28th June 2017
by Dr Fiona Day
Suzanne was working for an NHS (UK National Health Service) organisation which was being dissolved following a reorganisation. As a qualified physiotherapist she really struggled with the idea of being transferred away from the NHS and into an arms-length body, and she couldn’t see a way forwards for herself. She identified very strongly with the label ‘NHS staff’ – this was, she felt, at the very core of her professional identify.
With no easy way for her to remain employed within the NHS, Suzanne was rapidly becoming stuck. The label ‘NHS staff’, which had given her so much drive and determination for the last 20 years, was now becoming a barrier to her ability to move forwards in the face of the reorganisation.
What can we learn from Suzanne’s difficult experience? We all use labels about ourselves as a form of sense making in the world, these are like mental short cuts which may represent a much larger pattern of behaviours, roles, standards and values, as well as job titles.
Sometimes labels are really helpful, for example ‘I want to drive more carefully now that I am a parent’; ‘my partner is ill and I want to be a good partner and support them to get better’; ‘as a professional teacher, I make sure that I attend my annual update training to keep my skills up’.
But what happens when labels start to limit us in our thinking and limit our choices? This is particularly true when we are considering a change in career direction, so it is important to be aware of how the labels we habitually use to make sense of our world and our working lives can help or hinder us.
You might like to take a moment to ask yourself whether your labels are still serving you well, by following these steps:
Suzanne learned through coaching that the label she called ‘NHS staff’ was actually a mental short cut that she used to mean ‘making a difference and helping people in need’. With this greater insight and flexibility, she was able to make the right decision for herself in her difficult situation, and is now flourishing in her new career.
29th May 2017
Rob’s post about the importance of energy management in career transition resonated with me because since I started my career change process over four years ago I’ve come to recognise the importance of recovery in my own life.
So in this post I wanted to look at what the research says about psychological recovery, particularly through demanding career transitions.