Tag Archives: career change

Choices Beyond Expectations

“You are an ever-moving mark,” said Jessica Donohue at the Girl Scouts of Eastern MA’s Leading Women Awards last week.  Ms. Donohue, who was recognized for her achievements as EVP of State Street, stood out from among the other awardees for her honesty and humility.  She  talked about a label ascribed to her as a young person, ADHD. While it has traveled with her, her vitality is outside of it. She was clear in her thinking about labels or the expectations that go along with them. “Don’t box me in. Encourage me to be more.  Learn more. Resist naming – everywhere.” Continue reading

How to Move Forward….II

One day I had two back-to-back interviews that ended with the interviewees asking me roughly the same question. It went something like, ‘I know where I’m at isn’t right, but I am not really sure what I want to do next.”  I found it incredibly interesting because the circumstances that brought these two women to the same question couldn’t have been more different. One was regrouping thanks to a harsh corporate experience and the other was challenged by an empty-nest. This coincidence got me thinking that their experiences didn’t differ all that much from my own.  After all, I arrived at transition with a deep belief that something more was possible for me. But what?  How do we move forward from moments like these? Continue reading

How to Move Forward

“How do I move forward?” Asked a mid-thirties woman who sat in an audience of leaders. “I don’t know what I want to do next. I know where I am now is not right.”  She had a great job, one that had instant credibility with everyone who sat in the room with her that night.  She told us that she knew she needed to explore something else. Her current role wasn’t right. But she had no answer to the question of, what’s next? That was the show stopper. She’d been facing that decision for quite a while. Stalled. Unhappy. Ready to move.  Or was she? Continue reading

Time for a change….

Has the New Year brought change for you?  Some of us plan changes like, “Get a new job.” “Retire.” “Change my attitude toward food or wellness.” “Regroup  with my siblings on decisions related to my mother’s care.”  For others, change is thrust upon us unexpectedly, like the woman who shared with me that she had a miscarriage over the holidays. This wrenching event seemed to smother her plans for change in the New Year.  Still other changes influence us collectively, like those related to our new administration.

Change felt omnipresent this January. It was everywhere I turned. Or was it?  Was it change or something more that I kept encountering?

Continue reading

Voice Interrupted

I heard Hillary Clinton’s voice for the first time last weekend – yes, days after the surprising and heartbreaking outcome of the 2016 Election.  I heard it in Kate McKinnon’s moving rendition of Len Cohen’s Hallelujah on Saturday Night Live.  ‘How could this be?’  You might ask.  Weren’t we all party to a near continuous stream of voices from both candidates over the past months?   Even with all of that volume I was struck with the weight of the words conveyed by McKinnon.  It reminded me of the importance of voice, one of transition’s most critical tools.  Did we hear Hillary’s voice?  Do we hear yours? Continue reading

Big and Small Victories

“Be who you are in big and small ways,” said Colleen DelVecchio, Director of Alumni Engagement at Smith College.  She spoke at the close of a two-day Leadership Conference, a conference that had invited me to speak about my book!  She challenged all of us there to bring our voices to every stage on which we find ourselves – from paying for coffee at a local independent coffee bar; to landing a sought after contract; to shepherding a child through the college admissions process.  To her the size of the stage was irrelevant.  What mattered was bringing ourselves to every situation. No deferring or diminishing or denying our voices.  She implored us to bring them forward…in countless ways.

 

cake5_slim

She wasn’t aware of it but Colleen DelVecchio was talking about an important element of transition: exercising our voices.   She – like so many of the people I encounter – overlooked transition.  Or, was it that she lacked insight into this important topic?

As I listened to her I immediately felt the distance that I’ve traveled in transition.  A journey that is underscored today by an incredible milestone, Novofemina’s fifth anniversary!

To those of you who have walked this journey with me, thank you from the bottom of my heart.  For those who are newer to our conversation, I thank you for choosing this topic.  To both camps, I am thrilled that you’re here with me.

When I began Novofemina I thought transition was a process that would allow me to reconcile conflicts between my professional and personal lives.  I approached it like a project management challenge.  I expected tasks and phases and gates and a final – albeit uncertain – deliverable.   A new job?  A new way of working?  I wasn’t certain what transition held for me but I knew that something had to give.

Today thanks to the voices of hundreds of women with whom I’ve spoken about transition my work is focused on a cause that engages my entire soul, a cause that I believe has positive implications for women.  The cause?  Transition.  Or more specifically, I am on a crusade to increase the capacity for transition in women – everywhere.

Transition occurs when there is a shift in what holds value or meaning to each of us.  It is a process that we choose when faced with the need to change.  It requires us to re-examine our assumptions about who we are – our identity, our capacity, our values.  The choice part is important.  A person can undergo hundreds of changes in their life and never transition.  The choice is ours.

I’ve concluded that transition is widely misunderstood in our society.  Few know it as a normal part of adult growth and development.   This mismatch leads many to misinterpret transition’s earliest stages as failure.

Women’s response to this – very often – is to draw inward.   This response can fuel feelings of inadequacy and self-doubt, a treacherous cycle that can cause women to stall, disengage or retreat from living the lives they imagine.

I remember vividly the earliest days of my transition.  It started one day when I crossed an imaginary line – that day the bottom fell out on the meaning of my professional world.   That world was complex and all-consuming. Harvard Business School MBA.  Million mile member of American Airlines’ Frequent Flyer program.  Executive in the c suite of a Fortune 500.  All of a sudden one day I said to myself, “this couldn’t be all there is?” as I looked across the room at my peers – the ceo and the presidents of the company’s geographic regions.

It happened in an instant.

I remember saying to myself, “There must be more for me.”  This glint of possibility kept me going but it didn’t shield me from the instant onslaught of negative feelings.  Failure. Guilt.  Shame.  Isolation.  Fear.

Fast forward to Smith College just before Collen DelVecchio spoke.   I had just finished leading a seminar about transition with 60 women.  Thanks to my book, Women & Transition: Reinventing Work and Life, I get invited to this type of event more and more these days.

That morning a woman who sat near the back of the room caught my eye.  Why?  She had tears in her eyes for a good portion of my talk.  At the end of the workshop she smiled at me and then made her way to the front of the room where I was talking with a handful of other participants.  She interrupted us with a simple emphatic statement, “This was excellent.”

Another woman who had attended that day and also bought my book later wrote me an email.  She shared that she’d been in a difficult transition for more than a decade.   She said,   “This week I have felt better about where I’m at and what I have to work through then I have in a long time. I thank you for opening this door for me.”

These moments – while small – are incredibly meaningful to me.  They fuel me and offer me support as I explore how my transition will continue.  Even though a book and formal research weren’t on my radar screen as my transition began I know that they are not its end.  There is more….

At 5 I am ebullient and peaceful and open.    I’ve traveled an enormous distance.   The fear and uncertainty have been replaced by understanding and by optimism even in the face of more unknowing.  While difficultly is likely ahead of me as I take on more and more of my transition I am ever grateful of the path and its countless gifts.

I hope that soon Colleen DelVecchio and many others become aware of transition.  It is a journey that many of us will find ourselves on during our adult lives.   It is a journey whose course and pace you get to decide.  It is enlivening and energizing and freeing.

The only true risk in it all is that you begin.   An act that can happen in countless ways – both big and small.

Many many thanks…..

 

If you have another moment, please read my prior Anniversary Posts:

First Year:  Learnings & Laughs: One Year In

Second Year:  400 and 2

Third Year:  Three and Counting

Fourth Year:  Four and Foresight

 

Copyright © 2016 NovoFemina.com.  All rights reserved. No content on this site may be reused in any fashion without written permission from NovoFemina.com.

 

 

 

 

A shield

“They only talked about their children,” said my exasperated friend Stephanie.  She and her family recently relocated to Phoenix thanks to her husband’s new job.  Once on the ground she met women in various places;  the nursery school, the transfer station, the local IEEE chapter.   She had high hopes when she hosted a networking event in her home.  Needless to say she sounded crestfallen as she described the evening.  Most of those she invited were working part-time or trying to re-engage in the full-time workforce.  A few were entrepreneurs.  “Don’t they get it?”  Continue reading

Our Script

“What if I want to work at the cheese counter at Whole Foods?” asked a women of me earlier this week after a speaking engagement that I did to promote my book, Women & Transition.  She was the parent of a toddler and someone for whom Whole Foods would never have been an option prior to childbirth.   I’d describe her as a type-A achiever who was asking important questions of herself.  Did I hear frustration in her voice?  Resignation?  She seemed to be toggling back and forth between a new identity and one more firmly entrenched.  My suspicion was that the newer one had already introduced her to unfamiliar waypoints and some unusual reactions from others. Continue reading

Our Steps

We caught ourselves at the very last second.  Our hands reached out to grab a nearby wall.  My neighbor and I were on our morning walk.  We walk laps around our town for an hour at dawn most days.  5:30 am.  It is typically dark or nearly so.   Who knew that brick sidewalks could be as treacherous as ice when coated with a layer of fallen leaves?   As we started to slip we froze in an effort to stop from falling.  For an instant fear consumed us. Continue reading

Unchartered Territory

“I just finished your book,” shared a friend who had graciously offered to help me by reading a pre-release version of it.  “I have tears in my eyes,” she said.   “That last line in the text…perfect”    She is an incredibly intelligent financial services veteran who stays home full-time with three children.   She recently reestablished her family in our town after a major geographic move initiated by her husband’s job.    Net net she’s no stranger to transition.   What she didn’t know as I opened her email….. Continue reading