In this article, you’ll discover the emotion that has the power to keep you stuck forever (when you avoid or numb it) or drive you towards freedom through action (when you embrace it).
I’ve conducted some very niche career change research. Over 100 people who describe themselves as happier after re-designing their work have kindly allowed me to dig around their change stories.
Every single one of them, no matter what their career was before or after they made changes, experienced one emotion at the beginning of their journey that freed them to do work that made them happier.
Bravery? Not always
Fear of taking risk? Not always.
Anger at feeling stuck? Not always.
Anxiety around change? Not always.
Worry around potential failure? Not always.
Status anxiety? Not always.
So, come on, which emotion did all 100 experience at the beginning of their change?
They all experienced enough vulnerability to say to themselves:
“I am stuck somewhere I don’t want to be and I don’t know what to do about it!”
Then, here’s what happened:
Firstly, by acknowledging their vulnerability in this way, they freed themselves to review their situation from a different angle.
Then they swapped their emotional problem for a knowledge problem - which is a heck of a lot easier to solve!
How others actioned their new knowledge problem rather than hiding their vulnerability:
Each of the 100 successful career changers acknowledged that their vulnerable position and then began solving their knowledge problem in 100 different ways. Here are just of few of them:
David initiated a quiet conversation with a trusted HR Director colleague who offered some valuable advice.
Ges got in touch with a local career coach for the first time in his life, in his 50s.
Kate researched how difficult it might be to actually make her own gin
Liz signed up for a bread-baking course to try something new
Lindsay began to research an industry that she loved - the wine industry
Elizabeth took a break from work to travel and re-evaluate life goals
Clare started to draw again after a big gap to see if her talent came back to her
Andrea used her redundancy pay-out to create her 6 month writing experiment
Charlotte visited trade fairs to get to know a new potential clients at weekends
Duncan down-sized to save up enough to buy a company
All of these activities were only possible after these successful career changers embraced their vulnerable positions in a way that allowed them to take action.
Instead of staying stuck doing work that wasn’t making them happy…
They chose to embrace their vulnerability to allow them to move forward.
They chose to:
Stop complaining about work that didn’t fit.
Cease feeling powerless or trapped.
Take little steps to feel a little more control of their work lives.
Learn something new to fill in the blanks of their knowledge problem.
To give something new a try.
Actioning vulnerability means doing something that moves you from the “I don’t know what to do about it” situation to knowing a little more. And then a little bit more. And then, you guessed it, a little bit more.
Any downsides to acknowledging your vulnerability?
It can take time.
It certainly takes effort.
It leads to action.
It requires a great deal of personal honesty
And (this is a biggie) if you’re the kind of person who always has the answers - it can hurt like hell to say to your partner, children or friends “I’m somewhere I don’t want to be and I don’t know what to do about it”.
If you follow up that earlier statement with “so I’m going to do some research to figure it out” you may not actually burst into flames!
You might even become the envy of your friends and inspire change in them.
But who cares what other people think?
There is so much proof in psychological research that embracing your vulnerability can release a whole different range of emotions - happiness, freedom and maybe even joy.
Even if you did burst into flames, might it be worth it to experience work that released those emotions?
If you’re interested in the topic of vulnerability - check out Brene Brown’s Ted Talk.
Your first step?
If you’re getting close to deciding to show a little vulnerability by admitting that “You’re somewhere you don’t want to be and don’t know what to do about it” why not jump on a Light at the end of my tunnel call with me?
In a 30min phone call, I guarantee (whether you decide to work with me or not) to give you two personalised recommendations to set you on your way. Oh, and...it’s free!
What have you got to lose?