Tag Archives: Sally Halliday

The Map and the Compass: Creating a New Dream

Posted by: Sally Halliday on May 12, 2015 12:20 pm

What did you dream about doing when you were a child?” When someone asked you “what do you want to be when you grow up?” what did you say?

As a career counsellor, I often want to ask this question to new clients, as a way to get them telling a story that is easy and fun to tell about themselves. But for those I work with who are mostly in mid-career, who feel frustrated with the status quo yet confused about how to start making positive career shifts, the question might be too much to ask. Here’s the kind of story I usually hear at the beginning of our sessions:

“I used to love my work. Now I’m burned out. What happened?”
“I really just fell into my first job and ten years went by.”
“I used to think this work was creative. Is it me who changed or the job?”
“It used to be a great job. Stable income. Decent work. Now, I wish I’d left years ago. “

It’s a story of being stuck, feeling somewhat helpless, wanting to change but ambivalent about risking any trade-offs. Still, underneath it all, I can sense a deep yearning. Yearning for purpose, passion, motivation and all the other things that a dream promises. So I don’t want to deny anyone their dream. It’s a matter of timing, and building up some confidence to trust themselves that they can locate a dream again, one that matters today.

shifting sands
One of the concepts I work with is the Map and the Compass. It’s a metaphor that came from Steve O’Donahue’s book about navigating change, captured in his own story of crossing the Sahara called Shifting Sands.( http://www.amazon.ca/Shifting-Sands-Guidebook-Crossing-Deserts/dp/1576752801). He offers the image of a desert as a more realistic way of capturing the experience of change and risk taking, rather than the more common image of climbing the mountain. Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA

Working on Meaning and Purpose: Mid-career Shifts and Decisions

Posted by: Sally Halliday on October 19, 2012 4:00 pm

Working on Meaning and Purpose: Mid-career Shifts and Decisions

Is it me? Is it the job? Do I stay for the security or should I do something completely different? Do I even have a career?

Questions like these are the ones I most often hear from clients who are in mid-career, and I can often sense, if not see, the tears welling up, the anger held in the jaw, and the head slumped with embarrassment. Career counselling for those who are unhappy at the work they have invested in for over a decade have a lot on their minds. How can we support a client who feels the panic of time running out, and who says that they feel like they have never even made a real career decision before? And what if I leave, or I stay, and I never get to realize my dreams?

My teaching and private practice work with mid-career shifters was a natural draw for me, having made my own career change from journalism to counselling. My academic research and current practice focuses on mid-life changes and transitions, providing a lens that helps me support the deeper questions about life and career, values and meaning, and how to realize our full potential before we die.

So the first re-frame I might offer to a client who often say they haven’t really made a career decision before is that you did, indeed, make decisions before, ones that were career-oriented, and based on the influences and information that were relevant then. And then to validate that as we get to know ourselves more through our work and lives, we have the opportunity to truly make a conscious decision.  William Bridges (2004) puts it in another way, saying that earlier on in our careers, the focus is on competency, on proving ourselves. It may be to please a parent, or to just get out of the house, but proving our worth in the world is important. Later on, according to Bridges, job shifts and career changes are more about meaning and purpose.  The way I hear this from a client is that the job itself used to be important, or the specific company (status) or the profession itself.  Now, this same person is more interested in how they are working, not so much what the job is. They are curious about who their colleagues are, what the company stands for, or how he or she will get along with the boss. The definition of job satisfaction has changed. And there may be a yearning, as Carl Jung discovered, and David Whyte (2009) articulates so well, that as we age, we want to be more authentic, and be congruent in ourselves. As a counsellor, I can engage them to become more aware of whether they want to bring more of themselves into the workplace, which may mean asking for what they want. If congruence is about aligning our inner selves more with the outer world, then certainly our work is one way we can express that.

Continue reading

*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA