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When the Lights Go Out by Tanya Smith

Jul 30th, 2009 | By | Category: Career Coaching

This morning my light went out.

It’s one of those fluorescent lights that is in my big walk-in closet. The kind that lasts for literally years before it ever goes out. I guess it wouldn’t be that big of a deal except that we use this closet for all kinds of things. It’s where we iron clothes, get ready for work/school. We even use it as our storm shelter. You get the idea.

So…as I’m getting ready for work, the light goes out. What’s interesting is that we knew that it was going to go out for more than a month now. It’s shown signs – flickering on & off periodically; at times, it would go out & we’d just keep clicking the switch until it came back on. We even recognized the intermittent flickers as signs from the last time we had to replace it.

As I stood in the dark with the iron in one hand and my little girl’s shirt in the other, I had a fleeting thought: don’t I do this with some other things in my life? Haven’t I seen this happen with friends & family too?

What we do is hang on to hope for a failing coach-client relationship (or others), a job that we know we need to leave, a habit that isn’t working anymore, a closet full of things we never use – even though we’ve seen the signs beforehand, letting us know it’s time to move on to something else.

Sometimes we see the “light flicker” once, but most of the time we have more than one opportunity to let go. There are sometimes lots of messages coming from different directions. We just choose to hang on, flicking the switch until it looks like it’s alright…for now. But eventually, the light goes out, leaving us in the dark holding on.

So my coaching question is:

What lights are flickering in your life right now? What are you hanging on to even knowing that it’s time to let go & move on?

Ecclesiastes 3:2 (there is) a time to be born and a time to die, a time to plant and a time to uproot

I’m going to pick up a replacement light today at Home Depot. I won’t have to worry about it going out for a long time, but I’ll be more aware of the signs next time. And I’ll pay attention sooner.


Tanya Smith, the Career Transformation Coach, helps mid-career professional women liberate themselves so they can enjoy waking up daily to work they love. Sign up for her monthly updates & more articles through and become a fan for exclusive previews on Facebook at

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