Time to move on?

Karen Middleton reflects on how to decide when to change direction in our working lives

Karen Middleton
CSP Chief Executive Karen Middleton

As you are aware I am retiring from full-time work at the end of this year. And this month I formally submit my resignation – it’s a big moment for me!

Moving on or changing direction, whether through retirement, promotion, a change of circumstance or redundancy, are significant moments in all our working lives and, sadly, not all are within our control. 

But when it is in our gift to make such a change, how do you decide? From my experience, there are three factors: a sense that your present job is ‘done’ or you can contribute no more and there’s the potential for your performance to drop. For me, this presents itself as not learning anything new or being too familiar with the cycle of events.

Secondly, there is something about moving forward with your plan – this might be a career plan or a life plan. Beyond knowing that I always wanted to be in roles where I could make a difference to patient care, I dropped having a distinct career plan a long time ago. But I have always planned to retire from full-time work at 60, if I could.

Lastly, an opportunity can come your way that excites and inspires you to have a go and make the move. This is one of the reasons I dropped the career plan because if I had stuck to it I would never have taken the wonderful opportunities that either came my way or that I created.

Through my work coaching others, I listen to a lot of people in transition around their careers and even when such a move is initiated by them, and is well-planned and a positive step, there are mixed emotions. Excitement, dread, anxiety and guilt are just some of them. These are all fine and having a mixture of feelings is a very human response to major change. I also have varied feelings as I approach the end of my time at the CSP, even though I know it is the right decision. 

Remember you are not alone. You might want to be careful who you speak to when considering a move (physiotherapy is both a big and small world) but do try to talk with others, discuss with a mentor or coach, and test out your thinking. 

Of course, there might be some time between deciding on a move and it becoming a reality, but knowing you are ready to make a change enables you to work out a strategy for making it happen.

I always suggest turning yourself into a project and working out a project plan that helps you achieve your career goal.

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