Job transitions are almost always stressful. Whether the transition is caused by a lay-off, moving into a new position at your existing job, or starting a new job, you will encounter some stressful moments and powerful emotions like anger, frustration, fear and feeling of uncertainty and overwhelm.
And by the way, you’re not alone in making a job or career transition. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the US Department of Labor , the average person born in the latter years of the baby boom (1957-1964) held 11.7 jobs from age 18 to age 48. And that number is going up, with some studies finding that younger Americans last barely 4 years any given job before moving on.
It’s not a matter of if, but when you will have to deal with a job or career transition.
So, if you’re facing one, consider the following:
1. Take an Honest Look at You:
What are your strengths, weaknesses, skills? How did those influence—positively or negatively—your transition? Do not lose focus of who you are, of the strengths that have helped you pull through tough times in the past.
2. Take Care of Your Health:
Major changes are physically and emotionally taxing. You need self-care now more than ever. Exercise regularly, eat well, sleep well, and laugh often. Start meditation. These will help you to feel calm, focused, and in control of the situation.
3. Engage Your Curiosity:
What went wrong, or right? What could you have done better? What worked really well? Be careful though, not to dwell on the past, but look for lessons learnt and opportunities to be seized. “In every adversity there lies the seed of an equivalent advantage. In every defeat is a lesson showing you how to win the victory next time,” writes Robert Collier. Seek for the advantage in this particular situation. You’ll find it, when you engage your curiosity.
4. Focus Not on What You Don’t Want:
Rather, focus on what you want. Know what you need, know what you want, and know how to tell the difference. Keep your eye on the prize.
I can’t emphasize this enough, because often times, when we are under stress such as this, we tend to think more of that thing which created the stress in the first instance – second guessing ourselves, as the cliché goes. And then we end up feeling even more stressed out. The best way to deal with that situation is to shift your gaze to what you really want and to stay positive.
5. Create Your Own Rite of Passage:
Psychiatrist Abigail Brenner writing in Psychology Today argues that ceremony and ritual help with all transitions. I remember when I was younger, whenever I was moving up to something new, like going away to college, or starting a new job, my mother would make me go to our church and pray a full rosary in front of the statue of the Blessed Virgin Mary (we were Catholics). At the time I did not know how they worked, but I have always felt that those prayers helped me cope with those transitions.
Dr. Brenner, who is the author of the book, Shift: How to Deal When Life Changes, explains that rituals are tools that give you the freedom to take responsibility for the direction and purpose of your life. They give meaning to your journey.
You can create and perform your own personally expressive rituals, and they don’t have to be anything religious. They can be as simple or elaborate as you want them to be, using them to mark and honor your transitions and special moments in your life that you find significant, in ways you find personally meaningful.
6. Let go of how things were “supposed to be”:
And accept “how things are.” Find appreciation for what is. If you have not read Byron Katie’s book, The Work, now is the time to do so. Read the book and do the exercises (all free on her website), I promise you’ll experience a significant shift not only in how you perceive your current career transition, but in your life.
7. Find Support:
Since your transition affects your family as well, it may be better to seek the outside support of friends or professionals. Career coach Tess Taylor advises that a good way to manage the emotional effects of career transition is to seek the services of a professional career coach or counselor. She writes that talking about your feelings and your goals makes them tangible and easier to manage. A career coach can help you map out a job plan that aligns with your personality, life purpose and personal values.
In conclusion, be sure to keep things in perspective. Or try on a new perspective. Don’t allow yourself to get stuck. Remember, the only constant is change.