I recently had very similar discussions with a current client and a prospective client. They both know they need to change something in their careers. One has a strong sense of what she’d like to do next, and the other just knows she doesn’t want to continue in her field anymore. What they share in common is a desire to change from within, as opposed to looking externally for the magic pill that will make all their challenges go away. They recognize that this is the key to making lasting and positive change. One expressed that she knew she could jump from job to job, but if she didn’t change her attitudes and perceptions of the world, she would continue to be unhappy in every new job she would find. The other wanted to be sure she did her transition the right way. In other words, she also wanted to make sure that her change wasn’t only on the surface and wasn’t just going to bring along the same problems into her new career.
These are two wise women!
When I first wrote 10 Reasons Your Dentist Probably Hates You Too, most people responded with excitement and support, but there were some who judged me. One blogger in particular decided to capitalize on the popularity of my post and turn it into a deep, meaningful message about loving dentistry. Instead, his post reeked of judgment. The post is no longer available, as I’m assuming the self-righteous tone of his article isn’t exactly what Spear Education wants to represent. As any good, snarky blogger would do, I wrote an equally judgmental response to him. You can read it here. You should read it because it shares an important message I talk about over and over. To give you a taste of his overall message, his last sentence was:
Any profession worth being a part of is going to come with its own set of challenges, as I suspect this former dentist is going to find with her next endeavor. As I always say, wherever you go, you take yourself with you.
I can see the wisdom in his words. I get it. I’ll even go as far as saying that he’s right about the importance of working on yourself. But in his delivery, I also sense a desire for me to experience challenges in my new career, just to prove that it’s me, not dentistry. This tone reminds me of the cult-like defensiveness that a few dentists feel when one of us goes against the grain. He was wrong to make assumptions about me. He had no idea what I had been through or how I had arrived at that place. He had no idea that to get there, I had already spent years of soul-searching that included therapy and career coaching.
Why am I bringing this up again? Well, these recent conversations with these women reminded me of this. The attitude he displayed was that if you don’t love dentistry, there is something wrong with you. And of course, whatever that thing is will always be wrong with you. This is the problem I discussed in Can Coming Out of the Closet Change the World? This attitude is what makes people feel like they have to hide, and this is what keeps people stuck. In his case, he questioned what was wrong with me. And this is why I fought back.
The fear of being judged by our peers is just a side note. The real point here is that in order to create change, it DOES have to come from within. This man knew nothing about me. Contrary to what he implied about me, learning about who I am and developing a more constructive view of my world was precisely what allowed me to move forward. Believe me. I was worried that my problems would follow me everywhere. My biggest fear was that I would never be happy in any job moving forward. When you’re conditioned to believe that you’re leaving the greatest career on the planet, you can’t see how anything else could make you happy. That fear drove me to work on my attitudes and my view of the world. It made me break myself down and analyze my character so that I could break free from my self-imposed limitations.
And it worked.
I think a part of us wishes that we can just change or leave, and it will be that simple, but that rarely works. Without primarily changing yourself, one of 2 things happens. Either we change our external circumstances, and as Mr. Blogger suggests we take ourselves with us. We continue to blame the external triggers and miss the chance to take responsibility for our own beliefs. Or we don’t change at all. We don’t change because that thing that is holding us back isn’t outside of us. It’s within us, and that is precisely what keeps us stuck.
As I think about these two wise women and what they want, I trust that no matter what, each one will launch herself in the right direction.