Thus far we have looked at people taking the leap to start a new business but very often the ‘new chapter’ is the next instalment of a corporate career. The subject of this week’s article is *Anneke, a high achieving woman in mid career deciding whether or not to take up a new career challenge.

Anneke was not forced to move through a restructure or undervalued in her job. In fact, she was flying high in a senior position managing a business unit for an international consumer product company but she was starting to have twinges of restlessness. She had been overlooked for a promotion, which left her with some distasteful feelings bordering on betrayal. She was in the hipo talent pool but would she get to the top of the tree? Were the long hours and extra investment going to pay off or had the organisation just become used to her commitment? On the other hand she had been so long with the same company, how well would she fare on the open job market? These were questions that gnawed at her in the middle of the night. At her level of seniority it was not just a matter of moving to the company down the road, a meaningful move would likely be to a whole new geography and involve uprooting the family for a third or fourth time. Better to put a lid on her misgivings and the stirrings of ambition, sit tight and make the best of the devil she knew.

Unfortunately for Anneke the lid would not stay on this pandora’s box and she found herself at the beginning of a year long stage of “being in two minds and driving myself nuts so it was a great relief to engage with a business coach. Although it seemed expensive – maybe even a bit of an indulgence since I wasn’t looking for coaching around how to improve my leadership capacity in my role, I nonetheless saved myself (and my family and my staff) so much anguish during that year whilst maintaining my performance in my present role, that I couldn’t have done without it.”

According to Frederic Hudson and Pamela McLean, the doyens of personal change mastery “there is a definite pattern to our experience of change”. Anneke was going through what they label as ‘the Doldrums’ where a stage of life that was previously perfectly satisfying unravels. It’s a very unsettling place to be with no clear direction or light at the end of the tunnel. Although for Anneke there were not the pressures to find an immediate solution as there in the case of a job loss, there were different challenges and responsibilities to stay engaged and productive whilst going through this inner turmoil. Still it gave Anneke the space to test out the job market, decide what the meaningful trade offs would be in a new role and work through the conflicting emotions of should I go or should I stay, which were only exacerbated when she found herself in the middle of a long recruiting process for a very attractive position.

In the end Anneke was offered the new job, which she decided to take. We will meet her again next week as she takes up her new role and faces some unexpected challenges in settling into the position.

*Names, positions and companies are disguised to preserve confidentiality in the case of corporate protagonists.
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