Okay, the semantic ambiguity of 'shifting gears' is just begging for a cliche ridden riff on the phrase's physical and metaphorical implications.
In the simplest sense, I learned today how to shift gears without the clutch. Get the rpm's up to 16, 17(00) and while on the accelerator, slip out of gear. Release the accelerator and slide up into the next gear. If you're downshifting, accelerate to get up the rpm's as you slide to the lower gear. (Remember what I said about the conundrum of accelerating to decelerate?) Sounds so simple! ... proof again that simple is not the same as easy.
And on that note, it's certainly true that shifting gears mid-career and mid-life may be as simple as those "50 ways to leave your lover," but easy it ain't. I worry about career happiness, career health, career potential. blah blah blah ~ the voice of anxious unemployment yammering in my brain. Did I mention career paychecks?
I tell myself, "Self, you're unemployed. You were essentially laid off from Three jobs at once ~ all of them the communications career fantasies of most any English major. And when you did those jobs, Self, you were always a little edgy with stress and doubt. Often pulling procrastination-fueled and deadline-driven weekend sessions. Sometimes wondering what the point was."
Honest work, satisfying work, and the chance to shut it down, clock out and go home to my honey. That's the goal, perhaps just fantasy. I hope I get there. I hope that when I get there, I am, in the main, content. What is it Annie Lamott says? Her most frequent prayers are "please please please" and "thank you thank you thank you"? ... Something like that.