Working Identity: The Messy Process of Career Transition
Learning from "The Bubble Boys"

Questions to Compose Your Working Identity

Last week I posted on Herminia Ibarra's Working Identity, recommended to me by Catherine Lombardozzi. In her comment on that post, Catherine mentioned several questions that the book has raised for her that I think are fantastic food for thought in considering your ongoing professional development and possible career transitions, so I wanted to elevate those questions to a new post:

  • What are all the possible identities I might have (some of which may be part-time identities already)? 
  • How can I experiment more thoroughly with testing these possible identities out? For me, this may not mean wholesale career change, but rather subtle shifts that don’t require changing jobs but do entail shifting responsibilities (although that’s not easy either). 
  • Who can I identify as a possible role model for the kind of professional I want to be, and how do I engage that person in my explorations? What other communities do I want to join?
  • How can I get in the habit of crafting and re-crafting my own career story – using current events to reinterpret the past in order to make sense of my future?

There are a few things that stand out for me in Catherine's questions:

  • Like Ibarra's book, the emphasis is on action, experimentation and connecting with new people--how do these things help craft a new identity? 
  • Although there's a temptation for those of us considering career transitions to chuck it all and do something drastic, it's the smaller steps that may offer greater opportunities for lasting change. As Catherine points out, a whole new career may not be the answer--instead it may be about shifting responsibilities and emphasis within an existing career. 
  • Catherine's last question is particularly important--how to get in the habit of crafting and re-crafting your story on an ongoing basis so you can see how current events and activities help you make sense of the past and make new decisions about the future? It's this habit of integrating current experiences so that you use them to explore new opportunities that's so important to develop. 

Asking the right questions is how we move to different answers that work for us. Try some of these to see if they help you find movement in your own career. 


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