Changing Careers? How Navigate Your Transition without Losing Control

by: Kris Kirilova

Kris is a counselor & owner of Career Life Choices – a counseling practice in Arlington Heights, IL.
“Love and Work… Work and Love that’s all there is.” ~ Sigmund Freud

Freud believed that work and love are the cornerstones of our humanity. Do you believe it is so? Work plays a central role and provides meaning in the lives of most people.

In this article we are shifting focus to the inner work of changing careers and finding meaningful work.  What to expect, how to navigate the challenges, and move successfully through your career transition.

Most people change jobs and careers multiple times during their lifetime. It is common to experience some stress and anxiety as you face the uncertainty in this process, and seek ways to move faster to a new place.

My own career path has been filled with many twists and turns, including job changes, self-employment, and a major career change. I know transitions take time, effort and energy to adapt, manage the uncertainty, and your own fears. For me the change was about finding more meaning and purpose in my work. I wanted something more for myself and the desire to make an impact in the lives of others prompted me to change directions.

How does a career transition impact your life?

In reality, one change leads to a number of other changes. What happens when you change jobs,  leave colleagues, and relationships?

Many people realize they have identified their self with their job or title, and derived a sense of identity from that job title. During a transition, you may feel sadness, confusion or disappointment as you face the new reality. So it is normal to take some time to let go of the old and previous roles before you find a new sense of self and purpose.

Hermina Ibarra, conducted an in-depth research on career transitions and found, “Most of us experience the transition process as a time of confusion, loss, insecurity, and uncertainty. We are scared.”  The fear of the unknown can leave us paralyzed or stuck in the same place.

Becoming your own person and breaking free from a previous job or identity is in the center of transition work. The work is about finding meaning, re-building self-esteem, and figuring out the next chapter of your life. You may find yourself in between the old and embracing the future, and that is a normal place before you can develop a new vision.

Are you optimistic, resilient, and able to deal with the ambiguity of your transition?

How to move through your career transition with confidence?

  • Re-orientation. Give yourself time to move from the old to the new. You might be disoriented for awhile, in between the old environment and a new beginning. It takes time to renew your sense of purpose and find a new direction; it is not something that can be solved overnight.
  • Introspection. Spend some time reflecting on your experiences and focus on stories that improve your confidence and energy. Increase your self-awareness by knowing your strengths, hopes and fears.
  • Be Open to Change. Enhance your resilience and re-frame uncertainty as a new experience and opportunity for growth. Change does not happen in one big step…it happens in a series of small steps and experiments.
  • Experiment. Try out new things by meeting new people and getting involved in side jobs, small projects, contract work or volunteering for a favorite cause.
  • Support. Seek out people who will support you through your career transition. If you are going into a new direction, find connections and mentors for guidance and support in the field.
  • Professional Direction. A counselor/advisor can help you grow into your new self and provide professional direction and encouragement.
  • Maintain Balance. Make sure you take care of yourself and have a financial plan ready. Maintaining balance is important including some physical exercise, social connections, and good sleep.

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