Reluctant to make change because of the way that others view you?
from our Sunday reading series - a weekly blog post (subscribe here)
We humans are social beings. The way you groom yourself in the morning, what you wear, how you walk down the street, the statements you make on social media, the manner in which you display works of art… you do it all in mind of how other people will react and engage.
In career terms, you venture down a road, likely diverting to different paths in the early years. Over time, most people find themselves increasingly established in a certain profession, going a long way down a particular path. This in essence becomes a core aspect of their identity.
What happens then if you’ve been pursuing a seemingly desirable career, for instance as an artist or art dealer, that’s become the definition of your interesting self in the minds of others, and yet all you want to do is chuck in the towel? Or, you might intend to stay in the industry, but with a change of focus. Such a transition could mean terminating long-term professional partnerships that have even become friendships. By making the change, you could upset others or interrupt their worldview of what defines you.
When I was an art dealer, I had to shift business model after the Great Recession hit as gallery exhibitions weren’t yielding the sales they once had. It turned out that offering one-to-one art consulting was a profitable activity, which involved sourcing works of art and commissioning pieces for private and corporate clients. Not only did this result in a change of focus away from shows, but also a shift in type of professional partners, including artists and interior designers, amongst others.
Yet another common scenario of change is dealers refining the artists with whom they work after a year or two of trading. This is often owing to the dealer finding their niche or realising who works (or doesn’t) in the overall programme.
Here’s my point: don’t put aside your own needs and interests for the sake of others. Make the change when you’re ready, but don’t make excuses to keep putting it off. You only live once, and it’s your responsibility to pursue career happiness. If you enjoy what you do, including the specific projects you manage, you’ll be more willing to invest necessary time and effort to result in success.
Don’t feel that you’ve got to keep going down the same path because that’s what others expect you to do. You will always be you, no matter what. Have confidence in doing the right thing for your own life.
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