Soul Aspects of Career Change After 40, 2
Career change after 40 can sometimes seem like a “silver bullet” solution. It may very well be the right thing to do for soul — but it’s essential to put that decision in context.
I’m reminded of the famous quotation from T.S. Eliot:
To do the right deed for the wrong reason…
How can we avoid “doing the right thing for the wrong reason” when it comes to later life career change?
Is Career Change What I Need, or Is It a Stand-In for Something More Basic?
For many, the call to go their own way is loud and clear on the far side of 40. The call to be oneself will not be completely satisfied by a career change — and may well not even involve a career change. But for some people, career change will be a key element in the process of going in their own unique direction.
Now, that’s the kicker: career change will not help you one bit, if it is not first firmly rooted in the process of discovering and living out your own individuality. As with all major life transitions, if career change is not accompanied by the process of living into your unique self, it may well not help you one bit.
If I’m Not My Work Role — Then Who am I?
After 40, clinical experience in case studies shows us that job does not equal identity. If you think that solely by changing your career, you are changing your identity — or possibly even unconsciously escaping your identity — that would truly be “the right deed for the wrong reason”.
In the first half of adulthood, it may be far easier for at least some people to identify themselves with their work role. As we go through the midlife transition, and into the second half of life, that identification with job becomes harder and harder. We all know that the first question someone will ask you at a cocktail party tends to be, “So, what do you do?”, referring to career. Yet, we all know how much of our identity is left out when we answer that question.
It’s All About the Journey
Journey is a fundamental metaphor for human life. Jung spoke of this in his time, and neurolinguistic research has confirmed it in ours. From a depth psychology perspective, the journey that is life is a journey into our individual identity.
A key part of that journey is vocation. That term can have many meanings, but from a /a-midlife-transition perspective, it concerns listening to the promptings of our own inner being. It is the call, not to some external goal, but primarily to be our real selves, and to be authentically connected to as much of who we really are as we possibly can be.
James Hillman on the Idea of Individual Calling
Archetypal psychologist James Hillman has given an expansive picture of what he refers to as “the soul’s calling”:
…Hillman’s fundamental question, “What is my soul’s calling?”, is at the very heart of the the work of /a-midlife-transition.
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst