November 8, 2015

Escaping a Career Riptide: How to Swim Out of the Wrong Job.

relax man summer swim lake floating

When you’re lucky enough to spend your summers by an ocean, there are three mantras you’re taught from birth:

1. Never swim alone.
2. Never turn your back on the ocean.
3. Swim sideways to get out of a riptide.

A riptide (otherwise known as a rip current) is a powerful outflow of water that forms under certain weather conditions.

Picture a churning circular tunnel beneath the surface with the potential to pull you or your loved ones from shore to sea in seconds. Lifeguards are trained to spot them, and on days when rips run rampant beaches close to protect lives.

The danger of the rip is that, for most of us, the instinct when caught in one is to turn and swim directly back to safety: the shore. We seek the shortest path between two points.

But the rip is too strong. We swim as hard as we can toward the beach, soon realizing we are farther out than we were before. In the face of no progress toward our goal, panic sets in, energy rapidly depletes and the worst is possible.

No matter how hard we try, we can’t get back to shore unless we get out of the riptide first.

To do this, we must swim sideways, against our initial instinct and away from the outflow. Once outside of its force, returning to shore becomes possible again.

Many people approach their careers like the panicked amateur swimmer who paddles frantically into the arms of their enemy. They try to make it work, even as they feel themselves floating further away from their goals and dreams—their bodies, minds and souls burning with desperation before they go soft and numb.

Remember, we can’t get back to shore unless we get out of the rip. And we can’t fix a job that is fundamentally wrong for us. We will drown in the process.

As a career intuitive coach, I help people to identify their ideal career and the path they were born to follow—the path towards which the universe is conspiring to direct them. This mindset is a shift for many people, because in our modern age we are taught to believe we can do anything if we work hard enough.

Like with many of the challenges we encounter in our adult lives, this is both true and false. Yes, we can probably do almost any job through sheer force of will, but 99 percent of those jobs will make us mediocre at best, and miserable at worst.

We were born to fulfill one unique destiny.

Imagine Santa Claus working on Wall Street. I bet he could do it for a while; he’s ingenious and passionate, crafty and quick, but he wouldn’t stay jolly for long. He’d start to die inside a little each day. The only solution for Santa, and for many of us, is the front door.

My boss totally got on my nerves the other day, you might be thinking. Does this mean I should quit? No, of course not. Your boss got on your nerves because she’s an imperfect human being just like you.

Sometimes I get stressed out at work and it’s hard to unwind when I get home. Should I give my two weeks’ notice? Not necessarily. Even the jobs we were born to do aren’t immune to the demands of modern life.

Many job challenges are akin to stepping on a crab while swimming. It hurts for a second, you swim away, but you can safely stay in the water.

But for some of us, our career challenges are a matter of life and death. For those of us dealing with constant surges of cortisol (the hormone that floods our bodies during times of acute stress), we aren’t just dealing with a riptide, we’ve got a Great White bearing down on us as well.

We’ve got to get out of the water—now.

Let me be very clear. If your job is making you sick, it’s the wrong job for you. I’ve had jobs that made me throw up, jobs that made me cry and jobs that made my hands shake as if I was holding onto a live wire.

Those weren’t the jobs I’m here to do.

I can tell you that because I’m on the other side now, but like many of you, I first swam straight back to shore, staying in the riptide as I tried to fix a situation that was never meant to be fixed. And I started to drown.

The only way back to shore was to get out.

What does the right path feel like?

Like the perfect swim. We rise and we fall with the breaking waves. We tumble upside down sometimes. But we’re one with the ocean and part of the flow of life. We don’t swim alone, though, remembering lesson one. We are surrounded by people who celebrate rather than tolerate us. We feel safe and empowered.

But rule number two doesn’t leave our mind either. We honor the power of the ocean; we don’t turn our back. We are aware without being fearful. We know that change can happen on a dime, but we’re ready for it.

We look out toward the horizon and see a dolphin leap above it.

We marvel at the timing of it, that we get to be in that place at that time to witness that dolphin in flight, who, just like us, is doing what it is born to do.



How to Transition Careers Gracefully.


Author: Karen Costa

Assistant Editor: Jan Farias // Editor: Toby Israel

Image: Luis Hernandez/Flickr // Rachel Rae!/Flickr


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