Readers dilemma: Since university, I have worked in the field of my choice, and have been modestly successful. However now, in my mid 40s, I find myself suddenly with no enthusiasm for my work. This seems to have come out of nowhere, though perhaps it has been creeping up for a few years. I realise that maybe I need a new direction but I have no idea what, and I don’t want to just walk away from what I have already achieved. Name supplied
Mary’s advice: Successful change needs ‘bright spots, small wins and tweaks to your environment’. These phrases all come from the book Switch by Chip and Dan Heath (Cornerstone, £9.99). When you look around you, there will be some things that are working better than others – your bright spots. Even though you lack energy overall, what are the moments when you feel a little boost, maybe with particular people or tasks? Focus your attention on these tiny sparks; which direction are they in, and how can you make any of them grow?
Small wins need to be meaningful, within immediate reach and give you a sense of ‘I can do at least that’. The tweaks to your environment are doing whatever will support the habits you want to build – such as laying out your gym gear the night before to eliminate the hunt for socks in the morning.
At the moment, this feels like a big problem, with an unspoken belief that the verdict on your life as a whole is being written right now. It’s more likely that you’ll look back on it as a slight change of direction. I love this quote from Harvard Business School professor Rosabeth Moss Kanter – ‘Everything can look like a failure in the middle’.
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Mary Fenwick is a business coach, journalist, fundraiser, mother, divorcée and widow. Follow Mary on Twitter @MJFenwick. Got a question for Mary? Email email@example.com, with ‘MARY’ in the subject line.
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