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Possible selves and career transition: It's who you want to be, not what you want to do

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dc.contributor.author Plimmer, G.
dc.date.accessioned 2015-06-02T00:48:42Z
dc.date.accessioned 2022-07-07T02:29:51Z
dc.date.available 2007
dc.date.available 2022-07-07T02:29:51Z
dc.date.copyright 2007
dc.date.issued 2007
dc.identifier.uri https://ir.wgtn.ac.nz/handle/123456789/19322
dc.description.abstract Desire for career change is the driver behind much adult study. Career change and going back to school as an adult are often stressful. For the individual, the experience often begins with a state of dissatisfaction about who you are and who you are becoming. Dissatisfied adults who make major career changes generally become more satisfied than those who did not, suggesting that the associated struggle is usually worthwhile (Thomas, 1980). Career transition often represents a radical break from earlier goals and plans. It may conflict with family obligations; it may involve trying out new roles and identities and revisiting past obstacles and fears (Schlossberg, 1984). Beneath the carefully written resume, the reasons for seeking career change may be fraught with emotion, uncertainty, and the desire to be someone different. Possible selves theory, when applied to new approaches to career development and adult education, helps us understand how adults manage transition and move toward being the selves that they want to become. This chapter outlines how possible selves theory is used in career development, and how these uses might apply to adult learning. It draws on theory, practice, and, for illustration, vignettes from a study of mature students’ experiences in a New Zealand polytechnic college (Schmidt, Mabbett, and Houston, 2005). It includes some personal conclusions taken from our experience of using possible selves with clients and presents a five-step process to use with learners in developing effective possible selves. Each section ends with some practical career development techniques that may be of use to adult educators. Being a mature adult in career transition is different from being a younger person, though younger people are the chief concern of traditional learning and career theories (Taylor and Giannantonio, 1990). Mature adults interpret themselves and the world with more complexity than the young (Hy and Loevinger, 1996), while also having a more narrow and specialized sense of self. Mature adults are less guided by social comparison and more guided by comparison with how they ideally want to be (Ouellete and others, 2005). Usually, they are less malleable than younger people, and may be experiencing an intense search for meaning (Zunker, 1990). Their sense of opportunity is often limited by obligations to others, like Kim, a middle-aged woman who comments that “The biggest obstacle for me is my home commitments because I have four children and a family to run”. Adult learners may also have a sense of running out of time. William, a mature part time student, is dispirited by what he calls his “protracted process” and is daunted by his realisation that “I’ve got a six year process before I’m even qualified … at that stage I’ll be 51 years old.” When an adult returns to study, it can be an attempt to break out of a sense of limited opportunities and restricted roles. Back in an education setting, adults may find their deeply held assumptions, beliefs and expectations threatened. Further, mature adults can feel like impostors, culturally alien and isolated (Brookfield, 1999). Older people in career transition often see themselves as having fewer psychological resources; they may experience more stress and less progress, and may perceive more barriers to change than younger people (Heppner, Multon, and Johnston, 1994). These themes of stress, circumscription, search for meaning, complexity, and narrowing and consolidating the self are well traversed in the adult learning and adult careers literatures (Brown and Brooks, 1996; Knowles, 1990; and Zunker, 1990). en_NZ
dc.format pdf en_NZ
dc.language.iso en_NZ
dc.publisher Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington en_NZ
dc.relation.ispartofseries New Directions for Adult and Continuing Education, 2007 (114), 61-74. en_NZ
dc.relation.uri http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ace.257 en_NZ
dc.rights The final version of this article was published by Wiley in Adult and Continuing Education, http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ace.257 en_NZ
dc.rights.uri http://exchanges.wiley.com/authors/copyright-and-permissions_333.html
dc.subject Career change, Possible selves, career development en_NZ
dc.title Possible selves and career transition: It's who you want to be, not what you want to do en_NZ
dc.type Text en_NZ
vuwschema.contributor.unit Victoria Management School en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcfor 159999 Commerce, Management, Tourism and Services not elsewhere classified en_NZ
vuwschema.type.vuw Journal Contribution - Research Article en_NZ
vuwschema.subject.anzsrcforV2 359999 Other commerce, management, tourism and services not elsewhere classified en_NZ
dc.rights.rightsholder Wiley en_NZ

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