Changing careers means changing mindset

One invisible aspect of changing careers or re-designing your life is the daily battle you’re engaged in – with yourself! Does it get a little noisy in your head sometimes?

There are so many fears and doubts associated with any change, and as with many things, we expect ourselves to be perfect – and if not, well what’s the point of even trying at all?

 Today, I want to shine a light on one recurring game we can play with ourselves – the need to ask permission.

Permission to..?

Why do we need permission and approval to do the things that matter most to us and to be the people we want to be? Is it a hangover from being a child, asking permission from parents, teachers and others in authority to leave the room, or to even speak? If so, that was a long training and one we shouldn’t underestimate – these habits die hard. But it’s possible to re-wire that part of your brain, form a new habit: kindly giving yourself the permissions you need.

This permission quest came to light this week – as all good things do – in a sunny garden in Devon. I was spending a couple of hours with my ‘business buddy.’ We’re both creating new lives with new businesses and we’re both struggling a little with a long list of ‘shoulds’. Should complete this to-do list. Should be the best. Should write three new articles this week. They should (of course) be perfect. Should, should, should.

But how can creativity find space to breathe and grow with the pressure of busy-ness and the weight of perfectionism? Under the midsummer sun we both realised we were waiting for permission to take time out, to experiment, to spend our time wisely, to stumble a bit, to find our way. Who’s going to give us this permission? It isn’t something we find easy. So we thought of writing our own permission slips – choosing a picture that really resonates and printing it out. Then most importantly, giving it to ourselves when we need it most.

This is mine:

Changing Your Mind
Are you aware that you may be subconsciously waiting to be given permission by some greater power? Expectations are insidious things and all too often they aren’t our own. Are they instead behaviours we make up: be perfect, be successful (who defines that by the way?), be ready, be happy, be infallible? What a burden!

How about if you get these stories out in the open and blow them away?

Try completing these sentences in a way that is authentically you (no one is watching or judging!)

I give myself permission to be: 

I give myself permission to think:

I give myself permission to not: 

I give myself permission to do: 

How does that feel?

There’s a lovely moment in Jane Austen’s ‘Pride & Prejudice’ where Lizzie tells her younger friend Maria Lucas that, contrary to her fearful belief, she is free to pack her trunk exactly as she wishes. Lady Catherine de Bourgh will never know! I often think of this and love to defy the overbearing Lady Catherine and pack my trunk my way. And yes, there is a song there!

Permissions you might feel you need:

  • To be happy
  • To succeed
  • To fail
  • To feel down in the dumps
  • To take a chance
  • To try something new
  • To choose
  • To feel confused, unsure, lost
  • To play, to experiment, to give it a try
  • To not work all the time
  • To not askfor permission
  • To ask – what gives me joy?

And if you want more, try Elizabeth Gilbert’s Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear. She says:

“You do not need a permission slip from the principal’s office to live a creative life. Or if you do worry that you need a permission slip – THERE, I just gave it to you. I just wrote it on the back of an old shopping list. Consider yourself fully accredited. Now go make something.”

Happy Permission Slip writing!

I’d love to know what you are granting yourself permission to do or to be – let me know in the comments below. And I’d be intrigued to see your designs. If you’re on Instagram please tag me @FreestyleCareer and the hashtag #permissionslip

And if you’d like help creating the life you really want to live, just get in touch for your free discovery session.

No permission needed!


Becky Kilsby
Career Change Coach & Life Designer