Big Panic Buttons
When you're midlife and
mid-career, your crisis may come from outside events, such as
layoffs or illness. Other times you've outgrown your life and
want to move on.
Either way, you have no idea
what to do next and, most likely, no mentor for the journey.
Nearly every midlife client, caught in a crisis following many
years of success, hits one of these three panic buttons.
Button 1: Looking for a replacement for what you lost --
immediately. Just moved to a new city? Grab some friends. Lost
a job? Find another! I've met several people who signed up for
a service that promised to send out a thousand resumes. They're
a little embarrassed -- after all, they are successful achievers,
often prominent in their own fields.
Button 2: Looking for immediate answers to the
question, "What should I do?" Several clients tell
me they've spent hundreds of dollars on tests and assessments.
At midlife, the tests invariably demonstrate that you're very,
very good at what you are doing. Many assessments lack scientific
validity -- they're not much more than a quiz you'd take in a
Button 3: Choosing the first coach or counselor
you come across. If you feel like you've been traveling alone
in the wilderness, a sympathetic ear can be very powerful. And
when you're hesitating to take even a small step, a booming voice
of encouragement -- "Of course you can do it! You'll be
great!" -- can be a siren call. In her book, Finding
Your Own North Star, Martha Beck warns us to guard against
cheery promises of fast answers. The best counselors often come
across as cool and distant, she says.
panic button can cost more than the fees you pay in fees. My client Griselda reported a backlash
from her thousand-points-of-paper campaign: "People thought
I was desperate. One company thought someone had sent my resume
as a joke -- I was too prominent in my field."
Reginald regretted not only the
money spent for assessments, but also the feedback he received.
"They told me I would make a good engineer, which I am,"
he said. "But they also suggested I pick an outdoor career.
I'm not ready to be a forest ranger!"
Clarissa had been fantasizing about quitting her job to start
a freelance publicity career. When her coach urged, "Go
for it! You can always return to the corporate world," she
jumped. Six months later, she was broke and far removed from
her old world. She couldn't afford to hire a coach to get her
out of this disaster. "Next time someone urges me to take
a financial risk," she said, "they'd better promise
to pay my mortgage if they're wrong."
Line: Don't beat yourself
up if you hit the panic button. We've all been there. Take time
to investigate your options. What seems to be a straight-line
highway can turn into a bumpy back road that damages your vehicle
and leads you on a hundred-mile detour.
Cathy Goodwin, Ph.D.
Author, Career Consultant, Speaker
*Fast Track to Career Freedom*