Time flies when you’re having fun… since quite a while, we owe you the rest of the Career Transition Case Study. And in a way this fact is a nice example of the issue we want to underline with today’s blog – other possible career selves getting in the way of blog writing. For Kai a fascinating sustainability-investment crowdfunding/crowdlending startup suddenly kept gaining momentum and additionally an incredible investment opportunity came along the way (Palazzo Pedrazzini, Capo Vallemaggia). I helped out in the sustainability assessment part from a scientific perspective and had some important research deadlines. But finally, here is the (current) rest of the story…

“Stop trying to find your one true self. Focus your attention on which of your many possible selves you want to test and learn more about. Reflection is important. But we can use it as a defense against testing reality; reflecting on who we are is less important than probing whether we really want what we think we want. Acting in the world gives us the opportunity to see ourselves through our behaviors and allows us to adjust our expectations as we learn. In failing to act, we hide from ourselves.” (Herminia Ibarra)

Different selves are important at distinctive career points throughout your life (‘protean career concept’ in more scientific terms, probably I will write another blog about it at some point). After university and gaining some solid professional experience at Swiss Railways, I lived an exciting career adventure in several crisis zones in East Africa and beyond, that evolved eventually into a full-fledged humanitarian career. Growing in responsibility and ending up being HR Director of the organisation, all this changed with the arrival of our children. Suddenly I valued structural stability of the work setting much more than before and decided to leave the humanitarian sector. While still interested in human resources and career development, I was now involved in a much more complex organizational structure between university/public sector and big pharma while still being exposed to an international setting.

After the most intense infant- and toddler-phase was over, my vocational career self took over again. I went back to intergroup conflict, but this time tried out my newly discovered ‘research self’ (more of that under Meet WeContributes Israel/Palestine Project Manager).

I’m deeply convinced that good career steps have a shelf life and are valid for a certain lifecycle phase only. For example, initially I was completely thrilled and at some point completely fed up with professional international travel. Clinging to a specific type of career self might make yourself not only miserable, but also cause bigger harm to your family. So, go explore possibilities and different identities without being overly concerned with ‘who you really are’. Either your current life cycle phase pushes you in a certain direction, or just try out something that excites you beyond your current setting.