, “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.” The first step is to know you want something different and to commit to finding out what’s possible.  The details will sort themselves out as you move forward.

3. “I’m a physician.  Who wouldn’t want to hire me?”

You’ve had countless years of education and training.  Perhaps you have a 15-page CV, can remove a gall bladder in the dark, see 50 patients a day and diagnosis a pulmonary embolism from across the room.  You feel if given the chance, you could do just about any job.  However, when you send out that stellar CV to non-clinical job postings, there’s an insulting silence.  Truth is, you may or may not be a great candidate for the job. It could simply be that your CV needs to be reworked into a resume to better highlight your accomplishments.  Or it could be that you need some specific experience to qualify. Once you’ve identified a non-clinical area of interest, diligent research will show you what gaps you need to fill to be a successful candidate.

4. “I’m just a physician.  Who would hire me?”

Have you ever thought, “All I know is being a doctor. I don’t have any other skills.  What else could I possibly do?”  I encounter this mindset more often than its opposite above.  The truth is, if you made a list of all the skills and abilities you use in clinical practice, you would be writing for a LONG time. One of the coaching exercises I love doing with clients involves creating a one-page grid that captures all of their unique interests and abilities.  Through this process, clients often are pleasantly surprised to discover they have special gifts and abilities they’ve underestimated and taken for granted.

5. “It’s selfish to want something for myself.”

I get it. You’re a doctor and you’ve devoted your life to helping people.  But that doesn’t mean you should be at the end of the line feeling guilty asking for more porridge, like Oliver Twist.  Isn’t it enough to work really hard, be on call, work nights and weekends, bring charts home, provide for the family, put kids through college, and sacrifice your health to fulfill your obligations? Yes, of course it is.  But when you want something for yourself, you feel guilty and selfish. Hire a babysitter? Date night with your spouse? Take a vacation without the kids?  Do some special training?  Have a different job where you might be happier?  On no, you can’t ask for that! The truth is, when you do things that support a more balanced and healthier lifestyle for YOU, your loved ones benefit too, and they usually want these things very much for you.

Dropping a mindset that isn’t serving you can be as simple as letting go of a feather.  The question is, how tightly are you holding on?