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Show Notes:

Welcome to Hello Rebecca Ray, our collective home for courage, growth, and human to human connection. I’m your host, Dr. Rebecca Ray, human, clinical psychologist, author, and educator. I know only too well how fear, comparison, and self-doubt can stifle your potential. This podcast is all about brave and meaningful living, and how you can make your authentic contribution to the world today and every day.

Hello, lovely ones welcome to episode number 62 of Hello, Rebecca Ray. In this episode, I want to take you through a five-step process for when you’re considering changing career direction. It’s a topic that’s particularly close to my heart, because as a result of burnout, I was forced to leave my practice as a psychologist, so I was in clinical practice for oh goodness, over a decade. And I had done many things. I think I’d taken many steps to work out whether or not I could stay in clinical practice, or whether I had to walk away from it completely as a result of burnout. And I didn’t realise that until it had actually happened that I pushed myself to the point where burnout made their decision for me, which makes me really sad, I, I will never do that, again, I will never work from a place of burnout. But being young, and thinking that I knew better, and thinking that I could do all the things that I saw people doing around me without fully acknowledging my energy resources was a tough lesson to learn. But it’s a lesson that served me well for how I work now. And because we’ve spent two years now in a global pandemic, where many people have experienced changes to their working life, I wanted to take you through this process in case the position that you find yourself in is one of reevaluating your career. So if you’re sitting there thinking that you’re not in work that you like, or that you’re in doing work that doesn’t seem to fit for you, or if working from home has opened up an entirely new set of possibilities for you. Or if having time away from the workplace has made you rethink not wanting to go back there thanks to lockdowns and things like that, then this is the episode for you.

So the first step I want to talk about is step number one, is what you’re doing harming you or devolving you. That is devolving, as in does that make you feel like you’re stuck? Does it make you feel like you’re shrinking your growth rather than expanding your growth? The things to think about in this step is if your work is firstly affecting your mental or physical health or both. Is it making you feel anxious? Is it making you feel depressed? Is it asking you to do repetitive tasks that are hurting your body that you’re not getting treatment for or that you can’t see yourself doing for a long period of time. For instance, my wife, Nyssa is a musician and she was on the gigging circuit for quite a number of years and spent at least four nights a week, lugging in gear setting it up, packing it down, over and over again, really heavy gear, heavy speakers, there was often a long walk involved, and she was in a position where she just knew that her body wouldn’t be able to take that for decades, decades upon decades. And so I want you to think about if there’s physical demands of your work that don’t fit for you. Even working at a desk all day is problematic if you’re not able to get up and take breaks. Now in terms of this stuff, is what you’re doing harming or devolving you I also want you to think about do you feel like this work is taking you nowhere or it’s no longer meaningful to you. Now I’m not saying that everyone can do work that they absolutely love. Sometimes a job is simply just a job but what it does for you is it allows you to have a personal If that you love, it allows you to do other things outside of work that you love doing. But sometimes when we sign up for work that we initially inspired by and motivated by, we can often grow out of that work. Or we can simply change interests and start to think this is not really for me anymore. I have done everything I can do in this role, or in this particular business or in this direction, and I want to explore something new. The other thing I want you to think about is when it comes to the work that you’re doing, whether or not it’s harming or devolving you does it give you Sunday night blues.

In my case, when I was burnt out Sunday night, blues turned into Sunday afternoon blues, which turned into Friday afternoon blues, which turned into every night before work blues. And that actually didn’t have much to do with the work at all. Once I got to work, I was fine. Once I was in a session just doing what I did, I was fine. But it was the anticipatory anxiety that was problematic for me. And that was as a result of the fact that I just burned my giving tanks out so much that I couldn’t replenish them fast enough to keep up with the work that I was doing. Is the same happening for you? And the final thing that I want you to evaluate in step one is, does this violate your life non-negotiables? Does the work that you’re doing not fit for you because it’s actually violating your needs at a very basic level. To give you another example, my wife, Nyssa is a morning person. Now, you might recognise that for most musicians, the work that they do is at night and because she loves music so much and she loved gigging she loved performing, she just put up with it. So she would have late nights three to four nights a week, and be exhausted for a couple of days after that, as her body recalibrated and caught up with itself. She now works as a music producer and composer. Quick shout out if any of you are looking for your own personal music composed for your podcasts or composed for programmes that you’re creating, then she is the woman to go to nyssaray.com. That’s nyssaray.com. And so what Nyssa has done is she’s actually re-worked her music career so that she produces work now during the day, and she composes during the day. And most of the time, there is the odd gig that happens at night. But most of the time, she’s no longer violating her life, non-negotiables, which is to actually work with her energy, not against it, which means that she’s not having late nights all the time. So I’m wondering if for you is what you’re doing, affecting or violating your life non-negotiables. Perhaps you need routine. And this job doesn’t provide you with routine. Perhaps you really want to spend time with your family. But you’re commuting a long way for a long time morning and afternoon. I want you to think about this step one. Is what you’re doing harming you or devolving you. So I want you to just take a moment to consider now whether or not you’re you would say yes to this step. Yes, it’s harming me or it’s devolving me.

Step number two, do you have the privilege of re-deciding? Now it’s really important that I acknowledge that this is a very privileged conversation to be having. Age stigma is real, perhaps you’re getting older, and there’s simply not the number of positions out there that you would be considered for. I hate that factor. I think that ageing is such a privilege and we have such wisdom to bring to work roles, but industries don’t necessarily consider that. I hope that it changes over time. But age stigma is real.

Now, you may not have the privilege of re-deciding about your career because of resource availability. You know, not everyone has the energy or the time or even the money to fall back on if you were to leave one job to go and find another job or if you were to leave your job and start a business and support yourself during that time where your business was growing. Resource availability is a privilege. You may not have the privilege of re-deciding if you don’t have support around you. It can make a big difference. If you’ve got someone who’s got your back as you redecide around your career, when I left clinical practice, I had Nyssa, she supported me for a good six to 12 months while I essentially gathered myself, I put myself back together after being so burnt out, and made decisions around how I was going to move forward. Because I ended up leaving clinical practice not knowing anything about what I would do with my life. I just had, I just knew I had to stop, I didn’t know what was going to come next, it was a scary time. But I’m so glad that I sat with that uncertainty, because it allowed me to be where I am today. But it was also because I had Nyssa beside me that allowed me to make that decision to move on. Now, the privilege of re-deciding can also be affected by skills and education, perhaps you don’t have the skills to do another skilled job, perhaps you don’t have the education that would be required for doing what it is that you really would like to do. Maybe your health is also not what it was. And that affects the privilege of you simply being able to up and walk away from your particular direction right now and decide differently. But if these things aren’t necessarily a factor, or there’s another way that you can look at them, or you have enough of these things in your favour that you can redecide, I want you to stop and think about are you answering yes to step number two, do you have the privilege of re-deciding about the direction of your career?

Step number three, can you increase the acceptable risk? Now, it’s really important for us to acknowledge that, you know what, it’s just easier to keep doing what you’ve always done. It’s just easier for you to stay in your comfort zone. And to not redecide about your career and to not explore something new. And instead to stay where you are, to stay with the business that you’re running to stay with the job that you’re doing, because it’s a known quantity. So I want to ask you, can you increase the acceptable risk here? That is, can you give yourself permission to get outside your comfort zone? Can you accept the uncertainty that will arrive with that? Can you be willing to feel uncomfortable in the service of achieving greater alignment in your work life? Can you be willing to not have all the answers right now because you might be in a similar place to what I was in where you don’t know what the future will look like. You just simply know that you don’t want to continue doing what you’re doing. And can you be open to exploring options and experimenting, because as you are exploring new direction, you might find that the first thing that you start doing is not the thing that you want to keep doing.

When I left clinical practice, I started, I wrote an online programme called Happy habits, which was based on positive psychology techniques. And I hid behind that brand because it took me quite a while to find my own voice the message that I wanted to send to a broader audience. And so for a time I hid behind the happy habits brand, my name wasn’t anywhere. It wasn’t on the website, it wasn’t on my social media profiles. And I was essentially just trying to figure out what I was going to do with my life. And so that was my in between programme before I started my personal brand. And there was nothing about that was aligned other than the fact that I believed in the content because I love positive psychology techniques. But what that meant was, it was a stepping stone on the way to where I didn’t really know I was going I didn’t know that my career would unfold as it had. Back in 2015, I didn’t know that I would be in a place where I would be primarily writing books for a living, selling courses online, mentoring and helping entrepreneurs do the thing that they want to do in the world as well as doing a whole heap of media work. So sometimes you can’t know how things will unfold, but it’s being able to say yes in the service of opening up the possibility for greater alignment that can allow the surprises to come to you. So are you saying yes to step number three, can you increase the acceptable risk?

Now step number four, do you still feel the need to change after a holiday or a break? This is not a trick question. I actually want you to think about it. Because sometimes we just need a rest. Sometimes we simply need to remove ourselves from the grind and take a proper break. So have you given yourself a decent holiday? Have you given yourself a break? Have you re-adjusted the things in your world so that you could actually take a break from work? And if you have, when you’ve come back to work, how do you feel? For me, time off actually made things worse rather than refreshing me, it was almost like giving myself a taste of not doing that kind of work anymore, and I couldn’t get enough of it. So when I had to go back to it, it actually made me feel worse, more anxious. Sometimes a holiday can make you realise how much you dislike what you’re current currently doing, and then make you dread returning to work. So I want you to think about whether or not you’ve given yourself a holiday to be able to replenish and if you have, how do you feel returning? Are you answering yes to step number four? Do you still feel the need to change career after taking a holiday or a break? If the answer is no, then great. You’ve answered your own question. All you needed was timeout. But if you’re answering yes, then let’s go to step number five.

So step number five is you’ve said yes to the work that you’re doing is ever harming you or devolving you, you’ve said yes to step number two, which is that you have the privilege of redesigning, you’ve got age and health on your side, you have available resources, support skills, education and time. You’ve said yes to increasing the acceptable risk. And you’ve said that a holiday didn’t cut it, you need something more than that. So step number five is what now. I want you to check in with your intuition first. And you may very well find that your intuition has been saying this all along. And it’s only as you’re listening to this conversation, that your intuition is nodding along going, this is exactly where you’re at.

And then what I want you to do is grab a pen and paper or sit down at your computer. And I want you to brainstorm all the alternatives that come up for you about what you could possibly do, it’s really important that you don’t judge the brainstorming process don’t censor the options that you come up with. Because if you start to censor them at this stage, you may miss possibilities that you haven’t considered. So write down every single alternative that you can think of. And then I want you to discuss them with someone that you trust that you can give you some perspective. Now it’s really important that this is not someone who will pull you back into safety, because they’re threatened by your growth. When I was in clinical practice, I treated a lot of clients who would go to their parents to discuss things like this and their parents simply just wanting the best for their child would, a lot of the time, encourage them to stay doing what was safe. So be really mindful of who you’re surrounded with and who you will have this discussion with. It needs to be someone who is possibility focused, not problem-focused.

Now as you do this, as you’re looking at alternatives, then I want you to account for your non-negotiables. Please don’t repeat the parts of your existing career that are harming you or burning you out. So if you have been doing night work and you hate it, don’t go and choose an alternative that continues you doing night work. Make sure that you look at your non-negotiables in life and you account for those in this new way of working. And then weigh the options. So as you do this, you can actually go through and weigh up the options in terms of their level of importance. So some things are actually worth more in terms of their importance than others. So you might discount some options because other options have characteristics in them that are more important to you. So for example, I now work from home, and I love it so much, so much oh my goodness. There’s something about working from home that really just makes me feel like I don’t have a job gives me so much flexibility. Before I started recording this episode. I literally just hung out a load of washing and I’m able to be here all the time when Bennett is at home, my son and I get to spend time with my gorgeous puppy dogs. And it just simply allows me to do a whole lot more creativity without having to face things in life that would increase my anxiety, like being stuck in morning and afternoon traffic, there is something about commuting, that never worked for me, it would raise my anxiety, it would activate my limbic system and just add to the level of stress that I would deal with on a daily basis. Working from home, I don’t have any of that. So I want you to account for your non-negotiables weigh up the options. And let’s say that somebody had offered me a job outside of here where I had to go to an office, if I could do something similar, but from home, the option to do it from home is worth more greater importance for me. And then finally, you’re at the part where you just need to try one, just give it a go. But also be open to the fact that it may not be exactly what you want first go. And you might have a couple of goes at something before you will arrive at the way you actually want it to be. And even then it might change. It might be flexible, it might unfold in a particular way that you can’t predict unless you try it in the first place.

So step one, is what you’re doing harming you or devolving you? Step two, do you have the privilege of re deciding about your career direction? Step three, can you increase the acceptable risk? Step four, do you still feel the need to change after a holiday or a break? And step five, brainstorm all your alternatives if you’ve said yes to all those questions, and then try one out. This is where you get to take action. I can’t wait to see what comes for you. If you give yourself a chance to redirect where you’re headed. I believe in you. I’m going to hold the belief for you while you develop it for yourself. I can’t wait to catch you in the next episode of Hello Rebecca Ray very shortly.

Lovely ones. Thank you so much for listening to Hello, Rebecca Ray. If you’ve got something meaningful from this episode, then the most meaningful thing you can do is jump on over to wherever you listen to your podcast episodes and leave a review. Because it’s those reviews that help this podcast stay. Make sure to subscribe and if you’re generous enough to share this episode, thank you so much. I love seeing your shares on social media. So please tag me, catch you next time.