I recently caught 10 minutes of Grand Designs. This is a long running (originally) British television series that follows intrepid souls as they transform all kinds of unlikely spaces into dream homes. I watched a typically enthusiastic couple outline their plans to turn a modest, tumbling down bungalow into an eye wateringly stylish abode. Now I know that Grand Designs is all about the journey, the hold ups the stuff ups and the battles with budgets and weather. But I just wanted to fast forward to the finished masterpiece. I didn’t want to see the struggle to get there.
We love a good transformation story. Any kind of personal or professional makeover sparks a range of reactions from admiration and optimism to disbelief and envy. We visit a beautifully renovated house and feel a mix of awe and jealousy. We leave feeling restless and upset that our place is shabby by comparison. We see someone looking fabulous at a party and wish we’d toned up our arms and taken up distance running in our 30s.
The trouble is, although we sometimes glimpse the unreconstructed start of great transformations most often we only see the perfectly polished finish. We’ve never exposed to the hard bits, full of doubt and insecurity. We don’t see desperately tired struggles to keep going or painful adjustments or gut wrenching cutbacks that simply had to happen.
Changing careers is an unsettling, transformative thing to do. Especially in the early phases it’s easy to fall prey to wishing we had what others seem to effortlessly possess. We’re lurking on LinkedIn and see some shiny, smiley person who appears to have got to where we want to be. We follow a Tweet to the classy confident sounding website of a company that’s 10 years ahead of the business we’re thinking of starting. We’re introduced to someone who simply adores their job. We wonder why the entire world seems to be where we want to be. We want to be there now.
In the rush to compare who we are and what we have unfavourably to others we dismiss the inevitable sweat and tears that go with all human achievement. As F Scott Fitzgerald put it in this lovely piece of grammatically twisted advice on the art of writing - ‘Nothing any good isn’t hard’.
Although it can look that way in thirty minutes on television or five minutes on Facebook, no transformation happens over night. There is always a struggle that’s woven into the fabric of the person, house or career that emerges. While it might be invisible at the end, it’s an essential part of any important or enduring story.
Struggling to transform your career? I can help.
By Jo Green, Career Change Coach
I know how it feels to be lost in your career. That’s why I coach, to create learnings, action and help others get stuff done! Changing your career can be lonely and confusing so I'll walk alongside you, be your cheerleader and help you figure out what meaningful work is for you.