The Outside Force of Career Counseling

“I should have started career counseling years ago.” said Mark. “Am I too old to switch careers?” he continued.  Mark was 42. “It depends,” I responded.  ”Do you think 28 years is a long time?” Since Mark and I already spoke about the likely need (or choice) to work until at least 70, he understood my point. 

One of Newton’s Laws of Motion: Things that stay at rest will tend to stay at rest unless acted upon by an outside force. One of my career counseling observations is that people who are in unhappy careers tend to stay in unhappy careers unless acted upon by an outside force, such as a layoff.  ”Tend” is the key word.  Tend does not mean absolute. People in unhappy careers can choose to act due to an inside force: they can choose. With that said, it is far easier to choose when there is an outside force helping you.

One of the reasons why career coaching is so effective – assuming you have found a good coach – is that the process is an outside force.

In Mark’s case, he was one of the increasingly rare types who had been with a single company since college graduation. Having graduated UCONN and with family in the New Haven area, he took a job in Milford, CT so that he “could have a job.”  That he has stayed with the company for so many years was not due to loving the career path but rather because nothing happened that would cause him to leave.  The company survived the recession far better than most.  His job – while not an executive one – is one that is necessary so he never was in drastic danger of losing his job.  But Mark said that as time passed, he gradually began certain that he should be doing something else.  He didn’t know how to start.  Things that stay at rest….

Career counseling – an outside force – is often the solution.