One of the refrains I often hear is, “where would I even start? I’ve invested so much time and energy building this career that I wouldn’t know what else I am capable of doing; if my skills are transferable; and what might be interesting to me.” What’s underneath this statement is the feeling of being stuck in a career that no longer fits.

I think that the development of the dragonfly might be a great metaphor for this situation. In order for the larva/nymph to transform into a dragonfly, it climbs out of the water that it’s spent the better part of its life swimming in, attaches itself to a branch or reed on the side of the waters, reassembles itself, and exposed to the elements sheds its shell and takes flight. Let’s unpack each of these moves:

  1. Climbing out of the water — this is about trusting that there is a way for your career to be better aligned with who you are now / who you are becoming.

  2. Attaching itself to a branch — this is about becoming vulnerable to the environment around you, tapping into the people and resources around you to discover what might be possible.

  3. Reassembling itself — this is about exploring your skills, strengths, passions, and experiences to discover new ways you might put these to use.

  4. Taking flight — this is about experimenting, perhaps taking a course, volunteering for a new project or assignment, joining a group or association, etc.

Taking flight, enjoying a career that is better aligned with who you are now/who you are becoming, begins with leaning into the idea that this is possible. This then leads to the exploratory process, both internally and externally, to reimagine what success means to you. And, finally, it means taking thoughtful steps toward that vision.

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