Every change we make, including career change, has both benefits and costs. There is no shortage of career advice, whether your read about career transition or discuss your career change plans with others. This includes plenty of advice that fits into the category of “be positive.”
Naturally you want to focus on the positive as you move forward, find your next role, and adapt quickly. But what if the advice to “be positive” is not aligned with how you currently feel?
The reality is that thinking positively about your career change may not be enough to successfully manage your transition.
So what does this mean for you as you navigate your career change experience?
How Realistic is your View of your Career Change?
Can you be both positive about your career change and acknowledge the reality of your personal experience?
This includes your experience on the days when you feel less than positive about your progress.
This is the third in a series of three articles on making career transition easier.
We’ve already discussed how to apply what you already know and how to coach yourself through resistance.
Now, let’s consider why it’s important to consider all aspects of your experience.
The Mixed Bag of Career Change
Work-related changes often evoke mixed feelings. This is true even when the change is something you desire. It’s true even when we choose the change.
At one level, you may wonder if you “should” be feeling as you are. But your emotional responses may be pointing to important aspects of your change experiences. Aspects of your change that are outside of your current awarenesss.
Rather than ignoring or dismissing your experience, consider what insights might be on offer if you pay attention to your responses.
For example, say you’ve finally achieved the promotion you’ve worked so hard for. You welcome the benefits such as new opportunities to use and develop your skills. You welcome an increase in your salary. You welcome many aspects of the change.
Yet, you feel uneasy. Something is not quite right. Maybe you have a niggling sense of disappointment. If you sense something like this, consider what this might mean for you personally. Emotional responses provide important information about values.
How to Acknowledge the Complexity of Change Experiences
Ask yourself some questions. Yes, there are benefits of this change. But have you considered the costs of this change for you? What are the things you have lost as a result? Maybe you miss the camaraderie and sense of belonging that you felt as part of a team.
Or is more travel making it more difficult to take care of your health? Are longer hours getting in the way of spending time with friends and family? In many cases, simply acknowledging both the costs and the benefits of this change may be enough.
The Benefits of Considering Both the Losses and Gains of Important Career Changes
By paying attention to the full landscape of your change experience, you can garner valuable insights. Recognizing the losses as well as the gains will highlight actions that you may want to take.
For example, if you now have extra demands on your time, which tasks from your previous role can you delegate?
Are there other ways to stay connected with coworkers that you no longer see on a day to day basis? What conversations do you want to have with family and friends? What type of mentorship do you need? What new skills do you want to learn?
The experience of career change is personal. Times of transition provide unique opportunities for learning. Step back and take a panoramic view of your career change experiences.
Seeing the big picture will help you ask better questions and clarify your values. By integrating the full range of your career change experiences you will manage your career transition more successfully.
Career & Work Life Matters, ISSN 2150-6299, Vol 7, no. 6
About the Author
Jennifer Bradley, Ph.D. helps professionals lead their own careers, empowered with the information, tools, and resources that they need. She offers individual coaching and consulting, teaches classes, and publishes articles on career development and career transition.
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