Conquering a Career Transition
There are many reasons people make a career transition: their once passion for a career fades, technological advancements, mergers, re-organizations, changes in the corporate climate or job role, or a shift in life circumstances. Sometimes we choose to make a career transition and in other cases we are forced to change occupations. Whatever the reason, once we are faced with that change, it is a time of uncertainty and can feel like an emotional roller coaster. There are moments of rising hope and excitement about new opportunities, followed by a quick turn into fear and anxiety about an uncertain future, and sometimes a drop as we mourn losing our old role or way of life. When making a career transition we are in-between roles; letting go of the way things were and taking a leap of faith in a new direction.
Over the past sixteen years, I have been helping people develop new career and life plans, and reach these goals. I’ve watched many people’s struggles and successes which has inspired me to share some tips that can help you start and successfully manage a career transition.
Top 5 Tips:
- It’s normal to feel a variety of emotions. Many people are fearful and feel like it is too difficult to make a change. Most of my clients tell me that they have been trying to decide whether they should leave their jobs, and struggled with what to do next for several years before ever seeking help. It is also common that people feel sad or fear leaving their current role, even if it doesn’t feel like the perfect fit for them; whether they’re a student, a primary caregiver, or an unhappy employee. You may grieve leaving one stage of your life while being excited about starting a new opportunity, and every feeling in-between, all in the same minute. You’re not crazy, this array of emotions is normal!
- Extra self care is required while making a transition. Any major change, including a good one, can create anxiety, and requires more energy. As we enter a new role we face new challenges. This is often a time when people neglect their exercise, social engagements or other activities that typically improve their sense of well being. It will be more important than ever that you’re engaging in relaxation techniques and fun activities, to counter-balance the additional stress. Don’t slip into bad habits – smoking, drinking, overeating, or skipping meals. Take care of yourself!
- Gather Support. As we noted, a career transition creates additional stress, but on top of this, we often lose some of our social connections. When leaving school, our parenting role, or job, we can also be leaving behind a social system that provided a variety of different supports. Because transitions naturally increase your stress level, and at the same time, potentially decrease your support system, you could be creating a recipe for distress. People often need to add to their support network to effectively manage a career transition. Support can come in many forms such as: someone who will informally help you learn the ropes at work, a carpool partner, someone who can look after your children, a friend who can review your resume or has a good job contact, or it could just be someone who can listen to you. It can be useful to think about the type of support you already have, as well as the additional types of resources you need and actively develop these resources or connections.
- Seek professional help with your career transition. There are so many professional resources available to individuals who would like to make a career transition. Many people I see say they spent years taking free online quizzes, that created more questions than answers, or talked to their friends until they were sick of listening to their career woes, before they finally sought professional help. Don’t wait or add to your confusion, start out right and develop a clear path sooner. Here at Calgary Career Counselling, we are a team of registered psychologists who specialize in career counselling and could help. There are also other career development professionals that can assist you, just do your homework and make sure the person you see has formalized training and experience in this field. Remember, anyone can use the term “counsellor”, it is not a legislated term, so make sure you know their credentials before you put your future in their hands. For those of you who are on a tight budget you can still find great help. Many people have coverage for counselling under their health benefits. Additionally, post-secondary and secondary students can typically gain free counselling at the institution they are attending. Local governments also typically offer free career counselling and job search services. If you are in a community that does not have these resources, technology allows the world to access these services online, virtually. A number of my clients prefer to work through the process online even though they have access to in-person sessions.
- Focus on the Positive. My clients who are most effective at managing are those who remain positive and adapt as they need to. It is easy to feel down when we feel unsure about our next career step or when sending out resumes without so much as a phone call in return. It is not to say that you should ignore these barriers, but when you remain positive and gain support you are more effective at identifying strategies that allow you to be successful.
Getting help and making a well informed career transition can help you become healthier, happier and more satisfied in all areas of your life!
By Emma Geoghegan, M.Ed., R. Psych.
Calgary Career Counselling “is a firm of five Psychologists specializing in career planning, with over 60 years of career counselling experience between us. We also have an Education and Training Advisor to help you determine the best educational options and maximize success in your career path.” calgarycareercounselling.com
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