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July 24, 2008

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Great post. One important point that you didn't really touch on is to ask yourself the same questions about your own tone towards others. Its definitely useful to look for this internally as well as you may be contributing to a negative outlook in the workplace yourself. Do you build people up or tear them down? What encouraging behavior to others do you exercise? Can you make an impact in your current workplace on the overwall tone?

I see so many articles about changing jobs thinking the grass is greener on the other wise and it is usually not. Stop and take a moment to look inside yourself and see what you can do to change this first.

Great point, Mike. And the interesting thing is that quite often, the more you direct your energy and actions towards the positive with others, the more it reflects back to you.

Avoid those workplace dementors! Good sound advice and a good example of how important energy is in life and work.

Hi Curt,

Avoiding those naysayers is so difficult at times, right? And what if it's the person sleeping right next to you? Even worse.

For those whose spousal relationships are being directly "hit" by one of the partner's desires for career change, what do you suggest? I know you're not a psychologist (Or maybe you are! I forget!)....but am curious about your thoughts on when the desire for career change truly "hits home". As we all know, work and home-life aren't mutually exclusive. Thoughts?

Cheers!
Brian Kurth

Hi Brian! Great to see you here. Excellent question. Thanks for asking it.

You're definitely right - I'm no psychologist, so I'm going to limit my thoughts to what kind of action someone might be able to take. Every situation is different, of course, so there is no panacea, but here are some ideas people can start with...

1. Ask.

Start out with by trying to get a real sense of where they're coming from. Ask a simple question like, "If I change careers, what will that mean for you? How could that impact you? How could that impact us?"

2. Listen

Resist the urge to argue your point and simply listen. The more you really understand where they're coming from (even if you don't agree with it), the better equipped you will be in the search for common ground.

3. Explore

Talk about whatever fears, concerns, etc. come up. Some of them may very well be valid. Explore possible ways to minimize the feared effect. Look for alternative perspectives.

4. Explain

Share your thoughts on proposed career change from a benefits perspective. What is unsatisfactory now, and how will things be better with a change? How will it positively impact you? How could it positively impact the other person? Help them see the upside of a career change for you, for them, and for the relationship.

As I said, that's no panacea. But it's a good place to start.

That Sue Burton piece in the WSJ is a cracking career change article - they've even highlighted 3 key points that sustained her journey.

I notice that she also used Brian Kurth's services - that experience might make an interesting case study!

Overall, I think the key term is 'new' - goes with career change territory.
Embrace these new experiences and people at whatever pace feels OK for you.

Going back to Brian's post above, where your significant other is not as "engaged" as you are about a career change. I am in my mid forties, making a great salary doing something I am not enjoying. My wife has been a stay-at-home mom for the past 15 years. I have discovered about 8 years ago that my pcalling was to be a teacher, but with kids and a mortgage, I had hoped to delay that calling for a few years.

Well, as I am not getting younger, and as it will take 2 years or so for me to get certified, I am starting very high discussions with my wife, who is not overjoyed with me. I think deep down inside she is afraid to go back to work as she has left her profession as a writer/editor 15 years ago.

Anyway, the fear factor of a significant reduced income, as well as my wife feeling the need (but not the desire) to go back to work, are my obsticles, resulting in feeling somewhat irresponsible and guilty of even considering such a change.

I will try your advice above, but I think that the benefits I will receive by finding a career that I am passionate about will be overwhelemed by the stress in the marriage.

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