Transition: How Much is Enough? What Courageous Act Are You Called to Take?

In my last post I started writing about a Career Transition talk I attended called “Unemployment: It’s About More Than Just Finding Your Next Job.” Al Gustafson, founder and past president of the Career Transition Center, asked us to consider seven questions while we were in this period of Transition. The questions were so thought-provoking that I thought I’d share them with you. The first question was Are you Working on Purpose? In this post, I’d like to share the next two questions with you…

Second Question: How much is Enough?

He asked us to take a step back and consider whether we were letting our former lifestyles (house, car, etc) prevent us from pursuing our dreams. Advertising is unrelenting in its message of “you can have it all and if you don’t have it all, you can’t possibly be happy”. The time before we land our next job could be an opportunity to look at where we are, what things shape our lifestyles and whether they make us happy. What is enough?

John C. Bogle asks a more interesting question in his book, Enough: True Measures of Money, Business and Life. Are you pursuing a career that creates value for our society, with personal wealth not as the goal, but as the by-product? He pointed to Ben Franklin as someone who gave away multiple inventions and created institutions because he wanted to improve the community’s quality of life.

Both questions helped expand the options in my job search. Because of decisions I made to finance my education, I am constrained in some of my options, but the questions have led me to consider whether I could use Project Management in fields other than software development. Given the economy and the number of Project Managers out of work, looking in other industries for opportunities to use my project management skillset is not a bad idea.

It’s a good question to consider – How much is enough for you?

Third question: What Courageous Act am I Called to Take?

Before we entered Transition, our lives were probably a series of repeatable patterns. Most of us probably expected to pick up our lives where we left them before Transition. His third question was a sharp, pointy stick to wake us up and ask when was the last time we took a risk? If we don’t take risks on a regular basis, he explained, our risk muscle tends to atrophy.

At first I felt pretty good about this – a few months ago I used some of my savings to travel to Italy alone on my first vacation ever. Then he told us about the lifecycle of a caterpillar. Most caterpillars go from caterpillar to pupa to butterfly without any issues. Some reluctant caterpillars resist going into the cocoon and stay caterpillars for another season. Like caterpillars, he said, some people hold onto a life that doesn’t work for them. At that point, I realized the sharp stick had found a soft spot.

Transition has been a challenging season for me. With the new season are new skills like networking, self-marketing and blogging that I have been reluctant to learn. I realized that I needed to attend to the situation that was my life and change to accommodate the new season.

He reminded us that risk taking is an act of faith. Moses didn’t know that the water was going to part when he stepped into the Red Sea. Stepping into a new season could be another way to stretch my faith. So ignoring my nerves and the fear of failing, I pulled the Under Construction note off my website and started posting.

Now the questions are to you: What courageous act are you called to take? Have you taken any risks lately? Are there parts of your life that aren’t working for you that you know need to change?

I’ll continue with the rest of the questions in future posts.


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