Resistance and Regression

Over the last few weeks, we’ve talked about perspective, and how it affects your job search and your life.  Today, we’ll examine how a perspective of resistance can hinder your progress toward the career and the life you want.

Transition and change are part of our reality. But sometimes, we set up roadblocks for ourselves, trying to slow or stop the flow of change. These roadblocks are made up of thoughts that stop us from experiencing an internal transition to match the outward one—thoughts like, “I want things to be the way they used to be,” and “I can’t cope with this new situation.”

Some of you will remember “Mr. X” from past articles, a man I coached as part of the Midlife Male Makeover project in conjunction with PR Works. His real name is David Flanagan, and he was a guest on my radio show on Friday, September 18. In the interview, we talked about resistance to change and how it affects the job search process.  (Click here to download an mp3 file of the show.)

Holly Kouvo, of FittingFitnessIn, a Personal Trainer and Nutrition Specialist, also worked with David (virtually)during the Midlife Male Makeover Project.  She discusses exercises for building confidence and how to fit fittness in.

When you lose your job, or are thinking about changing jobs, a lot of resistance can come up around the job search process. For David, being laid off in December 2008 brought up a number of memories and old feelings. He’d been laid off before, and he felt that this time around, with the job market in its current state, that the job search would be “a marathon. Every time you get laid off it’s like starting all over again.”  His age and financial obligations were also an issue for him. “Last time I was laid off, I had two young children. Now I have one kid in college and one going into college. I knew the pressure this layoff would exert on my wife and my kids.”

He knew he needed to make some changes to adapt to the job market and the current times, but when we first started working together his resistance was in high gear. He was comfortable in his experience and approach, and was reluctant to hear that his old way of doing things might not be working so well for him anymore. As he put it, “The minute somebody tries to tell me that they know something different than I do…It’s not that I’m not willing to learn, but I’ve been through a lot.” At the same time, he was experiencing feelings of doubt around his age (he’s in his 50s), his financial situation and home life, and the fact that he hadn’t been maintaining his network in the years prior to his layoff.  All of these fears combined to make David resistant to change.

“I was a chubby shy little kid,” David said. “… I’ve come out of my shell tremendously. But sometimes, you know, despite your best efforts, when you know you do a good job and you’re still laid off…and you start questioning your self-value and your worth and your skills, you start to go back to that place where you once were, starting to doubt yourself, starting to maybe not be shy, but not wanting to speak up, not wanting to bother people, not wanting to depend on people.”

This type of regression isn’t uncommon in boomers who lose their jobs: like David said, it can feel like starting over. However, in order to move forward, you may need to shift your perspective and/or be willing to let go of old beliefs. Finding a way to accept change has come into your life, rather than being angry or fearful about it, consider the perspective or choice to view this as the first step to opening the doors of possibility. How about considering from the perspective of – all the skills you’ve developed over the years will lead you to the next step in your career path or/and or has prepared you to finally start your own business!  Whatever it is for you, take the time to explore and shift your perspective.  Once the resistance is gone, you can begin to ask the questions that really matter. Creating the right mindset is half the battle in overcoming any difficult situation, whether it’s a job search or some other life transition.

Through our coaching process, David has discovered that he is happiest when he’s advocating for people or a worthy organization, that he feels most fulfilled working in or with government, and that he really can reach out to his network he’s built over the years. He’s rediscovered his strengths and worked through a lot of the fears and negative thinking that were holding him back.

When I asked David where we can find him now, he replied, “Where you can find me is believing again.”

What’s possible for you when you choose to shift your perspective?


Action Step:  Notice the perspective you’re in about your career right now?  What’s your view point?  Is there a particular response you have when someone asks you, “How’s work?”  or “What do you do?”  When you describe to someone what you do, what do you notice about your body posture?  Are you standing tall or slouchy?  Notice the tone of your voice, are you excited to share or do you exert with low energy?  Are you thriving or surviving?  Something else?  Send me your comments Try on a new perspective for a day.


As a certified professional coach, radio show host and workshop leader, Dawn helps sales, marketing, advertising and creative entrepreneurs to accelerate their career so they’ll love their life!

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