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Feel like you are stuck in a rut? Have you reached a point in your career where you cannot identify with who you are professionally? You are not alone. A number of people particularly in mid-career  get to a point where they are not sure if they are content with where they are or where they are going with their career.


To discuss Career Identity Crisis or CIC we should first look at what identity crisis is. This phenomenon is something that is likely to occur when one is at crossroads. A place where we do not know which way to go.  My favourite definition of identity crisis is the following: “A period of uncertainty and confusion in which a person’s sense of identity becomes insecure, typically due to a change in their expected aims or role in society.” It is a definition I picked up from the Oxford online dictionary. I like this definition in particular because it captures all the elements that are mentioned in CIC. When identity crisis meets career identity crisis it becomes a very bad marriage.

In this blog, I would like to reach out to the professional who has left his/her career behind to support a spouse on International assignment. Accompanying spouse’s careers before relocation may be soaring high with great potential for growth on the career leader. These ambitions may be stopped in their tracks when a spouse takes you away to satisfy his/her own ambitions of career growth. Ultimately you may end up at a place where you do not know who you are professionally or where you are going. Perhaps you may not even be sure how to approach the career options available to you.

This can lead you to a place of resentment and or disappointment because it feels as though your dreams have been shattered. It begins to feel like moving was a mistake in the first place. I think that it is okay to allow some resentment by be careful to not let it linger. Writer Jo Parfitt says that “challenges are merely opportunities in disguise”. I could not agree more. Feeling resentful and confused about your career or lack of career development therein should be perceived as an opportunity in disguise. Maybe it is the perfect time for career transition!

To get out of CIC you need to take some steps and action. You could consider:

REINVENTING yourself which requires time invested in RESEARCHING what is available within your fields of interest and NETWORK like there is no tomorrow.  And to be successful in your career development endeavours, you will need to apply a good measure of: Adaptability, flexibility and Portability! To make this happen begin thinking about thinking outside the box. Do not allow your brain to rigidly remain in a place where your creativity is inhibited. Do something different, do something new and take some calculated risks! Consider trying out a portable career such as writing, editing, photography, coaching, graphic designing or consulting. The opportunities are endless you just need to TAP in. You have an excellent bank or transferable skills; this is a good time take advantage of them and make them work for you.

Finally, be resilient and never give up. Train yourself to deal with unexpected difficulties in an effective manner. According to Al Siebert,  “Resilience is the process of successfully adapting to difficult or challenging life experiences”, He adds that when you are resilient, you are able to overcome adversity, bouncing back from setbacks and thriving under extreme constant pressure without resorting to dysfunctional or harmful acts. This is the type of person you should model after. A resilient person is one who refrains from feeling victimised and looking for someone to blame for shortcomings. Remember, in every experience, there are some lessons to be learnt. Use the new experiences and learning to your advantage an let that metamorphosis take you form caterpillar to a soaring career butterfly!

Bon chance!