The Myth of the Big Thing (Notes from the field)

May 12, 2015

Career Exploration

unicornShortly after I began career counseling, with the intent of helping people create a deeper, more satisfying direction in their work lives, I noticed a pattern. My clients were not expecting the need for anything beyond a bit of career testing, my expert advise and a new resume. The need for a transition process had not occurred to them. This was the mid 80’s. There was not a lot of information about how one goes about divining meaning, purpose and profit. Most folk’s connection with career development had been with their high school guidance counselor administering a test their senior year, with little or no interpretation.

There was a common expectation that the answer, or ideal job title, would descend as light streaming from a golden cloud above and land on them fully formed. The right path would become instantly clear. No doubt, only certainty and total conviction, no roadblocks or time wasted on dead ends. They would be filled with the confidence that all was possible. I’m not one to poke fun at my clients, but a little humor did help as I began to talk with them about their expectations, which were in line with what they had been led to believe. Hence “the myth of the big thing.”

What I take seriously is the longing for a deeper understanding of self; “Who am I and where do I belong in the world of work?” and a desire to know this with confidence. One of life’s great joys is to know for certain that we are working at something that feels right and is right.

The concept of transition as author William Bridges defines it in his book “Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes,” identifies three stages; endings, a neutral zone then new beginnings and is quite helpful in framing the task of figuring out something this close to your heart. There is a lot of necessary mucking around in this model, the need for patience and perhaps to process an unpleasant ending, i.e. being fired, divorced or injured as a prerequisite for discovering your passion. But it’s a more realistic picture of what human beings require if we are to truly understand the path we are meant to walk. It’s a very different process than going out and finding a “job off the rack.”

Gail Nicholson Gail Nicholson, MA, LPC
Gail is passionate about working with individuals who want to explore and connect with a more authentic sense of self as a basis for defining their lives, work lives and roles in the larger community. She offers a blend of personal and career counseling, as she has found that attending to personal issues or mental health concerns can reduce barriers to moving forward. Gail works with clients on defining purpose and direction, handling stress and tackling career exploration, job search and small business start-up.

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