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  • Amina Aitsi-Selmi

The dark side of career change: 16 principles to get through

It was fun speaking at the National Institute of Health and Care Excellence's Annual Conference. It's the third time I'm invited but the first time it's under my title of Director, Next Generation Coaching and Consulting Ltd. Little did I know where my intuition would lead me when I attended for the first time. And yet... a lot of meditation and coaching later, here I am.

Whenever we move towards an inspired vision of what's possible in our lives, dark forces awaken within us. The greater the vision, the more powerful the resistance. It can range from common analysis paralysis to a once in a lifetime dark night of the soul. The need to belong clashes with the desire to become and all sorts of forces are unleashed. Fortunately, the darker the storm, the greater the promise of joy, discovery and peace on the other side. Dr John Ndikum started working with me as his coach about a year ago, to support him in a career change. He wanted to move away from a stressful clinical medicine job and into work and a lifestyle that were more fulfilling and aligned for him. He's just completed this change.

He stepped into a vision of radical change in all areas of life and created a new, more fulfilling experience of his life and work, within a year. The strength of his commitment meant that he had to transform his way of being at an unusually rapid pace and so had to face old demons with what felt like superhuman courage at times. He generously shares his insights below in his "transition toolkit". Read his 16 principles (below) for getting through a big cycle of change with your eyes wide open.

He's also a published poet writing on spiritual aspects of change that he experienced as a doctor. [link to his book on Amazon]

Thank you, John, for being who you are and inspiring others. You may also want to have a look at the "5 signs you're in the dark cave of change" Wise Wednesdays video from last year:



Hi guys,

Just wanted to share a few things I wish I had known before the transition that might help a few people. Here goes:


1.Clarify YOUR reason

Escapism is not a powerful enough reason - the transition process itself will likely be more painful than what you're doing now. Don't let your mind fool you into believing that the grass is greener on the other side. Go on holiday. Clear your head. And then decide.

2.Expect resistance

From colleagues, from friends and possibly even from bosses. If you're not comfortable with people poo-pooing on your dreams, then keep them to yourself (I kept quiet until I had my plans firmly in place). You'll have to let go of wanting people to pat you on the back. They won't - many will spit on it. Painful, but you get used to it ;)

3. Solidify your [true] support network

Talk one on one with those you think you trust. If their criticism isn't constructive (e.g. management consulting is tough - have you spoken to enough people/how can I help you make it happen), don't involve them in your plans ever again. They won't be around when shit hits the fan (and it will).

4. Make sure the numbers add up

Bills, money running out etc. Basic, but crucial.

5. Find a mentor or coach (or many)

I had several informal ones and one professionally trained coach, (Dr. Amina Aitsi-Selmi). When you're anxious/panicking and talking crazy, a mentor or coach will steer you back in the right direction.

6. Update your LinkedIn account

No, it's not showing off. It's signalling (of the market value of your skillsets) and recruiters DO use it to make decisions. In fact, a good friend of mine got headhunted directly off of it and I continue to receive emials from recruiters through it.

7. Consider the impact on loved ones/dependents

My wife quit her job so that we could both travel to the US. She was able to work at Yale's gym, shadow at Yale-New Haven Hospital and get back into her personal training (she's an OT who happens to be multitalented). Make sure whoever is coming with you also gains from the experience, otherwise all you'll have is a new job and a ton of resentment from those you love. Don't jump out of the frying pan into the fire.

8. Anticipate psychological, emotional and physical discomfort (see below)

Goes without saying.


9. Expect pain (a lot of it), doubt, confusion and occasional regret

More than when all you had to do was jump NHS hoops (see below).

10. Talk to people who work outside of medicine/avoid the echo chamber like the plague

Yes, it's pretty crappy currently. But I have known barristers who can't find jobs. Investment bankers who have been laid off and had to go back to living with their mums. Yale students majoring in economics who found a job after 80+ applications. My American compatriots get 14 days unpaid vacation (so most of them give it back).

Perspective is a beautiful thing when the pain you'll invariably feel will make you want to play the victim card.

11. Become comfortable with the above

If your reason is strong enough, you will be able to.

12. Find an anchor - faith, relationships, family etc

Otherwise you'll quit


13. Be patient enough with yourself to absorb and process the psychological shock (e.g nostalgia)

14. Integrate the lessons from above


15. Keep moving forward

This is just the beginning - the real work has just begun

16. Spread the love

Share your insights

==================== Have a great week, Amina Upcoming events 1) Next Leaders Circle: 26th of July at 6.30pm. Theme: Transform your communication to transform your career. Register here.

n.b. If you can’t make it to the Leaders Circle in person, I’ve created an online version (a 45 minute webinar) by popular demand. I’ll share key insights and tips from the Circle on how to create the right career path for you and have question and answer time including on how the Leaders Circle works, as well. More details to follow but you can sign up here for the Leaders Circle webinar, if this speaks to you. It's planned for Wednesday 11th of July at 6pm UK/ 10am PST / 1pm EST.

3) 26th of July: Birthing babies, birthing your dreams: a parent’s power to create the right life and career. PLUSbaby (physicians returning to work after parent leave). Register here:

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