Career Change Challenges For Gifted Adults

By Cathy Goodwin

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Career Change Challenges For Gifted AdultsPeople who describe themselves as "gifted" often face special challenges when choosing, changing and managing their careers. The reason often comes from a disconnect between the styles of gifted adults and the demands of corporate culture.

Corporate cultures tend to resemble NFL football games. Each player is assigned a position with specific responsibilities. When executing a game plan, each player focuses on doing his assignment, not taking creative detours.

Gifted adults, on the other hand, don't like to color between the lines. They often seem restless because they have shorter attention spans. They learn quickly and they're ready to move on.

Gifted adults often move back and forth between multiple projects, yet they know how to focus intensely on whatever problem they're working on. It's not unusual for gifted adults to focus so intently they lose track of what's going on in their environment.

Many gifted adults report feeling like outsiders ever since they can remember. Some come to believe, "There's something wrong with me. I should be able to fit in."

There's no clear consensus on where gifted adults should work. Experts believe that gifted adults should seek work environments where they have a fair degree of autonomy; however, many adults who do not describe themselves as gifted feel the same way.

Some gifted adults learn how to go through the motions. They find ways to fit into ordinary corporate jobs, using their gifts to do the work more easily and seek outlets outside their professions.

Some gifted adults become rebellious and discontented. They move from one job to the next, never feeling fulfilled.

Others fall into jobs where they never fit in.  In fact,they can be actively resented. A manager who conceptualizes ideas and thinks outside the box might be driven out of the company by a jealous boss. A gifted adult who never picked up the formal degrees could be stifled in a dead end job with no opportunities to move.

Gifted adults sometimes encounter even more challenges when they seek help. They can intimidate career coaches who have been taught to encourage their clients to focus, do one thing at a time, and find a way to conform.

In all fairness, gifted adults pose unique difficulties to anyone who tries to help. They tend to have many talents and they acquire skills easily. Yet their strongest skills often have few outlets in the marketplace. Additionally, some gifted adults find their strongest skills so easy, they want to work in more challenging arenas.

These days, gifted adults often find more opportunities for career satisfaction than ever before. Many find challenging opportunities as computer programmers or build their own businesses on the Internet. With lower barriers to entry, online self-employment has given gifted adults a new pathway to professional growth.

Additionally, work environments have become increasingly fluid, with blurry boundaries across disciplines, industries and even work vs. home. Therefore, gifted adults often find they can simply define their goals in terms of seeking challenging work. They can focus on strengths, interests, aptitudes and styles, without the burden of the "gifted" label.


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