Change is constant. The only thing I’d add to that old phrase is the changing pace of change is constant. We live in a time where we are always adapting, or at least trying to.
The toughest change to adapt to, is when the delivery is a shock and impacts one of the key pillars of whole life wellbeing. For example, career, wealth, health or community. This can relate to redundancy, unexpected debt, mental or physical health diagnosis or sudden loss of someone close. Any one of these events interrupts the certainty that we woke up with that day.
Professor Geert Hofstede’s research indicats Australians have a very intermediate tendency to uncertainty avoidance, which is the ‘extent to which the members of a culture feel threatened by ambiguous or unknown situations and have created beliefs and institutions that try to avoid these’. In essence, we don’t tend to cope as well with the unknown.
Understanding the balance of elements that creates our own individual wellbeing, can mean the difference between navigating change successfully or a challenging situation resulting in a profound effect on our mental health.
So why is a holistic approach needed?
Holistic is “characterized by the belief that the parts of something are intimately interconnected and explicable only by reference to the whole”. That is what the human experience is all about. An event such as being made redundant will bring our fears into sharp focus, I can’t afford the mortgage, I’m too old to find another job, I don’t know what I’m good at anymore. Our fears may not always highlight the true underlying factors or be logical about the best approach, instead grasping for a quick fix that will take the uncertainty away.
Living in a western economy means our development follows structured stages – from birth and medical care, early childhood development milestones, formal education and then into our first employment experience. After that, life weaves many unique and differing stories. As we move through life’s phases, our lives get more complex not simpler.
If you experience sudden career change during a complex period of life, a more holistic approach will help you navigate the change. As well as practical steps relating to your career search, financial security, mental and physical health, and making sure you have a strong community around you, there are more subtle elements to be aware of.
Self Awareness vs Self Identity
If our identity is overly tied to our profession or job title, when it’s taken away, we can feel a great loss for our place in the world. Having greater self awareness for who we are as individuals that is separate from our careers, ie what we truly value that underpin our real identity allows for more flexibility in what the next career stage may look like.
Updated Personal plan
Spending years on the corporate ladder or pressure of wealth accumulation can be like running the never ending race. It may have had its purpose for a certain period of your life but have you recently reassessed the priorities you’re working towards? Is this the lifestyle you want to maintain or do you have other options? Are you aligned with the significant people in your life or determinedly forging ahead?
Impact of Shame
As Hoftstede’s research shows we like to have a certain level of control over our life path and with that sometimes brings a feeling of strength and pride. When we lose control or it’s taken out of our hands, we can often feel the opposite, which is shame. As Brene Brown says ‘shame corrodes the very part of us that believes we are capable of change. By hiding away because we aren’t where we thought we’d be, actually takes away the opportunity to own the story of what has happened and be open to possibilities that come from connecting with others.
Human vs Tech
Connecting with others is vital as success is never achieved alone. Everyone’s story is unique, the pathways to achieve a goal are often varied and the only way to find out what is possible is through conversation. There is so much reliance on social platforms to help build your network but a large number of connections or followers are meaningless without face to face human conversations and building trust and credibility. For all the technology, the world still works on who you know not just what you know.
Change in mid to late career can be the start of a new phase leading to a long and productive life. Through knowledge of ourselves and changing market, it’s possible to pivot successfully to the next phase instead of hanging on at all cost.