There are many reasons why as a mature professional, you may be eying the door. It’s the second half of your life and there are more options available than you ever dreamed. You are standing on a frontier. Where you will invest your energy? Consulting is one exciting option. The attractions of working for yourself are compelling. It’s getting there that is the issue.
Before we start to develop strategies for your consulting practice, we need to explore the dark side, and look at the fear, insecurity and self-doubt that are holding you back. You can hear the voices of teachers, family members, supervisors, bosses, friends, and your own inner critic, all telling you that you can’t succeed at something as risky as going out on your own. You needn’t even bother trying!
· You will never pull this off.
· It’s a bad idea.
· No one will hire you.
· You haven’t got what it takes.
This negative self-talk is toxic and self-destructive. You really want a new challenge in your life so how are you going to change this narrative?
The Metaphor Game
Let’s call these negative voices your inner dragons. Their origins are rooted deep in your past. They are formidable foes and you have probably lost more than one battle to them. Who are they?
Let’s start a list:
· Inferiority complex
· Add your own (the list goes on and on….)
But look—these dragons have been around so long that they are getting old and tired. They’re running out of steam (or fire!) Their wings are bedraggled, their scales are losing their sheen and are falling out, their ear-piercing shrieks are getting weaker. They will probably always be with you, but their day is over and it’s time they retired.
Pick your most terrifying dragons, visualize them, and give them names that amuse you. Miniaturize them. Make them into cartoons. Using humor can take the sting out of those late-night debates you have with them. Next time they raise their heads, give them a very tedious job to do, like counting staples or sorting the pebbles in your garden by size. Tell them to go back to their nests, stick their noses under their ragged wings, and go to sleep. By giving them permission to go away, you create a new sense of freedom and relief. You start to open up space in your life to plan your next adventure.
Changing your self-talk requires practice and commitment, but each time we stand up to our dragons, each time we defeat the negative self-talk and swap it out for something positive, we take a step towards our new goals. Each step adds energy and guides us forward and as we go we get stronger and more resilient.
Tune in next time when we hunt for buried treasure and start to explore your marketable skills.
Barrington, G. V. (2012). Consulting Start-up and Management: A Guide for Evaluators and Applied Researchers. Los Angeles: SAGE.
Cameron, J. (2016) It's Never Too Late to Begin Again: Discovering Creativity and Meaning at Midlife and Beyond. New York: Penguin Random House.
McLeay, S.A. (2016) A Memoir Journal: Your Guide to Vision, Voice and Story. Calgary: Life’s All Write. www.lifesallwrite.com