I spent the weekend near Brattleboro, Vt. At the bed and breakfast I met Joseph from New York who, in his early forties, decided to change careers, go back to school, and become a lawyer. Gutsy move! He now practices law and is a part time judge in a lower court, enjoying his new career thoroughly.
I asked Joseph what made him switch careers from management to law. He replied that his management position was no longer secure and that he had recognized a change within him. His inner voice was crying out for something new and challenging, but also something that would serve him and use his gifts well into the future.
Change can be torture for many of us, particularly when it involves upsetting our entire lives. We like routine and are not thrilled with risking a known quantity for what might be merely possible. Routine is also helpful in that when something big comes along in our work or life we’re able to handle it with reserves of energy and enthusiasm.
It’s that inner voice though, sometimes yelling at us to listen. And listen we must, because when a shift occurs within us, even though it may be years in coming, we either address it or live in frustration. A lot of men in particular are living frustrated lives today precisely because they haven’t allowed their inner voice to be heard out of fear, guilt, shame or external circumstances.
What about responsibilities: spouse, children, mortgages, tuitions, aging parents? What about this horrible economy? If we listen to our inner voice and throw over our means of financial security won’t we put in jeopardy the commitments we’ve already made? Yet when commitments seem to enslave us and silence our inner voice we risking dying inside. What to do?
Our voice does not want to sabotage us. It simply informs us that we’ve changed and perhaps we need to reexamine our presuppositions that have previously undergirded our lives and careers. Our inner voice calls for a shift in our perspective, while still maintaining our commitments. We need not jettison the people we love. We need instead to ask what we’re about and why so that we can ask for help and support while we transform our careers.
How have you changed in the past few years? What shifts have you observed in the way you think about and value your life? What values are you willing to die for today, that perhaps were not as important a few years ago? How does your job or career match your values and therefore the call of your inner voice? What will you do about it in this moment?
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