7th Nov 2016
The Invisible Visible Key to Career Change: Energy
This blog explores a lot of the main factors involved in career change, but on reflection we’ve never explored what may be the most important factor of all.
It’s not obviously related to careers, yet it underpins every successful career transition I’ve ever seen.
That factor is energy.
A successful transition takes inspiration, courage, endurance and flexibility in the face of tough times. All of this takes energy.
In hindsight, energy was certainly the critical contextual factor in my own transition. For example, when I was stuck my pattern was like this:
Feel bad about my job. Eat junk. Drink alcohol to forget it all. Eat hangover food (i.e. more junk). Work longer hours to try to make my career improve. Get distracted and bored. Eat more junk. Feel too lethargic to go to the gym. Sit there….feel bad about my job.
And so on.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, in this context all my attempts to get unstuck failed.
My mind would rapidly close down ideas, I rarely did anything that wasn’t related to my established routine (even though it was this I wanted to escape) and I became cynical about the possibility of career change. I still have a card that I bought at the time:
It was only when I changed my habits relating to my own mental health and energy that things changed:
I started eating brown bread instead of white (which had a bizarrely profound effect), I stopped drinking alcohol in the week, ran at lunchtimes, cut back on my working hours and started to do things I enjoyed.
Suddenly my career change started to gain traction. I started to experiment.
I read a cheesy book called ‘How to Find the Work You Love‘ and went to the world’s first Positive Psychology conference in Washington DC. I took an online course in psychology (which I hated) but then started to read more widely about the philosophy of science, and the history of psychology. I had some therapy.
And slowly these actions started to transform who ‘I’ was. But maybe the transformation started earlier. Maybe it started with the brown bread.
We tend to think that a fulfilling career will energise us. But in my case, I needed to become energised into order to find fulfilling work.