Feeling Stuck in a Career? Try This
by Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.


Most people understand the concept of a career wall. You want to escape your career but something stands in the way. It may not be tangible but it is very real. You may even imagine a solid wall with guard towers and barbed wire. To obtain career freedom, you must get to the other side of that wall. In this article, I will share examples of walls and an exercise to help you begin your own journey to career freedom.

Here are some examples of career walls:

Gary's wall was confusion. Gary had worked for a small arts foundation, running a profitable educational program. "I've been here twenty years," he said. "I am ready to move on. We just got a new director, for the third time in ten years. I want to leave but have no idea what to do next."

Kevin's wall was made of paper. He wanted to work in the US but lacked a green card.

Anne was exhausted from her corporate job because she felt her values conflicted with those of the corporate world in general and her firm in particular. Her wall was her family. They needed her income and she was afraid of taking a risk.

The metaphor of tunneling under the wall comes from a wonderful book by Julia Cameron, Supplies: A Pilot's Guide to Creative Flight. Cameron reminds us of the lessons we can learn from watching prison movies. People who escape tunnel under the wall. She compares their success to small dogs that dig under fences, one paw at a time till a large hole appears. Nobody notices but one day you're gone.

To pursue the image of the wall, you may want to borrow a video copy of the movie, The Shawshank Redemption. That movie is a metaphor for escape from any situation where you feel trapped. After you've settled into a corporation for many years, you find your values changing and you want to leave. Maybe you never wanted to be there in the first place and you realize you'll never belong.

Your wall may not be a prison wall. Here is an exercise to begin your own journey to career freedom:

Step 1. Get into a relaxed state and conjure up an image of career freedom. Try not to be too literal. You are not using creative visualization. You are trying to understand the meaning of freedom. Rather than imagining yourself presiding over a meeting, let images come to mind freely. Here's what others have suggested: "A bird soaring over a mountain." "Swimming in the ocean, basking in the sun, feeling warm and cared-for." "Hugging someone and feeling close."

After you've spent time with the image, write down everything you can about your emotions and feelings. Consider telling a story about the image, as if you were not present.

Step 2. From a relaxed state, ask for an image of an obstacle that bars you from career freedom. Again, keep yourself out of the picture. Stay with the image. A logjam? A wall? "Caught in a tornado, totally chaotic." "Bottom of a well and no way to get out." "Barbed wire fence."

Step 3. Now imagine your obstacle going away. If you can't imagine yourself destroying the obstacle, just imagine the obstacle in a state of destruction or disappearance. Is it broken or smashed? Has it stopped by itself? Did you do something creative to make it go away?

How did you feel when the obstacle went away? Relieved? Scared? Confused?

If you repeat these exercises, you will gain an understanding of your own resistance and your own wall. You may find your obstacle changing to something more fearsome or more manageable. As you metaphorically clear away obstacles, you may find yourself moving to freedom in your own life, or understanding what keeps you trapped behind walls.

For more insight into career freedom, visit my website at: http://www.movinglady.com. Or send me an e-mail at cathy@movinglady.com.

Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D., is an author, speaker and coach. She helps clients who want to move to career freedom and develop their intuitive style as they progress through life transitions. To subscribe to her free ezine, send an e-mail to subscribe@movinglady.com

 


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