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Soul Aspects of Career Change After 40, 2

August 3rd, 2015 · career change after 40

Career change after 40 can sometimes seem like a “silver bullet” solution.  It may very well be the right thing to do for soul — but it’s essential to put that decision in context.

career change after 40

Claude Monet, whose painting career began in his 40s

I’m reminded of the famous quotation from T.S. Eliot:
career change after 40To do the right deed for the wrong reason…
How can we avoid “doing the right thing for the wrong reason” when it comes to later life career change?

Is Career Change What I Need, or Is It a Stand-In for Something More Basic?

For many, the call to go their own way is loud and clear on the far side of 40.  The call to be oneself will not be completely satisfied by a career change — and may well not even involve a career change.  But for some people, career change will be a key element in the process of going in their own unique direction.

Now, that’s the kicker: career change will not help you one bit, if it is not first firmly rooted in the process of discovering and living out your own individuality.  As with all major life transitions, if career change is not accompanied by the process of living into your unique self, it may well not help you one bit.

If I’m Not My Work Role — Then Who am I?

After 40, clinical experience in psychotherapy shows us that job does not equal identity.  If you think that solely by changing your career, you are changing your identity — or possibly even unconsciously escaping your identity — that would truly be “the right deed for the wrong reason”.

In the first half of adulthood, it may be far easier for at least some people to identify themselves with their work role.  As we go through the midlife transition, and into the second half of life, that identification with job becomes harder and harder.  We all know that the first question someone will ask you at a cocktail party tends to be, “So, what do you do?”, referring to career.  Yet, we all know how much of our identity is left out when we answer that question.

It’s All About the Journey

career change after 40

Journey is a fundamental metaphor for human life.  Jung spoke of this in his time, and neurolinguistic research has confirmed it in ours.  From a depth psychology perspective, the journey that is life is a journey into our individual identity.

A key part of that journey is vocation.  That term can have many meanings, but from a depth psychotherapy perspective, it concerns listening to the promptings of our own inner being.  It is the call, not to some external goal, but primarily to be our real selves, and to be authentically connected to as much of who we really are as we possibly can be.

James Hillman on the Idea of Individual Calling

Archetypal psychologist James Hillman has given an expansive picture of what he refers to as “the soul’s calling”:

…Hillman’s fundamental question, “What is my soul’s calling?”, is at the very heart of the the work of depth psychotherapy.

Brian Collinson, Registered Psychotherapist & Jungian Analyst

PHOTOS:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  Alberto P. Veiga ;  ; 
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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Soul Aspects of Career Change After 40, 1

July 10th, 2015 · career change after 40

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.

 career change after 40
What is meant by “soul”?  When depth psychotherapists 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 psychotherapy 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;
career change after 40

Painted by Grandma Moses, at Age 85

  • Julia Child – didn’t start cooking French cuisine until she was 36, and didn’t publish a cookbook until she was 50;
  • career change after 40
  • 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
  • career change after 40

    If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses” ~ H.F.

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 psychotherapy 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

PHOTOS:  Attribution Share Alike  ©  Bosc d’Anjou ; Public.Resource.Org ; Playing Futures: Applied Nomadology
© 2015 Brian Collinson, 2238 Constance Drive Oakville, Ontario (near Mississauga)

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