The Great Resignation. The Big Quit. The Great Reshuffle.
Three of the many headlines describing recent labor market shifts.
If you’ve been thinking about making changes in your career, you may have decided that this a good time.
But what if feelings of overwhelm get in the way of the changes you want to make? How do you steady yourself so that you don’t stay stuck?
Or maybe this career transition wasn’t your choice. Or are you finding it more difficult than you expected. If you’re feeling a bit lost, try the simple tool below.
Significant Changes (including Career Change) Take Time
There is no doubt that making changes in your career is demanding. For most people, it takes longer than you expect. According to Professor Ibarra, leading researcher in the field, major career transitions typically take about three years.
Change Events and Transition Experiences May Not Be Concurrent
Change may begin with a sudden event. A change in your health status. An unexpected layoff. A relocation because of your partner’s job.
Change event often occur in a short space of time. But the adjustment that is part of any transition typically take longer. Understanding this difference is helpful for many people in understanding what can feel very confusing.
The Benefit of Describing your Experience Specifically (even when it’s dynamic).
Changes don’t arrive one at a time in an orderly fashion. Typically career change ripples across several areas of your life. Even changes that you plan and want can be disorienting. This makes it difficult to make the choices and take the actions needed to move forward.
Here is a simple but powerful step to try. Leia Francisco, author of Writing Through Transitions, recommends “naming the change” as a first step.
Find a personally meaningful way to describe your experience. This enables you to step back. Naming your experience not only gives you space to reflect on and gain insight into the things that are the biggest hurdles for you, but also to see new opportunities.
When you’re choosing a name, trust your intuition. Begin with what comes to mind. Maybe there’s an image, experience, or object that captures your experiences.
When I worked with families relocating internationally, one phrase that clients often used to describe their experience of moving to live and work in another country was that it was like being on a rollercoaster. Ups and downs. Highs and lows.
Even though this was a shared experience, it wasn’t the same. The same description can mean very different things, even for members of the same family moving to the same place.
For one person, riding a rollercoaster describes a fun and exciting experience. But if you are someone who is afraid of heights or experiences motion sickness, you might feel terrified most of the time.
In the same way, even apparently similar career changes may be experienced very differently. Choosing a name is a way of gaining insight into your personal experience.
Explore and Revisit the Personal Meaning of your Career Change Description
As Leia and I discuss in this article, the value comes from choosing the description that makes sense to you. Your experience is influenced by many things including your circumstances, preferences, and history.
Insight into your own experience helps you make better choices about what you need to stay the course and make progress. Naming the change facilitates this understanding.
Your experiences won’t stay the same. As you progress through your career change, check back on the names you chose earlier. You may be surprised at how the names you choose to describe your experience change over time.
Jennifer Bradley helps professionals get unstuck and move forward in their career and work life. She offers individual coaching and consulting, leads workshops, and writes about personal and professional transitions.