Newsletter #435 – Changing Life Direction

Last week a student asked why I had shifted some of my focus from counseling to coaching, from teaching to leadership development, from writing big textbooks to communicating in other ways. Some people never change their career or life directions. Some don’t have the freedom or desire to change. Others like trying new things and at least occasionally taking risks. A few are constantly making changes even though they never discover a consistent life purpose or focus. So why do any of us (your clients and colleagues included) shift life direction at times? Here are some reasons:

  • Boredom. Depending on one’s personality, being in a rut is not very interesting or stimulating. Making a change can be invigorating and bring fresh perspectives.
  • Calling. As a teenager I learned that we should select a life career or find God’s calling and stay there forever. But can’t God call us in one direction but later lead someplace else, maybe after a time of testing us out? See Matt. 25:21 and 23 or consider people like Moses, Job, David or Peter. Each got a new calling and changed direction.
  • Interests and Passions. These change as we grow older and mature. As a result we change direction to follow new passions.
  • Culture. Not many years ago (and in places today) it was usual for people to find a career direction or a place to live and stick with it. That’s different in our age of easy mobility, ever changing technological innovations and information overload. In developed countries it is common to change careers several times. It’s more accepted and easier than it was only a few decades ago.
  • Experiences and People. Get married. Get sick. Get released from a job. Get promoted. Burn out or have a disruption in your family life. Like it or not, all of these can force us to change, sometimes for the better; sometimes not.
  • Opportunities. These may be rare and often unexpected but most of us know how they can change the course of life.

How does this apply to your life or to your role as a coach or leader? Please comment.

  1. After 33 years pastoring the same church it is time to change and let a new generation lead the way forward. So my reason to change direction is one season of career ends and another season starts due to the successful running of a career race. My next race will be a coaching career walking along younger leaders. I think I am good for two strong races in this life. On to the next starting line.

    • Congratulations! It takes courage to walk away at the top of a career and move over to something new. But that is so much better than hanging on too long so that others can’t wait for you to quit. And don’t rule out the possibility of more than two strong races. Your attitude is admirable and healthy.

      • Vincent
      • May 24th, 2011

      Hi Gary,

      I have been working as a counsellor for the past 6 years and I exploring on coaching as my next career direction. It was your book – “Christian Coaching” that inspired me to become a coach.

      I completed an ICF-approved coaching training programme last Dec 2010. I planning to move into full time coaching – Life & Career Coaching by end of this year.

      Currently, I am gathering a few Christian Coaches in together to provdie Christian Coaching services for the Christians in Singapore.

      Any good suggestion on how to move on from here?

      Cheers!

      Vincent

      • Vincent,

        It is nice to hear from you and to get an update. Thanks for your comments about the book.

        I am assuming the training you took included a course or segment on how to establish a coaching business. There are several books you can consult on this but here is one that is brand new: From Therapist to Coach: How to Leverage your Clinical Expertise to Build a Thriving Coaching Practice. Published by Wiley, the author is David Steele. Some of this will be familiar to you but he includes some practical steps for getting into coaching. Be cautious, however. It is hard to build a coaching practice and it can take a while. I suggest you not drop your counseling work until you feel established financially as a coach.

        One other idea: There are other coaches in Singapore. Maybe you could find somebody with more experience who could mentor or coach you in your new direction.

  2. I agree, change keeps me invigorated and loving what I do. I have been serving at a Seminary in Guatemala for almost 25 years, and I am still as excited as when I first came. The reasons for that are many, but an important one is that I have been able to move from one project to another. From creating new programs to developing new services for our 1500 students. All these changes have made my time here very exciting. I am ready for my next challenge, creating the Counseling Center, I even have the right name for it.

    • Your life is a model of what you write about. I am sure your students love this in you (among many other things).

  3. Hi Gary, Peter Bean from Australia here. When we met 10 years ago now, I was counselling and involved with CCAA. 3 years ago a phone call out of the blue led me to my current position as a school pastor/chaplain at a Lutheran high school in Adelaide – a job I had always wanted, but had never got to. Like you said in your newsletter, sometimes changes occur when we least expect it, and God blesses us anew. Now I am working with young people, have a couple of blogs, and recently began a twitter account – scary but exciting. I say remain open to change, because you might be pleasantly surprised

    • Peter, how exciting for me to hear from you. It was a delight to be with your group in Australia. I remember that trip well. And you have come a long way from CCAA (Christian Counsellors Association of Australia). Are they still going strong? And in all of this you got to remain in beautiful Adelaide.

      Your story is a great example about how God surprises us when we are least expecting to be surprised with new things. Maybe part of this is for all of us to remain open to God’s new directions, even before they come.

    • Michael Sawyer
    • May 13th, 2011

    Hey Gary….interesting post. That’s exactly where I am right now….changing, not direction, but approach. For me, the motivations are “all of the above”. I see each one of the reasons you listed (excepting boredom) as impetus for pursuing writing and speaking late in life. That’s how I can best serve at this point, I think, and listening to Him and observing the doors that have opened, including those inside of me, have brought me here. Only wished I’d listened more as a kid!

    • Carol McGowan
    • May 13th, 2011

    I pretty much echo the sentiments of Michael all of the above apart from boredom relate to me and my experience. It has been later in life that I have actually been able to SEE the purpose God has for me and to take up the gauntlet and go with it. Sometimes it is scary yet it is always worth it. I am delighted I changed because it has enriched my experience with God and for me thats the point.

  4. I have a job that I don’t really like and have prayed the Lord will open up new doors. I have sent out resumes and go to interviews. This has gone on for about 10 years now. So far, nothing. But the Lord keeps using me so often in very clear, sometimes surprising ways at work that I think He wants me to stay here to glorify Him. Now, I actually look forward to each day to see what the Lord will do next through me. Pretty cool! To God be the glory!

    • Wayne, I love your attitude. Be sure to read the posts below from Carol and Michael. They are encouraging examples of how God sometimes does open new doors when we feel like giving up. Maybe it was Mother Teresa who said God does not call us to be successful. He calls us to be faithful. Hang in there.

    • Kormah Dorko
    • May 15th, 2011

    I have come to realize that change is part of life because change is what makes me human. The death of Christ brought change to me. I think change by choice is easy for me but change by force is challenging. Adjusting to change should be viewed in light of Romans 8:28.

    • Kormah, unlike many others, I know your incredible story. And you are a wonderful example of adjusting to difficult change.

  5. Truth be told, many people would do well to reconsider switching gears. As difficult as this economy is, it can provide opportunities to jumpstart into a different profession, to pursue a lifelong dream, to discover a true calling, to sample another way of living.

    Encouraging our clients to have the freedom to do so provides them a wonderful opportunity to get freed up, to get unstuck, to embrace their passion, to finally claim their sweet spot.

    I say, “Go for it!”

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