Beyond The Numbers: Janelle Roker


By Janelle Roker, ACC, ELI-MP


Disorientation - The Feeling of being lost while in the midst of a transition.

Randy had spent his life building a successful business and was proud to be able to pass it onto his son and daughter.  While both of his children had worked their way up in the company during the last several years, the plan was that when Randy turned 65, they would move both into executive roles and he would step back from directly running the company.

But five years later at age 70, he was still coming to work every day and tension was mounting between him and his children.  

Employees didn’t know who they should be reporting to and Randy was not willing to accept some of the changes his children wanted to make. Randy told himself he had more knowledge of the company that he needed to impart to his children.

But in reality, Randy just didn’t know what he would do after he had truly stepped back — thus he avoided stepping back at all. His whole life had been about building the company and he felt he had no purpose, no reason to get out of the bed in the morning if he wasn’t needed by his company.

Disorientation is a mixture of several of the other components of transitions. In Randy’s case, he would lose his identity as CEO of the company, he would lose his routine of getting up and coming to the office every day, he would lose how he viewed himself and how others viewed him in relationship to the company. All of these unknowns even led to dismissing the idea that his children could successfully run the business without him.

It can be easy to let our work define our lives. And we can feel worthless when we faced with the possibility that our work is no longer part of it.

    Ideas to consider when you are feeling a transition may mean ending your career: 

    1. Identify what is bothering you most about the transition.  Acknowledging is the first step to finding solutions — ignoring only builds tension. And sometimes we don’t even recognize how much our feelings are keeping us from moving forward — listing them brings them directly to our attention.
    2. Build diversity into life — be involved in activities and organizations outside our profession. This allows you to keep other routines in place when your work is no longer part of life.  This may also let you take small steps away from work as you get more involved in other activities. 
    3. Think about what success might look like to you when you are 80 years old. While we may plan to work past the age of 65, we may not be thinking about working at 80. But what do we want our life to look like at 80? Who do we want to be around?  What do we want to be doing? Where might we want to be living? By considering what we want in the very long term, we can begin to see how our careers are only part of that vision. With some planning, we can achieve our long term plans and have a rewarding life after we stop working full time.
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    Janelle Roker

    Janelle is a leadership and transition coach helping individuals and businesses explore how to take their work to the next level.  You can learn at her website 
    Resources:  Bridges, W. (2004) Transitions: Making Sense of Life’s Changes. Da Capo Press

    Brady Marlow