Soul Aspects of Career Change After 40, 1
Career change after 40 can seem like a daunting prospect. This isn’t a post about the logistics of job-finding. It’s a post about the meaning of changing career — the soul level view.
What is meant by “soul”? When /a-midlife-transitions use this term, they’re referring to the deepest levels of who we are. How does the possibility of career change look from that perspective?
It’s Not All About the Marketplace
The media, at least in North America, increasingly give us the message that it’s all about the marketplace. If we take this message completely to heart, we would then end up making every choice in a way that molds us into what the market wants. In essence, the continual message goes, that we should give up on our own uniqueness, and turn ourselves into something trendy and salable.
But is that really what human life is all about? Are we really prepared to accept that that is all that human life is about? Real case studies says no.
In actual fact, there are many people who, on the upside of 40, simply don’t turn themselves into a souless commodity and yet they are able to transform their outer career selves to reflect something important and urgent inside of themselves. Consider these folks:
- Anna Mary Robertson Moses – worked her farm, and sold potato chips, up until she age 80, when she changed her focus to painting — and in the process became iconic folk artist Grandma Moses;
- Julia Child – didn’t start cooking French cuisine until she was 36, and didn’t publish a cookbook until she was 50;
- Laura Ingalls Wilder – of “Little House on the Prairie” fame, didn’t publish any of her books until she was 65; and,
- Henry Ford – was 45 when he created the Model T
What the Heck is “Vocation”?
It’s not what your junior high school guidance counsellor meant by the term, in the sense of a neat little career pigeon hole into which the individual can be inserted: computer programmer, tree surgeon, jazz dancer, etc.
Vocation relates to an urging, yearning or calling at the level of the inmost self. Here’s a useful summary:
What is it, in the end, that induces a person to go [his or her] own way and to rise out of unconscious identity with the mass as out of a swathing mist? Not necessity, for necessity comes to many, and they all take refuge in convention [italics mine]…
What is it, then, that inexorably tips the scales in favour of the extra-ordinary? It is what is commonly called vocation: an irrational factor that destines a person to emancipate [him- or herself] from the herd and from it’s well-worn paths.
True personality is always a vocation… despite its being, as the ordinary [person] would say, only a personal feeling. He must obey his own law…. Anyone with a vocation hears the voice of the inner person [italics mine]….
~ C.G. Jung
How do I start to hear the voice of the inner person? The best place to start is to look compassionately at the most vulnerable innermost part of ourselves, which may well also be the most wounded part of our inner being, which may well have been numbed and cauterized by the brutal falsity of “what everyone knows”.
The question of vocation is often central to case studies after the age of 35.
In my next post, I’ll examine several questions concerning vocation, including, “Is Career Change What I Need, or Is It a Stand-In for Something More Basic?”
Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst